By the author of Be Ready for Anything and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
Have you ever wondered how well-stocked you really are? How would life be if you couldn’t go to the store for a month? How long would your food supplies last? Of course, you have – if you’re reading this and considering it, you’re a prepper.
I have a challenge for you this month and if you participate, it could change the way you look at your emergency food plan.
It’s the 2018 Stockpile Challenge.
This month, see if you can get by with only the food that you have on hand.
If you’re in, you will learn so much.
- You’ll learn about the shortfalls in your pantry. Trust me, there’s SOMETHING missing for just about everyone.
- You’ll learn about whether or not the food in your pantry makes you feel healthy and energized or sluggish and lethargic.
- You’ll learn whether you have the right foods for that picky family member.
- You’ll learn whether your pantry meals will be satisfying and tasty, or bland and repetitive.
And if you aren’t yet well-stocked, you can still participate – more on that in a moment.
If you need to hit the grocery store first, go ahead. Mark your month from the day you start. But keep in mind, an emergency is often sudden and shocking, and you may not have time to stock up first. Take note of the things you needed to get to start the month.
The Stockpile Challenge Rules for Preppers Who Have Been Doing This for a While
- No shopping this month! If you don’t have it, you’ll have to live without it, substitute something else for it, or figure out how to make it from supplies you have on hand.
- If you can, do this not only for food but for other supplies: shampoo, soap, cleaning supplies, etc.
- If there is some amazing sale for stock-up items that you just can’t miss out on, those can be purchased but they should be put away and used after the challenge is over.
- Get a notebook and write down your observations. Hopefully, when this is done, you’ll share your observations with me for a wrap-up article.
- Make a shopping list from your notes.
- The items already in your fridge and freezer are fair game.
- Items you barter for are fair game.
- Items you forage, hunt, or grow are fair game.
The Stockpile Challenge Rules for New Preppers
- If you haven’t been prepping long enough to build up a supply, you can still participate. Here are the rules for folks who are new to prepping or are not well-stocked yet.
- When you go to the store, purchase only shelf-stable items: canned foods, dry goods, powdered milk, and dehydrated foods.
- The items already in your fridge and freezer are fair game.
- Make your meals from ingredients you have and shelf-stable items you purchase.
- Keep notes and make a shopping list based on what you learn.
- Items you barter for are fair game.
- Items you forage, hunt, or grow are fair game.
If you say you can’t participate because…
If you say you can’t participate because of one of the following reasons, here’s what you can learn before the challenge even begins – you are NOT ready for an emergency that lasts for more than a week or so.
If you don’t have snacks for the kids… you need to pick up some of their favorites and stash them away for the long-term.
If you don’t have food your spouse will like… you need to rectify that before an emergency makes life even more miserable.
If you think your family will balk… you need to stock up in such a way that they’ll hardly notice the difference.
If you can participate “except for” things like milk and fresh produce… you need to stockpile a milk option, put back some high-quality dehydrated produce, and start growing greens in your window sill.
See what I mean? If you already see the shortfalls, you need to participate in this challenge. Just follow the rules for beginners if you need to add supplies before the challenge is over.
What do you have to lose?
Except maybe, your illusions of how well-prepared you are.
The 2018 Stockpile Challenge is a great way to…
- Save money
- Test preps to be sure we don’t have any holes in our supplies
- Eat healthfully
- Practice scratch cooking skills
- Learn what we will want to add to our preparedness supplies
- Use our problem-solving skills
- Use up some of the older items in our pantry before they expire
Of course, this will be a lot more fun if we share our victories and defeats, have others to brainstorm with, and learn from one another. You can post your updates here, in the comments section of this article (I’ll update once per week) or you can join the Facebook group, where we’ll be discussing the challenges of the challenge every day this month.
Are you in? Let us know in the comments!
Great challenge – count me in.
I am up for this challenge for sure. Great way to see if the on paper plan could really be enough!
We’ve been ” meaning to” try this for years but we’ve never been challenged by an outside source. Maybe the “meaning to” time has finally arrived. We’ll let you know.
