Lockdown Prepping Lessons Learned

Just a stream of conciousness list of “lessons learned’ from the stuff bought and stored for prep for this first Chinese Wuhan Covid lockdown.

Bear in mind that here, in California, we have had both a very hard lockdown for a long time, and nearly no ‘enforcement’ at the personal level (businesses get the whack though…) with so many “essential workers” that it’s kind of like ‘weekend normal’ for traffic and grocery store visitors.

Let’s just say I’ve had fresh vegetables and salads and meat pretty much the whole time. This has NOT been a real EOTWAWKI, more like a “holiday shutdown schedule things out of stock sometimes”. So in a REAL End Of The World As We Know It, things might be different from these lessons.

1) Bush’s Baked Beans get eaten a LOT faster than canned plain beans that are faster than dry beans.

1a) Buy a lot more Bush’s Baked beans and maybe not that 25 lbs sack of dry beans. (Unless real EOWAWKI happens).

2) Ramen and noodle cups are a LOT more likely to be eaten for breakfast or lunch than “making something” especially if it involves making a loaf of bread first.

2a) Buy a lot more noodle lunch cups. Lots lots more. Cheap, fast, easy, keep well, just add water.

3) A few dozen cans of Refried Beans and a bag of rice with ability to make a tortilla is a “nice idea”, unless you do not make the tortillas.

3a) Get better at making tortillas if you are taking that path.
3b) Commercial tortillas do not keep long, being a fresh product, so if you are not going to make your own, consider a different ethnicity of food to store “for that day”.
3c) Buy more Bush’s Baked beans and less Rosarita’s Refritos IFF you are not going to make tortillas you lazy S.O…

4) It takes a Very Long Time to eat 25 lbs of rice. The small packages of Saffron Rice run out very early.

4a) Either buy a lot more saffron rice packets, or find out how to make it and buy the spices. I make a very simple and very nice dinner with jars of canned chicken parts and saffron rice. Put it all in the rice maker, add some canned peas as desired, and turn it on. I have a lot more jars of canned chicken parts and no saffron rice packets left.

4b) IF you are planning to eat 25 lbs each of beans and rice, make sure you know how to season them AND have the proper seasonings in hand, or else you will use up all your pre-packaged stuff long before a dent is made in the “plain white rice”.

5) Crackers crackers crackers. The snack foods went very fast. (The spouse got into the GORP, jerky and dried fruit early and it was essentially gone by the time I “finished” buying the total stock of Prep. Even the 2nd round of it that I bought (and hid…) to replace the first did not last anywhere near long enough. Ritz Crackers and saltines go very fast too. So whatever crackers and gorp and jerky and such you plan to buy, triple it, at least. Cookies too. And fruit bars. Snack-O-Matic stuff just gets snacked up ‘right quick’.

5a) Hide the snacks better.

6) Meats. It would REALLY benefit me to have a deep chest freezer, but I have no place to put one. If at all possible, have one and fill it. I used canned hams (1 lb each that don’t need refrigeration) and canned chicken (done myself at home) along with Tuna, Salmon (from COSTCO in 6 oz cans), Sardines and some odd bits (kippers, oysters, etc.) as my meat prep. It wasn’t enough. The Salmon went more slowly than expected. It almost but not quite will substitute for tuna in some dishes, but the tuna goes way faster. Close to 1 can / day average for 2 people. Sardines I have to excess, but only I eat them, andI am not prone to clearing out a whole stash of something, but pace myself. Were it not for a tendency to have ‘creaky joints’ from beef, I’d have bought a lot of Corned Beef in tins.

6a) Hotdogs and Sausages from the freezer ran out long before the jars of sauerkraut. Figure out a better way of storing sausages (or buy that freezer…)

7) Drinks. I’ve still got a couple of tubs of lemonade powder and Tang like stuff. Spouse has had me buy a LOT of canned sodas over the period. Do not expect folks to change their habits in drinks without EOTWAWKI conditions. Stock the canned stuff for the expected duration. Instant Coffee freeze dried granules are “barely OK”. Buy more coffee in cans and store it well if at all possible. “Someday” you will need to drink that stored coffee and you will really prefer “old stored well” real ground coffee. Tea, in oxygen barrier storage, keeps very well. Foil pouches or decanted into glass jars or tins. Tea takes up less space than coffee.

8) Paper goods. I’d figured on just using a ‘dedicated wash cloth’ if things went all EOTWAWKI, but then it didn’t. We’ve not run out of paper towels or “other papers”, but buying sometimes was at different places and odd brands. Pay attention to the paper goods inventory. Bulky it is, so storage a problem can be…

9) Booze. Who Knew that wine and Scotch and Gin were important items to stock. ( I know, everyone but me). But really, I had near zero stock (at least after week 3…) and it’s been “buy as you drink it” since then. Very unexpected.

10) Regular noodles and sauce. Not moving nearly as fast as I’d expected. Lots of dry noodles, marinara, and Alfredo in stock still. Likely would be different had we not had constant access to the store and meats. Oh, and we went through a fairly large amount of dry salami early on. While it was expected to go on lasagna and into other sauces, the reality is that it went with cheese and crackers down the throat… Nice to have the EOTWAWKI stock still in the cupboard, but would have been better to have more tuna (still have lots of boxes of Mac & Cheese mix to add tuna and make a nice casserole).

11) Oils. Nice thing here is that substituting Olive Oil into various recipes (like Mac & Cheese box) works very well. I’ve used up about 3/4 of the 2 large tubs of coconut oil, and about 1/2 to 1 gallon of olive oil (out of a couple…) and only now started testing uses for the Beef Tallow I bought on a whim. So yeah, bought too much oils, but wasn’t sure what would store well so overbought. Nice thing is all of them stored well. (Soybean or corn, not so much. Stick with monounsaturated O.O. or saturated and avoid the polyunsaturated that goes rancid fast.) We’ve bought a LOT of butter over the lockdown year as I’d not learned how to can it in advance and figured I’d just substitute other oils. In a real Aw Shit, canned butter would be a feature. The tallow would have worked OK I guess… but we didn’t need to ‘go there’ and instead went to the store and bought butter every week.

12) Baking. Making various breads worked out very well. From the “prepper nan” I posted about to yeast bread using the bread maker, it was all good. Also biscuits (‘savory scones’). Did discover that for really good biscuits you need that low protein self rising flour (so more of that needs to be stored) and the 25 lbs of “bread flour” I bought is not well suited to biscuits as the protein content is high. OTOH, at a loaf of bread every 3 days, it’s been about right for bread. (Stored in individual 1/2 gallon containers to keep bugs and air out…)

12a) Oatmeal cookies want a lot of raisins. I had way too much oats (until EOTWAWKI…) but not enough raisins. “Snacks” took ’em ;-) So, OK, hide a few boxes of raisins or other dried fruit so the cookies budget works right ;-)

13) Oats. Why a whole section on oats? Because I bought a lot, in a few kinds, and I like oats. They are very good for you. So, first off, the “near instant packet oats” with fruit or brown sugar already in them works really well. We’ve gone though 100 to 150 packets (and only have about another 50 left. ;-) 2 packets in a bowl and 1 cup boiling water makes a fast breakfast. Add a pat of butter and splash of milk to make it very nummy. The traditional Rolled Oats has had one full tub end up in cookies and is now, finally, gone. The 2 tubs of “Quick Oats” (not instant) are still here, as is the few pounds of steel cut oats. Turns out I’m not that fond of steel cut oats as they stay a little harder than I like. I’ll maybe need to cook them longer with more water.

13a) If you don’t know how to cook and use an item, not familiar with it, like me and steel cut oats, don’t buy so much. If you have a use in mind, like cookies, buy proportional to expected run rate. Easy and pre-packaged will be used before “DIY and cook on the stove” even if “quick” oats.

14) Milk and Dairy. Canned sweetened condensed milk works GREAT in tea or coffee. Already has the sugar in it, and keeps forever in the fridge even if it does turn to taffy… Canned evaporated condensed works fine in cooking and some direct consumption uses (like very flavored cereal, oats). Bought a few 24 can flats and still have some left. OTOH, spouse puts some kind of “plant milk” on her cereal and I’ve bought a jug of goat milk for my drinking pleasure on a regular basis, so only using the stored milk about 1/2 as fast as ‘normal’. We’ve gone through a fair amount of ‘store bought cheese’. Slices and grated. The shaker jug of dry cheese (“parmigiana”) is not being used very fast and the 1/2 gallon of “cheese powder” not at all, other than that included in the packages “Mac & Cheese” boxes. Butter was addressed under oils above.

14a) IF real cheese is available, you will not use much dry stuff. But the dry stuff is OK in a pinch.

