The Thrive Life Chef Pack — a Survival Mom review

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Looking for an easy way to dip your toes into cooking with shelf-stable, freeze-dried ingredients from your food storage pantry? Your search is over! Introducing the ThriveLife Chef Pack: a family-sized meal-in-a-box using both ThriveLife’s awesome selection of products and simple ingredients you already have at home. I remember the first time we ever had […]

Prepper To Prepper: Free Preps!

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Who doesn’t love free? I have been welcoming free items as long as I can remember. Free hand-me-downs were a favorite when my five little kids were growing like weeds. Shelving and furniture freebies were also a reason to celebrate! What we get for free saves us money! Anything that can be used for your […]

Get YOUR Kindle copy of Survival Mom for just $1.99!

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For a limited time, you can get the ebook version for just $1.99! The ebook version is super handy to have on an ebook reader or your smartphone. You can even save it directly to your computer and access it anytime you’re working on your computer. You’ll be able to quickly search for whatever information […]

How to build a practical, affordable prepper library

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When I first began learning about survival topics like food storage and bug out bags, I knew I needed to begin building a library of actual books that could guide me through survival scenarios of all kinds. I began collecting books about gardening, household repair, first aid, military manuals, you name it. When possible, I […]

13 Food Storage Resolutions

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Storing food, say a month or two’s worth, is no longer the habit of a fringe group of Doomers. Everyday moms like me have an extra stash of food set away for those “just in case” events. After working on my own food storage pantry for about 9 years now, I’ve learned a lot and […]

Battle of the Mini Survival Kits: Which one is best?

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best mini survival kitEarlier this year I was intrigued when asked the question, “Which is the best mini survival kit?” I had never purchased a store-bought kit, so I ventured over to Amazon and ordered several, just out of curiosity. Here is my review of those kits and, at the end, the #1 mini survival kit that is, by far, the best of all those tested.

If you’re interested in any of the first 4 kits, they are available on Amazon.

Teaker Professional Outdoor Survival Kit

mini survival kit reviewThis kit contains 9 items, plus a sturdy plastic case. You can see the contents above. They include a tactical pen, compass, flashlight, a flintstone and scraper, a very small keychain mini-light, multi-function knife, a Swiss Card, and a whistle. I consider this to be just a collection of EDC gear.

My son was excited to see the tactical pen, but within 5 minutes, the pen broke. Assessing the tools included in this kit, you could probably start a fire, open a bottle of beer or soda, head North using the compass, blow the whistle if need be, and use the blade/multi-tool for miscellaneous tasks. As far as a “mini survival kit” goes, this one is pretty standard. I wouldn’t want to bet my survival on these 9 items and at $21.99, current price, it’s not a bargain. Because of the knife and Swiss Card, this wouldn’t be an appropriate gift for anyone under the age of 12 or 13. NOTE: The photo shows something that might be an emergency blanket, but I did not receive that in the kit I ordered from Amazon. Don’t be fooled by the 5-star ratings. Those appear to be written by paid reviewers.

Eachway Professional 10 in 1 Emergency Survival Gear Kit

mini survival kit reviewHey! What do you know! This kit is identical to the Teaker kit but you save a whole penny if you buy the Eachway!

No kidding. I was disappointed to see virtually no difference between the Teaker and the Eachway. The flashlights are identical, except the “UltraFire” branding on the Eachway light. Every tool is identical, and my assessment is the same as for the Teaker. For $21.98, you can do better at Walmart.

Survival Kit EMDMAK Outdoor Emergency Kit

mini survival kit reviewI suppose if you were on your last leg and had nothing else for survival, maybe you could survive for a few more hours if you had this kit. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The emergency blanket, made in China, is like every other emergency blanket. It has some uses, for sure, but most survival experts agree that the typical thin, mylar blanket will do very little in a survival situation. I was disappointed by the keychain compass — I’m pretty sure I’ve seen similar compasses in Oriental Trading Company catalogs, and the one I got looks nothing like the one in the photo. The whistle, fire starter, and wire saw are also of poor quality. There isn’t anything in this kit that is well-made, except maybe the Swiss Card, and those are probably mass produced for a penny each. This kit is priced at just under $15 on Amazon. Save your money.

Emergency Survival Kit Grenade

mini survival kit reviewI bought this kit because it looked pretty cool. I knew when I was finished with the review, my son would want it. For the review to be fair, though, I decided to unwrap the paracord to check out the tools inside, and now we’re left with a pile of paracord, foil, and a bunch of little tiny things.

The 26 feet of paracord is very good quality, as is the small caribiner. You can easily connect this grenade to a backpack or another larger piece of gear. It takes a few minutes to unwrap the grenade to reach the aluminum foil-wrapped contents. This kit might be useful for someone who already has some pretty good survival skills, because the contents can be useful, you just have to know what to do with them. Examples: the fishing hooks, line, and weights. You could use the paracord strands and some know-how to set a snare, but again, that relies on prior knowledge and training. Bottom line: the best feature of this kit is its unique packaging. The gear inside the paracord grenade would be of little use to most people, and the pieces small enough to make this a gift only appropriate for kids ages 12 and up. At $10.99, it’s not a bad end-of-the-line survival kit.

The Tact Mini Survival Kit

At this point, I kind of gave up on buying additional mini survival kits. I was browsing on Amazon, and mostly saw kits that were virtually identical to the ones I purchased and reviewed here.  Then I received the Tact Mini Survival Kit to review from Survival Frog. (This is the only kit I didn’t personally pay for.)

The concept behind this kit is different from the other minis. Its focus is less on giving you little gadgets that may or may not help you survive and more on covering the most important survival bases: shelter, warmth, light/signal, a whistle, and a small spork with multi-tool capabilities.

The Tact kit is quite a bit larger than the other kits reviewed here and comes in a drawstring bag, rather than a hard plastic case. In the world of survival kits, it still qualifies as “mini”. I prefer the bag over the plastic case because it can be useful in dozens of other ways in a survival scenario. Of everything included, the Bivvy is the largest piece. It’s a lightweight waterproof and windproof emergency sleeping bag made of space-age material that reflects your body heat and keeps you warm. Similar bags sell for close to $20 in sporting goods stores.

Next to the Bivvy, I was impressed with the stainless steel, 16 ounce camp cup. I like the way it looks and feels (very solid), but with its larger size, it can be used as a drinking cup or, over a fire, used to make a small cup of soup or oatmeal. It really is a handy size and is what I based my own Winter Survival Food Kit on. You can read details of that here. The heavy duty spork is more than just an eating utensil. It’s also a multi-tool, with a bottle opener, 3 sizes hex wrench, and a flathead screwdriver.

With the sleeping bag for warmth and shelter from the elements and a quality cup/cooking pot, the Tact Mini  Survival Kit adds a smokeless pocket stove, a few fuel tablets, and waterproof matches in a case. Now you’re ready to purify water, melt snow, cook, or just keep warm. With a few packets of dried soup mix, oatmeal, or packs of coffee, you would have the makings of a Winter Survival Food Kit, as detailed in this article. The stove could also be used as an emergency signal if you weren’t able to start a small fire using materials around you.

With the flashlight and whistle, you’re ready to signal for help, and the small flashlight is another source of light.

The Tact Mini Survival Kit is more expensive, as you might expect — $49.97 — click on this Survival Frog page. Pick up more than one and Survival Frog throws in some bonuses and free shipping.

If you don’t have time to thoughtfully and carefully put your own mini survival kit together, then the Tact Mini Survival Kit is the way to go. There’s enough room in the drawstring bag for your pocketknife and a few other EDC items, so you can get the best of both worlds — a high quality kit that is ready to go and then customized with your own favorite gear before you pack up and head out.

So, there you have it. Five reviews of mini survival kits. When I first set out to do this, my curiosity level was high and I was optimistic. As the kits began arriving and I had time to check them out, overall it was disappointing. The potential is there for a company to produce a well-thought-out kit, truly designed to help people survive in an emergency, and with very high quality gear. Only the Tact Mini Survival Kit delivered and is one reason I’ve selected Survival Frog as a Survival Mom affiliate. If you buy the Tact for yourself or as a gift, let me know what you think.

Make Your Own Winter Survival Food Kit

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A while back my family spent 2 weeks camping around the beautiful and very cold country of Iceland. (You can read about our adventures in this article.) We had a cozy camper van with a propane stove, a small sink, table, and bunks, and as you might imagine, coming up with plans for hot meals every day became an interesting challenge!

