1 Year of Prepping: A Month-by-Month Breakdown

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: June 28, 2021
1 Year of Prepping: A Month-by-Month Breakdown

The very first time I wrote about 12 months of prepping was back in September 2011. Needless to say, I was excited and highly motivated to share monthly checklists with the beginning prepper.

Leading up to the 12 months article, I had done a lot of reading and a ton of research. More than anything, it was overwhelming to finally learn just how much I did not know. The good news is that this was a huge blessing in disguise.

Most assuredly, I had some gaping holes in my own preps, but what better way to fill the gaps than to break things down into manageable chunks?

To provide you with the best tools and knowledge, this updated guide serves one purpose — a clear and concise breakdown that covers everything you need on your journey to preparedness, month by month.

12 Months of Prepping, One Month At a Time

A Note Before Getting Started

The overwhelming popularity of the 12 Months of Prepping series took me by surprise. I was astounded. What started as a basic roadmap for a modest number of readers, expanded and grew to wherein each month, I was receiving hundreds of emails asking me questions, offering tips, and lending support for my monthly articles.

Thrilling? Yes. Humbling? You bet. Challenging? You have no idea.

Now, as we approach the end of the calendar year, I am updating the original article and posting it again with a few more tips plus links to the individual monthly posts. If you’re new to the world of emergency preparedness, I hope you find this just as useful as I would.

And for the experienced prepper? This guide will help you review your supplies, gear, bug out bag, and skills to fill in any blanks just as I have done.

The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide: Year One

On the journey towards preparedness, countless roadblocks will greet you.

Time, money, and the lack of moral support from reluctant family members all play a role in procrastinating when it comes to your efforts. And then there is fear — not only the fear that something may happen and you will not be ready but also the fear of the something itself.

For now, let’s put those fears and concerns aside and instead, focus on moving forward.

The goal is to have a manageable number of things to do in a finite amount of time, even if you have a limited cash outlay. And instead of looking at a task list 10 pages long, you’ll have a list with links to each month so that you can jump in anytime.

Month 1

Link: Getting Prepared Month 1: Supplies, Gear, and Tasks to Get You Started


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


  • 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.

Month 2

Link: Getting Prepared Month 2: First Aid, Personal Hygiene and Home Safety


  • Canned vegetables: 4 per person
  • Toilet paper: 3 rolls per person
  • Sanitary napkins: 2 months’ supply
  • Instant drinks: Coffee, tea, powdered soft drinks
  • Family-sized first aid kit


  • Change the batteries and test your smoke detectors. Purchase and install smoke detectors if you don’t have them.
  • Make an inventory of home contents for insurance purposes. Take photographs (digital are easiest) of your house and contents. Store a copy away from your home.

Month 3

Link: Getting Prepared Month 3: Special Foods, Fire Drills, and Home Safety


  • Canned fruits: 3 cans per person
  • Any foods for special dietary needs: This should be enough for 3 days
  • 1-2 bags of hard candies
  • A large plastic tub or bin for storage of food and other emergency supplies


  • Conduct a home fire drill.
  • Locate the gas meter and water shutoff points and attach/store a wrench or shutoff tool near them. You should also store special shutoff instructions if any.
  • Establish an out-of-state contact to call in case of an emergency.
  • Identify a location for storage of your plastic bin or tub.

Month 4

Link: Getting Prepared Month 4: Prescription Medicine, Cash, and Things to Keep Us Warm


  • A minimum of a 7-day supply of critical prescription medicines
  • $100 (or more) in small bills
  • Pet supplies
  • Infant supplies
  • Extra storage containers


  • Pack your prescription medications in a storage container with a date for annual rotation purposes.
  • Stock up warm blankets, sleeping bags, socks, and other cold-weather items.
  • Put any stray items in containers that are well marked.

Month 5

Link: Getting Prepared Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like-Minded Folks


  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plain liquid bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Empty spray bottles
  • Liquid hand soap and hand sanitizer
  • Bar of soap
  • Disposable hand wipes
  • Disposable latex or nitrile gloves
  • Canned, ready-to-eat soup: 4 per person
  • Portable AM/FM radio with batteries


  • Make two photocopies of important papers and put one in your emergency storage and one away from your home.
  • File an electronic copy of your important papers on a flash drive.
  • Talk with neighbors about organizing a neighborhood preparedness group.

Month 6

Link: Getting Prepared Month 6: Fitness, Energy Bars and Face Masks


  • Box of granola or power bars: 1 per person
  • 6 rolls of paper towels
  • Box of N-95 or N-100 face masks: 1 per person


  • Check to see if stored water has expired and needs to be replaced.
  • Put an extra pair of eyeglasses in the supply container.
  • Find out about your workplace disaster plans and the disaster plans at your children’s schools.

Month 7

Link: Getting Prepared Month 7: Gear, Tools, and Skills to Save Lives


  • NOAA alert weather radio
  • ABC fire extinguisher
  • Jug of juice: 1 per person
  • Vitamins for adults and children
  • A pair of pliers and/or vise grip
  • 100 feet of paracord


  • Take a first aid/CPR class.
  • Show family members where and how to shut off utilities.

Month 8

Link: Getting Prepared Month 8: Adding Supplies, Tasks, and an Emergency Preparedness Kit for Your Vehicle


  • Box of crackers or graham crackers: 1 per person
  • Dry cereal or instant oatmeal: 1 weeks’ worth per person
  • 1 box of large, heavy-duty garbage bags


  • Make a small preparedness kit for your car; include food, water, blanket, small first aid kit, a list of important phone numbers.
  • Secure water heaters to wall studs (if not already done).