15) Spuds. The Betty Crocker various “Au Gratin” and “Scalloped” and whatever other flavor boxed spuds keep very well and worked out very well. With some dice of ham or SPAM in them, makes a nice meal, all from stored. (You do need some canned milk and oil to make the sauce step, just like with the boxed Mac & Cheese). We have bought a couple of bags of Real Potatoes, so didn’t use as much of the prep as expected. The boxed instant mashed is an “OK not great” mashed potato in a real Aw Shit. So far I’ve only used the instant in one meal and as an adjunct in my bread mix (6 oz flour and 2 oz dry potatos) but the mashed with the meal was “OK”. The dried hash browns have been a BIG hit and I’ll be using them long after “prep” is a distant memory.

15a) Dried works so well, I need to take my food dryer and learn to make and store my own. It’s pretty trivial. Thin slices on drier shelf. Dry. Into jar. But I need to actually do it and get fast / good at it. Why? Paper boxes are not rodent, bug, and water proof. Glass jars are.

16) Fruits and preserves. I had quite enough preserves for the fist 6 months or so, now back to buying. Dried fruit about the same. Canned fruit was gone in about 3 weeks. Note to self, buy more canned fruit… Preserves on home made bread is way good, BTW. Notice I said preserves, not jelly. Preserves has the real fruit in it, not just juice and sugar. Dried fruit had that “Snacks gone fast” issue… so buy a LOT more if you or your spouse has a sweet tooth.

17) Sugar, salt, condiments. All have lasted just fine. I had a lot of them. Not yet needed to buy any added salt, sugar, mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, etc. Did have to buy a new jug of pepper corns. So maybe make sure to have a years worth in storage for “15 days to stop the spread”…

18) Canned goods. Did a pretty good job on this, modulo the fruit issue. We’re just now running low on canned vegetables. Some choices used up (mixed veggies, carrots) and others hanging in there (green beans, peas). These are a really nice thing to have for making meals “work”. Oh, and all “interesting small bits” are used up. Canned ravioli, oysters, etc. So more of them would have been better (had we know it would be this long…)

19) Lentils & Other dry seeds. I’ve not used these nearly as fast as I expected. Not making as much soup as I thought would happen. Mostly using rice and not making mixed grain pilaf. Having more oatmeal for breakfast and not as much Kashi or barley. Not what I’d expected. I made a batch of lentils using dried garlic and dried onions, then after cooking, light bit of butter added. Very nice and the spouse ate it (she will not eat my curry lentils & potatoes). I’ll likely make more of it just to get the lentils moving. I also need to find a way to use more dry beans that isn’t a meat dependent chili… or competing with Bush’s baked beans ;-) All in all, I think I could use more lentils and barley if I paid a bit more attention. Dry beans not so much without making chili.

20) Dog Food. We bought a 20 lb bag of dry dog food. The dogs (2 x 16 lbs or so) will eat it, but prefer the canned. So I’ve bought a lot of canned over the last months. About 1 x 22 oz can per 3 days. We still have some of the dry left. In a real Aw Shit, the dry would have carried us for a few months.

21) Dry Packaged Cereal. The spouse likes things like corn flakes and Cherios for breakfast with “plant milk” and toast. I didn’t have nearly enough boxed cereal. I DID have enough for a few months. Then things drug on… These keep a very long time in the package. For very long duration I decant them into 1/2 gallon glass jugs (that bug, rodent, and water issue, along with air oxidation barrier). They are just not as dense as whole grains, so you need a few extra large boxes for any length of time. Measure a bowl weight, do the math, and buy the station wagon load… Or hope stores stay open.

22) Vitamins. The BIG bottle Multivitamin bought at the Big Box store is still going strong. We’ve had to replace some of the specialty bottles a couple of times. (Things like Vit-D3, Zinc, etc. to bounce up some RDA into what you really ought to have ranges)

That’s all for now. If I think of more, I’ll add it.


Not bad, really, especially when you consider this was to be “15 days to slow the spread” and my target was more like “a few months if it all goes sideways” when what we got was “Has it been a year already?”…

So, OK, I’ve got some surplus on a few things. Enough beans and rice, still, for the next year. Since they keep a few years, I’m OK with that. I’ve learned what we run out of first, and know to buy more of it (snacks, canned fruit, meats be they frozen, dried, or canned, tuna, cheese & butter).

A bigger freezer would help a lot. (Then again, I didn’t care at all when Gov. Nuisance announced rolling blackouts). Having a bit more “prepping skill in DIY” for things like dried potatoes and canned butter would help too. Yet buying boxed spuds and freezing butter would work just as well, perhaps better, and certainly with less effort.

Overall, I’m quite happy with what we could have done had it been a real hard lock down and quarantine. We’d have done just fine for about 3 months, then “Not happy but OK” about another 3, and then likely “I’m pissed and don’t want to see another bowl of beans and rice again, but fed” for about 6 months more. Knowing it would / could get the year done is a nice feeling. Makes going to the grocery store a “perk” not an obligation.

I’d also note that water service never failed. That’s a whole ‘nother topic. What would have happened if utilities broke down. I have fuel and stoves for about 4 to 6 months I think. But didn’t need to use any of it. (I did make coffee and oatmeal a few times on my stoves, but just to play with them, really. One cheap Chinese butane cartridge stove clogged up. Why I have 4 of them.) Water for only a few weeks on small rations. Way under prepped for a water outage. But then again there’s a lake fed creek about 5 miles away and I have a station wagon and buckets… plus filters.

In the end, I have to rate the prep as “Very good, not great”. Some math time would have made quantities more appropriate and kept things in ratios that work together for meals. A bit of self awareness would avoid things like running out of snacks (either by buying a lot more, or storing them, er, “better”…) Buying “what you know you eat” would avoid things like “Steel cut oats are not my favorite now what do I do with 5 lbs of it?”, then again, it is OK and in a real EOTWAWKI you want some foods that were not snacked away… Big Bag of Beans & Rice is a nice $40 instant-prep for EOTWAWKI, but if you have more than 10 minutes, a station wagon load of cans and dried boxed stuff you do eat would be a lot more familiar and will be eaten first.

So I’m happy, but with some lessons learned.

I’m also happy to have a leg up on what to do should Illegitimate Biden become POTUS (in name only) and announce a real 1 year Lock Down (and die, damn you just die and leave your property to the globalist cabal…). I can be “prepped and ready” inside a few hours. So I”m looking to the future as one I can handle.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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57 Responses to Lockdown Prepping Lessons Learned

  1. Ossqss says:

    I would add a couple thoughts on items.

    Get the Ramen in packages not cups. Less storage space (square) and much cheaper in bulk.

    Vienna Sausages in bulk (I think 18 cans), cheap and easy to gobble for a snack.

    Lance Toast Chee peanut butter cracker packages in bulk. 40 packs $5.88 at Sam’s.

    Smokehouse almonds in bulk. 40 oz resealable bag for $10-12 bucks at Sam’s or 30 oz bags at Wallyworld for $11.

    Trail mix soft fruit and nut bars in bulk (Nature Valley I think). I don’t remember how much they were maybe (10-15 bucks for a box of 48, but 1 pack of crackers, some smokehouse almonds, and a trail mix bar will fill you up and the bars are kinda like desert :-)

    Dogfood in bulk placed into a plastic air tight container. I think mine holds up to 30-40 lbs and is probably 3-4 cubic FT.

    Oh, and several cases of Busch Light. It is cheap and nobody will drink it but you! Just ask HR :-)

  2. Quail says:

    Things I have learned:

    Rat poison earlier and lots of it. Don’t hold back. They ate many of the vegis we could have eaten.
    Old dog food makes the dog fart. One of the bags made her itch too, so every time she scratched, she tooted a tune and cleared the room.
    Store hay bales not only on top of feed bags upon dry gravel, but up in a plastic bin. Moldy hay can’t be fed to anything other than potatoes and rabbits are always hungry.
    Kids grow faster than you think.
    Smoke makes life suck. If the worse happened, there would be even more smoke, all the time. Misters helped so maybe wet sheets would filter it a bit? No wonder people died in the London Fogs.
    A family stuck at home all day every day is not healthy. Find better ways to deal with it. Unfortunately, the smoke made going outside not an option.
    Masks make people look creepy. I need the entire face to decipher the happier emotions. I still can’t recognize anyone, but with far fewer people around this is less of a problem.
    A swimming pool can evaporate over 1.5 yards of surface water over the summer, and ash is an excellent fertilizer for algae.
    Don’t trust experts of any kind. Get info from as many places and countries as you can, sort it, decide on your own. Even your doctor could be lying.
    Dehydrated refried beans are awesome.
    Plant more potatoes.

    Good times. Lessons learned. Where’s my wine?

  3. President Elect H.R. says:

    A note on drink mixes (aside from the Busch Light issue):

    The Mrs. just does not like plain water. She used to drink diet colas, but now she is on a caffeine-restricted diet.

    For the past two years, she’s been drinking ‘Fruit Punch’ and ‘Orange Crush’ powdered mixes sized for 1/2 gallon or 2-liter containers. There are a couple of green tea mixes that I like. There are national brands and house brands. She actually prefers the house brand fruit punch to the Hawaiian Punch mix, and at about 1/2 the cost.

    The mixes are in ‘straws’ and should keep nearly forever. There are two sizes of straws. The small ones are for 1/2 liter bottles and the large straws are sized to flavor 2 liters. Save a few plastic bottles in the size that suits you and you are good to go.

