Manage Your Long Term Storage

This guest post is By Al B and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

After a few weeks of lurking on 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 [1]

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 [2].

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 [2] 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 [2]. There is an interesting U-tube video on medicine expiration dates by ‘patriot nurse [3], 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.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Record keeping has been a real plus for me. High carb staples are easy for me go get (wheat, rice, pasta, beans) and store so I sometimes forget the other things (milk, vegs, fruit, cheese) that I have to get in #10 cans. My spreadsheet save ;me that way.

    Then there is the equipment one, which is usually filled out from items I got on sale. I occasionally remember to check it because food is my primary item.

    Then after equipment comes barter items. This, hopefully, will cover me for the things I forgot in the 1st 2.

    It’s all a progression, and I started in 1998, got serious in 2006, and have had my preps be #1 item in my daily thinking and purchasing. Fortunately the DW is fully on board with me, so that’s not an issue here.

    Note to those who are still lurking, don’t worry, get started, and share what you find out. It all helps everybody.

  2. Kim in Texas says:

    Great article…. I’m having issues with inventory control. All the published sheets I’ve found are well beyond my current level. I’d love to see yours. Do you mind sharing?

    • Hunker-Down says:


      Just start a blank spreadsheet and in row 1 enter the title “Item Description” in column “A”. In column “B” (still in row 1) type “Source”. Move to column “C” and enter ” Cost”, Type “Size in column “D”, “E” = Quantity, “F” = Container type, “G” = Purchase date, “H” = Expiration date and “I” =location. Add more column titles if you want to add additional information.

      Expiration dates stamped on bottles and cans are there either because the FDA demands it, or the manufacturer wants you to throw the item away and buy another. It’s a convoluted issue, so study the issue, then guess as to the farthest out date you consider safe, like we do.

      Tour your storage rooms and decide what label you want to enter on the spreadsheet in the location column. We have some weird ones, like BC = behind cabinets, US = under stairway.

      When you make a purchase of something that is already on the spreadsheet, find that item and add a new row below it. Now you can enter data unique to that purchase, like quantity,purchase date,
      expiration date and maybe a different location.

  3. PreppingHARD says:

    I’d stock up HEAVIER on the rat traps. They, along with 12ga shotgun shell “BLANKS” make excellent “early warning sytems” for defending your outer perimeters with a trip wire. I’ve got 50 traps and several hundred blank shells.
    Great post, and good luck!

    • Hunker-Down says:


      That’s a good idea, using the traps on a trip wire. I was thinking mouse traps and cans with a few rocks. Either way you pointed out that we don’t have enough traps or wire. We have a spool of 40 pound monofilament fish line and should get more of that also.

    • PreppingH
      how do you combine the Rat Traps and The 12 g. Blank?,,,

  4. Greetings Al B, happy to see what you’ve done so far! Organization is the key. Not just storing and rotating, but knowing what and how much to store. We have a household of seven with eight close relatives within walking distance. That is a ton ,literally, of preps to stock and keep track of! Oh and opsec is difficult ,when we’re unloading 35-40 grocery bags, or when the kids friends, or ours, stop over and see shelves and freezers stuffed with boxes and cases of goods. Inventory control is vital to see what we have ,need or what we don’t need or aren’t using.We have also had items dissapear and were able to find out what was missing and when it went missing,and who was in or around the house at the time.Now we have a good idea of who to keep an eye on. The family may not be on board with everything but opsec is one thing they understand.Being organized is important during a crisis so that we know what we have and right where it is which makes things much easier if bugging out , just grab,load , and go! Also helps keep money allocated to where it needs to go,less waste on too much of the wrong things,deoderant,shampoo, more of what is needed,ammo,water,ammo. We recently added fake security cameras in certain spots and made sure to brag and tell anyone that knew of our stores all about our’ state of the art survailence system’. Keeping good records will also help identify items you may have forgotten about.When some items are near exp date or you may have more than you can use in time they can be trade dor donated or just given to others in need. Stay on top from the beginning and its much easier than trying to catch up,although spending a weekend doing inventory and labeling and organizing can be quite theraputic giving a sence of accomplishment. Prep hard to survive easy!

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Big D,

      I am so anal about OPSEC, a furnace repair man can tinker with the furnace while standing in the middle of our preps and not know it. It’s a neat trick taught to us by OhioPrepper called “hide in plain sight”.

      • Hunker-Down, I do have alot of things ‘hidden’ in differant places, but its hard to find room for it all.Even disguising, and relabeling its hard to do. I would love to hear some of your ideas.