Month 9

Link: Getting Prepared Month 9: Duct Tape and Drills


  • Extra batteries for flashlights, radio, and hearing aids (if needed)
  • Duct tape
  • An additional 3 days of water to your supply per person and pet


  • Follow up on efforts to organize a preparedness initiative for your family and your neighborhood.
  • Conduct an earthquake drill at home: stop, drop and hold, then go outside. (Remember, an earthquake can happen anywhere as recent events have demonstrated.)
  • Swap out stored medications with fresh versions. Review your prescription medicines and add those that are missing from your kit.

Month 10

Link: Getting Prepared Month 10: Practice Going Off-Grid


  • Take the month off from purchases. Yay!
  • Or, for extra credit, add:
    • An axe
    • Hatchet
    • Pocket knife
    • Portable (folding) shovel


  • Practice becoming earthquake-ready by taking steps to secure appliances, shelves, cabinets, and drawers to prevent them from falling and/or opening during a tremor.
  • Imagine your house with no electricity. Better yet, shut off the power for 4 to 24 hours and try to live off-grid.

Month 11

Link: Getting Prepared Month 11: Stock Up on Disposables & Build a Neighborhood Contact List


  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Package of eating utensils
  • Paper cups


  • Exchange work, home, and emergency contact phone numbers with neighbors for use during an emergency.

Month 12

Link: Getting Prepared Month 12: Food, Water and the Motivation to Keep Going


  • Expand your food supply
  • Purchase some comfort food or condiments
  • Purchase heavy work gloves


  • Check your water supply and rotate if necessary.
  • Check over your stored food and rotate if necessary.

Month 13

Congratulations! You have successfully completed your year of preparations.

From here, you can go back to month 1 to review everything you’ve done so far. This is a good opportunity to replenish your rations and tools and also conduct drills whenever necessary to ensure that you’re at the top of your game.

Moving Forward to the Next Stage: Year 2

Once you’ve been bit by the prepping bug, your life will undoubtedly change. Trips to the grocery store will now include searching out bargains on dry goods and canned goods so that you can purchase one for now and one for later.

Backdoor Survival has a number of useful guides for preppers.

As we move forward to year two, you will find a greater focus on singular skills such as building a shelter, learning how to start and maintain a campfire, and cooking with the merest of basics. You’ll find a handful of these topics covered at Backdoor Survival which will equip you with everything you need.

In addition, you’ll also gain insight, tips, and strategies to help with food preservation, gardening, and the gear you will need if you are required to bug out (hopefully not) or shelter in place.

There are suggested activities, recommended purchases, viable alternatives, budget-saving strategies, and references to more reading material in each of these articles.

The Final Word

Perhaps not readily evident is that as I write and as I research, I am standing side by side with you during this journey. Like you, I continually strive to expand my knowledge and increase my survival skills. For us, our common goal is to learn to depend on ourselves not others for our basic well-being — no matter what.

I consider myself to be an ordinary citizen who, again like you, is just trying to get by in these uncertain and chaotic times. And as trite as it sounds, I hope that what I learn, what I do, and what I share will make the road to self-reliance just a bit easier for the next person.

The final word for today is this:

Emergency prepping is your journey and should be unique to your circumstances, your family, your geographical location, and your financial resources. Yes, it can be a chore, but as I have said before, it should be a chore with a happy ending.

My book on Prepper's Guide to Food Storage

And if you’re looking for some books on the topic, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage will provide you with all the details you need to create everything from an affordable food storage plan to a bug out bag, including what to buy and how to store it.

Nothing scary and nothing overwhelming — you really can do this! Now available at Amazon.

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63 Responses to “1 Year of Prepping: A Month-by-Month Breakdown”

  1. It’s amazing what can actually be done when you set out a plan and follow it. I’m sure a year felt like an eternity when you got started but as we all know can fly by like it was just yesterday.

  2. I just found your site. I also live on San Juan Island and am also a prepper. Are there many of us on SJI? I tried to use your email link, but it must be down. David

  3. Recommending hatchets is usually recommended by those who have never had to use one in the field. A machette is a much more useful tool. Anything you can do with a hatchet you can do with a machette. Get a good one. Only buy Ontario brand machettes. Mine is now 40 years old. Served me in 21 years of the military. Through a tour of duty with the Peace Corps in Africa. Twenty years of work as a civil engineering technician. Still used weekly on my 5 acres of rural land. The machette has a much longer reach for use as a personal weapon. Because it is an extension of the arm the end of a moving machette has much more force to it than a hatchet. Easier to sharpen.
    My African Fulani tribesmen with whom I lived for a while all used machettes. No axes or hatchets. In Egypt and Edcuador where I also live and taught school the hardware stores sold machettes with very few hatchets displayed.

    • Can you chop wood with a machete? I do not own one so pardon my ignorance.

      Also, I see that the Ontario brand is readily available. Is there a particular model you would recommend for both myself and my readers?

    • >>Can you chop wood with a machete?<< Oh, boy, you sure can. You can take down small trees with a machete. Chopping into firewood lengths would be a pain compared to a full size ax, but you can do it, and they are a lot lighter than an ax as well as usable in tighter quarters.