    I think people are getting tired of paying for sodas. When I started buying the mixes, you had your choice of flavors in any quantity. Even before the 3 weeks to flatten the curve, the ‘drink straws’ section was getting picked over and some flavors (alas, fruit punch was one) were hard to come by.
    I brought this up because there may be issues with water that is safe, but a little funky. A little flavoring could help out there.

    The straws are sealed per the usage size you find works best for you. You don’t have an open bulk can of drink mix that starts to degrade or lose a bunch if the can gets knocked over.

    If you like variety, they have way more flavors than sodas.

    The straws take up very little room compared to cans or plastic bottles of soda and they are cheap. I give between $1.67 and $1.98 for 6 large straws that will make 12 liters of drink.

    Get the drink mix straws, not the bulk cans. If something goes awry, none of the unopened straws will be affected. The bulk cans? Not so much, and stuff happens.

  4. Paul, Somerset says:

    I’ve found nuts are good over these last months. Bags of mixed nuts, salted cashews, etc. are currently incredibly cheap in UK supermarkets, owing to the collapse of the airline and hospitality industries.They combine the pleasure of a preparation-free snack with a level of nutrition and feeling of fullness which can eke out your other stores. (And don’t forget one or two bags of brazil nuts too, for that selenium.)

    Regarding water, I keep a couple of dozen old 2-litre plastic drinks bottle cleaned and filled with water under the bench in the garage. Each summer I use the water for the garden and refill the bottles for another year. You know, if there really were an interruption to your water supply, it’s just nice knowing they’re there and to hand, even if only to wash with. Ultimately those bottles offer a few days of peace of mind if a really desperate situation threatened. In the same way you found cans of ready-to-eat food a better choice than dried survivalist goods, I reckon that in a world where water supplies have disappeared, I’d prefer to have an immediate and basic supply to hand rather than having straight away to drive to a stream, fill cans and filter the contents.

  5. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    Here in rural central Washington State, we have been less impacted than you and yours, apparently.

    Baked Beans;
    I can make some mighty fine baked beans, but buying a high quality brand is the way to go.
    Canned plain beans – generic grocery store – might have nutritional value, but nothing else going for them.

    Wife likes the packages and will add some chicken.
    Me – – beef vegges thick soup, without noodles. Corn chips.

    We are 20 minutes from the nearest store. Running out of something is costly. We do have chest freezers. One is 50+ years old. Thought it was dying, so bought a replacement a few years ago, but other than the light, it is still going. I moved it from the garage to an unheated shed this past spring. I know a cheap combo frig/freezer won’t handle the sub-freezing; hoping the simple freezer does.
    Downside is that chest freezers, for all their advantages, are prone to items migrating to the bottom and resurfacing 2 years later.
    [Panic2020 generated massive purchases of refrigerators and freezers. Became as scarce as toilet paper. May have changed.]
    [Store water in plastic jugs in unused freezer space.]

    Some in the multivitamin pill.
    Otherwise beef appears to be a good source.
    Red onions have the 3rd ingredient, and I grew a lot this year.
    Probably don’t get all the Quercetin needed from onions, but it is an easy way of getting some.

    I don’t understand why** the medical profession hasn’t been recommending Vit-D3, forever. Most folks don’t spend time in the sun in a manner to help. **Well, I do know why – studies haven’t been done that unequivocally demonstrate specific health outcomes.

  6. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    I got some of each, and found that I really liked the way the cups had some vegies and protein in it already. Yeah, for Just Prep, the ramen squares are tighter pack, but what I ate most was the cups. (Shrimp cups especially as they have some dried shrimp in them…

    I did learn that “Lime Shrimp” squares were pretty lousy with way too much artificial lime flavor. However, you CAN toss the flavor packet and just use 2 tsp of chicken bouillon powder instead ;-)

    Our dog food IS in a large square white multi-bag tub about 2 x 2 x 2 feet with a round screw top with seal… (inherited with the dogs). If full, it would last many months…

    I’m still working off the almonds (spouse doesn’t eat plain almonds…) that I got in a big bag at either COSTCO or Walmart and decanted into 1/2 gallon jars… Had a small bowl of them tonight with popcorn salt added.

    Per Busch Light: Um, no. Just no. I mean, Hell No. Though, on second thought, it might make it to week three… ;-)


    OMG! What a list! Your wine? Was that your wine? My bad… ;-)

    I love my Israeli gas mask… it can stop Dead Rotting Rat smell so it can stop anything!


    Like the idea. But I’m fine with “just water” and the Spousal Unit is picky and wants ONLY Pepsi made with Real Sugar. Not even regular corn syrup Pepsi or Coke will do. SO I’m kinda stuck.

    I’ve thought of getting one of those home carbonation things, but I don’t drink carbonated sodas and the spouse likely would refuse the product as “not quite right”.

    Oh Well. When the soda runs out it’s not my problem…

  7. philjourdan says:

    The wash cloth is a known substitute for every parent over 50 (before disposables became the defacto). I was going to suggest the ramen packages, but President Elect HR beat me to it.

    The rest are all good. With the steal, we will never regain our freedom. We are now a tinplated dictatorship with 50 little Eichmans.

  8. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Yeah, I’ve got 4? 32 gallon barrels, food grade, in the back yard. I filled them at the start, but it gets a little “off” over time. In that “if really desperate” column…. The drive to the river is last resort. First is the 48 bottles of water the spouse uses to assure her kidney does not stone again… Yes, we always have 2 flats of water in a stack, and I replace it way too often…

    @N&J Hultquist:

    we are theoretically more impacted. In reality a whole lot of folks just ignore The Governor whenever they can and police are very scarce. Haven’t seen a traffic stop in weeks… I think they are hiding to avoid being yelled at ;-)

    So “We let him make crazy rules and then We ignore them”. Other than masks to enter stores and the obligatory 6 foot spacing at the entrance, folks are not doing much. Even in the stores with one way isles and nag signs to social distance, folks just shop.

    Onions! Oooh I love onions! Yes, Red is better! My buy order is red, yellow, white, green. Often the yellow are available and cheap when reds are sold out or expensive. Oh Well.

    I bought a couple of (16 oz?) shakers of dried onion chips. Seem to work fine, but not used much as we’ve been able to keep buying Real Onions ™…

    Per Vit D: I wonder why it isn’t 24 x 7 on the news and TV to take your Vit-D to avoid the Chinese Plague… then again, how does Big Pharma make money off that and how can you blame Trump then?

  9. AnnieM says:

    “Way under prepped for a water outage. But then again there’s a lake fed creek about 5 miles away and I have a station wagon and buckets… plus filters.”
    You think that if there’s a long term water outage there won’t be outages of other things, like gas, as well??? Long term you should figure on about 50 gallons a week for the two of you, how many buckets you got? How many other people will be walking and driving to that same creek???

  10. SolePublic says:

    Note – DollarTree has good tortillas that store well in frig/freezer. Mar 10/10/20 we laid in stores and resupply as needed, 3 mo at a shot. Have big garden/orchard and 3 freezers. Drinks – light beer, wine, seltzer, coffee, tea – H20 from well. Beans, rice, pasta – cook up in bulk, save in frig, package complete dinners (Turkey/gravy/stuffing, lasagne, beef stroganoff, stir-fry, corned beef and cabbage, etc.) in freezer. Laid in a lamb, steaks, sausages, pizza (lazy). Stored home-grown fruits (sliced, in cobbler, pies, etc), home-grown spinach, broccoli, tomatoes in freezer; greens persisting in garden (zone 7), tomatoes in tiny greenhouse. Wonderful meals! We are so fortunate to live where we do in rural VA. Thanks for all you do, Chiefio! Bon appétit, my friend.

  11. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    SolePublic !
    . . . beef stroganoff. Wish you hadn’t mentioned this.
    Now I’m in great need.

  12. Pouncer says:

    Chocolate? Cocoa powder, hot chocolate drink mix, syrup, tootsie rolls, creme de’ cocoa… ? It’s bit late to stock up from after-Halloween clearance but such sales are always the best way to lay in a bulk.

    Multi-vitamins tablets? I actually take TWO-a-day, but buy a jug of pills that don’t overdo “A”. Lots of weird minerals in that mix — some of which are probably helpful.

    Dish soap. Just in general, not prepping or hoarding: we dilute and divide a normal strength bottle’s product in two. When used the sink gets one “squirt” of juice and it turns out dilute juice leaves us just as many bubbles behind at the end of the chore as full-strength. (Personal experience — don’t try sink-juice in the dishwashing machine at any concentration or amount. Just — don’t)

    The boxed potatoes got mentioned but big cardboard canisters of instant potato flakes are handy, can be mixed with pancake batter, or bread dough, or to stretch meat-loaf — slightly different than flour. Or corn meal. And do you folks dislike corn bread or muffins?

    “Butter flavored” peanut-based popcorn oil doesn’t quite taste like butter, though it does keep MUCH better at room temperature, and can be interesting on / in the instant potatoes or corn bread.

