In popular culture you often see preppers being portrayed as whack-jobs, they run around with tin foil hats and spout off nonsense. When they show off their ‘stockpile’ it often it looks like Horders-Prepper Edition. Rooms filled floor to ceiling with toilet paper and spam. Who could live like that? Having a stockpile isn’t a bad thing, not at all. When SHTF the first thing that will happen is store shelves will be bared. Even now when the supply chain gets disrupted in the slightest way you’ll find empty shelves and long lines at the store. So being prepared with a stock of supplies is a good plan. But please for goodness sakes be smart about what you stock.
When I think about stocking supplies for emergency situations, whether local, global, or just personal, I focus on the most basic and work my way up. I think of things that I could not replicate on my own. Some of the items I see most often on lists for stocking up make me shake my head. Firstly, they take up a lot of room and are usually one use items. Secondly, what do people plan to do when those stores run out? In a true TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) you need to know how to replace those items because the stores aren’t coming back.
Toilet paper– ok, seriously. Major single use item and its bulky as hell. Look at transitioning to family cloth. It’s cleaner, softer, more effective and its reusable. Most importantly it takes up so much less space!! Take a piece of soft flannel, old bed sheets work great for this, and cut it into small squares. Mine are roughly 4×4, next time I might make them a little bigger. But they work just fine. If you want to get fancy and hem them, go for it. Check out this great article on family cloths and give it a shot. Stock up on a few rolls of TP for convenience and trading, but otherwise save the space and pick up a cheap set of flannel sheets from the thrift store.
Diapers– Same as TP, what are you going to do when the disposables run out? Cloth diapering has had a major resurgence lately (we even have a whole cloth diaper store here in town!) so it isn’t hard to find a ton of resources on how to cloth diaper and even pick them up for a great deal. My friend was lucky enough to find a bunch at garage sales! It’s more of an upfront cost than disposables, but will save you a ton in the long run. And when SHTF you’ll be set for any babies that come along.
Feminine Hygiene products– You can count on death, taxes and aunt flow to always be showing up! When SHTF that isn’t going to change. Learn now about re-usable products like a diva cup and cloth pads. Like family cloths, cloth pads are so much better for your body. The chemicals in tampons and pads are ridiculous and putting all that so close to your body on a regular basis is just gross. So many people who use re-usable feminine hygiene products have said that they’re cramps are less painful and their periods overall are less severe. As if that wasn’t reason enough to change, reusable options are also much less expensive over all, especially if you make the cloth pads yourself!
Food Items– This is outside of your normal pantry full of yummy food (particularly stuff canned from your garden). These are long term food storage items, what you want to do is make sure it’s the right kind of food. There are items that never expire, or have a 30 year shelf life. Those are definitely the items to stock up on now while they’re relatively inexpensive. Stock up the items you can’t grow/forage/find/make in your local area. Things like rice which stores amazingly and is really time consuming/difficult to grow/harvest in large quantities. Can or dehydrate citrus fruit (if you live in cold temps like us) and chocolate and coffee. Think about the food items that you would miss the most if suddenly you were limited to what could be produced locally. Having a room full of spam will get old quick and again you’ll be stuck trying to figure out what to do when it’s gone. A room full import or luxury items you can’t grow will be a much more welcome sight if things go bad.
Health and Beauty Products: Like the rest of the items on the list these are items that have cheaper, more natural homemade options. While I don’t have a problem with a decent supply of your favorite shampoo or deodorant it would be useful to know how to make your own for when those supplies run out! Baking soda, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil can replace pretty much everything you can imagine. If you have access to beeswax and goats-milk you can get even more fancy! You can buy these supplies in bulk from Mountain Rose and learn to make them for yourself.
So what should you stock? Think of the things you can’t replicate, I have never seen a coconut tree in Michigan, even if I did I would have no idea how to make coconut oil. Because it is the ultimate multitasker this is one I definitely stock up on it. Same thing with rice, chocolate, and if you’re a coffee drinker you’ll probably want to get on that! Stock up on seeds and gardening equipment. Learn how to make things from scratch and stock up on the most basic items! Keep an eye out at garage sales and thrift stores for hand operated items. When the power goes out you’re electric can opener won’t do you a whole lot of good. I love my stand mixer but without power it’s just a pretty space taker. It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole when it comes to prepping, but if you prioritize, focus on gaining knowledge, and practice with what you have it doesn’t have to be an all consuming thing.