      I have seen, but not used the Ontario machetes which Joe Cullen mentioned, and Ontario Marine Raider Knives, which are very similar to short machetes but adapted for fighting purposes as well. (They have clipped points and guards ie are big Bowie knives for dual purpose.) Both look very good. Also the kukri style machetes by Ontario and Ka-Bar seem pretty popular, but I haven't used them, so can't give an opinion.

      I have several machetes, including a couple hand made Philippine examples from the local swap meet, but far and away my favorite is a Ka-Bar Cutlass Machete. The Ka-Bar has an 11" high carbon blade with a lot of weight out toward the tip so it has plenty of momentum even in tight quarters. I use it around the yard for pruning hedges where I can't get a long swing. I also have used it on two or three camping trips to the North Shore of Oahu where I used it to split ironwood/Australian pine (casuarina) logs up to 5" diameter for kindling. Last summer I used it while camping on the Salmon River in Idaho, mostly to fell dead Ponderosa pine up to 5" diameter, trim the branches, and split the logs into kindling.

      For videos on how to baton firewood with a short machete (or really big knife like the Marine Raider) go to YouTube and plug "baton firewood" into the search field.

      Amazon carries the Ka-Bar Cutlass Machete as well as the Ontarios for around $50-$65. In my experience cheaper brands are cheaper because they use junky steel blades: they twist, they bend, they fold. I strongly recommend spending the money to get an Ontario or Ka-Bar.

      I think any of the Ontarios or the Ka-Bar would be excellent choices for utility choppers. The Marine Raider might not be as durable for batoning as the pure machetes as the clip point makes it weaker, and that is where you hit it for splitting wood. On the other hand, if you want a dual purpose chopper and extremely intimidating personal defense weapon, the Marine Raider would be something to consider. It's based on the WWII Marine Raiders' knife/machete, the Collins #18. I have read that the Marines in the Pacific Theater absolutely loved them, both for felling palm trees and other utility purposes, and as fearsome knives for hand to hand fighting. (Google "Collins #18 knife" for pics if interested)

      As does Mr. Cullen, I greatly prefer a machete to a hatchet. For my purposes the short ones (c. 11" blade) work much better than the long ones, but other people, other circumstances, other lengths.

    • @Tom – Thanks for sharing some detailed information about machetes. We still have not purchased one for our own use I but am leaning toward the shorter Ontario. They seem to be well priced and universally loved. I will look up the Ka Bar Cutlass too – but we may have to “grow” in to that one.

      — Gaye

    • I looked at the website for Ontario Knife Company, but didn’t see the “Marine Raider Knives.” Do they possibly have another name?

    • Oops…spoke too soon. I used the “search” field on their website, and it said there were no results. But after looking at various categories of knives on their site I found the SP10 Marine Raider. Thanks for your website Gaye. I really enjoy and learn from it.

  4. I have 6 cats and go through a LOT of cat litter. And I was wondering if I could use the 20# jugs for water. I wouldn’t want to drink it, but the water could be used for a lot of other things. These are HDPE 2 jugs. I just hate throwing them in the garbage…

    • I totally agree that you should re-purpose those jugs. Before using them, I would use a generous swish of bleach to clean them and then store water for cleaning purposes and also, how about using them for your DIY cleaners and laundry soap?

    • I use kitty litter jugs for gray water after rinsing with bleach water. Also when I empty a laundry detergent bottle, I fill it with water, and label it soapy water for cleaning. I’ve used these to wash the car.

  5. Thanks! I will definitely clean them out first and then add some colloidal silver to the water. I don’t use laundry soap or fabric softner… I use 2 really strong magnets and it cleans my clothes really well. And they are just as soft as ever without any residue from soap or softners. And for cleaning, I simply use vinegar & water for most everything.
    But I can always use the water jugs for flushing the stool if it isn’t too long of a period. Then I wouldn’t be wasting drinking water… I’ll find a use for them somehow.

    • Can you explain how the magnets are used? It would be a great alternative if water was scarce.
      Thanks, Dee

  6. I coupon so I already have a lot of items stockpiled. Im starting on Month 1 and got to thinking, should I put these items in a special spot or tote instead of just looking on the shelves and saying , Yeah there is more than 3 rolls of TP per person on there? I do run out of TP occasionally when there are no good deals to be had, so maybe I should be collecting things and putting them somewhere separate?

    • Jen – Oh my gosh – definitely. Even if your storage location is under a bed, it is so helpful to have it separate from your day to day items. Also, it makes it easier to keep track of the stuff you “borrow” from your storage closet when it is not co-mingled.

      Congrats on starting with month 1. If you have any questions along the way, be sure to ask 🙂

    • Jen: TP is the most important paper in the whole world!! Thou shalt NOT run out of TP. They don’t send out catalogues anymore, so not only do you have nothing to read, you’re SOL.
      Join Costco if there is one near you. They have their own brand, Kirkland, all of which has been very good in quality and cost. And national brands of TP. Which reminds me, we only have 2 36 roll bundles left, so it’s time to get 3 more.

      You can eat out of your stockpile BUT every time you do, buy 3 to 5 items to replace each item and so continue to build your stockpile. Coupons are good, but not for much when you need the TP and there ain’t any!? Don’t get too hung on coupons-they are good for things you will use. Costco doesn’t take coupons. But the prices are low enough that they make coupons unnecessary.


    • Costco is a great place to start prepping from. as far as coupons, they have their own and I use them to buy just about all my paper goods and toiletries. We also buy dry beans and rice which we put in mylar sealed bags (add a 2000cc oxygen absorber) into a 5 or 6 gallon bucket,with gamma seal lid or regular lid which you can buy at home depot or lowes and are very cheap. I prefer gamma seal lids as you can reseal the mylar bags and the gamma seal also helps keep out oxygen and pests. quite often during the summer home depot has charcoal on sale. we buy several bags and store them in buckets .