        • Hunker-Down says:

          Big D,

          Our OPSEC ‘system’ consist of blue Rubbermaid totes. We use the 18 gallon size, and they are stackable. I stick a small piece of duct tape on the outer grip handle and write a number on the tape. I do this on both the front and back so it doesn’t matter which way the tote is stacked I can find the number. The lid covers the duct tape so no one knows there is a numbering system. When we buy a new tote I add a row to the spreadsheet and in column “A” enter a description like “Tote 10”. In column “B” I enter the location, for example BC (behind cabinets). All items placed in that tote are described on the spreadsheet on the rows following the row just described.
          Some of our totes have old towels placed over the contents in case someone would pop the lid. Some have labels written on masking tape and placed on the outside of the tote so everybody can see that the contents are ‘christmas decorations’ (ha).

          Stack a bunch of totes like this on a wall and it looks pretty mundane, nothing special, just the junk of a pack rat.

          In another part of our OPSEC plan we use 5 gallon buckets that have had all labels removed with Acetone. You can buy it in the paint section of most hardware stores. We store white and brown sugar in mason jars in those buckets. We wrap the jars in the plastic bags from wally world so there is no glass on glass contact in the bucket. They do get heavy and sometimes get jostled around when stacking them under the stairs. Using a permanent marker, we write a number on the bucket where it is hard to see, and add a row the the spreadsheet just like the “tote row” described above. In column “A”, we write a description like “Bucket 16” and location in column “B”, like “US” (under stairs).
          We also store food we dehydrate in glass jars that are vacuumed and wrapped in the wally world bags, then placed in a bucket. We feel that if a food is vacuumed in glass jars there is no danger of cross contamination in the same bucket, like sugar smelling like pickles.

  5. Mountaineer0311 says:

    THIS IS GREAT! I just did something similar yesterday and today (building a spreadsheet). Never thought to add ‘location’ but am doing that now! Great article!

  6. Tactical G-Ma says:

    This is an awesome article. The spreadsheet details and justification are easily understood and I know you are 100% correct on the need for tracking. Managing benchstock back before barcode scanners was done much the same way. Certainly you have taken it farther than I have thought to and have to mull on it for awhile. I know it is just me. Doing additional stuff and new stuff sometimes really stresses me out. But I am going to make tracking inventory a much higher priority. Thanks for the info.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Tactical G-Ma,

      I designed and programmed inventory control systems in the drug, retail and manufacturing industries looong before barcode scanners.
      A spreadsheet on a P/C is just a necessary (time consuming) evil.

  7. Forgive me for laughing—but I DID have a belly-buster laugh when I was reading how everything in your house has dates marked all over it! LOL I’m fortunate enough to have a second building here, Air-conditioned, that I keep all of our preps in—that way my company doesn’t have a clue what I’m up to! I have permanent marker dates on my stuff, too, but I DON’T have any explaining to do because it’s never seen by others…..

    On a more serious note, my spreadsheet is an adaption of one I down loaded from SOMEWHERE on the internet when I first started prepping. It’s one of those where you put in how many people you are prepping for and for what length of time—Waa LAA! It tells you how much grain to buy, how much sugar, etc. Now, I don’t blindly assume each number they provide, but I use it as a guideline to start from. When I come home with additional food for storing, I pull out my spreadsheet and a pencil–updating inventory numbers as I put things away. THEN, later in the evening, I update the spreadsheet on my computer and print a new clean sheet for next time I shop.

    Best wishes to you as you prepare–keep up the good work!

    • Hunker-Down says:


      I am so lazy I have to mentally beat myself up to;
      A) find a hidey place to satisfy my OPSEC itch,
      B) move the ‘stuff’ to that location
      C) add the data to the spreadsheet.
      Half the time I have to go get it from storage because I forgot the package size and expiration date for the spreadsheet.

      But, if I don’t do it, I loose control.

    • Careful Goatlover you don’t want to keep all your eggs in one basket.I know it’s easier having everything in one place ,but its easy to lose it all in one robbery, fire ,or disaster. Good luck.

  8. I finally put all my ammo into a spreadsheet by caliber and box type. Then I had to go back an label each box. As I practice I rotate stock. ammo cans also have silica packs to keep moisture from corroding the metal.
    Same with reloading components. Each ammo can is a stand alone for everything I need by caliber short of the press itself. without tracking how much I have its easy to buy what I don’t need.
    Now what is your plan of action to keep your records when there is no power? Print and shred the old good OPSEC.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      I have to print it; the spreadsheet is so buried in sub-folders and the name has nothing to do with prepping that the DW would never locate it in the P/C.