Make Your Own Winter Survival Food Kit via The Survival Mom

There’s something deeply satisfying about a hot drink or hot meal on a cold day, but have you ever thought about how you could manage that on a long, winter drive or if you were stranded in cold weather? A Winter Survival Food Kit might save the day.

immersion heater for winter survival food kitThis very, very simple, inexpensive, and very portable Winter Survival Food Kit that will provide you and your family with warm drinks and small, hot meals, and it all begins with a $6 gadget, the immersion heater. (see image)

An immersion heater like this one heats up almost instantly and if you were stranded in the snow, which happens to thousands of people every year, having the ability to melt snow into drinkable water is vital. Although it might seem like a good idea to eat clean snow if you don’t have water, the fact is, that icy snow will lower your core temperature, making it even harder to stay warm and avoid hypothermia.

With an immersion heater in hand, you’ll next need a metal container that can hold at least 16 ounces of liquid/food. The one I have in my kit looks something like this pot. In a pinch, you could use an empty, clean aluminum can but without a handle of some kind, you would need to have a potholder or something similar.

You now have a heat source and a container for food and/or water, so the next step is to think about what you could pack that wouldn’t be affected by very cold temperatures, and here is where small packets of food, like oatmeal, are the perfect solution.


Some of the foods I’ve found to be perfectly sized for a Winter Survival Food Kit are:

  • Packets of dry soup and bouillon
  • Hot chocolate and cider packets
  • Packets of sweeteners and honey
  • Teabags of different varieties  (Teas containing ginger, lemon grass, and lemon verbena are very good for fighting colds.)
  • Oatmeal
  • Ramen (bulkier but more filling)
  • Packets of coffee and lemonade mix
  • Emergen-C (You may lose some of the nutrients when added to hot water but you will still get a healthy jolt of the ingredients, including Vitamin C, electrolytes, and zinc. It comes in a few different flavors as well.)
  • Theraflu Flu and Sore Throat Powder  (There is also a nighttime version that will put you to sleep. Avoid that one if you’re driving!)

You’ll be surprised by how many of these packets can easily fit inside your kit’s metal pot. If you store them in a Ziploc or, preferably, a vacuum sealed pouch using a Food Saver, it will help keep the packets dry.

One final and necessary ingredient for all these foods and beverages is water. If snow is your only source, then choose snow that hasn’t been plowed, appears to be clean, and, preferably, is snow that has fallen during the middle or toward the end of a snow storm. That snow will have fallen through cleaner and less polluted air.

You can store water in your vehicle using the tips in this article to keep it from freezing. I always have a case of water bottles in the passenger area of my SUV and even if a few get partially frozen, I’ve never had the entire case freeze — but then, I don’t live in the most frigid parts of the country, either!

Check out Minimus, for buying packets of food and beverage mixes in bulk. This is especially helpful if you’ll be putting together more than one of these kits.

Your Winter Survival Food Kit is now complete! Is there anything else you would add? If so, add it in the Comments section.

Make Your Own Winter Survival Food Kit via The Survival Mom

Find Out Now, What You Should Do To Survive Severe Winter Weather?

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severe winter weather

Here in the upper Midwest, winters can be absolutely brutal. We’re talking frigid temperatures, freezing rain, feet of snow, and just a whole lot of no fun when you’re trying to go about your daily life. Sure, if you enjoy snowmobiling, ice fishing, and skiing, the winter months are like paradise.  For those who are just trying to get to and from work each day, though, things can get dicey.

Fortunately, winter weather rarely hits without some advance warning. While we all like to poke fun at the weather forecasters, when it comes to blizzards and such, they get it right far more often than they miss the boat. So, the first line of defense is to pay attention to your favorite weather forecast.

It is exceedingly rare that a winter storm pops up out of nowhere. There is almost always several hours, if not a day or two, of warning.


If at all possible, limit any planned travel during a predicted winter storm. I know, that’s often easier said than done. Bosses tend to get a little irritated when employees don’t show up. If you have a vacation or sick day you can afford to burn, use it on a day when the roads are going to be sketchy at best. If you can work from home, do so.

Always have emergency supplies and gear in your vehicle. These include jumper cables, a blanket (wool is the best), extra hat and gloves, flashlight with extra batteries, food, water, and a first aid kit. Bonus points for chemical hand warmers, glow sticks, and a cell phone charger you can plug into the cigarette lighter in your vehicle.

If you get stranded for some reason, stay put unless you absolutely have to leave your vehicle due to safety reasons. A car or truck is much easier to spot than a person. Tie a brightly colored piece of fabric, such as a flag or bandanna (from your emergency kit), to the vehicle’s antenna. This is a universally recognized symbol indicating you need help.

Should you decide to trek out on foot, do everyone a favor and leave a note on your dash with your name, the date and time you’re leaving, and where you are heading, even if only a rough compass direction. This will help people find you, should they need to conduct a search.

At Home

At home, as a prepper, hopefully you’ll already have a full pantry. If that’s not the case, hit the grocery store a day or two ahead of the predicted storm and stock up. No need to go crazy and lay in enough food to last a month, but get enough of what you’ll need to last at least a couple of days. I cannot stress enough that you should not wait until the last minute for this grocery store trip. If you do, you’ll either find empty shelves or you’ll be fighting the pre-storm crowd.

A key element to surviving brutal winters is having a way to keep warm if the furnace isn’t working. If you have multiple people in the home, double up and pile on the blankets. Try and keep everyone in one room, ideally a small one. Body heat multiplied by a few people and kept in a single room will benefit everyone. Hang a blanket over the window and any open doorways to help reduce heat from escaping and eliminate cold drafts coming in. Obviously, if you have a fireplace or a wood stove, make judicious use of it, provided you thought ahead and have a good supply of dry, seasoned fuel set aside.

Wind Chill

Wind chill is something most residents here understand, yet it sometimes baffles new folks. Basically, in the winter it gets cold, obviously. However, wind chill makes it “feel” colder, just as a breeze makes it “feel” cooler when its hot outside. A lot colder, actually.

In my neck of the woods, it isn’t uncommon for the high temperature to reach, say, 10’F, and with the wind chill factored in, it feels like -20F or lower. At temps that low, any exposed skin can suffer frostbite in just a matter of minutes. This means you need to protect yourself with not only hats, coats, and gloves but scarves and earmuffs as well.

When it comes to injuries and fatalities as a result of winter weather, while I’ve not seen any hard stats on this, I’d estimate more people die of heart attacks while shoveling snow than for just about any other weather-related reason. If you don’t have a teenager in the area who you could give a few bucks for shoveling your driveway and thus have to tackle it yourself, take it slow. There’s no need to try and do it all at once. Far better to take frequent breaks as needed. Even running a snowblower can be physically taxing.

Power Outages

Finally, severe winter storms often result in power outages. Ice can build on power lines, which adds a great deal of weight and causes the lines to come down. Often, it is just a matter of a few hours, maybe a day, before power is restored. But, plan ahead and have plenty of flashlights, batteries, and a portable radio so you can keep abreast of the weather-related news.

Severe winter weather isn’t something to be trifled with but with just a bit of planning, you’ll come through just fine.


Get 2 Survival Mom books for less than $4!

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I could hardly believe my eyes when I happened to see my book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios, is now on sale for the Kindle for just $1.99. That’s an amazing bargain.

survival mom bookThis best-selling book is over 300 pages and will lead you through the entire process of prepping:

  • How to stock up on the right foods for your family
  • How to safely store and purify water
  • How to handle sanitation (think toilets, showers, laundry) when there’s little water or the power is out
  • How to pack all types of emergency bags, even for kids and the elderly
  • How to prepare yourself and your family financially for an economic set-back
  • What items you should always keep in your purse
  • How to set up a safe room in your house
  • What principles to remember so you’re always situationally aware
  • AND tons more!

I LOVED writing this book because it was from the perspective of a MOM, written for MOMS and families. It’s not one of those hardcore “if you’re not a Navy SEAL, you’ll perish!!” type of books! Maybe that explains it’s very, very long stream of 5 star reviews.

Now, the price of this book is set by Amazon and my publisher. I have nothing to do with it and have no idea when this price will end, but for NOW, it’s just $1.99!!

Of course I own a couple of hard copies of the book (you should get that, too!), but I actually bought the Kindle version because it’s so easy to search for what I want. And, since the book is a reference book, I’ve searched for things like “natural remedies”, “vehicle emergency kit”, and “hurricanes”. The hard copy has an awesome index, but the ebook version is even quicker.

By the way, it looks like the paperback price is also marked down — $13.80. Again, that price could change in a moment, but it’s usually at the $15-16 mark.


To match this price, I lowered the price of my second book, this one is self-published, to $1.99 also! Emergency Evacuations: How to Get Out Fast When It Matters Most, digs deep into the whole evacuation event:

  • What types of events might cause you to have to leave your home?
  • How can you get out fast when you have little kids or a handicapped loved one?
  • What should always be in your emergency kit/bug out bag?
  • When you don’t have a “bug out location”, where else can you go? I think you’ll be surprised by some of my very creative suggestions!
  • How can you keep your vehicles ready to go, at a moment’s notice?
  • What if you have elderly or special needs loved ones to consider?

