This is a guest post BY JD
I have a few containers that I find to be invaluable for me in my journey to being a more prepared person and I would like to share them with you all.
The first container is the stainless steel water bottle that is becoming very common. Most of these bottles come in either the natural shiny color of steel or are painted with some kind of bright colors. So the first thing to consider doing is painting your bottle with black, high-temp grill paint.
I suggest that you paint the bottles with this specific paint for two reasons. First, the paint will allow the bottle to more readily absorb heat from the sun, thus the bottle can be used as a solar cooker or be used to keep heated food warm. You can also boil water in the same bottle as long as you leave the lid off.
The second reason for painting this bottle is for OPSEC (Operations security). If you are in a bug-out or some other type of high-threat situation, the black paint will keep light reflecting off of your bottle and possibly giving away your position.
The second container is the stainless-steel thermos. It has many of the same characteristics as the previously mentioned water bottle, but with a distinct advantage. The advantage is that it will keep food warm without having to be in the sun or over the fire. Also, many thermos bottles have a greater capacity so they can hold a greater amount. The thermoses will need to be painted with the black, high-temp grill paint aswell.
I also believe that thermos bottles have a significant OPSEC use as well. Having a thermos for me and everyone in my group allows us to cook just one large meal that can be stored in our thermos bottles and eaten throughout the day. This idea came to me last year as I was walking through the camp ground that we were spending the week at. We were coming from the swimming area where we had spent most of the day and I was very hungry.
Because I was “hungry”, I had an idea of which campsites were already cooking dinner before I ever approached them. If I can do this, how much more so can someone who is truly hungry and has not eaten for several days? Cooking just once a day and then quickly moving out after doing so greatly increases OPSEC in a SHTF-type scenario plus conserves fuel during ordinary situations.
The third container that I will go into detail about at this time is the white, food-grade buckets. The advantages of these types are many but I will only mention three specifically.
The first and most obvious use is a food storage container. You can keep Mylar bags in your preps and then use them inside of these buckets to store bulk food items such as beans, rice, corn, wheat, etc. You can also store food items inside of the buckets in their original containers and then stack the buckets on top of each other.
This allows you to store a lot of items in a small space. Also, you can pack many different things in these buckets ahead of time and then quickly load them in your vehicle should you need to bug-out in a hurry.
Water storage and transportation is another good advantage of these buckets. Most of these buckets come in the 3-1/2 and 5 gallon size. I can handle the 5 gallon size easily but, for my wife and children, the 3-1/2 gallon size is easier for them. Also, it seems that the 3-1/2 gallon size is the more common one if you’re obtaining these buckets from a bakery.
In a grid-down situation, most of us will not be running our hose from the spigot to water our garden and animals so the buckets are good resource for us to do our necessary watering.
A third distinct advantage of the plastic buckets is container gardening. I have several buckets set aside for this purpose. I have drilled several small holes in the bottom of each and have lined them with a small amount of gravel. I have grown several kinds of plants in the buckets but have also found some limitations as well. For the smaller, 3-1/2 gallon buckets, I have found that most tomatoes and vine-type plants do not do well.
Smaller tomato varieties such Romas and cherry tomatoes do pretty good and I have done OK with one or two kinds of cucumbers as long as I keep them trimmed and use multiple stakes and ties. I am still experimenting with other vegetables to find what works best in my area.
However, if you do choose to do this kind of gardening then you need to be adding compost on a regular basis as some nutrients will to run out of the bottom if you are watering sufficiently.
Another thing I really like about container gardening in buckets is that I actually get to start gardening earlier in the year. I start my plants in smaller containers and then transfer to the buckets. I can then bring the buckets outside during the sunny part of the day and bring them in at night to protect them from the colder weather at night.
For 15-20 buckets it only took me about 20 minutes a day to do this. This is also an advantage during a SHTF-type event due to the plants being secure inside of my building or garage at night. This also helps to limit the damage from animals, especially rabbits, deer and dogs.
Before I finish this article, I do need to give honorable mention to a few other containers. Mylar bags were already mentioned previously and another bag I like is burlap bags. They are fairly inexpensive and alarge number can be stored in a small area.
These make great sandbags and can be used to store many of the differen troot vegetables. Metal and wooden ammo cans/boxes have a multitude of uses besides just storing ammo with metal ammo cans being used as Faraday cages to store sensitive electronics if one of the events that you are planning for is a solar flare or EMP-type event. 2-liter soda bottles have many uses as well,such as water treatment and storage, growing herbs or starting seeds and for making self-watering units for container gardens.
Also consider the thick, heavy garden-style trash bags. There are multiple uses for these bags, not the least of which is to make emergency shelters in a survival situation.
This article is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. You need to decide what containers are most valuable to you based on what type of situations that you and your family are preparing for. I hope and pray that this article is helpful to at least some of you in your decisions.