  9. Patriot Dave says:

    Good article. I am glad you left the lurker zone and joined us and are contributing with your knowledge. I wanted to create a spreadsheet for consumables. But was still working on what information to include. I was thinking that each purchase would have to have its own entry. Since the newest purchase would have a different good by date.
    I like the additional ideas of “location” and adding durable goods to it. Now if packing to bug out, print out or keep a hard copy of all your supplies. Now you now have a check list. You are not running around wasting valuable time hunting for that sneaky thing that is hiding someplace, and yelling at each other “what did I forget?!”.
    For a shopping list I keep a note in my pda. A small notepad could work. Anytime of day, anywhere I am, if I think of something, I can add it immediately.
    One thing I have done to help keep track of consumables. This should help with updating the spreadsheet, since you are more likely to add data if it is convenient to do. I taped a 8.5×11 sheet of paper to the inside of my medicine cabinet door. you can only see it if you open the door and are snooping around. There is also a pen inside a homemade pen holder. I don’t keep the wrappers. I listed only the items I use regularly. I did not list stuff that I don’t use often. (like bandaids) I only keep track of when I start a new product. because I usually finish and start a product on the same day. In cases of t.p., usually in the middle of a mission. By looking over my notes, I know the average life span of anything. I too was surprised by how long some items last and how quickly I go through others.
    Food is harder. Most do not eat the same food everyday. So using your example, a jar of PB may stay unused for weeks or a month. So instead, I try to go by serving size. Not the listed on the box, but MY serving size. I try to estimate how much I would use if eating pb on crackers or a pb&j sandwich. Then I can figure out how many “meals” in the jar. Unlike toothpaste, I don’t need a whole year’s worth of pb. I am not going to eat it everyday. I just need to add up enough different foods to get to my goal. In this instance, I am using a year like you.
    Getting the rest of your family on board could prove difficult. I am single, but just want to throw this out as an idea. If you recycle, before you dump the inside can to the large one outside, take an inventory of what the family has done. (You can do trash as well if you want. I wouldn’t.) Also, you could train them to keep a “shopping list” on the fridge. they may do it if they see it’s for their benefit. If they eat that pizza, and don’t tell you, and you don’t buy it, they will remember next time.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Patriot Dave,

      The DW and I are almost as old as dirt. So, she likes to skip cooking as often as possible. As soon as I discovered that I was my own lunch cook, peanut butter and jelly became lunch. Everyday. For the last 12 years.

  10. This was a very good post I’m do not worry about band-aids, as my grandmother showed me how to make band-aids the old way out an old bad sheet (wash them, then about 3 or4 tablespoons of bleach in water) then I cut the sheet into 1″, 2″, 3″ long straps and some 4″by4″ sq. the can be folded into smaller sq. for small cut and some medium cuts and also keep some for L and XL cut and the straps as long as you feel needed. This is my 2 cent…In my opinion I would not keep any spam, I like Treat meat It better for you is far as I know it keep as good and the price is better to. I’m not sure where you live but also check out Family Dollar Store for rat traps that where I found my. One more thing you may not like this but if need be rat can be eaten I can hear most of you right now
    YUCK YUCK but if its life or death you will eat them…Back to traps remember dead fall can make out of thing you already have again that my 2 cent LoneWolf ED

    • Hunker-Down says:


      I’m such a pack rat. Now I have an excuse for saving old sheets. Thanks for the idea.
      I think they may also be used to pre-filter water.

    • Great point,Lonewolf !
      I’ve made similar statements when people ask what i do about pests in the house or garden. The answer i give is i’m just fattening them up! Groundhogs,deer,rabbits,birds,even mice,and insects are all edible.EWWW is the usual response, but after a couple weeks of no food i’ll bet they will change their minds.

    • Homeinsteader says:

      Hello, Lonewolf! You are right, if we’re hungry enough, we’ll eat rats. But let’s hope we don’t have to, because of the diseases they transmit.

      Your grandmother was a wise woman. We ALL need to be making (and probably USING) our own bandages (“band-aids”); to the best of my knowledge, they are ALL being manufactured out of China.

      Two years ago, I developed a very nasty infection – from a “band-aid”! It had to be lanced, drained, disinfected, and treated for days. The infection was EXACTLY the size and shape of the bandage. Personally, I think it was something in the adhesive. It was not the Band-Aid brand product, but, those, too, come out of China.

  11. Wow! This was a great article! Well Done!
    I like the way you worked out how much you use in a given time frame, I need to work on that too. I like your spreadsheet design, it sounds workable to me as others I’ve seen seem either too complicated or too simplified. I implemented and take care of inventory where I work so this really appeals to me.
    As for buying too much soap, look at it as you have that much less to buy and it will last that much longer. It can be used for washing your hair, dishes or clothes if needed, the pets too if you have any.
    Great job and a great encouragement for newbies.

  12. This is great stuff Al. I first started with the pack with the “What Did You Do To Prep Today” posts. I found myself gathering supplies without a real plan for how to store long term.

    Only recently, have I put in place a plan to better manage my supplies. This blog truly help with that – including the community.