This book has also received a long stream of 5 star reviews on Amazon. It’s a quick read but I know the checklists and information will be invaluable.


This one is also available in paperback at $8.99.

In case you’re thinking that ebooks are a waste of time, “when the EMP happens”, I can assure you that investing in dozens, if not hundreds, of ebooks is a smart idea. This article explains more.

Again, the price of Survival Mom could change at any moment, so get both books while you can — less than $4, or less than the price of one Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccinos!



Top 10 Food Storage Myths

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food storage myths

The internet is full of websites that give information on survival topics, including food storage. There are dozens and dozens of books that will teach you “the right way” to store food and YouTube videos galore. Most contain valid, trustworthy information, but mixed in with that are a number of food storage myths that many people accept without question.

Here are 10 that I take issue with, and I explain why.

By the way, following Myth #10 are 2 short videos that review these myths.

Myth #1:  You should stock up on lots of wheat.

When I was researching foods typically eaten during the Great Depression, I noticed that many of them included sandwiches of every variety. So it makes sense to stock up on wheat, which, when ground, becomes flour, the main ingredient to every bread recipe.

There are a couple of problems with the focus on wheat in virtually all food storage plans, however. First, since the time of the Great Depression millions of people now have various health issues when they consume wheat. From causing gluten intolerance to celiac disease our hybridized wheat is a whole ‘nother animal that our great-grandparents never consumed.

The second issue is that wheat isn’t the simplest food to prepare, unless you simply cook the wheat berries in water and eat them as a hot cereal or add them to other dishes. In order to make a loaf of bread, you have to grind the wheat, which requires the purchase of at least one grain mill. Electric mills are much easier to use and, within just seconds, you have freshly ground flour. However, you’ll probably want to add a hand-crank mill to have on hand for power outages. All together, 2 mills will end up costing a pretty penny, depending on the brands you purchase.

Then there’s the process of making the bread itself, which is time consuming.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t store wheat, and, in fact, I have several hundred pounds of it myself. The emphasis on wheat as a major component in food storage is what I have a problem with. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased far more rice and less wheat. Rice is incredibly simple to prepare and is very versatile. It, too, has a very long shelf life.

Myth #2: Beans last forever.

While it’s true that beans have a long shelf life, they have been known to become virtually inedible over time. Old-timers have reported using every cooking method imaginable in order to soften the beans. A pressure cooker is one option but, again, some have told me that doesn’t even work!

Another option is to grind the beans and add the powdered beans to various recipes. They will still contain some nutrients and fiber.

Over the years, I’ve stocked up on cans of beans — beans of all kinds. They retain their nutrients in the canning process and are already cooked, so there’s no need to soak, boil, pressure cook, etc. You can always home can dried beans, and if you have beans that have been around for more than 10 years or so, canning them is a super simple process and insures they won’t become inedible.

Myth #3: If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it!

Have you ever fallen in love with a recipe that was easy to make, inexpensive, and your family loved it? You probably thought you’d finally found The Dream Recipe. And then you made it a second time, then a third, then a fourth. About the 8th or 9th time, however, you may have discovered that you had developed a mild form of food fatigue. Suddenly, it didn’t taste all that great and your family wasn’t giving it rave reviews anymore.

When it comes to food storage, don’t assume that someone will eat a certain item they currently hate, just because they’re hungry. If you stock up on dozens of #10 cans of Turkey Tetrazzini, sooner or later the family will revolt, no matter how hungry they are.

Myth #4. All I need is lots and lots of canned food.

There’s nothing wrong with canned food. In fact, that’s how I got started with food storage. However, canned food has its limitations. A can of ravioli is a can of ravioli. You can’t exactly transform it into a completely different dish. As well, canned food may have additives that you don’t care to eat and, in the case of my own kids, tastes change over time. I had to eventually give away the last few cans of ravioli and Spaghetti-O’s because my kids suddenly didn’t like them anymore.

Be sure to rotate whatever canned food you have, since age takes a toll on all foods, but, as I’ve discovered, on certain canned items in particular. My experience with old canned tuna hasn’t been all that positive, and certain high-acid foods, such as canned tomato products, are known to have issues with can corrosion. Double check the seams of canned food and look for any sign of bulging, leaks, or rust.

Lightly rusted cans, meaning you can rub the rust off with a cloth or your fingertip, are safe to continue storing. However, when a can is badly rusted, there’s a very good chance that the rust has corroded the can, allowing bacteria to enter. Those cans should be thrown away.

Worried about the “expiration” date on canned food? Well, those dates are set by the food production company and don’t have any bearing on how the food will taste, its nutrients, or safety after that date. If the food was canned correctly and you’ve been storing it in a dry and cool location, theoretically, the food will be safe to consume for years after that stamped date.

Myth #5: I can store my food anywhere that I have extra space.

Yikes! Not if you want to extend its shelf life beyond just a few months! Know the enemies of food storage and do your best to store food in the best conditions possible.

TIP: Learn more about the enemies of food storage: heat, humidity, light, oxygen, pests, and time.

I emphasize home organization and decluttering on this blog, mainly because it frees up space that is currently occupied by things you don’t need or use. Start decluttering and then storing your food in places that are cool, dark, and dry.

Myth #6: My food will last X-number of years because that’s what the food storage company said.

I have purchased a lot of food from very reputable companies over the years: Augason Farms, Thrive Life, Honeyville, and Emergency Essentials. They all do a great job of processing food for storage and then packaging it in containers that will help prolong its shelf life.

However, once the food gets to your house, only you are in control of how that food is stored. Yes, under proper conditions, food can easily have a shelf life of 20 years or more, but when it’s stored in heat, fluctuating temperatures, and isn’t protected from light, oxygen, and pests, and never rotated, it will deteriorate quickly.

NOTE: When food is old, it doesn’t become poisonous or evaporate in its container. Rather, it loses nutrients, flavor, texture, and color. In a word, it becomes unappetizing.

Myth #7: Just-add-hot-water meals are all I need.

There are many companies who make and sell only add-hot-water meals. In general, I’m not a big fan of these. They contain numerous additives that I don’t care for, in some cases the flavors and textures and truly awful, but the main reason why I don’t personally store a lot of these meals is because they get boring.

Try eating pre-made chicken teriyaki every day for 2 weeks, and you’ll see what I mean. Some people don’t require a lot of variety in their food, but most of us tire quickly when we eat the same things over and over.

These meals have a couple of advantages, though. They are lightweight and come in handy during evacuation time and power outages. If you can boil a couple of cups of water over a rocket stove, propane grill, or some other cooking device, then you’ll have a meal in a few minutes.

TIP: Store a few days worth of just-add-water meals with your emergency kits and be ready to grab them for a quick emergency evacuation. Be sure to also pack a spoon or fork for each person and a metal pot for meals that require cooking over a heat source.

However, for a well-balanced food storage pantry, stock up on individual ingredients and fewer just-add-hot-water meals.

Myth #8: I can stock up on a year’s worth and won’t need to worry about food anymore.

That is probably the fantasy of many a prepper. Buy the food, stash it away, and don’t give it a thought until the S hits the fan. There’s a big problem with that plan, however. When everything does hit the fan and it’s just you and all that food:

  • Will you know how to prepare it?
  • Will you have the proper supplies and tools to prepare the food?
  • Did you store enough extra water to rehydrate all those cans of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?
  • Do you have recipes you’re familiar with, that your family enjoys, and that use whatever you’ve purchased?
  • What if there’s an ingredient a family member is allergic to?
  • Does everyone even like what you’ve purchased?
  • Have any of the containers been damaged? How do you know if you haven’t inspected them and checked them occasionally for bulges and/or pest damage?

If you’ve purchased a pre-packaged food storage supply, the contents of that package were determined by just a small handful of people who do not know your family, your health issues, or other pertinent details. These packages aren’t a bad thing to have on hand. Just don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Myth #9: Freeze dried foods are too expensive.

Yes, there is a bit of sticker shock initially when you begin to shop online at sites like Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials. If you’ve been used to paying a few dollars for a block of cheddar cheese and then see a price of $35 for a can of freeze-dried cheddar, it can be alarming.

However, take a look at how many servings are in each container and consider how much it would cost to either grow or purchase that same food item and preserve it in one way or another, on your own.

The 3 companies I mentioned all have monthly specials on their food and other survival supplies — that’s how I ended up with 2 cases of granola from Emergency Essentials!

Myth #10: This expert’s food storage plan will fit my family.

