Is It Too Late to Start Prepping?

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!

About the author:

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

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24 Comments  to  Is It Too Late to Start Prepping?

  1. chicken pimp says:

    Many of the people who claim to not be able to buy a little extra when they go shopping are the same who consume fast food on a daily basis and have all the latest gadgets. For them, it is too late. If a persons priorities cant be straightened out they are truly doomed. For those who are willing to truly assess the dire situation(s) in which we find ourselves there is still time. The time to prepare grows shorter each and every day. Money in the bank is squandered due to the ever-rising rate of inflation. Im always telling people that having plenty of food and firewood is worth more than money in the bank. That is, of course, met with looks of bewilderment. “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. George Orwell…and, such is life. Another well-written article….kudos!

    • Preppers Are The Smartest says:

      I agree. And what I suggest they do with those gadgets is to quickly sell them on eBay (or worst case, take them to a local pawn shop) and convert that stuff into cash that can buy food and other prep supplies. Also, to the point of food being more valuable than money in the bank. That’s spot on, however it grinds against the static thinking of society that are blinded to the dire reality and will be blind sided by the same. Back during the depression, millionaires we in soup kitchen lines as those lost everything. WHEN (not if) the Dollar collapse, money in the bank, no matter how much will be worthless. Now, having food, access to water and water purification, heirloom organic seeds as well as other foods and gear will be worth tons more than money… and even the hungry folks with the gold and silver will be willing to hand you some in exchange for food. One thing that I suggest is that preppers begin doing indoor container gardening with grow lights connected to solar power for the lights. This will allow you to grow whatever you want to eat indoors during any weather climate in any part of the world… or country. Also, of the power grid drops you can still give your food light from your solar power. Also, getting a 55 gallon to 100 gallon fish tank and rising some fish for food is easier and more doable as a protein source over raising rabbits and cattle. The point here is long term sustainability. Even one years worth of freeze dried survival food won’t last you through a 2 to 3 year (or longer crisis). Gas generators are a no-no longer term as well. If people are unable to get gas for their cars, getting gas for any backup generator will be problematic. I would close by saying the five keep areas to think about and shop to prep for are 1. Water (storage and filtration) 2. Food (storing and growing) 3. Shelter (bugging in or bugging out locations) 4. Protection (guns, ammo, surveillance) 5. Communications (HAM radios) …and agreed, well-written article. And while it’s not to late I suggest everyone look at each day as borrowed time and the grace of God. So don’t squander it, prep with it.

  2. dave says:

    don’t leave out soap,toothpaste,TP,and proper clothing.check out dollar stores and don’t worry alot about the “best by date” so much.Bent and dent stores are a treasure trove of deals too!!

  3. Bonnie says:

    Everyone has a 14 Caret Gold Ring or Necklace. Take it to a buyer and get
    the money and buy groceries.
    You can get cans of Chicken at Walmarts for
    $1.98 which will feed a moderate family.
    My freezer is full but I put large tubs under my patio and filled them up with bread. If you live in a place that the
    weather stays cold they will keep all winter.
    Also if the lights go out for a long time
    pack those tubs with meat etc. from the freezer and they will stay frozen all winter.
    Store up some wood and if the light are out
    you can use it to cook on your outside
    At our dollar store they have a package of
    crackers and a can of either tuna or chicken for $1.00. Buy extra crackers because they don’t give you enough to use all the meat in the can.
    Don’t give up you can feed your family if you need to, start NOW.

    • Egorka says:

      Yeah I thought to myeslf watch I’ll get into this and next thing you know I’ll be needing a pressure canner. But looking over what requires a boiling water bath canner versus pressure canner, I don’t have anything really that I would want to can that needs pressure canning. I don’t like canned green beans as well as frozen, nor peas, nor carrots, nor greens. Corn is okay, but I just freeze it right on the cob because I don’t want to cut it off the cob when I can do that as I eat it. LOLAbout the only reason I can honestly see myeslf getting one for is to can soups and stews instead of freezing them That I can see happening.

  4. Thank you for your article. I would like to point out a few more tips –

    1) If you are truly struggling financially a few useless phone books can take the place of stock piled toilet paper.
    2) Used water jugs can be found at the 2nd had stores.
    3) Cod Liver oil in pill (gel) form is much cheaper than vitamins. It kept more than one generation healthy. It also helps cut down on food cravings.

    It goes without saying that you must make every dollar count and in our house we strive to use every dollar twice.

    • Jeff says:

      Great idea! I get yellow pages all the time delivered to me! I will save them to use as toilet paper. Finally, a use for those.

  5. Sgt. Dale says:

    Your best bet is to find an group NOW. Bring in sonme strength ie. Doctor, Dentist, Nurse, ECT. or firearms ammo, fishing equipmenr/boat Some thign that they can use.) But you have to have at least 1 month of food water clothing TP guns and lots of ammo and knowhow to use them! Solar lights work great they will even work to recharge AA and AAA batteries. READ READ READ.

  6. JayJay says:

    Pancake mix and syrup.
    Goes a long way and inexpensive.
    Also, oatmeal.