    • Also, Costco online often has great deals on 6 gallon buckets with gamma seal lids. It is worth checking out. I have purchased 20 of them online. Shipping was free as I recall.

    • DH, that is how we got started on building our pantry! Started meal planning and deciding what ingredients we would need to make those favorite meals. Then every time I went to go buy ingredients to cook one meal, I would buy enough to make two more. Than as I continued on, I started picking one ingredient or item each month and every time I went to the store that entire month, I would pick up 1 or more of that particular item. Adding a few dollars to every trip is not nearly as intimidating and really helps add to your pantry quickly! My word of advise about bulk food stores is to really know your prices! Not every item sold in bulk is the better deal… But there are many that are. Happy Prepping everyone!

    • I eat out of my stash, there is only hubby and i, so sometimes food need to be eaten or they go to waste after a year or two. i shop at discount stores and off the clearance shelves. so i end up with a lot of food for a smaller amount of money. i dont buy anything name brand, unless i have a coupon or there is a deal to make it cheaper. i coupon big time too. i have food in several spots in my home. i am looking into making a fake wall to store food into as well. so if we get raided, they wont get all of the supplies. i reuse all jars for making jar meals, so we can more or less stay make our food last longer. i also reuse kitty litter jugs for toilet and bathing water, as well as for making my own laundry soap, and i reuse my laundry jugs and make my own fabric softener for over a year now. i still use Oxi Clean instead of bleach for my whites and uniforms. Dollar Tree sells a spray called Totally Awesome for laundry, that takes the place of Shout, it works better and there is more of it for $1. Happy Stashing!

  7. I’ve started to read up on prepping, but I’m curious as to what we are prepping for? What are some scenarios? I see some stuff is “only enough for 3 days”, so I wasn’t sure what the situation would be. The only prepping I’ve done was for hurricanes since I live in New Orleans. Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Ari, Prepping for hurricanes is a really good start. That’s what my wife and I do in Hawaii. It may well be a bigger issue here than New Orleans because no one will be trucking in relief supplies from the next state a couple days after the storm passes. Out here we should be prepared for at minimum a couple weeks on our own, and a month is better still.

      After Katrina, our politicians, who are fervent lovers of state action, loudly told us that we Individually need to be prepared for at least a couple weeks after we get solidly hit by a big one. A month would better still.

      What you see as appropriate to prepare for is up to you as you know your situation best. Serious preps for a major hurricane will prepare you for the vast majority of disasters in your area, so to a significant extent, prepping for one will prep you well for most things.

      You might consider other possibilities such as the social and economic dislocations which would accompany a serious bout of inflation, and the likelihood of seriously counterproductive government responses such as wage and price controls. Serious inflation rewards those with large fixed-rate loans like mortgages— so long as you can keep making the mortgage payments. If you have a big mortgage and can’t make the payments you are in big trouble. There is plenty of advice out there for inflationary times, and I suggest that if you are concerned, read several opinions. Deflation may also be a significant possibility. Don’t rely on the single source.

      Another possibility is a major medical disaster, natural or man-made, such as a pandemic so serious that the supply lines for food and other necessities are interrupted for a meaningful time. Your hurricane supplies would go a long way towards getting you though that, though you would need a lot more than three days food.

      In some areas something so prosaic as a wildfire can be a serious issue, although it may not be one in Louisiana. One of my wife’s extended family had less than ten minutes to evacuate her house in Pocatello, Idaho, last summer when a wild fire swept the mountainside suburb where she lived. The road in front of the house acted as a fire break, but all the houses across the road were destroyed: there was nothing left but chimneys and some stumps. That sort of disaster requires instant evacuation, and that is very different from a disaster in which one shelters in place.

      Only you can decide what scenarios are likely for your area, and how many resources to devote to preparing for them. Living downwind of a 40 year old nuclear power plant might well be worth some effort to avoid, especially in an earthquake zone. However, if you are already there, you might decide it is appropriate to prepare for quick evacuation, and have a supply of iodine tablets, rather than endure the cost of relocating in anticipation of an event which might never occur.

      While we worried a lot in the 1950s through the collapse of the Soviet Union about all out nuclear war, the chances of one or a very few nuclear devices detonating in a US city are actually greater today than during the Cold War. The governments of the world are doing a great deal to prevent that from happening, so far with success. Will that success continue? Probably, but maybe not. Each of us can think about what we think the probabilities are for our location, what the likely consequences would be, and then decide whether and to what extent to prepare.

      There are lots of possible scenarios for disaster, but many are low probability events. It is easy to get caught up in all of them and let the possibilities take over one’s life. Prepping for a fairly generic disaster is actually pretty straightforward, involving providing water, food, the means to cook it, cash, first aid supplies, means of getting out of town if sheltering in place doesn’t work, defense, and so forth. if you enjoy camping a couple times a year (what I refer to as heavy camping I.e. driving to a prepared site with your tent and cooking gear etc. rather than backpacking) you will already have a lot of the gear needed and know how to use it. Add the canned and dried food you usually eat, sufficient for a week or a couple months or whatever period you think appropriate, and you will be in better shape than 95% of your neighbors.

      Don’t get too grim: Have some fun with it.