The very best food storage plan is the one that you have customized yourself. By all means, use advice given by a number of experts. Take a look at online food calculators, but when it’s time to make purchases, buy what suits your family best. What one person thinks is ideal for food storage may leave your kids retching.

Lots of resources to help you with your food storage pantry

Want this info on video? Here you go!

Food Storage Myths, Part 1: Myths 1-5

Food Storage Myths, Part 2: Myths 6-10

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 food storage myths

The Best I Can Do to Help You Prepare

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Click image to learn more and buy this one-time-only bundle!

This blog is over 7 years old. It contains a wealth of information — more than 1600 articles. There are over 100 podcasts you can access via iTunes and my Survival Mom book is just perfect for any individual or family wanting to be better prepared.

But, earlier this year, I realized that I can do more. The missing piece here on Survival Mom blog and, actually, in the entire prepper and survival niche is a CONNECTION. If you’re like me, you probably have read hundreds of articles, dozens of books, you’ve been prepping here and there, but you constantly feel like your way is aimless and you aren’t really prepared.

The reason for that? Lack of personal connection with other preppers and zero accountability. If you procrastinate filling those water bottles, buying canned food, taking a first aid class — well, nothing has happened thus far, so maybe your luck will hold out a while longer. In the meantime, you still feel a nagging doubt that you would be ready for anything really bad.

As I thought about this, and having been in the same boat, I realized that a live connection that offers the chance for everyday preppers to chat with experts in a live, small group class was part of the answer. I remembered my years as a teacher and how important it was to my students to have an organized course of study, regular assignments, the ability to ask questions, and some accountability when they got lazy or distracted!

You, as a prepper, aren’t very different!

Preppers University offers 2 multiw-week classes that do all of the above. During these Prepping Intensives, you get:

  • Access to world class survival and prepper experts like Ferando Aguirre (FerFAL), Selco, foraging expert Merriwether, rural living and homesteading expert Patrice Lewis, EMP expert Dr. Arthur T. Bradley, prepper author Jim Cobb, and dozens more.
  • In live classes you can chat with these experts and get all your questions answered.
  • A treasure trove of articles related to the Prepping Intensive curriculum. See the PI curriculum here and the Advanced PI curriculum here.
  • Exclusive podcasts you can listen to 24/7.
  • A Student Resource Center with hundreds of free ebook downloads, recorded webinars from previous PI sessions, a Book of the Month Club, an exclusive forum and lots more.
  • Weekly challenges and To Do lists.
  • DIY projects in our Advanced PI class.
  • A new group of prepping friends you can get to know and network with.
  • …and so much more.

You can access the PI materials no matter where you are, at any time of the day. This is really the very best I can do for you. It goes so far beyond just a book, a podcast, an article, or even a webinar — this is an entire package that will move you forward in your prepping, miles beyond wherever you are now.

Here’s my Black Friday deal

I’m jumping on the bandwagon this weekend with just about everyone else. Through Monday, November 28, I’ve decreased the price of an Intensive to $119 and adding a very nice, complimentary bundle of goodies. The $119 price tag includes:

  • Your choice of Intensive classes, either the 8 week foundational Prepping Intensive or the 6 week Advanced Prepping Intensive
  • Our 2-hour course, “How to Survive Civil Unrest” — very timely.
  • The 190+ page e-textbook that provides a wealth of information related to civil unrest in our current political climate.
  • Membership to our Student Resource Center
  • My very newest ebook, One Second After the Lights Go Out: How to Survive in a Post-EMP World
  • An ebook copy of my book, Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most
  • A brand new ebook by author Daisy Luther, Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas
  • Also by Daisy, a recipe book, Recipes From the Pantry Primer

Click here to learn more and buy this bundle!

All this will keep you on your toes during the New Year as your continue to prep. Our political leadership in Washington may have changed, but in no way are we in the clear where economic catastrophes, in particular, are concerned, and the next few years are certain to be tumultuous.

Join me, Daisy Luther, and dozens of our guest instructors at Preppers University and enjoy this bundle of top-notch resources.

This offer ends Monday, November 28. Prepping Intensives begin on January 8, 2017.


Why Nutrition is an Essential Part of Preparedness

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Why Nutrition is an Essential Part of Preparedness via The Survival MomWhen you start acquiring your long-term food storage supply, you should keep nutrition and variety in mind. Nutrition is considered a matter of course, but we don’t often think about the importance of having a varied diet. What we think about even less is how nutrition and variety often go together. When you were growing up, did your mom ever tell you to make sure the things on your dinner plate were all different colors? There is a reason for that.

They say that variety is the spice of life, and no one understands this better than the typical college student who exists mostly on ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I, myself, subsisted primarily on cup-o-noodles, sun chips, and apple juice during my last semester of college. A bland, unvaried diet gets old really fast. Many cookbooks like this one have been written to help college students get beyond boring and not very nutritious meals.

Now, most of us, when we think of “nutrition” immediately think of the phrase, “don’t eat junk food all the time.” Junk food can definitely have a severe impact on your heath, but it usually manifests as weight gain and lethargy. When I talk about nutrition, I am referring to the practice of eating enough of all the things your body needs to prevent it from developing a deficiency. Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to eat this way on a food storage pantry diet.


Monotonous meals are boring to eat, and therefore, not very good for morale. (Never underestimate the importance of morale when it comes to preparedness!). Boring, repetitive meals can also be bad for your health. Eating a narrow range of foods can put you at risk for numerous nutrient deficiencies. Which ones you develop can depend on which nutrients are absent in your diet. All are unpleasant, and all can, unchecked, result in death.

Most of us learned about scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) in middle school. Other conditions due include beriberi (thiamine deficiency), and pellagra (niacin deficiency), kwashiorkor, and marasmus. The latter two disorders are caused by to starvation in general, but beriberi and pellagra can turn up in people who have plenty to eat, surprisingly. They are not starving and often have full meals.

Beriberi is often found in regions of the world where the main staple is polished white rice. Rice has a much longer shelf-life when the husk and bran are removed, but this process also removes much of the rice’s nutritive value. The Southern United States suffered from a Pellagra epidemic in the early 20th Century. Most of the low-income people of that time and place subsisted primarily on ground corn, which by itself is deficient in niacin. Today in the United States, all white rice and cornmeal is enriched with nutrients before being packaged for sale. Check out this easy recipe for Super Rice as a way to increase the nutrients in white rice.

An Edible History of Humanity,” by Tom Standage, illustrates the connection between nutrition and variety of foods very well. He points out that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were actually healthier than their agricultural descendents.  This conclusion is based on forensic examinations of ancient human remains. As hunter-gatherers, our ancestors ingested a wide variety of things (berries, grains, nuts, meat, tubers), instead of living on a diet made up of almost exclusively bread and beer once wheat became domesticated. Their foraging skills were keen, something we should all learn to do, no matter where we live.

Skeletons dating from the early period of agriculture are shorter, and contain poorer dental health compared to their early hunter-gatherer counterparts. (Lest we overly romanticize hunter-gathering, Standage also mentions that agriculture allowed for more economic stability, which was a definite plus even if the price for that stability was a few inches in height.)

Taking Nutrition For Granted

Most of us learned in 9th grade biology that the entire structure of the human body consists of only a handful of amino acids put together in different ways. Most of these we can synthesize ourselves, but some must come from the foods we eat. Luckily, with our modern economy, fulfilling those needs is as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Eggs, milk, bread, veggies, maybe a steak for dinner, and check. Your body has what it needs to thrive.

Because very, very few individuals in Modern America develop nutrition issues, the importance of eating a balanced diet is overlooked. And because of the massive availability of food, and the practice of enriching things like breakfast cereal, white flour, rice, and cornmeal with nutrients, we don’t even think it’s a huge deal. We take for granted the non-scarcity of everything, and don’t appreciate how tenuous our system is, and how reliant on shipping. “Eating your vegetables” has become a moral issue, something that good little boys and girls do if they want to please their mothers, when it should be a basic health issue.

Those who survived rationing during the second World War have a much better understanding of why we tell people to eat vegetables and drink all their milk. There was great concern in Great Britain during this time period about procuring adequate sources of vitamin C; people picked rose hips and preserved them in syrup to be taken as a tonic to prevent against scurvy. Here’s an article I wrote about World War 2 and food storage.

How to Store a Balanced Diet

So with all this in mind, what should you put in your long-term food storage to keep your family healthy during a crisis? Thanks to food storage companies like Thrive Life, you can get just about everything you can think of in a #10 can: fruit, vegetables, pasta, quinoa, instant meals, even cookie mix. Pretty much anything you can think of that is used in every-day cooking has a food storage analog. If you don’t already have some of these things in your food storage, I’d encourage you to get some because of all the many reasons listed above.