  13. Al, you sound alot like myself. M.D.’s site was the first site I visited years ago and still come to daily. I have for about a year been closely watching the consumption rate on various things my family uses. I am shocked by the numbers on some items. And like you I keep an inventory log on my storage, (a habit from a lifetime spent in retail). I also made (2) full two week menus, one is a menu for foods if I still have refrigeration, and the other; ready-to-eat foods for no fridge situations. This menu forced me to see that although I thought I had several months food on hand…sadly my inventory levels were FAR below that. AS a matter of fact, maybe I should post an article about that here…hmmm. Anyway, thanks for the post.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      Our focus is on having food to eat when there is no electric or fuel. I get excited when finding a recipe that fits that criteria, especially if it contains sugar.

  14. SurvivorDan says:

    A few weeks? That’s all? I think you are off to a very good start on your prepping journey. You have the methodology of an experienced student. Research and more research. Practical application. Use of a spreadsheet to track it all.
    Heck…I ‘lose’ stuff all the time. I could take a lesson from the novice. My theory of acquisition vs duplication is that for most items – the more the merrier. Explains the 6 machetes and 15 different fire starters! However, when I am berating myself for being unable to acquire a ‘needed’ item, it would be more possible if I tracked everything and avoided needless duplication. Not to mention the items I occasionally dispose of as expired because I fail to track perishable expiration dates.
    Great job Al.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      That spreadsheet went through several revisions as we discovered problems and omissions with it.
      As far as having duplicate items, I’m too stingy to spend money that way, especially since we cant afford what we really want; A Home Depot, a Walgreen’s and a Wal-Mart (and a garage to hold it).

      • SurvivorDan says:

        “I’m too stingy to spend money that way, ”
        I am too wasteful. Have to get better organized. Needless duplication is wasteful. Even weapons and accessories for my armory don’t excuse needless duplication. Blasphemy!!!!!

  15. Hi Al! Sounds like you have a very workable system all set up there! It may be a little labor intensive at first to get the average usage figured out, but well worth the effort.

    I know I tend to get “tunnel vision” sometimes trying to cover all the bases (or as many of them as possible at least) and find myself focusing on one area while another really needs more attention. A system like the one you describe should help to create a better overview of the progress that has been made and alert me to gaps that need to be addressed. Good article!!

  16. A very good article, Al B. I am a list maker but have been fussin’ about if we have enough of one item and too much of another. The only thing I have kept track of how much we use is TP. We just don’t want to run out of TP!

    I have a problem understanding how to use Excel. My husband used to use it at work every day but hasn’t used it since he was forced to retire or be fired. And he says he is too busy to make up a program. So I have used Publisher to makes forms that list everything we have in storage. It is a simple thing and I don’t list expiration dates, just the earliest one of any given item. I list an item followed by 18 boxes. When we buy something, we put half an X in the box – one box per one item. When we use it, we complete the X. I always use a pencil so I can reuse the form. I have a pile of stuff to put away from our last food buyer club purchase but it is all recorded. I just need to find room for it all!

    The only areas I have not inventoried are all the paper products such as tissues, boxes of Food Saver bags, paper plate packages, etc., canning supplies, and my huge medical box that has everything from bandaids to toothpaste. I need to get on that….

    Thanks for a good article. I look forward to the Pack’s comments. And welcome to the Pack!!

    • Hunker-Down says:


      O.K. You caught me. I haven’t put our Food Saver rolls on the spreadsheet.

    • Chilly Beaver says:

      Encourager, you can dowload excel for free (or a version of it) from install and youre good to go, if you need any assistance at all, just ask in the comments section and Ill guaranteee myself or someone else will have you hooked up in no time. Its easy to use and you’ll love it once youve got it running.

  17. Great article. I too have spreadsheets for everything and love your “location” section. I didn’t even think of that. I also just estimate how long something lasts and then add a few for possible barter later. For example we are a family of 4 but I have 70 toothbrushes. I really don’t see us going through that many in a year. I have done that with other items also. I’m also an expiration date reader and drive my family crazy. I love tuna and bought every can I could find with acceptable pre-Fukashima disaster dates. If anyone shappens to see my stash, I just tell them I’m a crazy couponer and only buy on sale.

  18. I think your spreadsheet idea is a marvelous one and well thought out. About the only thing I could possibly think to add would be to keynote with an asterisk, items that could be used for some other purpose. It is difficult to know how much of anything you will need for an uncertain future nor how long a crisis will last but if you have anything at all when the balloon goes up it will be far better than those folks who have nothing. There is not much you can do to educate someone who absolutely refuses to consider the remote possibility of WTSHTF situation and wasting time trying to convince them is counterproductive. Spend your time on your preps and above all, store duplicate supplies in different locations, some remote in case your caches are discovered and plundered. A years supply of food in one location that is discovered and plundered is not nearly as good as two weeks supply repeated numerous times over in different locations.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      One of the issues we haven’t gotten control of is how to add to the spreadsheet, the multi-purpose use of medicines. At this point I think we should abandon the idea simply because the volume of words necessary cant be contained in a spreadsheet.