  13. James Glendinning says:

    I tried to buy foodstuffs that did not need refrigeration or freezing- canned chicken/tuna and corned beef hash worked best for me. Spaghetti and mac/cheese, ramen noodles (by the case). and bags of saffron rice. Sugar free cough drops, vitamins and painkillers, medical kits and water purifier.

    Things I ran out of? Snacks.

    Btw- when I stopped drinking carbonated drinks, my headaches went away.

  14. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Oh, yeah, chocolate. Bought 2 big sized Hersheys jugs. Didn’t run out. (Spouse doesn’t do chocolate due to headache if she does, and I’m not that big on sugar). But the occasional chocolate milk or mocha coffee is nice.

    I have a corn allergy, so my wonderful cornbread is now “millet bread” and I thought it was likely not worth mentioning. Just swap millet flour for corn flour. Not the same but better than nothing…

    I have a box of potato flakes, and 2 boxes of small plastic pouches of an instant potato mix that looks like flour. I mostly use it to make bread… But as mashed is OK too.

    I sporadically make several different kinds of breads, including raisin bread and more.

    And pancakes. A 10 lb bag of pancake mix lasts forever with us.


    I stuffed the freezer (small fridge type) with meat. Fish, chicken, turkey burgers, etc. With the small space, figured it was wasted on tortillas ( I have frozen them before) and that I’d just make them fresh. Then didn’t… I can… I just didn’t.

    Polish Sausage and mild Italian beat it out…


    I have more cars than drivers by a fair amount, and no longer drive far much. I fill the tanks about 1 time a QUARTER. In a real Aw Shit, the Diesel gets 450 miles to the tank, and that’s about 45 trips to the creek…

    But really, long before then, I think other stuff would happen. Outside relief or war zone or whatever.

    Realistically, if careful (and NOT driving off to the church far away and the Walmart Superstore 30 miles away and…) just what’s in our tanks could be stretched to 6 months easy. (They are not empty at the quarterly fill up…)

    IF it ever got bad enough to need creek water, it would be a lot less than 50 gal a week. It would be more like 15 gallons. Just drinking and cooking. Maybe 2 cups and a sponge once a week for “bathing” and forget washing clothes. Wear and air out in the sun… I have about 4 x 5 gallon pales and 2 x 32 gallon barrels.

    Until then it’s the flats of bottled water inside, the water heater tank, and the 2 barrels in the back yard…

    As for # of people:

    That’s the real ringer problem here. About 4 million people in a 30 x 80 mile area. It either continues to function relatively well, or getting creek water is the least of your concerns. About 95% of them have NO plan and NO prep and will be in a world of hurt in under 2 weeks. Make it past that, a whole lot fewer folks to deal with… They will have loaded up the car and burned their last tank of gas getting stranded out in Farm Country in the Central Valley or up in the mountains. I figure on creek water about week 4 to 6+ …

    Oh, and one car is the Bug Out Car. It would be left full of gas and ready to “bug out” to the rural lake about 40 miles away… IF it isn’t reported swamped with folks already… Very few of the folks in this urban metroplex know about that particular lake and we’re almost on the main road to it. That’s the last resort level. It is past 2 other lakes that will catch most folks.

    Basically “the plan” is be a low profile target with enough to get past the worst of everyone else in a panic and going crazy, then and only then, sneak out if possible to a place where camping would work (or stay here and use local water if more reasonable).

    BTW, there are several creeks around Some cleaner than others, and some that dry up in summer. Also about a dozen lakes in short driving distance (most of them smaller but enough). Oddly, most folks never visit them or even know they exist. On rural roads in untraveled areas mostly. The bigger creeks here are fed from them and tend to run year round. Some of the smaller ones are more like urban drainage ditches and dry up in summer. ANY action would be strongly contingent on wet vs dry season.

    But really I’d rather be in Florida… consistent water not an issue. Having “maybe sorta” water hopes is not quite secure enough, really. Mostly I’m prepped for 2 weeks and then services return or military has come in…

  15. President Elect H.R. says:

    I have wire shelving to storing canned and dry goods. I was going to make label holders for the shelves, but it turned out the the manufacturer had label holders designed for the shelves and they were cheap.

    My shelves are labeled according to “Use By” date. My kitchen pantry is 2020 dated stuff plus condiments and things like vinegar, oils, and BBQ sauce as well as other ‘add to food’ sauces and seasonings. Then the storage shelves in another room are dated 2021 through 2025.

    So in storage, I have many of the same items but on different shelves. For example, I have tinned corned beef on the 2021 shelf, then a few cans on the 2023 shelf, and several from my last buy on the 2025 shelf. I have beans of various sorts on all 5 shelves.

    The goods can be sorted by type on the shelf. Beans are together, veggies, tinned meats, tuna.

    I chose my storage method over grouping all like items together and rotating that stock because I am concerned only about the current year. Having all things alike together allows you to quickly see the total of how much of any single food type you have, but it doesn’t tell you if you need to eat 80% of it NOW, because you stocked up on it 3 years ago.

    I actually only have about a one year supply of everything spread out over those dates, So long as the food supply is normal, I just make a note of what I’ve used and then pick up more with the longest “Use By” date I can find. When the 2021 shelf is empty, I’ll just label it 2026 and keep going.

    IF… it looks like the SHTF will happen, then it will only take an hour +/- to rearrange the food by type so I can see what gaps need filled in (“What?!? I only have two cans of green beans?”).

    OR IF… the SHTF happens and there’s no time to fill in supplies, I’ll know how to space out usage of the items that are in shorter supply on the shelves.
    Re freezers: I think the chest types are best because they hold the cold air better. When you open the front door freezers, all of the cold air rolls out. The cold air in the chest type just sits there and recovery time is much faster. Also, in a chest freezer, there’s less chance of food falling against the door and degrading the seal as sometimes happens on the front door freezers.

    The thing I dislike about chest freezers is that some things have a tendency to get lost at the bottom and are just plain no good by the time they are uncovered. But that’s an operator error, eh?

    I have a front door freezer and it has helped me use things before they go South. If I had it to do again, I’d buy a chest freezer and just work on my frozen food discipline.
    A note on door seals :As best I know, no refrigerator or freezer has been sold in the U.S. for quite some years now with mechanical latches. They are all magnetic to keep kids from get locked in and suffocating, and that did happen often enough as it is soooo natural for kids to wonder if the light stays on when the door is closed. This may be true pretty much world-wide by now.

    Once the switch to magnetic closure was made, the door seal issue became something to watch out for so you didn’t lose a freezer full of food.

  16. President Elect H.R. says:

    Clint Eastwood: “So you gotta ask yourself; Do I feel lucky? Do I really want to open this slightly bulging cans of pinto beans dated 2009?”
    😜 🤣🤣

  17. cdquarles says:

    Lockdown? What’s a lockdown? Oh, you mean closing schools and ‘not essential’ businesses. Not much changed here other than runs on hand sanitizer, bleach, and paper goods. Sadly, I am seeing that again.

  18. AnnieM says:

    15 gallons a week? You’re dreaming there. Think things through carefully. You’re talking about oatmeal, ramen, rice, and beans to stretch the food. You know how much water they take to cook? If you’re cooking every day you need to wash your cooking pots and dishes every day, too. Talk to your wife. Sanitation for women is no joke. To prevent itches and rashes you need to wash the hoohaa every day especially if you’re working harder than normal. Change the underwear every day and wash before rewearing. Where are you going to do your business when you stop flushing the toilet? Not taking water seriously is a beginner mistake. Water is MORE important than food, not less. Try living out of your barrels for a week and see how far it gets you.

  19. philjourdan says:

    Water is not an issue here. We got creeks within feet of us. And enough tidal water (mildly brackish) to take care of bathing and toilet functions. And that is inexhaustible. So that is not a problem back east.

  20. p.g.sharrow says:

    AnnieM has that right. Drinking and cooking water only, might be tolerable for 2 or 3 days but sanitation and washing quickly become very important. A clean source of Water is far more important then food. People on a community water source forget about that thing until the spigot goes dry. What the heck!
    Americans are generally used to clean water just being there on demand, even more dependable then Electric power…….er….. no longer the case in California. Well you can generate your own electric power in some degree if need be or go without, but can you produce Water? 5 gallons a day per person? Try living a couple of days with no water source. Water is fairly easy to store, just don’t forget that it is a necessary part of SHTF planning…pg

  21. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Annie M:

    Oatmeal for breakfast: 1/2 cup water. (Just made and ate it). Coffee: 1 cup.
    Lunch: Bush’s Beans – zero water. Fried fish – zero water (yesterdays lunch)
    Dinner: Chicken slow cooker dish. 1 oz. water added, but not necessary.

    Frying pan is cast iron. Cleaning can be done as infrequently as once a week (or never, if desperate). Wipe with paper towel and move on. If out of paper towels, scrape with spatula and move on. (I’ve done it). Oatmeal is made in a bowl from which it is eaten. Wipe with a paper towel (or slice of bread) and move on. At most, 1 oz can wash it. (I’ve done it. Sponge and wipe with towel) Slow cooker can be similarly cleaned with a sponge and ounce or maybe two of water (and makes a couple of days of food in one go). Similarly beans can be eaten straight from the can, cold. Zero to wash.