    • I live in Florida with lots of Hurricane season, Tornado, Flood, Ice Storm, Blizzard, Tsunami, Earthquake, Zombie Apocalypse. here is one people arent familiar with, a trucker strike. if they dont run the trucks, there will be no food delivered and the grocery store shelves will go bare. how serious is this? hubby bought me a greenhouse so we could start growing our own food. when the Obamacare deal goes through, many people will be looking for food when they lose many hours and pay. With a truckers strike and empty grocery store shelves, thats not a good combination. when the shelves sent bare during the hurricanes, there were riots at Walmart over water and baby formula.

    • “when the shelves sent bare during the hurricanes, there were riots at Walmart over water and baby formula.”

      Hi Kamiko, strikes are rarely mentioned, but they can be a serious issue. We live on Oahu, and I have heard that whenever a shipping strike has been threatened, there were runs on the stores for the basics like toilet paper. “Just in time” re-stocking is great for efficiency, but the downside is a fragile system vulnerable to disruptions. Since the stores don’t keep big reserves, it is the responsibility of individual families to do so.

      A neighbor told me that when it became clear that Hurricane Iniki was going to hit, he went to Home Depot for something unrelated and left because he saw fist fights in the parking lot for parking spaces. His family was well enough prepared that he didn’t need to shop, so he avoided the violence.

      One of the nice things about prepping well for the most likely events is that one is usually thereby well prepared for the less likely or less severe ones as well. If Floridians are well prepared for a hurricane, they should be in good shape during a truckers’ strike.

      We used to prepare for hurricanes, so we had the means to store water (collapsible 5 gallon jugs and a tub liner) to be filled when we were sure we were going to get hit.

      Then in 2006 we got hit by an earthquake, which gave no notice. It wasn’t a real bad one, but it made us realize that to be prepped for a bigger one we needed to have some water stored ahead of time.

      All we needed to add to our hurricane supplies to also be ready for earthquakes was water. So now, in addition to the empty jugs and tub liner, we also have full 5 gallon water fountain jugs, a 55 gallon water barrel, and water filters and bleach for sterilizing water from our neighbors swimming pools. That puts us in a much better position for both hurricanes and earthquakes, and anything else which might occur, including dock strikes.

    • Thanks! You are very welcome, Bruce. If you would like to read a basic list which I wrote up shortly after Hurricane Sandy zapped the East Coast, please check it out here: //wudndux.blogspot.com/2012/11/disaster-preparation-basics.html

      I geared it toward people who have made few, if any, preparations for a disaster, but are interested in the possibility. I also made it pretty generic – no specific type of disaster in mind. Ramping up from a three day supply to several weeks or even months is pretty much a matter of just adding more of the same stuff, so anyone can can customise it easily for whatever situation they envision.

      My rough estimate was that, food aside, you could do it all for around $400, get nearly everything from Amazon.com, and would not have to do it all at once. Food would be nearly free because for anything up to a year one could easily (and in my opinion ideally) simply store more of one’s normal canned goods, pasta, etc. MREs and freeze dried food are not normally necessary for short term disasters, and they are both expensive and, because they are a change in diet, stressful.

      Any situation for which a year’s worth of food is insufficient would be an apocalypse, and that requires a whole different level of prep which very few are interested in taking on. It’s just too low on the probability scale. Knowing you can get by comfortably, with good, familiar food for two to six weeks is very reassuring, though.

      BTW, I don’t get any revenue from Amazon. I like them for prepping because they are so convenient, and the prices are usually very good, especially if you have Amazon Prime.

  8. Very Nice Site. I love how you have the months broken down. You can really be prepared if you plan. Lots of good information. It feels good that I can still survive if the stores had to close down

  9. I am so sorry you are experiencing a problem. I just checked and all but one link was working for me. If you could be more specific, I will look into this further.

  10. Just to drop you a line and let you know how wonderful Backdoor Survival is. I log in ALL the time to read, learn and just feel like part of a growing community. It’s a comfort to know that there are other like minded individuals. Thanks again for this website/blog!!

  11. Reading the comments reminded me of Y2K. I was a part of a small group (6) of women who got together every other week to discuss our prepping status and share hints and tips. One of the ladies was so into it that even 13 years later, she is still working through a good portion of her storage. This is when I really explored food dehydration as well as keeping at least 2 weeks of food on the shelf. I have always been a camper so have shelter, fire/warmth. Since I am single, all of my camping gear is with that in mind. I have only a 1 burner camp stove but have the means to cook over an open fire as well as bake in a Dutch oven. I have been actively prepping for the last year with long term storage. i did break into the brownies – needed some chocolate really bad. It is wonderful.

    For someone who is on the fence about prepping, wouldn’t you rather have storage and not need it than no storage and need it? I think of this as another insurance policy. I keep in mind the risks I face if I don’t have this prepping storage.

    Noah was the original prepper!!