      • I think I would continue with the asterisk idea with the use of other symbols and then a simple word document explaining what each symbol indicated. You can also add a text block on most spreadsheet programs I have used over the years. Not just medicines alone have multiple uses but other things will also have multiple uses. Especially if you are using dried naturals like herbs, etc. Don’t mean to complicate things for you but since I am retired and have adequate time to mess around with a lot of ideas and half finished projects, you have given me the impetus to consolidate all of my inventory lists into a spreadsheet type document with a copy for each container including the location of items not in that container or location.

  19. Excellent article! That’s one thing that I need to do is keep records. You made it sound easy. Thanks

    • Hunker-Down says:


      It’s not easy. It’s a pain in the rear.
      But, imho, the Knowledge and control it gives you is worth the drudgery.

  20. I keep inventory in Excel as well. Be careful when calculating how much of a particular product your family goes through. Somehow we arrived at the conclusion that we go through one large can of coffee every two weeks. So I bought a year’s worth of coffee–26 cans. As it turns out, we go through about a can a month. LOL I now have a two-year supply of coffee. But I bought it when it was $6.99 a can. So I can’t complain. Now it is up to $10.99 a can–and that’s the Walmart price.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Bam Bam,

      I would rather have our money invested in coffee than setting in a bank waiting to be confiscated! Good investment, you have a 57% return.

  21. Oh, btw, didn’t someone mention something about teams that play after my bedtime? Maybe someone was a USC fan? LOL I wonder which SEC team is going to win the National Championship this year: Alabama or LSU? I haven’t seen Alabama play this year but LSU looks like a pro offense. It looks like the real championship will be played in November–when #1 plays #2.

  22. MD.. I stash knives all over my house, in my vehicles and anywhere that “if I need one, I can get to one”. I also have several handguns-loaded and ready to rock strategically located. I’m an empty nester so inadvertant discovery from children is not an issue. What do you have with an “unloaded handgun”? A club! haha! I just have to remind myself to unload before transporting to the gun range, cleaning ect. Always treat any gun as a loaded weapon! My niece is learning to shoot & had my brother enroll her in a Hunters Education course. Safety,Safety,Safety! On a final note.. my inspiration quote- ” If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

  23. village idiot says:

    I really enjoyed this article, Al, but I really hate spreadsheets. You’ve made it very easy for us computer-challenged dunces. Thank you, sir.

  24. Someone mentioned storage tricks… One storage method that helps me – plastic tote boxes under the beds. The box spring and mattress sits right on top of them and a bed skirt hides them. Makes the beds a little higher, but you sure can store a lot of non-perishables in them. And I figure the totes themselves can be used for so many things if/when is all hits the fan. Also quick to grab and throw in the trailer if we need to move to a bug-out location. Already packed!

    • Someone here wrote a really good post, and may have followed up with an article, can’t quite remember on cross loading plastic totes with the basics of beans, bullets, band-aids and water. I really believe in that concept and have cross loaded several totes in case we have to bug out. Can’t have enough of the plastic totes. DW says if we’re going to be preppers than at least we should be organized preppers.

  25. Bertha Jewel says:

    Very new at prepping. Recently retired and decided to use a small inheritance to buy supplies. I read and studied for a couple of weeks, putting in many hours each day. However, I was like a crazy person, I just had to get out and hit WalMart, Big Lots and Sam’s to start my project. I now have a room filled with stuff and no good way to keep records. I made several attempts and now have yellow legal pads and index cards filled with lists. Even have long lists on the computer. It is going to take some serious organizational skills to get it under control. I am pleased with most of my purchases but need to work on food, food storage and security. We have enough guns, but I have to talk my husband into buying more ammo. He isn’t on board yet with prepping. And I have many questions on food storage, but learn something new each day.
    I am using 2 liter coke bottles and cleaned bleach bottles to store water, is this ok? They are stored in the back of closets and such but I will need to find a safe place for a large plastic barrel that is suggested by other preppers.
    Should dry foods such as beans and rice be taken out of their orginal packages if they are going to be put in mylar bags? Is there a better way to store these items than mylar bags?
    I am canning jams and pickles. A couple of my flower beds are now planted with several vegetables. Things aren’t looking successful, so I will have to keep trying. How do I store extra seeds, refrig or freezer or mylar?
    I am sampling the different freeze dried foods each week. I pick them up from the camping departments at the local stores.When I find a company I like I will order a larger supply.
    I was able to get extra prescriptions from our family doctor for our medicines in order to stock pile for a full year. It was necessary to have good relationship with him and to keep my request short and sweet, never mentioning the subject of prepping. He did ask why I would want to keep extra medications. I just said that, as he knew, many medications were in short supply off and on and that many people in the military and government suggested, “off the record” to be prepared to take care of your own family. I mentioned Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Japan. He not only wrote me the prescriptions but gave me refills for a year. I promised I would not ask for any narcotics and would get the meds from Canada. Now I can get my regular meds with my insurance paying like always. The extra drugs from Canada can’t be paid for by insurance. Buying from Canada was much cheaper than full price in the US, but the money came out of my budget, and it cost several hundred dollars for a 90 day supply. I will reorder every 90 days for the next year. I suggest to anyone who does get drugs from Canada, please do your research, make several phones calls before picking a company to use. I can not tell you how important this is, there will be noone to help you if you pick a bad company. Also, you must watch expiration dates and rotate your pills just like you do your food.
    For medicines such as antibiotics, I bought fish meds from a company in California. As with the Canadian company, I did much research and made several phone calls.
    I spent 35 years in the medical field, but the idea of making medical decisions without backup from a doctor continues to be scary. With any medical purchase, you have to educate yourself. Especially with antibiotics, they should only be used when all else has failed……without a doctor’s advice, this can be a serious decision and someone could have a bad reaction or die. “First do no harm.”
    Some of the new skills I am learning have been shared with my grandsons. They just think they have a cool grandmaw. We have attempted and learned to start fires in a couple of different ways. We are learning to use a slingshot. Our next project is building a solar oven.
    Thanks to all of you for reminding me to keep quiet about my prepping. I have people that would first make fun and then show up on my door step when TSHTF.