We are in.
I know we have a few holes in the food preps. It will be interesting to check the rest.
We are in!
Not to be a be a buzz kill but it’s winter hunting season is over in most states and it’s been a cold one and it looks like it’s going to be a long one. Plus threat of war more real now than under I sell out my country Obama. Now is not the time to do this it defeats the purpose of prepping..take a moment and say ok I’ll deplete my food sources and oh crap here’s an emp…or more likely an ice storm..so it will be two weeks without a store run and powers out so freezer is down..think prep more fill in holes you see already be ready for weather or a war . Sorry Daisy feel wrong time of year and too much stuff going on in the world..love your articles keep up the good fight..
””I’ll deplete my food sources and oh crap here’s an emp…””
Oh, guy, if this is a concern…you are not ready!!!!!!
I haven’t left the house since Nov. 13–so far, have been fine and needed not a thing.
We think alike. While there is never a good time to test your preps for a full month, given the international tensions with NK and then the Middle East heating up (Saudi Arabia vs Yemen, and now Iran may be destabilizing…) I’m not comfortable depleting my stock of anything right now…I’ve actually been accumulating more in the past three months than I have in the past few years!
Although I have been doing some light testing of my preps by pulling out cooking supplies everytime my wife is making some new recipe. Sure I buy more at the store right away, but it’s a good way to test what I have stockpiled without actually depleting anything.
What would stop you from only using what you have stored today for the next month but continue to buy and stock?
I’m in! I think this is a great idea! I’m looking forward to hearing from others and learning any practical skills I need.
I wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated your articles over the past many months. I have learned a lot. This 2018 challenge is another excellent opportunity for people to learn things about their preparedness and even themselves. But I will not be participating in your challenge.
I am in my late 60s, have children/grandchildren living relatively close by and on the other side of the country. I have been what my DH calls a “stasher” all of my life, but only became a serious prepper in 2005 (avian flu).
We live on a 40 acre farm, raise edible livestock, horses, fruit trees, garden. Etc… I feel comfortable that we can ride through any short term situation, even without electricity. Long term? Who knows? Depends.
But the real reason that I think that your challenge is a mini-mistake is that it requires people to use up what they have. There is no guarantee that the great “event” will not happen tonight or tomorrow, or within your testing time window and people may be found short.
That’s not to say that every prepper shouldn’t have a really good idea of what their inventory is – what they have and how much, but that info can be gained just by analyzing regular purchases and tracking usage of key items. (for example, I know that I go thru one “roll” of TP a day; not one multi-roll, but whatever the manufacturer considers to be one roll.) I have tracked that repeatedly and it stays relatively constant regardless of sickness factors). I also use one bottle of shampoo in a month, one bar of soap a week, one large tube of toothpaste in 4 months, etc. Other family members’ usage varies, but I know what it is and I over-stock accordingly.
Testing recipes using long term/shelf stable items is an ongoing process. It’s especially important to know how long a #10 can of product (or other container) will last under normal usage, but it’s equally important to know what the calorie count is and how hungry your consumers are going to. That’s harder to test under routine conditions. Routine conditions are NOT the same as when SHTF.
Substitute items are easy to assess just by looking at the shelves and thinking a bit. Yes, milk is a weekly purchase, so I should have dried milk and evaporated milk on hand. But what is the shelf-life? Important to know. This can be evaluated analytically, without actually having to open an expensive container, though I do try some of my prep items from time to time. Not for a whole month, and certainly not exclusively.
Most people will have issues with medications – hard to stockpile, but not impossible. I would certainly not dip into my stash of pharmaceuticals, unless that was part of my regular rotational usage program. Get the Rx filled whenever you get one and as soon as you can. Every time.
