Start Small and Build Up

dtrammel's picture

Lists always seem a bit simplistic but here is one I did for another forum on what you can personally do to get started preparing for the Long Descent.

  1. Develop a "deep pantry", that is have on hand several week's worth of food that will hold you over if there is an emergency or local disruption in the supply lines. Don't buy things you don't normally eat. No 5 gallon buckets of dried beans or rice if you don't eat a lot of beans and rice. Don't forget any special needs foods (like diabetics or babies) or pet food. Both of those will be sidelined by the government in favor of the food that will feed the most people when they begin shipping in supplies after an emergency. Write down on packages and cans the date you bought them, then get in the habit of eating what is oldest.

  2. Start learning how to cook from ingredients, not just microwave prepared meals. Ingredients like the aforementioned beans and rice aren't loaded with added sugars, salt and chemical preservatives. Begin with one or two nights a week where you cook, or do like I do and spend time on Sunday morning cooking larger meals and then subdividing them for lunch or dinner during the week. Do one night as a stir fry. Asian stir fry is a good way to use up left overs and everyone loves stir fry, lol. Add another night each month until packaged foods or take out becomes a occasional treat rather than the everyday norm.

  3. Shop your local farmer's markets and buy food in seasons. Its cheaper when there's a big supply and you will be supporting local farmers. Watch your local grocery stores too. Vegetables and fruit will often be marked down when they are in season or the store has over bought. Don't neglect the "Close Out or Damaged" aisle. A dented can or damaged package can save you big.

  4. Learn what you like and start making a weekly meal plan. Put a small white board up in your kitchen and write down things as you need them, then make a list. Don't just go to the grocery store and wander the aisles, go there with your list and try and avoid impulse buying. Keep an eye out for sales on ingredients you use regularly and buy extras. If you like olives in your salads then when they are on sale buy two jars. Also, if there are several grocery stores nearby, go to the closest first and proceed outward. Don't buy anything, but write down the prices of each thing on your list. Once you get to the furthest store, compare prices and then return home stopping at each store and buying the items that are cheapest at that store. You can easily save 10-20% this way.

  5. Start keeping a "food log" of what you eat. You will quickly discover any poor choices or bad habits you have. Even if you don't share it online, just knowing that you are writing what you eat down will make you choose better foods.

  6. Rethink your cold storage. I used to have a full size refrigerator. I found I kept the freezer full and had very little in the lower section. I got rid of it and bought a small dormitory refrigerator and a 5 cubic foot top loading freezer. I buy frozen food when on sale and limit what I put in the refrigerator to cut down on food going bad from not eating it. Nothing like finding 3 week old salad in the back of the frig. A freezer allows you to buy big. A roast might be $3.99US a pound on sale, which cut up at home into 1/3lb portions makes a better addition to a meal than ground beef that's got a lot of fat and water added (and no telling what meat went into the grinder too.) Plus the top of the freezer makes a great additional counter top. I put a half dozen gallon jugs of water in the bottom of my freezer, as a backup cold source in case of short term power outages.

  7. Begin to grow your own food. Start with sprouts as a way to increase your food independence. They are easy to do and take little space and money. They make a great addition to your stir fry. And they are cheap too.

  8. Work up to micro-greens. These are small containers of sprouted seeds that are let grown a bit longer. They are very nutritious and can be added to many meals or used as a salad extender. I recently saw a 2 oz package of micro-greens at the store for $3US. That's $27US a pound. Seeds to grow one flat that's three times as large might run you a dollar.

  9. Try small scale container gardening. You don't have to try big, you are just using the containers as a teaching tool. And the kids will enjoy it. Even just a few tomatoes grown on your patio will help teach you how to grow food now while you have a cushion of available food at the store. Learning to grow food now when losing it all to a bad heat wave or pests means disappointment not starvation. Use this time where you have some extra money and some extra time to develop the skills you will need when it gets rougher.

  10. Try gardening in the ground if you have the space and time. Also learn to compost. That will cut your food waste and not add to the growing mounds of trash we unfortunately will leave our children.

Don't think you have to do everything right now. Even a worst case scenario gives us all a decade to prepare. Learn the skills you will need when Collapse is all around you now, when you don't have to depend on expertise to survive. We are here to help you start.