    Not even up to 1 quart of water yet, and the a full day of meals done, PLUS chicken stuff for 2 more days.

    Not a “beginners mistake”. Someone who has camped and had to carry their water with them. You learn how to not use water. I’ve eaten for a day out of one Sierra Club Cup without washing it, just wiping. Yes, coffee with oatmeal bits floating in it is a bit odd but tastes fine.

    I’ve also gone most of a week without a shower or bath, and THEN washed off in salt water bay. We have lots of salt water very near. Salt water cleans nicely though it does leave a salty bit on the skin. The SF bay is an easy bike ride away.

    BTW, I’m the “Chief cook and bottle washer” of the home. I’m the one who does all the dishes. I’m well acquainted with the process ( and was washing an entire restaurant worth of dishes, pots, and pans – by hand – in my folks restaurant as a kid…) I’ve run 60 tables worth of dishes through one sink of soapy water. (The way you do that is a really thorough scrape up front with rubber spatula, then a “dirty water rinse”, only a very thin film goes into the soapy water so it lasts a very long time).

    That method of cooking and cleaning then leaves about a bit under gallon a day each for drinking other uses, such as personal hygiene. A sponge is your friend. I’ve done a “sponge bath” in about 1 quart of water. I’m pretty sure I can do it in 1 pint. The water can be used for a few days if needed. (Heat to pasteurize and then reuse)

    Then there are various ways you can take dirty water and either clean it up or reuse it. Dish rinse water becomes wash water. Water from dish cleaning can have the big bits filtered out and reused until the oils build up too much. Then you can filter that out. (Filter kit is in the garage. 4 stage including charcoal. I hope to never need go that far. Filter elements first used for drinking water, when “exhausted” they get reused to clean up old dish water enough, if really necessary) Last step with hopeless water is dump it on plants…

    Note on Rice:

    1/2 cup of rice is more than enough for the two of us for 1 day. That takes 1 cup of water to cook. I’ve made 1 cup of rice (2 cups water) and it was way more than we could eat in a day. The notion that a cup of water a day makes rice untenable on water usage is a bit over the top.

    Normally I use a rice cooker, but I’ve also made it in a thermos (not quite as good) where evaporation is zero. Cooked in a pressure cooker in a jar works, but gets gluey.

    Beans I pressure cook in a jar. Normally I’ll do the 3 changes of water to remove the fart inducing pentose sugars. In an emergency, it is just dry beans to jar, add water, and pressure cook. A pint jar takes about 10 ounces of water and is more beans than we eat in a typical meal for 2. Zero goes down the sink. Many things can be cooked this way with zero water wasted. You can run the pressure cooker such that very little steam leaves, and the water can be used for many batches / days. BTW, I canned about 2 gallons of beans this way at the start of this event. This isn’t a hypothetical, I’ve done it. Those beans need no water to eat.

    IF EOTWAWKI looks imminent, then a lot of my dry beans will be cooked up and canned in a binge session while water is flowing so that future water need is zero. Emptied jars don’t need to be washed, just put somewhere they don’t bother you.

    Also note that the salt water from things like the canned green beans can be reused to cook other things, like the rice. Taste will be a bit odd, but so what. I’ve got a reasonably large supply of canned green beans and peas.

    Per “do the duty”:

    We’re talking EOTWAWKI here. Flush toilets are NOT going to happen.

    How it works: Take a shovel and dig a trench in the yard. Stand over it and go. Use ONE paper towel (no, not a 1/2 a roll of charmin…) Shovel dirt on top. Zero water used.

    BTW, I DO take water use very seriously. That’s why I put so much emphasis on how NOT to need it.

    On trips cross country, I’ll typically load a flat of water bottles in the car. About 36 pints, or about 4.5 gallons. Typically I’m arriving on the other coast 4 days later and with some water left over. I’ll typically eat in the car (sandwiches, canned goods and such) and sometimes stop to cook at a rest stop. (The salt water bath was in the Gulf on the Panhandle of Florida after arriving from California). So again, the idea of a gallon a person a day is not based on some theory, but practice practice practice.

    Is it pleasant? No, not at all. But disasters never are, and we are talking about a horrible disaster context.

    Note that in the 5 or 6 wet months, water management is not an issue as it’s all over the place. Only in the dry season does water management happen. So my stringent “avoid using the water” will really only need to be done if the Aw Shit arrives in that particular season.

    Is 15 gallons a week ideal, or even easy? Nope. No way. It is the absolute minimum I think I can make work using every water conservation and reuse trick I know. Sponge bath (and that infrequently), sun sterilizing clothes (dry season is high sun high UV), zero waste water cooking. Zero wash cooking (canning jars, cast iron wipe). Zero water slit trench latrine. Etc.

    Please don’t call 50 years of polishing low water skills “beginner”. It isn’t.

  22. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    One other minor point:

    The plan is not a steady state plan.

    Some of this is also based on doing an inventory use-up. Take shirts. I’ve got about a dozen, then about 30 logo T shirts from over the years at companies. In hot dry season, T shirts are enough. That’s about 42 shirts. At 3 days / shirt ( I’ve done it…) that’s 126 days before it is required to wash a shirt.

    Pants are a bit fewer, but about a dozen. Figure 36 days. BUT, often pants are not made actually dirty. I have “washed once a quarter” overalls for gardening, and coveralls for car work. “Suit pants” can be worn a week+ and not show any dirt if only worn inside. So for them, “sun and fresh air” can freshen them “enough”. Then brush hard. Wrinkled? Sure. Gathering tiny stains? Probably. But I think I can get a few months out of the set without a hard requirement to wash. Socks? Don’t wear ’em. I use sandals. (Hey, California…) That leaves the boxers. I’ve got about 2 dozen of them. Figure 2 days each (I’ve done 3 on a hard drive non-stop) that’s 48 days. Then washing boxers is something I’ve done in a hotel sink with about 2 quarts of water…

    Now at the end of that “few months” there will not be one clean bit of clothes in my dresser or closet… but then we ought to be being rescued or in the Zombie Apocalypse and what I’m wearing will not matter.

    Similarly, I’ll not be using water to shave. Beard here we come…

    Similarly, I’ll not be washing cars or watering the lawn. The carpet will get a vacuum nothing more and the kitchen swept, not mopped. When will the dirt build up to “can’t stand it”? I’d suggest it is a race condition with “I really want to eat” and “Zombie Knocking”.

    So for a lot of things you start at “near ideal state” and let them burn through to “I can only just barely stand it.” But don’t put water on them.

  23. Annie says:

    We learned a lot about being frugal with water while camping and caravanning with four children. This was helpful back in the mid-eighties doing a camping trip to Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Coober Pedy was an interesting place, to say the least! My husband looked on in despair as the rest of us went ‘noodling’ (searching the left over dumps from opal mining) for fragments of opal. (The best bit went down an air-vent on our old Holden station wagon!). We were filthy with grey dust and the only available water was during strictly limited times and it was very brackish. You just do what you can and get by.
    If you have to lug water around for six people, you learn to be reasonably inventive about saving water and one-pot dinners became the norm, using as little as possible. We had saved all the 2lt fruit juice bottles to carry water and they were stowed all around the car, along with lots of basic dry rations.

  24. TechEditor says:

    For me, not much has changed. Being an “Essential Worker”, I continued to work, just some days at home (Tues – Wed) and some days in plant (Thurs – Sat), with Sun – Mon, off. And our group broken down into small teams that never cross paths. After 38 weeks you get used to the change from Mon – Fri.
    I miss commercial Potato Bread. But luckily, a Amish Bakery started up 2 miles down the road. I showed her a recipe and now I get my Potato Bread at $2 a loaf! And the Mennonite stores keep us supplied with cheeses and various other Amish / Mennonite products.
    I learned to make Flat Bread and make it regular. And the flour to make it was usually available after taking a couple months to restock the stores.
    I had a stock of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels & paper plates. Haven’t needed to restock yet. But after the 1st of the year, yes.