And money is very important as a prep item. People should have a very good idea of what their MINIMUM expenses are for 30 days and have as large a cash stockpile as they can manage. And by stockpile, I mean actually in their hot little hands, not just in the bank or invested in CDs. They can do that by evaluating their bills and tracking their cash expeditures. (I mean actually writing down everything you spend cash on.) I have cash, but I also have livestock who require feeding. I have had to make compromises on how much money, vs how much feed, I can afford to have on hand. As it turns out, I don’t have enough of either, so I’m working on that and hoping that nothing desperate happens in the mean time. 🙁
And finally, something else that absolutely must be figured in is how many people know about your prepping and where are they? Are they likely to come to your house and expect you to take care of them? Will they be bringing supplies with them? Will they simply be running for their lives with what little they have on their backs? (The California wildfire evacuations are a good example of this…) Will they tell their friends and other family members that they can come along?
I’m sure you remember a series of articles written by a man who lived outside of New Orleans when Katrina hit. He had stashed about 30 days’ worth of food and supplies for his family. He wrote that friends in NOLA showed up on his doorstep wanting his helping and wanting to park their RVs on his land. Soon after, their friends and relatives also showed up. The “visitors” didn’t pay for what they used because their banks were under water. That didn’t stop them from decimating his supplies and most didn’t make any effort afterward to help him resupply. Some even used kited checks. As I recall, his supplies were gone in about 30 days.
What will your readers do under these circumstances? IMO, it ain’t gonna be pretty. Getting one’s mind wrapped around the reality of SHTF is the hardest prep of all to stockpile. Ask Selco.
Anyway, I wish your readership the best of everything in the New Year and look forward to reading their comments.
In your circumstances, you probably don’t need to participate. I agree that there is a risk in participating in this challenge. It could also be too expensive to replace the used items for people on a limited income. There is a chance that eating food that someone isn’t accustomed to could cause bowel problems or trigger a food allergy.
With that acknowledged, let me offer another perspective. I work at my state’s Office of Emergency Management as the Community Preparedness Coordinator. I go out and teach preparedness concepts and practices to the general public and to preppers alike. I have heard similar stories, over and over, about how someone thought they were prepared, but then the power went out, the water main broke, their spouse lost his/her job, etc., and they suddenly realized they weren’t as prepared as they thought they were. I urge people to practice using their preps. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for a month, but even for 24 hours. Practice is preparation. Let me say that again, practice IS preparation. If you’re not practicing, you’re not prepared. Through practice, you discover your limitations, the things you hadn’t considered, etc. There is no substitute for practice and real-world experience.
In your examples of Katrina and the California wildfires, I totally agree. You may have to take someone in. You may have to take a lot of people in. They may eat all of your food and use your supplies of fuel, TP, and AA batteries. They may not pay you back. They might not even say, “Thank you.” I would suggest that if you don’t want to share your preps, then don’t share that you have preps. If that doesn’t work, then at some point, you’ll have to turn people away. You might have to be prepared to do that forcefully. I recommend sharing because I would want someone to share with me if I had to evacuate and lost everything.
I’m glad to hear that you are as prepared as you are, and I urge people to become as prepared as they can reasonably be. That level of preparation will vary depending on financial resources, space, other priorities, etc., but people need to do what they can to provide for their own needs when the normal channels can’t.
I had already told my family I wanted to do this. I’m in!!
I’m in. Good idea.
Count me in- Family of five; two adults and three, four-legged babies. I’m confident no complaints from them.
For those commenters who are concerned that this challenge will force some to deplete their supplies, when an event may occur during the challenge, I say “Exactly”. This should illustrate that, though one month of supplies is better than one week, it is still limited. I think of it this way, the most devastating event that we all commonly face is unemployment. My experience has been it takes three to four months, at best, to find a new job and recover. Unemployment benefits, if you qualify, may pay the rent and keep the lights on but that’s about it. Car payment, gas, insurance, oh well!
My wife is diametrically opposed to “prepping”. However, our careers are in industries that are lay off prone. After some lean times she has acquiesced to my request to “stock up our cupboard”. She resisted at first but after a three month hiatus between jobs yet still eating well she relented. I won’t bore you with numbers but we have enough to eat for six months with no change in or meal plans. After that it’ll be beans, rice and corn bread for a while.