Some people are hesitant to spend money on freeze-dried strawberries because it seems like a luxury item and not a staple – strawberries are lovely, but won’t keep you full. I would argue that it’s worth the money. Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, plus there’s that little issue of morale I mentioned earlier.

Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are highly recommended because of their very long shelf life when unopened and the fact that they retain nearly all their nutrients. You can browse through all Thrive Life produce from this website.

If you haven’t already tried your hand at gardening, that’s something you should look into this very next spring. Brassica vegetables are a good choice, being a great source of vitamin K. They are easy to grow (except maybe for cauliflower – I can never get that stuff to work for me!), and grow quickly. And, being outdoors increases your own Vitamin D levels, even if you have a very black thumb!

In a pinch, if you have already exhausted all sources of vitamin C and have no more cans of freeze dried strawberries, you can eat sprouted grains of wheat. Learning to sprout seeds is an incredibly easy way to add nutrients of all types to your diet. Read this to learn how.

Warning: this does not work with all grains. Sprouting rye is not a good idea; the risks of contracting Ergotism from moldy rye outweigh the benefits of vitamin C. 


Why Nutrition is an Essential Part of Preparedness via The Survival Mom

Welcome to National Preparedness Month! Now Get Ready!

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 National Prepareness Month

Every September is the official National Preparedness Month in the U.S. If you don’t have one of these special dates in your country, you can either establish one for yourself and your family or begin a letter-writing and petition campaign to convince  your government that one is needed.

Over the years of encouraging people to get prepared for everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios, I’ve always known that most people give the idea lip service. Knowing the importance of “getting prepped” is not very different from knowing that it’s better to be a healthy weight, eat right, drink lot of water, and exercise. We all KNOW that stuff. We just don’t all DO it.

And right there is what makes the difference between a family who is ready to quickly and quietly load up the car with supplies, the kids, and the pets and hightail it away from danger to one who either scrambles at the last minute, deep in the black zone and forgetting what to pack, like these folks did during the huge Fort MacMurray fires. Worse are those who are totally unaware until there IS  no escape. Honestly? Most people fall into those 2 latter categories.

I don’t want even one of my readers to be caught unaware by fire, flood, extreme weather, or any other type of disaster. (Take my 5-question Threat Assessment Quiz here to figure out what are the most likely dangers you face.) This blog is chock full of over 1700 articles, my family survival manual, Survival Momshould be on every family’s bookshelf (no kidding!), and my second book, Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When it Matters Most, details exactly what, when, where, and how you should evacuate from a dangerous situation.

I’ve worked hard over the years to provide you with the very best advice I could, but this last spring, I realized it hasn’t been enough. Most of you know you should prep, you read about prepping, maybe put a few things in place, and then get distracted by life, as I did myself earlier this year. When  that happens, you still are not ready, especially for a true worst case scenario. And what could those be? We don’t have to look very far to see examples all over the world — and please don’t lapse into normalcy bias and think, “It could never happen here.”

  • Venezuela, once the most prosperous country in South America, utterly collapses in economic turmoil, with empty food shelves, food riots, and desperate people.
  • Random terrorist attacks in places most would have considered safe.
  • A rising tide of anger and unrest, resulting in extreme and violent riots that sometimes last for days.
  • A government that can be slow to respond to true and desperate calamities, such as the flooding in Louisiana this summer. Did you realize this disaster is the third worst to hit our country after Katrina and Hurricane Sandy? I’ll bet you didn’t, since only scant attention was given in mainstream media. Federal response was described as “pitiful”.

I’m determined to never be one of the hungry, desperate moms lining up, or rioting!, just to get some bottled water and a bag of groceries. I’m far too independent-minded for that, and I’ll bet you are, too.

The Prepping Intensive

So, here’s what I’ve done so that you and your family are prepared for all types of scenarios. I created a 10-week live course, complete with actual classes, assignments, assessments, and…accountability! If you’re serious about getting yourself, your family, and your home prepped, you can’t afford to NOT take this class.

The timing is perfect! Not only is it the start of National Preparedness Month but the kids, and grandkids, are back in school. It really is the perfect time to direct your attention to something of vital and life-saving importance — and, you can teach what you learn to your other family members and friends.

The course covers just about everything:

  • Water and sanitation
  • A complete food storage education
  • Power outage readiness
  • Natural disaster preparedness
  • Survival when you’re away from home
  • Health and fitness for survival
  • Setting up a survival retreat no matter where you are
  • Worst case scenarios

We’ve covered all the bases but then we’ve brought in some amazing guest speakers for you:

We have more speakers scheduled, but you get the idea. If you’re wondering if you’ll be able to attend all these classes, each one is recorded and will be available to you, 24/7.

Here’s the Sneak Peek

I don’t expect you to plunk down  your registration fee without actually seeing what you’re buying. I’ve written too many articles about the importance of frugal living to want you to do that! So, if you would like to see a sample of one of our training modules, here you go!

And, we’ve expanded just a bit to offer more than a 10 week course (which you have access to for a year!). We’ve also created a separate Student Center for members only. This separate site has a forum, webinar recording archive, a Book of the Month Club (all prepper/apocalyptic/survival books — I promise!), and coming this fall, mini-courses you can take any time, 24/7. You get a 1-year membership to the Student Center with your class registration!

Check out the Student Center at this Sneak Peek link. Since this is all so new, we have a lot of room to grow, with lots of ideas for things that will help you get fully prepped. Just talking and thinking about it will never help you and your family survive.

We start on 9/11

Someone asked me if our start date of September 11, was significant in any way. The answer is no! We want you to take this course and take action, every single week, and then take a break just before Thanksgiving and the holiday season arrive.

However, this doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to sign up. Registration closes for good on September 18.

Click Here to Register

If you’ve ever wished  you could just TALK with someone about prepping and ask all your crazy questions, get expert advice on your own special circumstances — this was designed for you. Not only am I very active in the course, teaching a handful of classes myself, but Daisy Luther, author, blogger, and homesteader, is right there, too.

We want to help you get fully prepared for an uncertain future. Join our group of students today and start working through our Student Orientation to be ready for launch day, September 11. This is the perfect time for this!


*The course is fully detailed at this link, Preppers University.

P.S. If you can’t join us this time around, we have another session starting in January. Sign up here to get updates whenever new classes are starting AND to get our Prepping To Do List every month!

10 Non-Edibles for Your Emergency Stash

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non edibles emergency stash

While not exactly edible, stocking up on these ten items will make everyday life more comfortable, whatever your emergency.


Picture this.  You’ve been in your bunker for three weeks.  Sponge baths are a rare treat.  Then you remember your stash of Secret anti-perspirant.  Ahhhh….. instant morale booster, especially if shared.

Feminine products  
Periods don’t stop for something trivial like a nuclear war.  A six month’s stash of tampons, especially o.b., won’t take up much room, and will greatly improve your quality of life. However, a much better option, by far, is a menstrual cup, such as the Diva Cup that I review here.

Small items for entertainment
Choose multi-use toys and games.  Playing cards or Play-Dough, for example. Yard sales, dollar stores, and thrift shops are all very good places to buy these. They’ll keep kids busy during stressful times and will provide diversions for the adults in the group.

Bar soap

In a pinch it can be used for shampoo and even laundry. Buy a variety of soaps, including some that do not have a lot of extra dye or perfume added. You should also stock up on classic laundry soaps, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. These are terrific as stain removers and as an ingredient for homemade laundry detergent.

Zip-Loc bags of all sizes

These can’t be beat for everything from a tooth for the Tooth Fairy to containing nuclear waste, aka dirty diapers.
Rope for a clothesline and clothes pins.  Air-dried laundry smells and feels so clean and crisp.  It may become your preferred method of drying, even after the electricity comes on, and of course there’s the added benefit of being oh-so-Green!

A pack of never-before-opened underwear for each family member

This is something that most folks will overlook in their zeal to stock up on freeze-dried food and ammo, but sooner or later, the kids are going to outgrow theirs and mom and dad will appreciate having a nice, fresh set. Ditto for bras.

Battery-powered CD player & CDs
There’s just something about beautiful music for defusing tension and calming nerves. I put this in the category of “Sanity” when it comes to packing emergency kits and making survival preps at home.

Tylenol PM
Seriously.  Do you really want to be 100% conscious wrapped up in your silver emergency blanket, huddled in the back seat of your mini-van for hours?

