This guest post is By Al B and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
After a few weeks of lurking on TheSurvivalistBlog.net and chasing down references to topics I hardly knew existed that were posted by Wolf Pack members I began to wonder; what should we stock? Why? How much?
It got complicated when I found out we should decide what kind of disaster for which we should prepare. One thing I knew for sure is that I was studying this blog because I was so hissed off at what TDL was doing to our future.
I stayed glued to M.D.’s weekly “What did you do to prep this week?” In the beginning there were a dozen of new ‘things’ to google every week to get an explanation of what the Pack was talking about.
Slowly, an awareness of the commonality of different disasters became apparent. OK, so maybe we could get ready in 3-4 years instead of 10. It was frightening in the beginning as our list of things to get became longer and longer, money already was tight and inflation was making things harder to get, day by day.
But the Pack kept repeating; unlax; just get one or two things a week. BUT I knew that next week TS(was going to) HTF! Well it didn’t, were just another frog in the pot of almost boiling water.
OK. It’s time to put the worry aside and do something. What?
The Pack said, ‘check the archives’, so I read everything at 
M.D. built a roadmap for us titled, ‘Ten things to do now’, it’s filed under ‘Top Posts’.
The Wolf Pack led me to a treasure trove of food storage information .
I started looking at the bottom of cans in the grocery store, the DW didn’t want to be seen with me as I checked every can in a 24 can display, looking for the longest expiration date, then moving to the next item and doing it again.
At this stage on the learning curve it was beyond me to figure out how much wheat (what kind?) is needed to last a year under conditions where there was no electricity for cooking. So I needed to stop looking at the overall problem and focus on something simple. I choose peanut butter. Well get back to that in a minute.
Now we have a spreadsheet inventory of items including food, medicines, and equipment. For example we know how many propane bottles we have, the date purchased and where they are stored (hidden, but OPSEC demands that I don’t tell you where). I built the spreadsheet after I bought a few things and later could not find them. For example, two weeks after purchasing a propane cook stove I could not find it. It was missing for another 3 weeks. It had snuck upstairs and was hiding under the bed. That’s when I added ‘location’ to the spreadsheet.
Today I can go to the spreadsheet and find data that tells me that we eat 2.15 ounces of peanut butter a day. I recorded the open date, end date and number of ounces in a jar. I end up knowing that if we stay at 2.15 ounces per day we will need to stock 49 pounds for a year supply.
How long does a bar of bath soap last? All you have to do is write the date on the wrapper and keep the DW from throwing it away and remember to write down the end date and save the wrapper until you can get back to the spreadsheet (not as easy as it seems). One of the first things our spreadsheet revealed was that we had 18 months of bar soap. That meant that we had spent money where we shouldn’t have.
The spreadsheet is the key to finding out how much of an item we consume in a day or week. Through inattention we learned that it is a big mistake and loss of knowledge to postpone posting new purchases in it. It is a big pain to shop, load the car, drive home, unload the car, find a secure place to store it THEN take each item to the P/C and enter the data and location and then store each item. It’s a pain to go the P/C and post the date for every item opened and again when it is empty. Whatever method you use, spreadsheet or 3 X 5 cards or loose-leaf paper your data is no good if it is not updated EVERY TIME an item moves into or out of your long-term storage.
Our spreadsheet has the following columns; Item Description, Source, Cost, Size, Quantity, Container type, Purchase date, Expiration date and location. When an item is opened a row is added below the above described row and the date opened is entered in the purchase date column, and the ‘empty’ date is entered in the expiration column. After the ‘empty’ date is posted you can calculate how long it lasted and figure how much you will need if your goal is to stock a year supply.
We buy cans of green beans at Sams packed 12 per box. I record the date when the box is opened and again when the last can is removed. Now I know how many cases to store. We can transfer this information to home canning (I got lots a pole beans growing) and will know how many pints to ‘put up’ when the beans ‘come in’.
Last week the DW asked for another tube of ‘her’ toothpaste. She scowled at me as I put the date on the tube with a permanent marker (can’t have too much data). She isn’t as fanatical about OPSEC as I am and doesn’t look forward to explaining to relatives why everything in the medicine cabinet has a date on it. I tell her that we don’t want anyone to know that we are stockpiling food and equipment (OPSEC freak), just tell them that I’m cheap. Besides, they shouldn’t be snooping in our medicine cabinet.
We keep track of nonfood items on the spreadsheet like antibiotics, antivirals, OTC medicines, clothespins, batteries, rat traps, candles, blankets, fire starters, flashlights, propane hoses, scissors, slingshots, shower bags and a toilet seat. After reading an article about no trash pickup after TSHTF and the resulting explosion of rodents, we wanted to get 6 rat traps. I found two at a hardware store, entered the data on the spreadsheet and made a note that we still needed 4 more. Later, they were put on a shopping list and we have the 6.
We change our habits as the weather changes. Maybe we eat more peanut butter in winter than in summer. So we like to get three start/end dates on each item to arrive at an average before using that number to set a goal for a year supply. Ammie recently posted that she breaks up the year in quarters and counts how many batches of chili she makes in the fall to plan how many jars to can for the winter.
Another issue is; how do you store everything? We store water in 30 gallon food grade plastic barrels (disinfected with ‘Pool Shock’). We put sugar in ½ gallon glass jars using a FoodSaver vacuum attachment, wheat, beans, rolled oats and elbow macaroni in 5mil Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers; toothpaste, medicine boxes and bottles in FoodSaver vacuumed bags. We use 5mil Mylar bags because sharp-edge things like macaroni can punch through thinner bags.
Check the LDS  site or Emergency Essentials (or your favorite vendor) for other storage methods and information on shelf life. At our house EVERY CONTAINER is marked with the name of the contents, how much (ounces of medicine or cups of food), date packaged, manufactures recommended expiration date if available, and our personal determination of the long shelf life expiration date, depending on how it was packaged combined with the recommendations at EE and . There is an interesting U-tube video on medicine expiration dates by ‘patriot nurse , it’s very enlightening.
Things like Band-Aids are hard to set a consumption rate on, so we keep our antenna up while checking online sites for recommendations, then consider if that recommendation may fit our circumstances, then guess at a number and set a goal.
What do you get first, peanut butter or Band-Aids; water, beans or bullets? That’s up to you and what you decided is at the top of your threat list. You did do a threat assessment, didn’t you? No? Better get M.D.’s book “31 Days to Survival ”.
All of this information I learned from the Wolf Pack. Some of it came from other sites, but it was the Wolf Pack that pointed me to it. Thanks M.D. for allowing me to be a student/member. If anyone has a question, finds an error or disagrees with anything, please post a response, that’s how we protect each other.
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.