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12 Months of Prepping: Month One

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
12 Months of Prepping: Month One

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Getting prepared, and becoming a Prepper, has got to be one of the more important challenges for families living in the 21st century. The reasons are clear.

We live in an uncertain world with a shaky global economy, extremes in weather, nasty superbugs, risk of an EMP, and threats of cyber-attacks as well as terrorist attacks by militant political regimes.  Add to that disappearance of the middle class, Wall Street corruption, and an ever increasing dependence on petroleum products, and indeed, there is cause for worry.

For these reasons, a sizable segment of the population has turned to prepping and family preparedness as a solution to the inherent dependence we have on supermarkets, shopping malls, organized medicine, and government.  It is not that these entities are going away, not at all or at least not right now.  It is simply that we prefer to be self-reliant and independent of third party interference with our lives.

Preppers, and those that embrace the prepper lifestyle, embrace what is commonly called the “Survival Mindset”.

12 Months of Prepping Month One -

What is the Survival Mindset?

The survival mindset is a frame of mind whereby daily life is focused on the pursuit of independence and self-reliance.  This focus is done in a non-obtrusive way to the detriment of no one and the betterment of everyone.  It is a lifestyle and a commitment to preparedness and to courage, to optimism and to family values.

Ultimately, it is the will to live and to survive with the knowledge that you have done the very best you can to protect yourself and your family from danger and the woes that come from living in complicated and uncertain times.

What I have just described is also the Backdoor Survival mindset.  And while I would like to think that it is the very best description out there, I am not arrogant enough to think that what works for me will work for everyone.  But – and you know how I like to do this – whether you are an experienced prepper or a newbie that is just beginning to get your toes wet, you need to think about your own personal Survival Mindset and move to a survival place that meets your own needs.

Okay. Enough said about that.  Let us begin with 12 Months of Prepping: Month One.


  • Water-3 gallons per person and per pet
  • Hand-operated can opener and bottle opener
  • Canned meat, stew, or pasta meals – 5 per person
  • 2 flashlights with batteries

Let’s talk about water first.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an unquenchable thirst?  That thirst is a signal that your body is dehydrated and is lacking a sufficient quantity of fluids to function.

When this occurs, the blood in your body is compromised.  More succinctly, it gets completely whacked out.  And the result?  In addition to increased thirst, dry mouth & throat and chapped lips, all of which are annoying, there is a risk of lethargy, dizziness,  decreased urine output, constipation, migraine headaches, wild fluctuations in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and ultimately, lack of consciousness.  Much more, at this point, than a mere annoyance, this can, in fact, be life threatening.

So how bad really is dehydration?  Back in 2001 I ended up being carted to the hospital by the local EMTs as a resulted of dehydration caused by food poisoning.  My husband thought he was losing me; and was not feeling so great myself. it was not a pleasant experience.

So yes, think about water storage now and make it your number one priority.

There are a lot of ways to store water.  You can purchase a 55-gallon barrel, you can stock up on bottled water, or, if money is tight and you are willing to do a little work, you can clean and fill some empty soda and juice bottles with water from your tap and store them someplace cool and protected for up to six months.  I have written an article on do-it-yourself water storage which you can go back to if you need some guidance with your water storage: Survival Basics: Water.

The next items on the list are related:  canned goods and a manual can opener.  The goal here is to put  away some food items that you enjoy, that require minimal cooking, are tasty and – here is the rub – are  calorie dense.  This is not the time to worry about the very best in low fat, diet-friendly foods.  What you are looking at are foods that are going to feed your body with energy.

Have you ever analyzed the contents of M.R.E.’s?  (If you are not familiar with that term, M.R.E. stands for “Meal ready to eat” such as the precooked and prepackaged meals used by military personnel in combat.)  Many such meals seem tiny in quantity by today’s standards and yet the total calorie count, per meal, is up to 1,200 calories or more.

The moral of this lesson is that in a crisis or emergency situation, your body needs fuel and fuel means calories.  As you are planning your canned food storage items, think calories and lots of them.

One of the easiest ways for a beginner to tackle their initial food storage needs is to open up their cupboard or pantry and raid the contents.  And for the more experienced prepper?  You are still going to want to take a peek in your cupboards and take a look at the foods you are currently eating and hopefully enjoying.  Have you included these with your existing supplies?  What better time than now than to go take a look.  Pick and choose some new items and add them to what you already have.