Toilet paper

While it’s true you can’t stock up on enough toilet paper to last indefinitely, but you can stock up on a year’s worth. I’ve done it. Use coupons and store sales to bring the price down. Keep track of how many rolls your household uses in a month, multiply by 12, and you’ll know about how many rolls you’ll need. Some have argued in favor of using cloth wipes in lieu of TP, and this isn’t a bad idea in general, but it will require the ability to bring a few gallons of water to a boil at least 2-3 times per week, and then dispose of the resulting “black water” in an area that won’t contaminate ground water or growing, food-bearing plants.

Preparing for natural disasters, nuclear war, complete societal breakdown, doesn’t mean we have to lose our sense of humor. In fact, your sense of humor should be #1 on this list! Don’t ever hunker down in your bunker without it!

This article was originally posted in June, 2009 and has been updated.

non edibles emergency stash (2)

A Survival Guy’s First Steps to Preparedness

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survival guyI love getting emails from readers and listeners to my radio show, and I try to answer them all.  This week I received an email from an unexpected source: a single guy!  Now, I’ve always suspected that about 25% of my readers are men, based on their comments here on the blog and from email I receive, but this email was especially meaningful.  The concept of preparedness was new to the writer, D.F., and I’ll let you read his letter for yourself.

Dear SurvivalMom,

I can tell you the day and the hour I started preparing for a disaster. It was just three days ago at 11pm on August 15th that me and a friend were talking about earthquakes and I realized that I didn’t even have one days worth of food or water in my apartment. I didn’t have a single flashlight or even so much as a candle. To say I was woefully unprepared would be an understatement, I was perhaps as unprepared as an individual can be. The realization of how vulnerable I was hit me like a truck. I kind of freaked.

With knots in my stomach I started searching for information on the internet, fearing I would have to wade through a million blogs by guys that think they’re the star of an action movie, thankfully I was very wrong on that point.

It didn’t take me too long to find your site and I was soon reading your post, “Lets help Aimee become a SurvivalMom”.  I immediately started feeling much better (your Momness is powerful). It was such a relief to realize that my first priority was a simple trip to the gas station and the grocery store.  This seems so obvious to me now that I feel foolish for feeling overwhelmed in the first place.

It wasn’t even twelve hours after deciding to get prepared that I had the bare minimum. I left the grocery store with two weeks of water and food, flashlights, batteries, candles, first aid supplies and many other essential items and goods that you and others recommended. I’m a single guy with no children and shopping has always been about grabbing a few ready-to-go meals and perhaps the ingredients for one or two cooked meals.  Shopping with the mentality of preparedness was like seeing a grocery store for the first time!

Since then I have purchased many of the items I would need to walk the thirty five miles to my sister’s house if I absolutely had to, begun stocking her house with essentials for her (she got right on board with me), her children and myself for a month, purchased a 22 rifle and stocked my car with the beginnings of a 72 hour kit.

I still have a lot to do.  It doesn’t seem like you can ever really be prepared, but three days ago I wasn’t even prepared for a ten minute blackout. Knowing that I’m well on my way to a month (with goals of much longer) of supplies and essentials feels great.

It feels odd for me to offer a tip to someone who has been at this for far longer than I have, but in your post “Seven Lessons Learned from a Two-hour Power Outage” you talked about the initial moments after the power went out being difficult. I’m a control room operator and one of my duties is training people how to do the job. When things go wrong for any number of reasons, I have seen people “lock up” for a few moments before their knowledge and training kicks in. Co-workers lives may just be on the line, and there are many millions of dollars of equipment at risk, every scenario is different and you may not have all the information you need to assess what has happened.  It is understandable why people may freeze. This is why I always drill training operators that if they are unsure in those first few moments to, “check their breakers, their lube oil pressure and their steam drum level”, and after that they’ll know what to do.

It works very well and I’m already drilling myself on what to do if there’s a power outage or in the moments after a disaster “Get dressed, put your boots on. If you’re dressed already then sit down and retie your shoelaces.” By the time I have finished tying my shoelaces, I’ll know what my next step should be.  Of course it doesn’t have to be shoelaces.  Anything simple but practical will do.  God forbid but if I ever see a mushroom cloud while I’m out of the house, people all around me will start to panic, but I’ll be looking for a place to kneel down and tie my shoe laces!

Lisa’s note:  I LOVE this tip! Focusing on a few, concrete activities helps calm the nerves, focus on an immediate need, and gives your brain time to back away from its fight/freeze/flee impulses.   Then you can assess the situation and take action.  Thanks for the tip, D.F.!

It’s taken me a while to get here but I’ve finally gotten to the purpose of my letter. Thank you! Your advice and the advice from like minded people may just be the most important information there is on the internet. That may sound dramatic, but it’s absolutely true.  The day may come where what I have learned from you already will save my life. I cannot imagine a more noble pursuit than sharing willingly and freely your time, experience and knowledge on such an essential topic with as many people as you can. I felt desperate to find out what I needed to know and there you were, my gratitude is deep and sincere. You’re beautiful.

Yours sincerely,


I wanted to share this letter with you because I know there are always newbies visiting this blog in search of, “What do I do first?”  D.F. started by first being aware of the need to be prepared and then immediately went into action.  I don’t think he realized that he was writing a tutorial for beginners, but here it is!

Check out these articles and downloads for more newbie help.

Originally published August 23, 2011.

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Understanding the Two is One, One is None Concept

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two is oneWe preppers love acronyms and catchphrases, don’t we? Store what you eat, eat what you store is a popular one. TEOTWAWKI stands for The End Of The World As We Know It, of course. I’m not sure why this stuff is so popular, other than it might make you feel like you’re part of the club when you learn the meaning behind those letters and sayings.

One very popular catchphrase is, “Two is one, one is none.” You’ll hear this over and over in survival literature and in related forums and such online. I’m fairly certain this particular saying originated in the military, though which branch remains a mystery to me. I’ve had Marines, Navy SEALS, and Army Rangers all tell me it came from their group, so who knows for sure at this point?

That said, we’re not here to discern the etymology of the phrase today but to better understand the meaning and concept behind it.

The Basic Idea

The basic idea behind two is one, one is none, is to have multiple methods to accomplish certain goals and tasks. For example, in your bug out bag, you should have a few different ways to get a fire going. If all you have is a single butane lighter, what will you do if it runs out of fuel? Or gets lost or breaks? When possible, I strive for three methods or pieces of gear to accomplish basic tasks. For example, in my fire kit, I have:

–Butane lighters (2)
Ferro rod with striker
Strike anywhere matches

I also have a couple of different types of ready-to-light tinder:

–Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly
Wet Fire cubes
Tinder tabs

A sharp blade is one of the most important survival tools. That being the case, I typically have three of them with me at all times.

–A sheath knife. My preference is for a GNS model from LT Wright Knives.
–A folding knife. My current favorite is a Kershaw Thermite, though I have carried several others over the years, such as a Buck 110 and a Swiss Army Tinker.
–A small multi-tool, such as the Gerber Dime, which I truly love.

Look at Your Preps

This whole idea behind having a backup or two for essential gear is one reason why multi-purpose items are a great idea. Rather than bog down your pack with a ton of stuff, you can cut down on weight while still achieving your goal of having multiple backups.

Take a good, hard look at your survival kit or bug out bag. Do you have multiple ways to:

Start a fire?
Light up the night?
Cut cordage, firewood, and other things?
Signal for help?
Navigate your way to safety?

For anything you don’t have at least three methods of accomplishing, take the time to figure out and add another one or two. Some may be multipurpose, such as a flashlight. That can help to light up the night and signal for help. The upside of multi-purpose items is that you need to pack less, total, in your bag. The downside is that if it is broken or lost, you are now down by one item in at least two categories.

Why is this so important?

You may still be thinking two is enough, there is no reason for any more. That may be true, but what if it isn’t? Imagine the simple scenario of an autumn hike. One of your party falls and injures themselves. They need medical attention. Your party splits up with one or more heading back the trail until they find a cell signal to call for help.

With two flashlights, each group has one. This is great, until you realize the batteries are dead in one.

Now one group has none, and it’s likely to get dark before you reach the trailhead.

If you think that is unrealistic, consider the following everyday scenarios that can easily deplete your emergency supplies:

  • Your child goes camping with Scouts. At the drop-off point, they realize they forgot their pocket knife (first aid kit, fire starters, whatever). Being prepared, you pull one out of the car bag.
  • At the playground, a child skins their knee and needs bandages. You use some from your bag.
  • At sports, your child twists their wrist / ankle very slightly. The only thing that makes it “all better” is wrapping it with some of the self-sticking bandages from your emergency bag.
  • You have one unopened bottle of water left to share with your sick child. You use the water bottle / cup out of your emergency bag to avoid sharing germs, later taking the bottle / cup into the house to wash.

In all those instances, it’s easy to forget and never replace the missing items. That’s an easy thing to do when times are good and your safety and survival aren’t dependent on a flashlight, bandages, or a pocket knife. As a prepper, though, we keep worst case scenarios in mind — times that might now allow for easy replacement of vital tools and gear.