We don’t do this because we believe a CME may strike or the Yellow Stone Caldera may erupt, we do it because experience has taught us to expect the unexpected.
There is something I have never been able to agree with in the notion that emergency rations must make our life as normal as possible. I have a very limited budget. So my stockpile for emergencies includes stuff that will keep well, help us avoid starvation, provide some nutritional balance, but will not meet all the desires of my families regular consumption. I get that such a store is desirable. But for those of us preparing for hard times while living on the edge of solvency, prudence (and probability) dictates that we do what we must, not what we desire. If hard times come, we’ll know it by our diets. But at least we’ll have food, reasonable nutrition. Yep, it won’t be gravy & marshmallows, but it will sustain us. And we won’t have tied up huge sums in fancy, waiting for the inevitable hammer to fall. We know there will be hard times. But we don’t know when. So we strive for a balance between a good life now and a reserve just in case. And that reserve has to be shelf stable and cost effective. That’s just my choice, but I wonder about others who are less frugal. Or perhaps just much more invested.
I agree. We are so spoiled that we expect the ‘treats’ all day long every day. Desserts and fancy dishes are for special occasions. When I was a girl, mom cooked what she wanted (had) to. We ate it regardless of whether it was our favorite food. I did the same with my kids. My favorite meal now is pinto beans and mustard greens. I make dessert about once a month or special occasions. ie – birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
Our stores are everyday foods that we use everyday. Shopping is to maintain these stores.
I am eager to see how the plans I have made will work. I would rather find out now where I need to improve.
I m in. It is always good to see where we need improvements in our preps.
I’ve worked hard to get my stash where it is without going broke. So I won’t be participating. I’m feeling like an event is close., and I can’t afford to replace it all at the end of the month. However, for this month I will be hyper aware of what I’m running out of and buying the most of. I will make lists of alternatives I would need to buy (like powdered milk), sprouting seeds) to fix the holes in my pantry. Thx for all your articles!
I already did this in December 2017. I wanted to adopt a Native American family for Christmas and give them presents, a Christmas tree, a rug, enough plates for all of them to eat off of at the same time, ditto for the silverware, and all new coats, tennis shoes, and snow boots, as well as a turkey for Christmas dinner. They live in South Dakota on a poor Sioux reservation. I used about $400 in shipping fees in addition to what I bought them. That ate into my cash for Christmas. The only way I could do this was to not buy groceries and not drive anywhere to conserve gasoline. I shopped online for my family’s gifts and for the Natives, and had their gifts delivered to their house. I only drove to the post office to mail things I had for them at home. So I ate out of my pantry and freezer all month. I cooked Christmas Eve dinner for my children and grandchildren out of the pantry and freezer and my sister brought half of the food. I ran out of fresh milk and didn’t want to open one of my big cans of powdered milk that I have saved for the future, so I ate the cereal dry. Ate a lot of oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, cake, pie (desserts left from Christmas), chips and dip left from Christmas Eve. I had made the cake and bought the pie the month before and frozen them, took them out at Christmas. I ate pop top Bush’s baked beans and Vienna Sausage in barbecue flavor. For 2 days I ate ham and dressing that my daughter brought over (they don’t eat leftovers). Yeay, another meal for me. I made a package of those Lipton noodles in sauce before I ran out of milk. I have frozen butter and sour cream, so I had plenty of those things for the dip and for foods. I did have to go in my Walmart (guest) room in the house where I store all of my End of the World food and grab a new pack of toilet tissue. I ate all the Christmas candy people gave me as gifts. Actually, it was a lovely month. I could eat sweets all the time (I am retired and alone). Surprisingly I have not gained weight because I only ate at meal times. I survived and the Natives had a wonderful Christmas.
count me in—great challenge
Count me in. We just decided to eat vegan 3 days a week, so it should be interesting to see if we can follow that while we do the challenge. I have quite a bit of canned meat right now.
For those who are concerned about depleting stocks, I do plan on restocking as I use items up. I just won’t purchase food and other “stuff” for immediate use. I guess I look at this as rotation and learning to be creative with what we do stock.