    • Bertha,

      Welcome to the Wolf Pack. I would recommend that you not use your full name–you may not want someone who lives near you to know all the stuff you have. It sounds like you are off to a good start. If you have questions, feel free to ask. Someone here will have an answer.

      • Bertha Jewel says:

        In reply to your warning about using my full name………Bertha Jewel isn’t my name……..I don’t want anyone coming for my supplies. And I know you don’t show our email addresses…..right? Just to say thank you for having this site….I have learned so much.

        • HomeINsteader says:

          None of us see email addresses unless we intentionally post them here; I do have my “ghost” address, which you now have, as well.

    • Encourager says:

      BJ, welcome to the Pack.

      About keeping track of what you have bought…
      Many here use Excel spreadsheets. Excel does not like me. So I used Microsoft Publisher (you can use whatever program you have that lets you make tables).

      I separate my food stuffs into groupings such as juice, jams and jellies, fruit, canned/dried meat, soups, veggies, etc.(I use bold type and color the cell so I know visually it is a new group). Then I list them alphabetically, in each group. That is the first left hand column of cells in my table (goes down the left side of page). Then I make small squares out of more cells in the table next to each item: Group – canned fruit; under that, applesauce, etc. Reading across the page are the square cells, next to the name of the item.

      I continue to list until every group is on the pages with their squares. You can make as many squares as you need. Each square represents one item, such as one jar of applesauce. When I count how many jars of applesauce I have, I use a “/” (slash) in the square. When I use it up, I make a slash the other way, forming an “X”. I use a pencil so I can erase and use the form over and over as necessary.

      I list my buckets of stuff the same way, by numbering the buckets. So Bucket #1 would be the group; under that, I list everything in the bucket. Sometimes it is all the same, sometimes it is different. For instance, I could have dried veggies and spices in that bucket. Every item would get their own line with squares. (dried carrots, dried celery, dried onions, allspice, garlic powder, etc.) I also list how much each item is, for instance – 1/4 cup of dried carrots. I try to store things consistently the same size when I package them. I only list the size of the package if I repackaged myself. Or if there are two different size cans, such as small chunk pineapple and large chunk pineapple. (for pineapple, I use a lighter color for the cell and list each type such as sliced, chunk, crushed, etc.)

      I like having a hard copy on my clipboard that I can carry upstairs and down. When I go shopping, stuff stays in bags in the kitchen until I use a permanent marker and write the expiration date on the front in big numbers, and then record them on the inventory sheet. Then they go down into storage. I mark off the item when it comes upstairs to be used. This works for me. We belong to an organic food buying club (a food co-op is similar) so we get stuff in large quantities that I have to break down in manageable sizes – for instance, dried beans, etc. These go into the freezer for two weeks after I measure them out and put them in Food Saver bags and suck the air out of them. I leave them on top of the dryer to come to room temperature before putting into buckets.

      The hard part is making up the form. I print out the forms in a different color and date them when we re-check the inventory. Believe me, sometimes you forget to cross them off the form or someone else brings something up and doesn’t do it. So my goal is to re-inventory 3-4 times a year…hasn’t happened yet, usually it gets done twice a year when my youngest son comes home for a visit!

      I hope this is not toooooo confusing!

  26. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Welcome aboard!
    My DH and I are retired/former military. I have always done the 90-day disaster preparedness thing but have only recently expanded my contingency plans. I have a little experience and a lot of opinions so I will defer to the “Pros” on most things but wanted to say hey and welcome.