    • Hi leal, never thought about Noah that way. I started learning this in my 20s after awakening from a dream about Joseph’s interpretation for the Pharaoh. Having come from country folk, it didn’t seem that much of a stretch to begin my storage. Now, like you, I’m single again, so most of my store are for singles. AND cocoa powder and cacao beans are part of my stores. 😉
      All that said, Gaye, I was recently reading some emails written by someone who was experiencing Katrina and some from post Katrina. It got me to thinking. He had a mutual pact with some friends so whoever had a disaster situation could bug out to the other’s place and be welcome.
      When Katrina hit, little did this man realize that this friend would invite his friends to come too. Since his friend wasn’t as prepared AND had to bug out, the stores had to be shared. With all that came with the friend, this man’s stores that might have lasted his family and his friends’ families for 6 months…with all who came, it barely lasted 30 days. Not only that but he said the human waste became a potential hazard which they weren’t prepared for. He said he WAS glad he had extra tents etc as well. So now, I’m rethinking, yes I can accept some friends but plain speaking and clear communication as to expectations with friends will have a higher priority now. AND too, I’ll be looking around how to set up for the human waste of those ‘extras’ we know will flow into the area. This is not a matter of what someone else MAY have, but just another issue about where to put it all w/o contaminating our ground water. Just another thing for discussion here perhaps?

  12. Hi leal. “wouldn’t you rather have storage and not need it than no storage and need it? I think of this as another insurance policy.”

    Exactly. I don’t know any homeowners who feel the least bit paranoid because they have homeowner’s insurance, including fire insurance. After thirty years or more of having insurance, not one has experienced a house fire, but none are embarrassed to have paid out a lot of money for coverage.

    Preparing for emergencies, minor or major, doesn’t have to be very expensive, and it certainly isn’t difficult unless you are preparing for a total collapse.

    For those of us who like to camp now and then, much of the gear is useful without an emergency, and others are fun to try out. The upside there is that we get to actually use stuff, and that lets us better evaluate it, to make sure we understand it, and keep it in good condition. As you know from camping, all this prepping does not to be one big grim chore. It can be insurance with a dividend of fun.

  13. Someone may have mentioned this, so forgive me if it’s redundant. Might want to consider a ham radio license and having a couple of charged handhelds in working order. I know when Colorado flooded a couple of months ago, radio operators were a lifeline for rescuers when roads were washed out. Just a suggestion!

  14. I am using your 12 month idea adding a few things to each month. Have you thought about doing a second year? Maybe one month or two months at a time.

    • Vikki – To be honest, I did start a year 2 (months 13 and 14) but they generated very little in the way of views so I abandoned the project. I am going to ramp things up again with new material for year 1 so be sure to watch for the new articles.

  15. Hello, I’m curious as to what you think about adding hard liquor (rum, vodka, whiskey) to the 12 month guide. It does have its uses, but just wondering if it is feasible to add during the first 12 months. Thank you for your time.

    • I agree with adding liquor to my stores. Whether it be for me or my family to lift our “spirits” 😉 or for bartering, I think it’s worthwhile to have. I don’t smoke but I plan on adding a carton of cigarettes to my stores as well. I figure that cigarettes would also make a very useful bartering, or even mollifying supply to have on hand.

    • I agree with Chris, i think its a very good idea to include those items. as well as bartering, it can also be used for cooking and medical uses as well. i dont drink anymore, but if the SHTF, i am sure it would make at least one night look good! Even stale cigarettes are an excellent item as well to barter with!

  16. Hi Gaye, I’ve recently found your site and am really enjoying the knowledge that you are sharing. I am starting the 12 months of prepping and look forward to your posts. Even though our emergencies here in Australia are often different to your own our prepping is for the same reason. No matter what life throws at us we will survive. thank you for sharing Jan

  17. What a great list. I just wanted to make a couple suggestions. Instead of having a lot of space go to feminine products just switch to a diva cup – or similar item. It is reused for 10 years so you don’t need to worry about running out. Also for human waste consider a vermacomposting/humanure toilet. There are lots of instructions online about how to build it, and with a working compost pile you can start/stop using it at any time.
    Good Luck out there!

    • the thing about diva cup, there is a water factor. it creates more of a mess that needs water to cleanup, there is no applicator. Tampons can also be used for a variety of emergency use, not just for female use. i find them at Dollar General, a large multi pack for $3 on Clearance. they are also good for First Aid, a water filter, and other uses. Though the compost toilet is an excellent idea.

    • Keep in mind sanitary napkins, as they have multiple uses other than intended, ie: wound dressings, wet and use as a heat relief head dressing, etc etc. When shopping for your survival items always ask yourself “What ELSE could I use this for in a SHTF scenario.” There are numerous sites that are just loaded with info, but I LIKE Back Door Survival. Be careful of so called Survival sites/blogs that demand a joining fee. Many of them are nothing but rip offs. For example there is one site that continually advertises FREE stuff. All you have to pay for is the shipping cost. But with a little research you can find the exact same items for sale at a cost (including shipping, if any) for a lot less. Example: One site was advertising handcuff keys for free, just pay shipping of $4.95. I found the exact same keys for sale on Amazon for 0.97 with NO shipping costs. Money is hard to come by so spend it wisely! 😉

  18. Wow. I found this (totally by ACCIDENT) yesterday…and this is exactly what I needed to alleviate some of the stress chest pains I’ve been having over my prepping. I tend to just look at the “mess” and see a gigantic jumble that has no end. I’ve got so much going on in my head that I couldn’t even BEGIN to break it down. So I just wanted to say Thank You! Thank you for taking the time to break this down…not with lists of things that you’re trying to sell me or that you’re getting kick-backs from or come from a complete newbie stand-point. I don’t need handholding (per se)…but I definitely needed a good firm plan to examine what I’ve got and where I need to head.

    And I love that these are “budget friendly” steps too. It’s difficult to remember that I don’t need to run out and buy it all today when the Fear Stalks. LOL…okay, maybe only half-LOL

    I wish I could pat all your commenters on the back too. Some of their suggestions and ideas are just incredible! I find I learn just as much from the comments on some survival blogs than I do from the actual articles sometimes….and this is no exception.