Here are some of the canned and prepared food items that I personally have stored away in my survival pantry:

  • Canned chicken
  • Canned beef
  • Canned Soups
  • Canned beans
  • Canned chili
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pilot Crackers in a tin

For a more thorough list of ideas of food items to store for an emergency, see 20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan.  Keep in mind, however, that this is only month one of the 12 Months of Prepping, and you do not need to stock your entire food pantry at once.

In addition to food, we have flashlights and batteries on our list of Month One supplies and gear.

This is one area where you are going to want to do a bit better than your 99 cent flashlight from the Dollar Store.  Not that I don’t love those little LEDs that cost just a dollar each, but in a power outage, you are going to need something a bit more powerful.  I happen to like the Eveready lantern-style flashlights that can be modified so that they last a full 2000 hours.

I also own a number of heavy duty tactical-style flashlights which are dependable and heavy enough to also be used as weapons.  If you have a few extra dollars, then by all means get a few of these Mini Crees from Amazon and stash them around the house, your vehicles, and your handbags and backpacks.  You can never have too many flashlights.

And then there are batteries; you are going to want to have lots of batteries.  It is all well and good that you are a good steward of our planet and use rechargeable batteries but trust me, in a power out, grid down situation, you will be thankful that you have a healthy supply of standard alkaline batteries as well.


  • Inventory the disaster supplies you already have on hand, including your camping gear
  • If you fill your own water containers, mark them with the date they were filled
  • Date cans of food and food containers if you have not already done so

The first task in Month One is to inventory your existing supplies, especially any outdoor or camping gear that you may already own.  What I did when I first got started prepping is walk around the house, yard and garage, taking note of items I had on hand that could be used if the power were out, if a natural disaster or storm shut down the roadways, or if there was some other crisis.

Here is a list of some of the things you can look for as you undertake a walk-around inventory.  This is not a comprehensive list, just some ideas to get you started.

  • First aid supplies
  • Warm blankets
  • Outdoor cooking facilities
  • Cooking fuel
  • Knives, hatchets and saws (for cutting away brush)
  • Hiking boots
  • Self-powered radio gear
  • Sleeping bags & tents
  • Lanterns
  • Firearms and self defense items

Remember, at this point we are merely taking an inventory so you can assess any gaps in your gear and begin thinking about the purchases you will need to make in future months.  You can also use this time to note the condition of the gear you have on hand and make repairs if any are needed.

Note:  Next month we will talk about assessing specific risks so you can better plan for mitigating the consequences of those risks.  For now, however, the important thing is to simply take stock of what you already own.

The final task for Month One is to get out those Sharpie’s or other permanent marker and note the date you filled your water containers and the date you purchased the food you set aside for emergency use.  Many will argue that you should mark everything with the expiration date but to my thinking, you need a PhD in code breaking to understand those expiration dates that appear on cans and packaged food.

I feel you are much better served by focusing on an effective rotation system – first in first out – using the approximate purchase date as a rough guideline.  Couple that with rotating food and water twice a year when you change the clocks for daylight savings time and you should be all set.

The Final Word

The very first month in implementing a preparedness plan does not have to be difficult, nor does it have to be time consuming or unnecessarily expensive.  Please, whatever you do, do not get frustrated.  There is a lot of support in the online community, including the kind folks that visit this website.  Ask a question and surely someone will reach out to help with an answer; if not here then on Facebook or one of the other social media platforms.

And what if you are a more experienced prepper?  What better time than now to go back and review your progress and perhaps share your experience with an unenlightened family member or a favorite friend.  Send them a copy of this article and help them formulate their own survival mindset and preparedness plan.

Be patient and gentle with them if they don’t at first understand.  In the long run, they will thank you.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ and purchase my book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage from Amazon.


From the Bargain Bin: Today I am sharing links to some of my own personal prepping purchases.

FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Zoom Light Lamp:  Here we go with another flashlight.  It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof.  Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery.

Morakniv Craftline Q Allround Fixed Blade Utility Knife: Also known as the Mora 511, this is now my favorite knife.  It is made of Swedish steel and is super sharp.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out.  It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. There is also a larger sized LifeStraw Family currently available with free shipping. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage:  My eBook will provide you with everything you need to create an affordable food storage plan, including what to buy and how to store it. Nothing scary and nothing overwhelming – you really can do this!

