Is It Too Late to Start Prepping?

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Top Tier Gear USA

A lot of new folks are starting to realize that the outlook in North America is every bit as grim as the reality in European countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal and a host of others. When even the mainstream media is making dire predictions, the writing is truly on the wall.

If you’re new at this, you might be dipping your toe in the water, reading some survivalist and prepping websites, trying to figure out how to keep your family safe and well-fed in the difficult days ahead…and you may also read a host of discouraging comments saying that it’s too late to get started.  “If you aren’t already prepared, there’s no time left,” many experienced preppers are saying dismally. “You’re screwed.

If you’ve already come upon some difficult times, you may think to yourself, “I’d like to prepare but I barely have enough money to keep a roof over our heads…We’re screwed.”

You might be reading these terrible prophecies, rolling pennies to buy milk at the grocery store, and watching the parade of terrible daily events and be ready to give up before you even get started.  You may agree, “Yep, it’s too late. I’m screwed.”

The thing is, I’m the eternal optimist, and I don’t believe that it really IS too late.  I don’t believe that you are screwed, even if tomorrow is the date of your first stockpile shopping trip!  If the stores are open, there’s still time.

While I agree that the situation is dire and that economic doom is getting closer every day, if you’re reading this site and others like it, you’ve taken the first step to preparedness already – just like a 12-Step program for addiction, you have recognized and admitted the problem.  This, in and of itself, puts you in the company of an estimated 3 million preppers who are aware that life as we know it today could change in the blink of an eye!

This recognition of the need to prepare puts you ahead of “the herd”.

  • This means that you will look at current events differently.
  • This means that you will think critically when presented with information via the media.
  • This means that you will truly weigh the pros and cons of fiat currency that you intend to spend.
  • This means that when you shop, you aren’t just looking to feed your family until the next grocery trip.

Even if you just have a little inkling in the back of your mind that things are not as they ought to be, you have crossed a thresh-hold and you can choose whether you want to step in to awareness or slam the door on that uneasy feeling and go about your life, doing things the way you have always done them.

If you’re still reading, then you may have decided to come on in and join the ranks of the prepared!

While it’s late in the game we aren’t in the last inning just yet – so let’s get started!

The wake-up call for many of us is a downturn in finances.  While it’s ideal to begin stocking up while your income is still good, don’t be discouraged if you’ve taken a financial hit. You won’t be able to buy a year’s supply in one marathon shopping trip but you can empower yourself by getting started.

Getting Started

The first step is to take inventory of what you have – you may be surprised to realize that you already have a week or a month of supplies in your pantry.  Read “If You Don’t Know What You Have, You Don’t Know What You Need!” for more detailed information on inventorying the items that you already have. (Note: the 52 Weeks to Preparedness section of the website Ready Nutrition contains a wealth of information for the beginning prepper. It’s a budget-friendly approach to getting prepared!)

Once you’ve figured out where you are as far as supplies are concerned, you must figure out a way to finance your prepping endeavors.  Your budget may be so tight that you can barely keep the lights on but there is still hope.  When you change the way you shop, you’ll soon find that some of the budgetary stress is relieved.  But first things first, you have to free up enough money to get started.

You might think that the week after Christmas is a terrible time to get started on something that costs money, but in actuality, you will probably never be in a better position to do so.  If your house is anything like mine, you probably have a whole refrigerator full of holiday leftovers – resist the urge to do your normal weekly shopping trip and feed your family leftovers combined with the goods you have in your pantry.  Use that money that you would normally spend for groceries and let’s get started!  No matter how small your budget is, you can begin building security for your family.  I am basing these prices on my teeny tiny small-town grocery store, this week. You may be able to get more, based on what’s on sale in your area.

$20 List

  • 2 pound bag of rice
  • 2 pound bag of beans
  • 4 cans of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cans of peaches in water
  • 1 jar of peanut butter
  • 1 jug of white vinegar
  • 5 gallon jug of water

$50 List

everything in the $20 list and

  • 4 boxes of saltine crackers
  • 4 jars of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 5 pounds of flour
  • 1 liter of olive oil
  • 3 cans of green beans
  • 2 boxes of baking soda

$100 List

everything on the $20 list and the $50 list and

  • 1 canister of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 canister of baking powder
  • 10 pound bag of potatoes
  • 5 pound bag of onions
  • 5 pound bag of carrots
  • 2 pounds of powdered milk
  • 6 pounds of pasta
  • 5 bags of dried spices of choice
  • small assortment of treats (candy, chocolate chips, etc – you have $5 to spend on things that make life more pleasant!)

If you’ve read my other articles, you may think these lists are in conflict with the “organic” theme.  While I’d certainly love to see everyone give Monsanto the cold shoulder by buying local and organic, it’s just not always feasible, especially when you are just getting started. I’d rather see people begin to take control by having a supply like the one listed here – something that when combined with the foods in the cupboards might see you through a month of hard times.

What’s more, when you have this little bit of security – this one-month food investment, you can begin to build on this with healthier and more nutritious options.  You can start learning how to be more self-sufficient by growing what you can, by learning to preserve food and by buying in bulk.