I did a pantry challenge last January and learned a lot from it – highly recommend. Because the middle of the winter is probably the hardest time should the SHTF. We have a winter garden this year so that is a plus but we run out of produce first, then cheese & sour cream. We didn’t have chickens last year so we did run out of eggs.
I did shop but I tried to get by with spending as little as possible, still bought any great deals I wanted and restocking just the fresh items.
We did not use our bucket/pail/#10 can LTS food – just the pantry, fridge and freezer. This did include all our home canned foods. I planned each day’s menu – meals and snacks.
This will help you look at your food storage in a different light when you actually have to eat from it every single day. And this also helps with food waste as you challenge yourself to use leftovers, older food and get creative!
If anyone is interested, I have a recipe thread on APN where I post recipes and food tips for your food storage – please check it out.
Good luck everyone! I’ll be following along and doing a mini challenge myself.
Aka – ForwardPreppers
Yes I am in
Many of these comments sound like paranoia to me. As if testing your preps is a “mistake” in case The Real SHTF happens. NoKo craziness, Iran craziness, space rocks, swine flu, earthquakes, hurricanes, epic snow storms, frogs, blood, etc.
If not now, then WHEN is it ever a “good” time to test our preps?? It’s cowardice cloaked by the thin veneer of false safety concerns.
The only real prep you can bank on is your KNOWLEDGE. And if we neglect to test our preps how do we know where the weaknesses are?
I sit here in Providence Rhode Island, on the edge of an epic snow storm. I am unafraid. Yes, we have some basic preps. And yes, those preps are far from “perfect.” But I’m going to take this challenge DURING this snow storm, it’s a perfect scenario for the most accurate results I can add to my knowledge and adjust my future strategy.
We used a hurricane this summer to test our preps and learned a lot. It’s a great way to learn.
update: Yup, full disclosure, I only made it for 2 weeks. I am jonesing for some pizza delivery!
gotta improve my veggies stockpile. although I “could’ve” continued had this been an actual SHTF emergency, but because I know it’s a test I’m bailing early because I’m sick of pemmican.
thank you Daisy Luther. if anyone is interested i made an excellent list and have found this experiment invaluable.
Well, with an unexpected 7 inches of snow here in coastal SC, we’re off to a great start! Didn’t have to fight all the last minute shoppers and not worried about running out of supplies. Do plan to add back what is used over the next few weeks!
This is a great idea. I usually buy my bread out of sheer convenience. I feel like this will give me the push I need to get back into my self sustaining routine that I’ve slowly left behind.
Please count me in. Single mom of one 10-year-old daughter.
I’m all in! Thanks
Yes, I must do this. Back when Y2k was a big scare I was stocked to the gills. When nothing happened our family of 7 used up the storage and life went on. However, I am now a single head of household with only fixed income of $1,000 a month for myself and disabled adult son. Sounds like a lot but trust me it is a shoestring. I am going to go back and reread your article on prepping when there is no money. Gardening, scratch cooking, canning and dehydrating are not new to me. I am used to “makin somethin’ from nuthin'”. Soooooo it WILL be a challenge. Right this minute there is one week, that is it!!
Some people seem concerned about “using up their food supply”. Isn’t it true, though, that you should be rotating your stock anyway? Then why not just use up the oldest, about-to-go-out-of-date supplies first, and replenish those as needed.
Which brings up another question I have had, “How long should you keep and safely use foods and meds that are past their expiration dates?” For instance, does canned Spam REALLY ever go bad? Just wondering
BTW, I have read from many ‘prepper’ sites, and yours is by far the best! I’ll be purchasing some of your books soon.
Well… I know I didn’t stock up enough canned vegetables. Have freeze dried & dehydrated. Canned meat is okay, but I need more variety. Have plenty of rice, dried beans, pasta & flours. TP & soaps okay so far.
Where I foresee a problem is long term prescriptions.
I just read this article. I’m going to try this in February starting the 1st. Thanks for the idea and encouragement!