  25. I stashed a few things at the beginning of this, but haven’t needed it. Even when things were locked down here, most of the stores were still open and most items were still available. Notable exceptions were things like Ramen noodles and toilet paper. I’ve started noticing that toilet paper is starting to get scarce again, probably due to the possibility of lock downs if Biden gets installed. So, I’ve started stocking up on that and a few other things. Mostly dried goods, rice, beans, lentils, couscous and quinoa. Neither of us eat canned veggies (we prefer fresh or frozen), so other than things like canned tomatoes, I don’t have many veggies. I’ve got nuts, dried fruit, canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken and ham). I did buy some powdered eggs and powdered milk for ‘just in case’ but hopefully won’t need them. I don’t have any way of storing water, so I’ll just have to hope that being on city water will be good enough. There is a small stream nearby, but hopefully I won’t have to go there…

  26. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    President-Elect Pinroot says:
    ” powdered milk ”
    Last spring an older person gave us a bread making machine, so I was looking for powered milk and yeast. I found only small packets. 3.44 oz makes a quart.
    I was told that large boxes [ 10 pounds ?] that I remember from years ago were not sold now.
    Maybe that was a temporary outage, and the clerk was clueless – common it seems.
    Amazon does show some bulk packages, but most are under 2 pounds.
    _ _ _ _ _
    TechEditor says:
    Being an “Essential Worker” [My father was deemed such during WWII; glass factory job.]
    I never was an essential worker, but have a friend with a small vinyard. In the spring I helped with the pruning, and as a agricultural worker, I became essential. I kept the gloves and hand-pruner on the passenger seat just in case I got stopped. I’ve been demoted until next March.

  27. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    V.P. Elect Smith says: “Now at the end of that “few months” there will not be one clean bit of clothes in my dresser or closet…

    The radio a bit earlier played Kris Kristofferson with Sunday Morning Coming Down:

    “Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes
    And found my cleanest dirty shirt”
    We are all in good company!
    _ _ _ _ _
    Annie says “water”
    We live in a rural area and use well water — needs electricity.
    We keep about 20 bottles of 2 lt. filtered water as liquid and more of various sizes in the un-used freezer space. Our power has never been off for more than 4 hours. Longer and I’d have gotten a couple of large barrels.
    A few years ago a lady in Florida claimed she filled every glass and tea cup with water as a hurricane approached. I’ll bet she has never been on a camping trip.

  28. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @P.E. Pinroot:

    Yeah, biggest advantage from my early prep food storage was just that I could avoid the mobs in the stores for a few weeks and skip the shortage period afterwards. More convenience than necessity.

    Canned Goods, even if you are not fond of them, have big advantages. They are already in an air, water, rodent, insect, and critter proof package. The water need to fix them is zero as it is already in the can. You don’t NEED to cook them as the canning process does the cooking. So canned peas or beans can be eaten straight from the can, cold, even if you don’t like it.

    I’d can up all my dry beans were it not for the fact that a good chunk of them will likely be used for bean sprouts in a real Aw Shit of long duration. The “soak and change water” does use a fair amount, but that water is easily cleaned enough / filtered for other uses. Just a gross filter through sand and if flavor or smell matter, a charcoal pass for the organic traces, and it’s good to go.

    So I have a canned beans stock of about a month, maybe two, duration. For that period of time, my “water for beans” is zero. Add 1 cup / day of water for rice or oatmeal (or both) and you have a decent food mix (even if boring as hell). Adding canned ham bits or dry salami bits makes it a lot more pleasant ;-)

    But any “fresh” vegetables will run out about the end of the first week / into the second. So I have a perforated plastic lid that goes on canning jars and turns them into sprouting jars. Sprouting is easy. Just takes water and time. (The water is normally tossed down the drain, but you can pasteurize, rough filter, and reuse.) Then in 3 or 4 days you have bean sprouts, rich in vitamins the ordinary bean lacks, and a fresh vegetable. (I’ve also got a LOT of small seeds suited for “microgreens” in a pinch. Amaranth, radish, quinoa, lentils etc. Water you’ve used to the point of concern, filter through a ‘dirt filter’ and put on the microgreens tray.)

    Given your preference for fresh vegetables, you might want to check out how to grow microgreens.


    Per storing water:

    Everyone can store water. Even in an apartment. It is important to have at least a couple of days worth, just in case the power is out and water supply stops. We have about 9 gallons (2 flats) (sometimes 13.5 gal or 3 flats) in the form of ‘flats of bottled water’ that takes up about a 1.z X 2.y foot area in the corner of the dining room. (The spouse drinks it for keeping kidney stones away as it has the right mineralization in it). We could easily raise that to 18 or 22.5 or even 27 gallons just by stacking it higher.

    In the yard, I’ve got 2 x 32 gallon “food grade” poly drums. (really 4, but one of them is now way moldy / algae ridden inside and the other one had a rat drown in it when it was open for a while during a rain cycle, so I’m not inclined to use it anymore… plus the family is only 2 people now not 4, so “one bbl per person” is still in stock). So if you have ANY yard or parking garage, you can put a drum or two in them. At one time I had a small “above ground pool” for when the kids were little. It was about 12 ‘ x 3 ‘ of water. IF you don’t want one of those in the yard all the time, you can get one and just set it up as the Aw Shit Cometh and fill it then. (Apartment dwellers excepted… but most likely a couple of 5 gallon pails from Lowe’s would not attract attention if they appeared on the balcony as the world panic started…)

    A single 5 gallon pail of water sprouts a lot of lentils or mung beans…

    Oh, and at one time I had a 250 gallon fish tank running… You would want to filter the water, but… A big fish tank draws no “prepper” attention in the living room… “It’s my hobby!” and you’re good to go.

    Per “run to the creek”: Make sure you have a good portable water filter. I’ve got 2. One cheap plastic (camping style) the other ceramic silver (really, silver is in it to kill stuff…) that was way expensive but can be cleaned and used forever. IMHO, that matters more than an added bucket of water or two.


    A bit of explanation of my water “policy” and why:

    I’m not advocating for 15 gallons a week for 2 people (gallon a day / person + a smidge). It is my rock bottom think I can likely make it work for a little while if all else fails. I think that point matters, and I kind of steam rollered right past it.

    My basic “Aw Shit Scenario” is an earthquake. It is (was?) the most likely AwShit to happen here (and we did have a 7.x and I was prepped, so there’s that…). In that scenario, you expect “repair of services or rescue” in about 4 days to a week.

    We’ve got about 65 gallons “accidentally stored” in the house as hot water tank and toilet tank. Then about 10 gallons on average in the bottle flats stack. To that 75, add the 64 from the two barrels in the yard and a couple of gallons from the distilled water we have for cleaning equipment. About 140 gallons. 2 people so 70 / person. One week. So my planning target is very close to your 50 gallons / person / week. For my most likely need.

    It is only when the Aw Shit turns out to be a Whole Lot Worse and a Whole Lot Longer than the planning case that I resort to the “OMG Hail Mary” approach. That is NOT a plan, that is a hope. “And hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…

    So I don’t think we are in disagreement, just looking at different levels of AwShit.

    Note too that while our climate here is semi-desert, it isn’t a desert. There’s a lot of water flows by. The entire northern & central California mountains and central valley drains through about 50 miles from me. I’m sure the Bay Delta area would be overrun with “campers” in a real disaster (about 4 million of them…), but even they can not use up / dirty up the volume that flows past them. I’d go there with the Bug Out Car after I’m pretty sure they have all died off or moved on… not before. South of me is a chain of smaller dams making smaller lakes on all sorts of coastal range hills that drain into the bay from the south.

    One lake in a park is about 3 miles away. A “river” (creek in dry season) runs about 1.5 miles away and is fed by a lake so never goes dry. Another “river” is a few miles more east and will catch folks from the more populated areas looking for water. I’m pretty sure I’ve scouted out ‘access points’ to my near river that only have businesses next to the water (no resident defending property). Again, I’d only “go there” after enough time has past that the majority of folks have left the area or died off; or I’m seriously in need of water (and then likely under cover of darkness). There’s other lakes at, variously, about 5, 8, 15, 20, 25 and 30ish miles away. Our “OMG Nuke Bug Out Plan” (back when the USSR was a thing…) was to take the Bug Out Car to the 30 mile away very rural hilly lake and set up camp on a dirt road on the back side of it. So “house water” was just to get us past the non-Nuke “Aw Shit” phase long enough to do the Bug Out. (And with most folks caught by the earlier lakes we would drive on past…)

    Staying here, in a nuclear event, would be terminal. At that time we were way too close to Moffett Naval Air Station that ran the sub hunters. They would be a first strike target, so we would be bugging out from just at the edge of a small nuke blast barely in the survival zone before the big boomers landed taking out the whole area. I figured we had about 2 minutes to get everyone in the car and rolling to make it past the first hill into survivable shielding. That is why I have a Bug Out Car loaded with camping gear… That’s also why “bug out to water” was more important in the plan than “have 3 months worth”… It was “get past the quake” or “bug out”.

    Hopefully that clarifies things a bit on why the decisions made make some sense.

    That said:

    Times change. As I noted, I’m woefully under prepped for water for THIS kind of AwShit. That’s why I’m in the “OMG Hope” bucket instead of the “I’ve got this” bucket. That’s why I’m looking at 15 gal / week for 2 and how to make it work with what I’ve got. I’d never thought we might have everyone surviving at home and NOT running off somewhere else while water might be shut off. It just isn’t rational. But our government has shown itself quite irrational.

    So I’ve got to use the “Hail Mary Hope” fall back plan until something else can be done.

    Now, what’s that something else?