  7. John says:

    Good list for the money. Buy a storable form of what you eat regularly. I would add more water to this list. Spices and salt are absolutely vital. Beans for me can not be an every day item though I have 100 pounds stored and access to more. Organic means nothing to me. I do not subscribe to the cultists professing everything organic. As the pile grows, add seed and practice growing all the fruits and vegetables you plan on consuming, as well as the techniques for preserving them longterm. Also learn how to be a professional chef. Cook what you grow and kill. Learn what can be grown or is available locally and plan for their seasonality. Once the basics are covered, buy weapons. Same thing with them, use them regularly. Become professional in their use. Ultimately, prepping is about taking personal responsibility for your life. A lifestyle. Most people will not choose this lifestyle. That is why our country is going down hill

  8. Stan says:

    Knowledge is power! I would recomend downloading how to books to your laptop or external drive. Things like how to make soap, how to can goods, how to fish, hunt, how to make a bow and arrows, purify water. Get the picture. Having a good supply of food and water will allow you to survive for a short period of time, then what. Prepare for the long haul and learn how to survive by having formulars, receipts, and how to articles at hand for when the internet goes down or is censored.

    • ann says:

      I agree with Stan about knowledge, but I would print hard copies. If you lose power, you may want to conserve your computer battery. Or pick up some books.

  9. Erik says:

    helpful hint; learn to use a pressure cooker, in the event that power goes out you can pressure cook the frozen meat/veggies in your freezer before it spoils, that is if you use gas/propane or wood. So locate as many mason jars as you can also and start learning how to do your own canning. I know that this may sound a little drastic but keep your eyes open for fresh road kill. It’s a cheap form of protein and if your hungry enough you’ll be glad to have it. It’ll be safer than eating your neighbors pet, if they’re not willing to share. Bottom line is this, you have to start preparing yourself mentally if you want to deal with the worst to come, and coming it is. But the best advice is this; trust in the Lord God and read for yourself what He says is to come.

  10. Kris says:

    Remember the medicine and vitamins. Being prepared includes taking care of your body. Move, sleep and eat like you are in training. I agree the most important thing is to stay in constant relationship with the Lord. We will all need discernment and wisdom to a greater degree as the future unfolds. Remember we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with pricipalities powers and rulers in high places. We have not been given a spirit of fear but of love power and a sound mind. We must do our part but the battle belongs to the Lord and His strength. Whether in the spirit or manifest in the flesh, no matter how terrifying, fear not, we have been given the keys to the Kingdom the power of His name and are blood bought children purchased by the blood of the lamb. Know who you are and your authority and use it. Jesus has not lost one except the son of perdition so that the scriptures would be fulfilled. Best wishes to you and get started. Prep for the mind spirit and body.

  11. Lux says:

    I am pretty sure its not too late to prep. When its too late you will not need to ask. I think the problem is that most people don’t think there is a good enough reason to prep or to prep beyond what they have done in the past. I my opinion the thing to prep for is an EMP attack. To not prep for it? Well, if it happens most people will be dead in a few months.


  12. Tommy says:

    Hi, Great website Thanks for all the tips. I found your site through a link from JWR’s Survival I have always been a packrat, saver, and sort of a prepper. But with the state of the world since 911, I’ve been given a new incentive to push further. A few tips I have to contribute.
    1. You don’t need to buy a ton of preps. By spending even as little as $10 or 20 dollars each time you shop on preps, you’ll amass a good stash before you know it.
    2. Think creatively, my neighbor showed me how he brought his solar outdoor path lighting inside at night after we had a hurricane. Put them back outside during the day to recharge. It’s not a lot of light, but they beat sitting in the dark, they don’t need batteries and they’re cheap.
    3. Buy or build yourself a “colloidal silver generator.” I made one a few years back and am now able to make my own colloidal silver for pennies a quart, instead of $20 a quart retail. It has many uses around the home,just Google “colloidal silver” to check out this safe and effective anti microbial and it’s benefits.

  13. richard says:

    I started about a year or 15 mos. ago. This can and will be an overwhelming ordeal but you can do it. When I find myself sitting in front of the computer screen for hours and getting depressed and feeling that I will never complete my prepping goals because of all the negativity, I shut it down for a few weeks, get away from it. I than go over my accomplishments and start to feel better, even when I forget to get extra things when i am out shopping, I make a mental note and double up next time, I can get back in the groove of things fairly quickly just by inventoring my preps. I have done good, practiced growing new things this year and blanched and froze those things and still eating from that supply and have a better gardening plan for next year. I think the idea should be not to think in terms of how much time is left to do it, but to get on a plan, a long term plan and stick to it, make a list of goals and times , do it, when you fall off get back up. It will become a way of life and not a fear factor, but you must start some place, right here is a good place to start, all the posative help and info you need, God Bless you all, and pray for the entire world, God knows we need it.

  14. scott says:

    I ave bin into prepping 4 about 6month now doin well up to now as eney body got eney good tips on hunting rabbit ang cooking it on trail

  15. Kat says:

    I just stumbled across this article and want to add one more way to get your fresh green food: sprouts. They are super nutritious, take little space and are easy to grow. You can use something as simple as a jar or as “high tech” as an Easy Green machine. Handy Pantry has a wonderful array of seeds and I have found them to be a reliable source. There are also plenty of other good sources out there.

  16. geraldine burden says:

    Please sign my up for your newsletter. Thank you

  17. geraldine burden says:

    would like to have your daily updates. Thanks

    • Daisy says:

      Hi – Thank you for your comment! The newsletter is coming in the next few weeks! When it does I will be sure to let everyone know. :)


  18. DeAnna says:

    just starting here…do you have to rotate out the expiration dates? as in as things start to come up on their expiration, use them and replace with a newer version? I use fresh, local organic preservative free foods to eat daily but don’t mind buying caned and freeze dried for prepping just not sure about safety issues on the expiration and how all that works. And water…I use a Berkey so id I bought water in jugs how long are they good for?

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