When we start out, many of our preps are often low-quality simply because we don’t know what we really need, or what to look for to get good quality. These low-quality items often end up in various emergency bags. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that – honestly, I’m fine with the low-quality hammer and wrench in my car bag because they are truly just-in-case items I never, ever expect to use. But for critical areas like water, staying warm, and signalling, ensuring you have at least one higher-quality item could be a matter of life and death.

Going back to the example of a butane lighter, the simple fact is that many of us have lighters we picked up in the check out lane as an impulse purchase. These are almost always low-quality, disposable items. In decades past, high-quality refillable lighters were more widely available because smokers used them, and there were a lot more smokers in the USA. These disposable lighters aren’t refillable, and they are relatively easy to damage.

We all have budgetary limitations. Tossing in two cheap Mylar emergency blankets as back-ups for a higher-quality wool blanket or disposable lighters as back-up for storm-proof matches is perfectly reasonable. Personally, I know I have used my “emergency” wool blanket more than once. (We could have had a car accident if I hadn’t curled up on the sofa and napped while my son was in class – really!) Having back-ups is just good sense.

Two is one, one is none

This is good advice and a sound survival principle. Identify the gear and other goods your survival depends upon and then begin adding back-ups. You won’t be sorry.

More prepper resources

Jim Cobb contributed to this article. 

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Small Space Prepper Must Haves

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Small Space prepperMany of us either live in a small space, or have run out of room in a larger space. These small space prepper must haves each help you fit more into the space you have and improve your preparedness. While none of these will break the bank, they were chosen for quality, not based on which one was cheapest. Cost was, of course, considered, but it was tertiary after quality and size. Any of these should last, and last, and last.

Of course these also make great gifts for any occasion from birthday to graduation, wedding, and more. (But you should probably ask before giving one as an anniversary gift.)

Small Antenna for HAM Radio – Getting reception can be tricky. If you need better reception for your HAM Radio hobby but don’t have a lot of space, this may be just the ticket for you.

Gossamar Gear Backpack – These ultra-light backpacking backpacks are in the same price range as regular backpacks, but take far – FAR – less space to store, and they weigh less. Double win!

Multiport USB Charger – Technically, this may not be a prepper item, but the reality is that most of us have a lot of items that can be charged via a USB port that we won’t want to be without. This reduces the number of charging cubes needed for that.

Chemex Coffee Maker and bleached filters – Chemex coffee makers don’t use any electricity and make really good coffee, once you know how to use it. They are particularly good for cold-brew coffee. (The bleached filters are better than the brown ones in this particular case because the brown ones can leave behind a bit of a brown-paper-bag taste, or so I’m told.) The Chemex actually takes a bit less space than most coffee makers because it is really just the specially designed borosilicate pot.

Compass – Different compasses are useful in different areas. This style is really good to use with paper maps and in areas without a lot of long-distance visibility to keep track of a single landmark, like the woods or a city.

SWLing Blog or Baofeng HAM Radio – This is not a hobby that needs to take a lot of space, and the uses of HAM for preppers are many, varied, and impossible to deny. Either of these is a great choice.

External Hard Drive – This is a great way to save all your favorite movies and music in a small space. Copy them all onto here, then store, sell, or otherwise dispose of your collection, which is now easy to pick up and carry with you.

Kindle Paperwhite – I own and use a standard Kindle. My husband has a paperwhite. Only one is easily usable when there is no light, and it’s not mine. Kindles are, hands-down, the best way to store large amounts of reading and visual reference materials in one place. (In case you wondered, I am recommending the regular Kindle over the Fire simply because the battery life is so very long on a Kindle.)

Tesla Coil Lighter – This is a windproof, USB rechargeable, arc lighter. No need to keep extra lighter fluid on hand or as many methods for lighting a fire if you have this lighter.

Mixing tools: Pastry Blender, Whisk, and (possibly) Dutch-Style Dough Mixer – Stand mixers are great, but they can take up a lot of space. I have found that a pastry blender and whisk can do almost everything most people use a stand mixer for in a fraction of the space – and with no electricity required. For anyone who makes a lot of bread or other very heavy doughs, a Dutch-style dough mixer is another hand-powered device that would be a great addition.

Stovehinge: The Collapsible Rocket Stove – This small stove is extremely small, and very heavy. It is most decidedly not a backpacking stove! If you remove it from the case it ships in, you may be able to store it in an even smaller space.

Small Drawer Safe – This model is designed for hand guns but can, of course, be used for any valuables. Because of its small size and weight, it’s easy to bolt into a piece of furniture, such as a dresser drawer, or even into a closet shelf or other part of your home.

Collapsible Solar Oven – The solar oven I have is great, but it definitely takes a lot of space to store. This version is completely collapsible and can store easily behind a piece of furniture.

Sweeper – Instead of a large vacuum cleaner, many small spaces (especially those without plush carpet) can get by with a small sweeper similar to the ones used in restaurants.

Thumb Drive – Everyone should have a reliable thumb drive with copies of their important documents. This particular model includes security, password protection, and a back-up to the Cloud.

Vertical Wall Garden – It is really just like it sounds. This is a way to plant a garden so it will grow along a wall (vertically) instead of on the ground, making it much easier to grow some of your own food even in a small space, like a balcony.

Clothes Washer – This reminds me a lot of a toilet plunger, but it is specifically designed for washing clothing. This is far smaller than most other off-grid options and has great reviews

Sawyer Mini Personal Water Filter – If you only need a water filter for one person, this is a solid choice and takes very little space. (The LifeStraw is another great choice.)

LifeStraw Mission Water Purifier – This is a great choice for small spaces because most of it is flexible. There is a section about the size of a foot long hot dog made of hard plastic, tubing, and a bag to hold the water being purified. All of this fits inside a storage bag and takes about the space of Sunday paper. While this is much larger than some other purifiers, it can provide an average family of five with clean water for up to three years of daily use!

Small Space prepper

Disaster Declared: How Authorities Respond

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disaster declaredWe’re all familiar with how Police and Fire Departments respond to a car accident here, or a house fire there. Police Officers and Firefighters go through months of training as emergency responders, and they do it day in and day out. Cops are good at cop stuff, Firefighters are good at what they do.

But what about those who respond to disasters of all types? How do they determine what their priorities are in the midst of a major catastrophe? Governments, from federal to state to local all have limited budgets and do provide a level of emergency services  but it’s almost never enough to respond to a disaster.

The Next Level

The larger full-government response to a disaster is much more complicated. Even the relationships between cops and firefighters are not always positive: In 2014 in the San Diego area, a California Highway Patrol Officer arrested a firefighter because he would not move his fire engine from a freeway lane while responding to a traffic accident. So imagine during a disaster, adding together a bunch of others that normally don’t work together, like Public Works, the Red Cross, Animal Control, tow services, etc. Personalities, egos, and previous relationships can affect how well these people work together. It can go really well, most of the time it goes OK, but it can go very badly. Like cops arresting firefighters.

In the chaotic first hours of a disaster, the staff on shift are overwhelmed; 911 centers try to keep up with the volume of calls, supervisors try to call in as much off-duty personnel as possible, but in most disasters there is a period of hours-to-days that victims need to do the best they can to take care of themselves. As time goes by, staffing improves and outside resources arrive to assist victims, and local authorities are able to get a handle on things.

Of course, the disaster victim doesn’t care how “hard” it is for the responders. They are hurting or have suffered material losses, and they just want help, the sooner the better. Time slows to a crawl…the normal events of the day like work and school shift to the back burner. Attention to things like salvaging family pictures and putting tarps on the roof tend to isolate the victim from what is going on in the big picture. It’s easy to become so focused on survival that recovery seems a distant fantasy.

Never assume someone else will pay

In general, Disaster Relief is provided to keep you alive, not to completely make you and your property whole. It is only in the most severe disasters that financial grants are provided to victims; in the great majority of small and medium-sized disasters, only loans are available for residents and businesses. The surest financial resource in the short term is good homeowners insurance.

Who is on your side when a disaster is declared?

The last thing you want to be in a disaster is anonymous. You must make your needs known quickly ad with multiple organizations and individuals. Local governments conduct “Initial Damage Estimates” within their jurisdictions. If you are in need, and are not confined to a hospital bed, you need to get the word out to as many people as possible. Use this checklist:

• Your elected reps: City council/Mayor, County Supervisor or Judge, State/Federal reps
• Local American Red Cross
• Your nearest VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters)
• Local Emergency Management/Emergency Services Office
• Your insurance agent
• 2-1-1 is a national number and web site to help find community resources
• Local news shows often have consumer assistance phone numbers that may lead to help.