    Well, the original “something else” was to be Florida right now. But that didn’t come together. Gang a-gley and all. So again, back at “Hail Mary…”

    Now I’m thinking about buying one of those kiddy wading pools again… But I’ve been getting rid of crap to move; and so buying more not a pleasing thought. So for now, headed into the wet season, I’m sticking with “hope” I don’t need the “Hail Mary”… risky as that might be. IF we’re still here next June or July, I’m buying the wading pool and filling it.

    For the rainy season, I can just set out my “construction tubs” used for hydroponics and such and let them collect the rain. (About a dozen of 2 x 3 foot or so). IF it comes to that.

    Hopefully that long wander through the wasteland of failed planning clarifies that 1 gal / person-day isn’t the plan it’s the coping.

  29. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @N&J Hultquist:

    Sam’s Club has a pouch of powdered milk of 70.4 ounces (makes 22 qt.) for $15:


    In stock ATM.

    Safeway has 26.6 for $9


    Or buy it in a can, 29 oz or 9.75 qt. made for $21:


    Free shipping per their blurb.

    I’m sure the “prepper” folks sell lots of #10 cans of it. I had a couple once…

    Amazon has lots:


    FWIW, you can get an inverter that will power your well pump for “not much money” and use a set of jumper cables to connect it to your car. I’ve got a 2 kW one that I bought on a lark at Costco years ago for $70…

    Looks like about $150 at Amazon with 5 kW going for $350.


    You will need to run the car to charge the battery back up, but it ought to run a modest pump for long enough to fill a few tubs… 1 HP is about 750 W, call it a kW with starting surge. So is your pump over 2 HP? If not, you can likely have a water solution for $150.

  30. Power Grab says:

    The talk about water scarcity reminds me of a skit I saw at a summer camp in the 1970s.

    The setup for the skit was that water was next-to-non-existent. The campers were down to 1 glass of water that had to serve all campers. To brush their teeth, each camper dipped his/her toothbrush into the glass, brushed, and spit into the glass. Maybe 6 to 8 campers went through doing that. Finally, the goofiest guy in the bunch came in, dry as a bone from too much physical activity in the hot sun. You guessed it: He drank the glass of water.

    For reals!

    P.S. You won’t recognize my IP. I just moved. Actually, I’m still moving the little stuff.

  31. Power Grab says:

    Regarding zinc, here is an article I like that discusses the finer points of zinc sufficiency:


    They are offering a new zinc supplement, but I prefer beef and/or smoked oysters. ;-)

  32. President Elect H.R. says:

    I’m about 1/2 mile from a 3,700 acre reservoir. It’s an Army Corps Of Engineers project.

    It’s primary purpose was flood control, followed by recreation and back-up water supply to the drinking water reservoir for the metropolitan area to the South.

    There’s about a 1/4 mile of Army Corps-owned no-build land as a buffer to keep farm and suburban lawn runoff out of the reservoir. No storm drains or treated sewage is emptied into the reservoir. That’s all routed to other areas to dissipate or for treatment.

    It is clean water, not potable directly, but easy enough to treat for safe drinking and probably no more than a doubled bedsheet filter to have water clean enough for bathing and washing clothes.

    Just a semi-educated guess; there are about 8,000 (+/- a couple of thousand) homes that would, in a complete SHTF situation, be sending someone to fetch water. There’s a lot of shoreline on that reservoir and there would be plenty of elbow room to access water without any fuss or fights.

    The Big City to the South has THREE reservoirs staggered side to side and North to South roughly through the middle of the area. We won’t have a mass exodus of people from the city coming up to try to get water. Obviously, the population density is much greater there, so there might be a bit of fuss, bother, and bloodshed getting water down in the city, but they have plenty of water.
    Should food become scarce, I predict raccoons will be in short supply in short order. Right now, they are a nuisance. I have no clue what the raccoon population is in my area, but it is very high. Since it’s the ‘burbs and exurbs, there’s always trash and garbage sitting out for collection. And those raccoon-proof covers on the bins? Well, they aren’t 😜

    With a .22 rifle, you could plug one every night or so in about anyone’s back yard. But the supply wouldn’t last long in a SHTF situation.

    Deer are a nuisance, too. They came up on our front porch once, but couldn’t ring the doorbell. The bird feeder in the back yard was out of food. We figured they were at the front door to complain about it to ‘Management.’ But, all of the deer would be gone in a week or two.

  33. Ossqss says:

    Had a bit of a Raccon problem some years back. He was a smart fella, but not smart enough in the end! Caught him on the security cameras doing a WWF move on my garbage once》》

  34. President Elect H.R. says:

    A note on canned goods: I just scored a few cans of a house brand Chili with beans. They were on the clearance shelf for $0.49 and ‘best by’ date was mid-2022.

    The nutritionals are w-a-a-a-y better than just canned beans. I just finished comparing the labels on a can of red kidney beans and the Chili with beans. And There’s nothing to do to get a can of that chili into edible shape; no seasoning, mixing, adding meats… nada. Heat ‘n eat and you can skip the Heat part in a pinch.

    I’d recommend adding a fair amount of cans of Chili with beans and backing off a bit on the plain canned beans. I think the Dollar Store has cans for… (“Price check on register 3!” 😜) one dollar. It’s about the same for house brands at Walmart or the usual grocery chains.

    Each can is a fairly complete meal; decent fat carb, protein, fiber numbers, low sugar, and about 550 – 600 calories. It’s roughly a buck a meal, so 4 cases of 24 cans would be 96 meals.

    I think Dinty Moore Beef stew or house brand equivalent, is also pretty good on nutritionals, but a bit higher priced than chili. (Note to self – check the dollar store for stew)

    Yeah, canned beans are cheaper, about $0.70 per can, but don’t put all your eggs into canned beans. Mix it up with some one-can dinners. Less prep, better nutritionals.

    Think about it; 100 ready-to-go meals for around $100 – $150 dollars.

  35. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @President Elect H.R.:

    Yeah, I used to do a lot more Chili w/ Beans cans. Then I found that beef caused arthritic creaky bits in the hands and spine… So if I’m going to have chili, it must be either just the (oxymoronic) “chili beans no beef” or DIY using lamb. Also, some canned chili has corn starch or corn flour added, that I can’t have. Frankly, were it not for the corn (as it causes stomach churn and upchuck…) I’d likely eat some of the Chili… I can deal with some creaky OK…

    I DO put some Canned Ravioli away (beef be damned, I like it too much!).

    Many times “on the road” or in the back of data centers dead of night, holidays, weekends with the nearest “fast food” far far away, “dinner” was a can of: {Chili, Ravioli, Stew, etc.} and starchy snacks ( {Chips, Cookies, Crackers, …} with the ‘vegetable’ sometimes being peas or green beans from a can directly.

    There’s also the smaller “cups” for microwaving with various “meals” in them. Expensive but convenient.

    Oh, and honorable mention to Smart & Final for their Restaurant Sized cans ( #10 or almost a gallon) of various chili, stew, etc. It’s a LOT cheaper per serving than the smaller cans.

    Be prepared to refrigerate, freeze, or feed a lot of friends with the extra… When I had 4 in the house and many growing fast, I had more large sizes. Now not so much. I’ve also bought #10 cans of peaches and “re-canned them” into smaller jars. (Easy steam / boiling water canning no pressure cooker needed). Basically you skip all the steps down to where you heat it up in a pot, then fill jars and:


    To seal: Fill a large stock pot about halfway with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once water is close to a simmer, use tongs to carefully lower jars into hot water. Let water come to a gentle boil and boil for 25 minutes.

    Carefully remove jars from stock pot and let sit at room temperature until completely cool. Press down on lid of jars to test if properly sealed. If lid bounces back or pops the jar is not sealed. Repeat sealing process or refrigerate and eat within a week.

    Essentially you get to skip all the hard parts. Peaches end up a little softer than usual, but fine. This works with any acid fruit too. (You can also re-can green beans et. al. from #10 cans, but that takes a pressure canner…)

    I’ve canned my own chili and it worked OK. (IIRC, it was 90 minutes at 10 lbs or the same as used for canning meat). I’d rather be able to just buy the commercial canned stuff (used to love it…) but now I must DIY. Oh Well. But that’s why I have more canned beans and less commercial chili…

  36. philjourdan says:

    @V.P> Elect Smith – try Chicken chili. My IBS means I had to give up most Chili as well. But Jason’s deli has a great SW Chicken Chili.

  37. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Chicken Chili? Why didn’t I think of that?!

    Hmmm… we use Turkey as a hamburger substitute some times… wonder if Turkey Chili is a thing?:


    Golly, it is!

    Looks like Hormel sells it in cans:


    I see a shopping / searching trip in my future… Some local store must stock it…

  38. President Elect H.R. says:

    Awww, that was just a general observation about chili w/beans vs. just beans, V.P. Elect E.M.

    I had bought some canned and some dried beans, but the recent comments about water, and other aspects of turning beans into a little-better-something dinner made me go look in the pantry to compare nutritionals on that chili I just scored.

    At the end of last year or beginning of this year somewhere thereabouts, you mentioned again your method of building up a prepper stash. That’s where you buy your normal week’s groceries and then buy a little extra for the long term pantry, and a good bit more if there’s a case of something or other on a really good sale.

