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

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: September 1, 2022
1 Year of Prepping: A Month-by-Month Breakdown

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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.

Also Read: Preppers Guide

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.

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. 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! 😉

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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!!

  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.

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