    • Stacey – I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the kind words. It is easy to become so overwhelmed that you forget to live your life. That happens to me as well so you are in good company.

      Keep on prepping – at your pace and not at the pace someone tells you is the only way 🙂

  19. Love the site (got my vote!). I visit here, Survival Mom, Mom with a Prep, and several others frequently. This post is probably a little long, but these are some of my experiences from beginning to prep until now. I’ve had to balance everything from budget to creative storage when I was a single mom with 1 son in a cramped 1-2 bedroom apt or house with zero storage space to repeating the process married with 2 boys. Luckily, I now have a garage to accommodate the extra storage boxes, pails, containers, etc…

    I totally agree: Do NOT overwhelm yourself. Go one day (or paycheck) at a time. I do all of the food buying in our family and, I have to agree, it is extremely easy to get overwhelmed worrying over all the numbers.

    Watch for sales and items of the day. Compare prices on large item purchases. The beauty of being a prepper today is that almost every store will price match to remain competitive. REI, Walmart, Target, Bass Pro, Amazon and any other stores that sells outdoor equipment are good places to watch for deals and clearance, especially during winter when they need to get rid of seasonal camping merchandise. I picked up a $100, 3 room family tent on clearance at Target for >$40 a few years back. REI in our area does a yearly clean out on leftover merchandise, returns, and slightly damaged gear. A good example: I picked up a pair of toddler kivas for my youngest for >$10 and only one of the shoes was damaged -broken tightening clasp. Easily fixed – cut the strap, tied a knot, and saved over $40.

    Need a bag for a BoB on a budget or extra clothes? Shop Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard sales etc. for backpacks, flannel shirts, etc..on the cheap. They may not look pretty, but who cares as long as they function? Scratch and dent is good, except where food or other perishables are concerned.

    Estate, garage, and yard sales are good places to check. Used electronics, tools, chainsaws, etc. – try before you buy. From experience, that used lawnmower may look great and sound great, but when it sputters out and dies going across not-so-high grass or on a hill.. that’s a waste of money.

    One thing to think about if your budget is tight is to go in with other like-minded individuals on large quantity purchases (#5 on the list or sooner if you’re already at that point with family/friends). I can only speak about Sam’s Club membership but I’m fairly certain the membership bulk stores are similar in prices. We do have a Costco, but it’s near Dave and Busters here and with my kid(s) in tow… Id never get any shopping done. Last time I renewed, it was $40/yr for the basic membership and $100 for preferred (preferred = more in-store coupons, can shop during early morning with business customers, and other benefits). Since Sam’s is no longer cash or Discover Card only, there are more options for paying (forget VISA, they still don’t take it). Split the membership cost and make sure individual’s with the flexibility to get others that chipped in on the cost have the cards for the store. I think there’s a limit to 2 ID cards on the basic, not sure on preferred memberships.

    Even if you’re not the official card carrier, you can still gain entry into the store. One card holder can bring 2 individuals in (again, basic only, not sure on preferred). If you’re single, shop together and bust up the quantities. Even when I was a single mom, I would shop at Sam’s with a friend. Neither one of us needed 50 rolls of toilet paper (nor did we have the storage space), but splitting it between 2 people made it more manageable – cost and storage wise.

    Again, don’t overwhelm yourself. Whenever I go shopping for our family of 4, I always pick up something extra. If the budget is tight, I try to pick up an extra item or two under $5. At Sam’s, I’ll get a pack of water that’s on sale for less than $4. The 1/2 liter packs of bottled water go on sale frequently at Sam’s. I hate math, but I’ve figured it something like this: 1 liter = about 1 quart; 35 of the 1/2 liter bottles = 17.5 quarts; 4 quarts to a gallon = just over 4 gallons in a little more space than 4 single 1 gal jugs, they are stackable, plus they store under most beds (just ask my teenager). Check the devil of a website, aka Pinterest, for more creative storage ideas.

    Just to give some background on my repackaging abilities: I have an older FoodSaver with all attachments, food grade storage buckets (given free at some places, soak in a vinegar solution for a few days to get rid of smells like icing, etc.), plus a supply of Mylar bags and oxy absorbers.

    When I have the budget, time, and resources to deal with repackaging, I buy larger items at Sam’s. As of this posting, a 50lb bag of rice is less than $8, same with a 25lb bag of flour. 4lb boxes of salt are >$1. 10lb bags of sugar >$4. A 4lb bucket of ground chicken bouillon is >$10. Various boxes with 6ct -1 lb bags of pasta >$6. 25lb bag of Pinto beans are about $15. Canned meats run $10-15/per package of cans – chicken, tuna, salmon, SPAM. Again, since most of the canned packs (excluding chicken) are even numbers, split them up if you don’t have the space or budget. While $20 may seem like a lot to spend on just canned meats, splitting that 6 pack of SPAM and 10 cans of tuna with someone else means you each have 8 meats to pair with pasta, rice, etc.. without breaking the bank. In the grand scheme of things, that equals 1 week + a day of dinner meals providing you don’t have to tighten the belt ration wise. For my family of four, that breaks down to >$1.00/serving each night figuring I also have cans & jars of sauces (Alfredo, spaghetti, four cheese, etc.) stocked in the pantry.