These folks are often in close contact with each other after a disaster, and if you are known to be in need (mud in your house, debris in your yard, you’re disabled living in your damaged house) often volunteers are available to help out. For example, volunteer groups like Team Rubicon and Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief  travel to disaster areas at the invitation of locals to help victims clear their property and mitigate flood damage, free of charge. But they have to know you need help so make sure you make your needs known.

Who is ready to take advantage of you?

In disaster after disaster, predators delight in taking advantage of the chaos to separate you from your money. Building repair scams are epidemic…here are things to avoid:

• Never pay cash, always have a paper trail (check, money order)
• Always document the work to be done in writing (a simple contract is better than none).
• If someone solicits you door-to-door, be very suspicious.
• Check with neighbors, friends and relatives for recommendations.
• Never pay 100% up front, split up the payments based on work completed
• Take photos of damage before work begins in case insurance or disaster relief will pay for repairs

TIP: Right now, make a list of various tradesmen and companies you are familiar with or have been recommended to you and their phone numbers/websites. Include: electricians, roof repair, storage unit company (in case your home is uninhabitable and you must store your belongings somewhere), tree service, plumber, etc. Keep this information in your Grab-n-Go Binder and on a thumb drive or stored in the Cloud via Dropbox or another online service.

The Bottom Line

In most cases, you are very much in control of your destiny in disasters. You can research risks in your area, build your home preparedness supplies, and get a good set of insurance coverage. Keep aware of the weather, sign up for emergency alerts in your community and monitor the Twitter and Facebook posts of your local police and fire departments. And don’t be anonymous!

disaster declared

8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

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survival food
I’ll never forget my first, official order for survival food. My friend,  Chrystalyn, was a pro at this, and she guided me through a bewildering order form with products and container sizes I didn’t recognize.
A #10 can? What was that?
A #2.5 can? Is that what I need or is the #10 size better?
What is wheat germade and will my kids eat what I’m buying since it’s not in name-brand cans?

Survival Food Ordering Made Easy

If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have ordered wheat germade at all and would have ordered far more #2.5 cans of cocoa! Yes, we prefer brownies to hot cereal!

From years of experience, I pass on to you a few simple ways to determine what to order from survival food companies, such as Augason Farms, Thrive Life, and Emergency Essentials.

My 8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

1. What produce do you use most often in the kitchen? Jot down the fruits and vegetables that you typically buy at the grocery store. Those will be the best choices for your early purchases, since you know they won’t go to waste, and you use recipes that incorporate them.
2. What are a few of your favorite recipes? It’s a good idea to stock up on those ingredients. Example: a hearty pasta and sausage dinner recipe. You could buy sausage crumbles, Italian herbs, dehydrated onions, freeze dried mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and macaroni. Of course you can use some of those same ingredients in other recipes, and that versatility is great.
3. Consider the staples you use most often: sugar, baking powder, herbs, etc. and then compare the food company’s prices to what you typically pay at a grocery store. Keep in mind that these products will be packaged for long term storage unlike those purchased at grocery stores. That is a big bonus. When we moved to a humid environment, several of my cardboard containers of salt were ruined.
TIP: Which size should you choose when shopping for these foods? Here is a link to my complete answer to that question.
4. Keep in mind the importance of snacks. My kids love the yogurt bites in all the various flavors. Perhaps order a few snack items in either the pouch or #2.5 can sizes to try these out. The smaller containers are also good for emergency kits.
5. Do you have some just-add-water meals for emergencies or power outages? Each company has their own varieties to try out. Make sure you give them a taste test, though, before buying in large containers or quantities. They’re lightweight, nutritious, and if you can manage to boil 3 or 4 cups of water, you have a meal in about 15 minutes.
6. When it comes to the various types of meat and poultry, which do you use most often? Prioritize those and then buy smaller containers of the ones you tend to buy and use most frequently. Give them a try in some of your recipes. If you really like the flavor, texture, and convenience, then you’ll know what to stock up on. As always, customize this to your preferences and the recipes you make most often.
7. You’ll need some meal-stretchers, such as rice, small pasta, certain grains, and beans. I like this category because these foods are versatile on their own, but then, when added to a casserole or soup, they help provide many more servings, as well as more nutrition and fiber.
8. Stock up on ingredients for soup. You may not make soup very often, but it’s an ideal recipe for survival scenarios. The concept is simple (start with a broth of some kind) and then add whatever is handy. Have a balance of veggies, proteins, and grains, and you’re good to go.

How to Turn Any Handbag Into an Emergency Kit

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How to Turn Any Handbag Into an Emergency Kit via The Survival Mom
Believe it or not, friends, getting prepared for everyday disasters doesn’t require a bunker, expensive equipment, or tons of space…in fact, all you really need to get started with emergency readiness is a purse (handbag, man-purse, whatever).

My name is Liv, and I am the Survival Mom’s daughter. I’ve written for my mom before (check out my review of Red Cross’s babysitting course here), and now I have the privilege of writing my own post on how to turn any handbag into an emergency kit.

Down to business

How to Turn Any Handbag Into an Emergency Kit via The Survival Mom

Getting caught off-guard is not fun.

If you’re anything like me (and my mom) you like to have a few emergency back-up items on you, just in case you need them. Now, call it what you will, prepping, planning ahead, or common sense, it’s not that hard to be ready when any type of emergency strikes, and creating an emergency kit is as easy as one, two, three, and you don’t need any special equipment at all.

What is an emergency kit?

An emergency kit is a small bag/purse/backpack that you keep handy in the event of an emergency (duh), and it can contain food, water, clothes, fire-starting kits, important documents, or whatever you may need if you have to get out quick and don’t have time to pack.

Now, I have a big emergency kit in my closet, put together by yours truly, and it’s all ready for when I have to run. It has all sorts of little prepper goodies inside, and I’m quite proud of it. You can check it out at this link.

However, it’s quite heavy, I don’t have a car to store this in if I’m out-and-about when disaster strikes, and it would be no fun to lug that thing into the library or grocery store. My solution? The mini-kit.

How to Turn Any Handbag Into an Emergency Kit via The Survival Mom


Let me make this clear: There is no definite outline of what goes into a mini-kit.

It just holds whatever you might need for a small emergency, or a short-notice one, and it keeps you going until you can get to your other supplies. There’s no specific size or packing list, because it differs from person to person. I’m just going to give a quick description of mine, and then you can go and put one together of your own.

I keep my mini-kit in my Baggallini Cinch Backpack, which has several nice, deep pockets inside which are good for holding my emergency supplies. My mom and I favor Baggallini bags because they are made of nylon, are durable, and machine washable. She owns three of them in different styles and colors. Once, when she was between purses, she carried her bright orange Baggallini backpack everywhere. It got to be embarrassing after a while. (This, but in shocking orange. She even carried it to church every Sunday.)

Now, since I stay at home most days and don’t do much dangerous stuff, my kit is pretty simple:

  • ID card
  • Swiss Fire Knife
  • Several Band-Aids
  • About 10 matchsticks
  • Small flashlight
  • Smith’s Pocket Pal – a small, handy knife sharpener
  • Extra set of batteries
  • Small plastic bags in case I need to waterproof something
  • Pocket Bible (Reading material, in the event I have to wait in one place for a while and get bored. Also a good stress-reliever.)

How to Turn Any Handbag Into an Emergency Kit via The Survival Mom

I managed to squeeze these things into an inside pocket of my backpack.

The knife clips nicely to the side of my bag. See? Easy-peasy. So, you just have to think, what emergency is most likely to happen, and how can I do some small-scale prepping for it?

For me, thunderstorms are frequent where I live, therefore a lot of power outages, which is why most of my mini-kit contains light sources. Also, sometimes I run to the grocery store or library by myself (I’m so grown-up), which is why I have the knife–something to defend myself if I feel threatened. Someone who lives in a drier climate might want to carry a pouch or bottle of water, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Someone else who lives where it’s cold might want to add a pair of gloves, wool socks, or hand warmers.

Depending on the design of your handbag, designate specific pockets for specific items, and make sure those items are returned to their assigned space each and every time. In an emergency, when your nerves are frayed already, that’s no time to be digging through one pocked or another trying to find the one item you’re in desperate need of.

How to Turn any Handbag Into an Emergency Kit via The Survival Mom

You can turn any bag into an emergency kit.

Feel free to make it as heavy-duty and long-term as you please. The point is that you don’t need one of those army-grade rucksacks with a zillion little compartments in order to prepare yourself for a disaster. Use a designer purse. Louis Vuitton, even. Any handbag can be transformed into your very own emergency kit!


How to Turn Any Handbag into an Emergency Kit via The Survival Mom