    • Bertha Jewel says:

      Thanks for the welcome. My husband and I are both ex-military and I think that gives us a leg up on understanding how fast things can go bad. Plus, we lived thru Katrina……..hell happened in a matter of hours and people sat and waited for the government to show up.

      • Bertha,

        Katrina . . . Are you from Louisiana? If so, I sure hope you are not an LSU fan. LOL Go Gators!

        • Bertha Jewel says:

          Oh, Lordy, a Gator Fan……….this year hasn’t been easy for LSU or the Saints……..but, you know how it is………sorta like family….you aren’t always proud, but you stand by them.

  27. HomeINsteader says:

    Hello, Bertha Jewel! Thanks to a puppy who is terrified of storms, I am up at a stupid hour and can look at your message, and, hopefully, respond in a semi-intelligent way! Congrats on being the one in your pack who has wisdom to see what’s going on in our world and what you can pro-actively do to address the issues at hand. As to those not on board, we all started somewhere, most of us with close family members who were not. Just hold the course, stay calm, and be patient. They’ll ALL be on board in due time. Trust us on this one!
    Most newbies make mistakes starting out; it’s part of the learning curve. We’ve all been there and done that. M.D. Creekmore’s “31 Days to Survival” is an excellent resource for helping you sort all this out. You can buy it on this site, I believe, since it IS MD’s site! : )
    That said, a few specifics, but please do keep in mind that if you ask 10 people the same question you will often get 10 answers, regardless the topic. Here’s my take:

    1. Wal-Mart (a.k.a., “China Mart”), BigLots and Sam’s do have “useful stuff” but some of what you need (much of it, actually) won’t be available there. Emergency Essentials makes available a catalogue for free; I suggest you contact them or go online to their website (same info) and see what they offer. Their price may or may not be the best, but you can get a good feel for “other stuff” that might be helpful to have when SHTF.
    2. Michele, a “frequent flyer” on this site, sells Thrive products. Check ‘em out.
    3. Also, look at a few other sites; MD has more than one advertising here; we like to support his advertisers, as much as possible.
    4. Make a list by category of what you have (sounds like you did that already). What’s missing, based on your “wish list”?
    5. MD has been good enough to post lots of good information on this site; it’s an excellent learning resource, aside from asking questions. Look at all the categories over on the left of your Home Page for; choose a category, click – start learning! Then go through the archives – more learning. It will take time, but be well worth your time.
    6. You should be eating from this stock – just regular food, mostly, and rotating the stock.
    7. Medicine for SHTF? “Doom and Bloom” – find the website with a internet search (they don’t track you and sell your info or give it to the gubment, unlike google) to find this; “Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy” have answers for everything on the website, but get the hard copy book; the website is a great resource, but won’t help you when internet is down. Get the book.
    8. Water: No, what you are doing is not sufficient for the long-haul. MD has a post for that, too. The barrels we use are 55-gallon food grade heavy blue plastic, attached to the gutters which fill with every good rainfall (like, now!) and we use it to water gardens, etc. But could filter and shock it to drink, if need be. There are lots of things you can do about water. Email me: [email protected] and I’ll send you what I’ve compiled, in addition to what’s posted here. As for “water” info.
    9. Dry foods SHOULD NOT be removed from original packaging before long-term storing; just mylar them in the OP with oxygen absorbers (I suggest 1,000 cc minimum). It sounds like you already know how to save them in mylar. Holler if not. You can also just put them in freezer bags (in OP), then drop them inside metal canisters with tight-fitting lids. They’ll be good for years like this, especially properly stored. Or put them in glass jars. Keep away from light and heat.
    10. Plastic breaths – glass does not. It is better to l/t store in glass with good lids than plastic, as plastic will allow oxygen to penetrate; but both must be kept from light and heat for maximum storage time.
    11. Some people say keep seeds in freezer; I do not advocate long-term survival techniques that rely on the grid. Save them in mylar with 1000 cc OA (oxygen absorbers). Then put the mylar down inside a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep them in a cool, dark, but dry place (such as a pantry or cabinet in your home).
    12. All items will store longer in temperature-controlled environments. Do not store food items in attics, basements not temp-controlled or damp, etc.
    13. Freeze-dried foods are useful for “get home bags” and the like, but I personally do not believe they are a good solution for the l/t food strg. Food fatigue will most assuredly set in when SHTF, and that is a new stress; plus, they aren’t all the nutritious or healthy (sodium levels, questionable quality, etc.). There are those here who will argue that point; you will have to decide for yourself. As for us, we rely most heavily on “real” food that stores, including (but not limited to) home-canned meats, fruits, and veggies. I l/t store dried potatoes, pastas, veggies, fruits, etc. If you look on this site, you’ll see I have shared my instructions for a “solar food dryer that works”. I use mine – a lot! Get the materials and build it later, if need be, but, don’t wait – you may not be able to get the “stuff” for it later.
    14. We ALL have people who either do or have made fun of us; wait until one calls you “crazy”; they will; and they’ll be the first on your doorstep when SHTF!
    15. There are other sites you can learn from, too, but this is, IMHO, the best place to get started.
    16. Anything on your computer that you may truly need should be hard-printed NOW.
    17. I recently used Fish Flox Forte to treat an illness for myself – I am very happy with results.
    18. Expired meds: it’s like food: just because it is expired doesn’t mean it’s useless; in SHTF, you may be glad you have it – covered in Doom and Bloom book.
    19. You are now on the radar; be careful what you say here; remember that all phone calls, email messages, social networks, and online posts are now monitored in REAL TIME. Big Brother is watching.
    20. While some people lke to post every detail under “What Did You DO to Prep This week?”, others take a more cautious approach; think about how much of your details you want out there before posting.
    21. If you are posting here under your real name, consider changing it. OpSec.
    Puppy is better – Vetri-Calm has kicked in (serious storm anxiety issues!). Hope this answers some of your questions.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      In the book, “How to Live on Wheat” by John Hill, there is a chapter on ‘Grain and Legume Storage’. He points out that if one wants to save seeds for later germination, they must be ‘live’.
      To quote from page 37,
      “Dead foods must be protected from oxidation to extend shelf life while live foods require oxygen to remain alive.
      If you want to sprout your grains and legumes, DO NOT use oxygen absorbers, nitrogen flushing, Mylar bags or other oxygen elimination methods”.