Eveready 3-LED 6Volt Floating Lantern (battery included): I don’t know how long it will last but there is currently a great price on this LED lantern-style flashlight.  (If you are planning to build a 2000-hour flashlight, this is the one that you need – see next item.)

The Amazing 2000-Hour Flashlight:  This short little book will give you detailed instructions for adding a cheap resistor to a cheap flashlight and create a light that produces useful illumination for 2000 hours on the same battery. (And I wrote the forward!)

Rothco 550lb. Type III Nylon Paracord: As far as I am concerned, paracord ranks up there with duct tape and zip ties. I wish I had know about this stuff years ago.

Volcano II Collapsible Cook Stove: I love my Volcano Stove. So easy to use and it folds up to nothing in its own carry bag. For a review, read Survival Woman Review: Volcano Collapsible II Stove.

Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from salmon, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. For under the modest cost, there is not excuse not to own this survival basic. Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers, a must have for cleaning those food bits from your cast iron cookware.


Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

Emergency Essential Order Jul 2013_03

Recent purchases from Emergency Essentials

The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.  I have a monthly budget and each month I add a bit more freeze dried food and other  products to my long term storage – always making my selection from sale items.

There are a lot new items that are put on sale each month – be sure to take a look.

Note: I earn a small commission on your purchase making this a great way to support Backdoor Survival which will always be free to everyone.

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials


I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here.

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33 Responses to “12 Months of Prepping: Month One”

  1. Prepping should be a permanent lifestyle. Do not think of it as just for emergencies. Buying on sale and buying in bulk saves money. Having things on hand for convenience sake saves you numerous trips to the store when you need something right away. Having a well-stocked pantry and other items around the home are such a comfort. It’s the way our grand parents and great grand parents lived and it was just the way of life to always have what you need on hand.

  2. First off i love this web site it has helped me plan and gather so much ,cant thank each one of you enough but want you all to know i send up prayers of thanks for you! Now i have a question ,did this site ever offer the chance to have all this info on a flashdrive? I only saw this offer once tried to save it but got lost in pc confusion,maybe i was dreaming lol but i sure would love the chance to buy if available and i know of a few friends i would love to buy one for,,i thank you for your time to read this and hope to hear from you. Cj

  3. I’m thinking about water storage, and how since we have two springs on our property (one is year-round), couldn’t we get a portable water purifier and skip the gallon water storage? I realize we need clean containers to put it in. Just trying to think this through…

  4. Good morning, Thank you for updating this easy to follow plan. Do you by chance have a source for an inventory sheet (s) that can be used with your program? Thanks.

  5. One thing I’ve found to replace things that use batteries, is to find flashlights that are solar and/or crank powered. Even radios! My favorite find was this flashlight I found on (//, it uses solar and crank power, and it’s one we use all the time even around the house! Plus it has a hook that pulls out if you need to hang it somewhere, and has different light settings. Heck, I’m buying another one as an additional source. Don’t be too dependent on batteries, you might run out!

    • Where do I find the kind of flashlight you shake to charge? Or aren’t they worth the price and effort? I have the winding kind, flashlight attached to a radio I got from Emergency Essentials but they do squat at charging a phone – I’d die of cranking before I charged one! LOL!

  6. Hi Gaye,
    I’m trying to prep food storage for whatever reason and had a question. Month one you state we need 3 gallons of water per person. I assume for each day, but what about canned meat? You say get 5 per person of canned meat. How many cans do you suggest? I feel like it may be a stupid question but how many cans should I stock? I guess it depends on how long I want to prepare for a disaster but what is your suggestion with this 5 cans per person?

    Thanks for all your work on this subject.

    • Russ – the goal with the One Month at a Time series is to put together some basic preps. It is not intended to be your “long term prepping and storage plan” but rather a starter plan to get you by for a few days at most. By gathering everything presented in the series, you will still have more than 95% of your neighbors but feel free to double or even triple the quantities specified to get even further ahead of the game.

      Think of it this way: everyone has to start somewhere and this will give you a good start without becoming over-burdened or overwhelmed.

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