It’s Not Over – There’s Time

That little voice whispering warnings is telling you something very important – it’s saying that things just aren’t right.   Call it instinct, the voice of God, or a premonition – but listen and get prepared. Start right now.   Even if you only have 2 weeks’ worth of food and water, that is two weeks that your family will not be hungry or thirsty. After Superstorm Sandy people were complaining that they hadn’t eaten after only two days.

None of us knows how long the dollar will last.  We, in North America, will be going the way of Greece – not if, but when.  Natural disasters occur, interrupting the flow of commerce and the availability of goods. Jobs are lost, illnesses occur, and storms blow in.  If you listen to that little voice telling you to get ready, you will not be standing in line with all of the rowdy crowds waiting for FEMA to dole out benevolence.

Take the time we have left and make the most of it.  Ignore the naysayers with their discouraging pronouncements that there isn’t enough time.  Every single meal you put aside, every book of matches, every candle and every alternative cooking method you invest in, increases the security of your family.

Focus on what you can do – and block out the static of those who say the word “can’t”.

If you are an experienced prepper, what budget-friendly suggestions do you have for the newcomer?  Post them here in the comments!

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Contributed by Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom.  Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter, and you can email her at

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  • Chris

    My recommendation, if you’re on a budget and going on your first trip for storage items, look for items that meet these criteria:

    1 – Does not require refrigeration to keep.
    2 – Does not require heating or boiling to prepare.
    3 – Keeps for at least a year or two.

    So, canned fruit, vegetables, and meat. Granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate almonds, etc. You can get ALL of this stuff at dollar stores, just try to stick with items clearly labelled for sale here. You’ll need some water as well – a quick way to start would be a 4gal / 18L jug of spring water for around $4.

    No, it’s not necessarily a balanced diet, nor is it organic, but if the stores/banks shut down soon for a week, you won’t be dumpster diving for scraps.

    You can build up freeze-dried storage and the ability to cook, refrigerate, or grow things later on – for now, just focus on enough medium-storage items that will carry you through a week or two, the rest you can work on later.

    • superdave:-)

      Chris, you’re right on with your good counsel. Peppers that are all in need to help those getting started. There is still time, the dollar is still accepted everywhere and the banks are still open…but the days of indecision are at or very near over.

      Don’t overlook water purification and basic first aid medical supplies. One last thing; you’ll never be sorry you stocked up on toilet paper and basic hygiene supplies.

  • michael

    Try to also find stores that are factory resale outlets. We have a couple in KC that purchase some of the left over stock from the big chains and resale for pennies on the dollar. Be sure to check the dates and try to concentrate on non perishable items. I picked up a 20 pound bag of rice for $9.00 last week.

  • Josh Curtis

    i have found that has some useful info on coming up with a plan for the tough times ahead.

  • gwynmarilyn

    I like to add somethings to those list buy food you know you will eat. And restock them as you use them. And keep buying extra. I like soups so I buy dry soups when on sale. Also side dish I like that are on sale. Like ten for $10. It is cheaper by rice or pasta in bulk but do you use them that way. You would spend less but you need to all think about cook them. Yes, buy spam or can chicken or even beef. I say that because you can begin to stock up at the stores. And move on to ordering from the special companies. I do both. I finial made it to my year worth of stock food. And I do live on limited income. If you can buy bulk in a hurry that great. I can not but I have now dry milk to beans and rice and wheat. And now it keep stock up and add the extra I see and keep working at it. I bake my own bread and yogurt so my shelf are full so I can keep baking.
    Everyone can tell you but you also have know how you will fix the food. In a hurry and safe and start a plan and keep at it. one month or two and keep working at it. Good Luck

  • Lost

    What about guns? It seems they are all gone. I went to Walmart and shelves are empty. So I went armslist and everything is so over priced. Any ideas?

    • GSM 1 (sw)

      Try picking up a Mosen Nagant, they are 7.65×52 I think, cost right at 100.00. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews on them, but I don’t have any personal experience with them. If you’re handy with a rifle it should do until something better comes along….if you get my drift.
      I was trying to retrain myself to be a better citizen but I must be too old and set in my ways.

      Standing by in SC out, and best of luck to you!

  • BB-King

    Whatcha gonna doo shoot somebody. Get a BB rifle. Squirrel yum. The mice will chew through anything except metal.


    The Mosin Nagant is 7.62x54R, you can buy ammo fairly cheap. The Finnish M39 uses the same round and is more accurate. As for the question “what ya goona do shoot someone with it” …….the answer is yes if the come to take your food, your family or your freedom….a BB gun will do little in the way of protecting oneself, your family or hunting larger game like deer.

    A pellet gun is better for squirrel anyway and a 22 would be even better for rabbit or othe small game.

  • John

    Mosin Nagant is a fine rifle. It is 7.62x54R. Bolt action with a built in magazine which will hold a few rounds. Also the ammo for it is cheap if bought in bulk. Don’t forget a cleaning kit. Also look to invest in a 12 guage shotgun. You can find them most places cheap. Food: Food look for long lasting canned foods with low sodium if possible. Most soups are a high sodium and will make you thirsty. Dry foods are great or dehydrate food and can them. Tang: great for adding to water for flavor and additional vitamins. Takes the boredom out of plain water. Medical: basic first aid kit and multi vitamins are a good start. Equipment: I can’t say enough about solar or rechargable flashlights. Oil lanters and oil for when power goes out. Hope this helps.