      Based on the above, we store our heirloom garden seeds in old plastic peanut butter jars and keep them in the dark, in the coolest part of the basement. This year we had excellent germination from 5 year old Marigold seeds. This year we are saving tomato, zucchini, and cucumber seeds from the garden.
      The grains we put back for long term food consumption we store as you described, using O2 absorbers and 5 mill Mylar bags.

      I second your suggestion about OPSEC. Today’s friendly non-prepping neighbors will be motivated to ‘do whatever it takes’ to get to your supplies (if they know about them) after they haven’t eaten for 2-3 days.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        Oh, my! You are SO right, HD. I had forgotten -DON’T PUT THE OAs in with seeds! That’s what happens when one blogs with a 60-lb “puppy” on your lap at 3 am! Thank you! : )

    • Bertha Jewel says:

      Thank you for all the advice. Learned some new things and certainly appreciate you taking the time, while babysitting that poor frighten dog.
      I have started putting my list in order by catagory as you suggested. I will start making hard copies for a notebook.
      Actually, I don’t know much about the mylar bags. I have them on the list of things to buy, along with the O2 depleters. Need to study more about them.
      I will store my seeds as you suggested. You’re right, the freezer is useful only it we have power.
      I agree, at this point in my prepping, I will buy mostly food that we eat daily, rotating them. I think I can keep a month’s supply of food to rotate in the kitchen for daily use. Right now, I will start storing only items like rice and beans for long term. After I get more learning under my belt I will attempt to add to the long term storage. I have played with the idea of buying some of the buckets providing food for a week or month. It appears to make long term storage easy. Good idea or not?
      You are right, nothing is really private anymore and the more I read the more careful I am learning to be.
      Just checked with a nurse, who preps (the only person besides my husband who knows about my “hobby”]. She said that I can just take my meds and throw them in the freezer, then rotate them as needed. But as long as I keep any medicine in a stable enviroment, I at comfortable they will be effective many years down the road.
      Will check out the web sites you suggested. Can’t thank you enough for your help.

      • Bertha,

        If you know how to cook with the basics, I wouldn’t recommend putting too much money in the “food for a month” deals. Those meals tend to contain too much salt. Also you can make money stretch a lot further by getting staples. Check out the LDS Store for the cheapest place to buy staples like rice, beans and oatmeal.

        • Bertha Jewel says:

          thanks, I think you are right. Better to plan your own menue and store your own favorites. I just am so over whelmed with getting enough of the staples bought and stored….I was looking for an easy way out.
          I know some Mormons, I will have to talk with them.

        • Bertha Jewel says:

          Bam Bam, it took me awhile, but this last week I called the LDS place in Slidell, La. I spoke to a woman who sorta gave me an overview of what to expect when I visit. Apparently, they “can” the foods there. It appears I either pay a little more for the canned products or do the canning myself. The cost is so cheap either way. I will be buying staples, pre-canned from them. The lady suggested I go to their order form on the internet before coming. I will buy whatever my budget will allow at this time, tour the food pantry and decide on future purchases.
          Should be an interesting trip, my husband’s family have been Mormon for many years. It will be great to follow some of their culture.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        You are very welcome, BJ, and, there are much more learned preppers on here than “moi”. Just ask – someone will always answer.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!