    So for those of us still slowly stocking up, I for one, will be looking at more meals-in-a-can and scaling back a bit on stocking the basic foods. I already have a decent supply of the basics.

    True, the basics can be stored more densely and cheaper than prepared foods, but have some easy stuff on hand and if things go really bad for a long time, then you can get into the beans and rice.

    But you also raise a good point and that is to buy what you can eat. Some of us here have more particular diets due to health concerns – I have to limit carbs and definitely sugar – so I can’t stock too much in the way of ramen noodles or canned beefaroni or canned ravioli. And you have to go with chicken, ham, tuna and skip the beef. And Power Grab has gotta have those smoked oysters 😜

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    Hey! I get to have the smoked oysters too!!!


    My stocking method, if you can call it that, starts at “no prep not much money needed fast”, which will be true for most people.

    1) Go to Costco, Walmart or other big box store. Buy 20 or 50 lbs each of dry beans, rice and, if you bake or cook OK, flour. Add a gallon or two of the best oil you can afford. Olive oil or coconut if possible. Try to avoid polyunsaturated as it doesn’t store well. You now have 60 to 150 person days of minimal bland rations for about $100 to $200.

    2) From that point forward, buy your usual groceries, but buy double of things that keep well. So you don’t double up on eggs, but do buy 6 cans of peas if you usually by 3. The extra is put with the beans and rice. Do this for 6 months and you are in pretty good shape.

    3) During those months, learn how to make useful food out of beans, rice and flour. Practice it. For “things that don’t keep”, but you need, find alternatives. Like prepper powdered eggs and cheese powder. When one works for you, buy it. So, for example, olive oil substitutes for butter and canned milk substitutes for fresh milk in boxed Mac & Cheese mix. IF you have 3 months of Mac & Cheese ’cause you like it and were buying it, so putting some away, buy a matched amount of canned milk and olive oil. Canned ham, corned beef, and SPAM for bacon and meat roast. Boxed scalloped potatoes for fresh in bag and fresh cheese.

    4) Emphasize high calorie, good from the can, where possible. This is where things like canned ravioli and chili come in.. Make sure to have at least a few weeks of no fuss meals from a can. Why? Because making dry rice and beans into a meal, or cooking boxed dry potatoes, is hard to do in a mud flow or tornado ruined neighborhood without power. Opening a can is easy. As you use some of that big rice & beans first buy, replace it with this high value but higher cost stuff. Over time, your prep evolves up scale in quality and convenience.

  40. President Elect H.R. says:

    “2) From that point forward, buy your usual groceries, but buy double of things that keep well.”

    Yeah, that’s what I was fuzzily remembering. You’ve posted that advice in an article or in comments a few times over the years.

  41. I found some precooked canned bacon here:
    They also sell it by the case (12 cans) for $250. I just got two cans, but may go back for more. I found Yoder’s canned bacon on Amazon, it’s $30/can but a case (which they’re out of) is a much better bargain. There was some company that sold uncooked bacon in a can, but I can’t find any right now.
    This place has lots of prepper stuff and the prices don’t look too bad (and they also have canned Yoder’s meats, including bacon):
    I like the idea of the canned ravolli and chili, but I don’t think the wife will be too keen on it. On the other hand, if it’s eat that or starve, she’ll just have to adapt or die. So I’ll probably get a few cans just to have on hand. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    You can can your own bacon:


    Though I’m happy with commercial canned ham as cheaper and I like fried ham more anyway…

  43. TechEditor says:

    Nancy & John Hultquist says:
    23 November 2020 at 6:39 pm

    “Last spring an older person gave us a bread making machine, so I was looking for powered milk and yeast. I found only small packets. 3.44 oz makes a quart.
    I was told that large boxes [ 10 pounds ?] that I remember from years ago were not sold now.”
    Emergency Essentials sells 3 lb cans of dried milk. Of the two kinds they sell, in a taste test, I liked this one the best: https://beprepared.com/products/instant-nonfat-dry-milk-large-can?_pos=1&_sid=3cd77fde0&_ss=r

  44. jim2 says:

    We bought a 20# bag of rice at the start of the Purple Plague. Then threw it out due to beetles. I could have found a way to use it, but the wife couldn’t hack it.

  45. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Thus my constant refrain about storing things in 1/2 gallon glass jars that are “bug, water, rodent, and air proof”…

    I’ve also used large plastic tubs ( re-used 1/2 gallon ice cream tubs – “Yes dear, we MUST eat these gallons of Ice Cream for our Prepping…” 8-0 and they worked fine too.) Not quite as oxygen proof long term, and not rodent proof, but fine indoors for under a year and likely longer.

    Some beans, especially those you grow yourself (at least where I am) can get bean weevil eggs on them. These hatch into pin-head sized weevils that drill holes in the beans, then die in the jar from lack of oxygen. So for home grown (or otherwise suspect beans) I run each jar through the freezer for a week or two. This nukes the eggs and the beans store fine (later, rinsing before use, removes the dead eggs, I think, at least, that’s what I tell myself ;-)

    You can also run rice jars through the freezer if your rice is ‘risky’. I’ve never had commercial rice have this problem. We do have a kind of mini-moth that likes to lay eggs in grain products like flour and boxed cereal if they can get access through an opening, but even thick paper stops them from getting to the product. They can get into open bags of rice. So my 20# of rice went into 1/2 gallon jars and 1/2 gallon plastic tubs, and I’ve got no bugs in it despite no freezer turn. (yet?)

    I also decant boxed cereal, wheat flour, and any other grain product into labeled jars just because I’m not fond of eating bugs. My first such experience was at about 7 years old, box of “Cream Of Wheat” (I like cream of wheat…), that had set in the cupboard a long time,open. Pouring it into the measuring cup, there was a ‘web like’ bit of something going on sticking bits to the box. Looking VERY closely, some of the little white bits were wiggling… After having this repeat, with various cereals, about once every 2 years for a decade+, I had had enough. That is when my love of all things jars began…

    IF you have any grain product, even commercially packaged breakfast cereals, left open or with a mm sized hole in the packaging, and in the cupboard or setting out, eventually you can (will?) get bugs in it. Just a matter of time and when the local population of bugs takes flight.

    Jars and plastic tubs are your friend. Your freezer is your friend.

  46. philjourdan says:

    I use to work for an outfit that had a data a data center at a QTS facility. Every year, on the Friday before Holloween, the employees there had a chili cook off and the folks who came in to work in the cages were invited to judge the competition. Lots of good chilis (home made is always best). One of the best the last year I worked for the company with a cage there was a Chicken Chili! So while not a beef chili, it is still very tasty!

  47. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Oh, and from the “better than nothing” departement:

    You can use gallon sized ziplock type bags. Some bigger bugs can chew through them (but leave evidence of entry…) and it’s easy to not get the zip all the way done (access and potential for ‘sudden unplanned loss of containment – LOCA…’) But will keep out the little moth things and most water.


    I now have 2 lbs of ground turkey in the freezer. I’m going to give Turkey Chili a go in the next couple of days. Then, post Thanksgiving, maybe try it with “chunk turkey”… A 12 lb turkey and 2 people really needs some creative cooking with the leftovers…

  48. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    Lot of good ideas above — too many to respond to each. So thanks all.

    In the event of a major disaster, our biggest issue would be XXthousands of people coming from the Puget Sound (Seattle) into our rural (un prepared) area. All supplies would be gone in about 4 hours.
    Maybe we could close Snoqualmie Pass, or put up no exit signs here, so they would have to go farther east.

  49. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @N&J Hultquist:

    Um, maybe make a BIG sign cover in the right colors and fonts that says:

    “Toxic Waste Dump Site, Hazmat Suits Only”

    To cover your exit sign?


  50. @VP Elect Smith – My wife and I have the same problem: two people and a 12 lb turkey. She’s been to culinary school, so I’m looking forward to some creative stuff with the leftovers, hopefully some soups or chili.

  51. philjourdan says:

    @President-Elect Pinroot – Turkey Gumbo! I shall never taste the nirvana of Turkey Gumbo again now that my mother has passed. But it was always the best part of thanksgiving (well post Thanksgiving).

  52. TechEditor says:

    Anybody remember the old post Thanksgiving TV commercial for Flaming Turkey Wings?

  53. @philjourdan My mom made the best Brunswick stew, I’ve never had any like it. I had the recipe at one time, but I lost it. It’s possible my sister has it, I’ll have to check.

  54. jim2 says:

    I read that a CO2 atmosphere will kill even the eggs. I got a bicycle CO2 emergency tire kit. It can be dialed down enough to displace air from a jar, then the jar can be sealed. Haven’t tried it yet. BTW, this rice was from India (COSTCO).

  55. President Elect H.R. says:

    @TechEditor – I had to look up flaming turkey wings. I didn’t see that commercial back when they were airing it nor have I ever run across it in the intervening years.

    It’s a pretty good laugh. 👍

  56. New Mexico governor shuts down grocery stores for two weeks (not all of them, but a number of them).

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