    You have to check your budgeting. Know your prices. I keep a shorthand list in my phone of prices from Sam’s on commonly bought items. The Price per Unit is coded on the price label. $8 for 10 cans of Starkist tuna is a good deal when the same cans run $1/per at the grocery store, but not so much if you can get a better price with BOGO, coupons, or the store brand for $0.50/per.

    Remember: Buy what you eat and you’ll eat what you buy. You have to rotate through your stock or be faced with bad food. Some use by dates on packages are nothing more than a number to move it off the shelves or dupe the gullible into trashing it (that box of salt with a use by date of June 2015? The cardboard will disintegrate before the salt goes bad). Other items are very literal with the use by dates. Do your research.

    If you’re unsure if you or your family will eat something, buy a smaller quantity first. Try it once or twice. (Not that I’m trying to persuade anyone, but SPAM is a good example of a food that more people go “ewww” at than any other I know, except maybe tofu.. Yuck!) Fried spam with scrambled eggs is an alternative to bacon if the power’s been out for awhile. SPAM in stews, gumbo, even red beans and rice tastes like the stew. It can even be eaten straight out of the can, but even I find that hard to digest. Individual cans of SPAM range from $3.50 – 5, depending on ‘flavor,’ coupons, sales, etc. (hence why $15ish dollars is a good price on a 6 pack of regular or low sodium). Get a pantry cookbook – “100 Day Pantry” is a good one and has some great tips on building up your supplies. Some of the recipes have even fooled our “I hate SPAM” visitors.

    Emergencies are not the time to find out that your kids turn their noses up at tuna pasta or if you can actually cook anything from scratch with that 50lb bag of flour.

    So far the closest we’ve come to an emergency situation since being married was the ice storm that ravaged the southeast last year. We were vehicle-less for 3 days due to ice, but we did have power most of the time and our home is gas heat and gas stove for cooking. There was a lot less stress and anxiety knowing that we had enough supplies to go more than a month comfortably.

    Ongoing stocks: Long term supplies (honey, salt, sugar, rice, beans, etc..) and water. First aid kit (accident prone 3 yo..)
    Our current projects: 3-6 month food supply.
    Chuck Box for our extra kitchen supplies.
    Camping box for our conglomeration of scouting gear.
    Saving for LifeStraws/Berkey systems and larger wish list items.

  20. Wow! What a great site! Lots of great info for a newbie and none of the snarky comments I’ve seen at other sites! Everyone please keep contributing – it so helps a lot and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed!

  21. I just found your site and love the info in this post. I did notice you do not mention storing any baking supplies. Do you have recommendations on the amounts per person needed on these…sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, etc. Also I was wondering how you recommend storing things like crackers. Would they need mylar bags? I was also wondering how long the preps you have listed above are meant to be for? Thank you….Nan

    • 12 Months of Prepping provides enough of the basics to get you by for a short period with the end result being that you will be more prepared than 90% of your neighbors. It is not designed to prepare you for XX number of days since there are way too many variables involved to do that in a short article such as this one.

      I would like to suggest that you visit //www.backdoorsurvival.com/20-items-to-kick-start-your-food-storage-plan/ for more ideas.

      Crackers are not typically viewed as a long term storage item unless purchased in tins. For a shorter period, you might try using mason jars with an O2 absorber. Mason jars can be sealed with the jar attachment to a FoodSaver although I have also had good luck with the jar sealing on its own with just the O2 absorber.

      Hope this is helpful.

    • About crackers. I always have saltines and oyster crackers for use with my soups or for making peanut butter crackers, but for long term storage I buy pilot crackers in #10 cans. On sale they can be pretty reasonable, especially for a store and forget kind of food. I think I’m up to 15 of the #10 cans of pilot crackers so I have something other than rice and pasta to go with the canned meats and soups I’m storing. Variety is the spice of life. 🙂

  22. Thanks for all the advice. I have been a haphazard kind of prepper, just having extras for “just in case” but you gave me the push I needed to go to the cellar and organize. The one thing that I do have that it not mentioned, is a solar oven. Basically a heavy cardboard box lined with heavy duty foil. We used it during Sandy. I kept jars of water in there all the time, hot water! I also used it for slow baking. And honey, lots of honey to mix with oatmeal and nuts. I keep everything in 5 gallon buckets so they don’t get wet. Sandy taught me a thing or two. I guess I am more of a prepper than I realized. This spring my big project is a root cellar (yurt?) dug into the side of the hillside, big enough to live in, if need be. I think I need to be an engineer to get it figured out though.

  23. Nice info on after EMP survival. Didn’t notice any mention of portable generators. How about putting one in your Faraday Cage with extra plugs same with chain saws. Also how well are our vehicles protected. I think if a person wanted transportation basic diesel engine vehicle is the way to go, with manual tranny. One other thing when storing water don’t put your containers on cement, use wood pallets.

  24. A friend referred me to your site. It’s great. Especially the comments and that you don’t delete old ones. A comment 3 years ago is just as relevant as one posted yesterday. I especially enjoyed the discussion about machetes, which names were good etc. I going to enjoy you site.

  25. Thank you SO MUCH for compiling this. I cannot tell you how stressed I have made myself as a relative “newbie” prepper. I’m someone who wanted to get it ALL done right away, which I know is impossible, but still. I’ve done bits and pieces from all 12 months (on your list/posts) at this point, based on what my biggest concerns are. Now I can step back, breathe, and carefully go through the remaining logical steps w/o making myself crazy or wasting money.

    What I have done DOES make me feel like our family is better prepared in case of any emergency. Now I can go back and fill in the gaps. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!!

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