From Beginning Prepper, to Fully-Stocked Retreat: What to Buy, and When, by Scott in Wisconsin

Monday, Nov 8, 2010

It's easy to see that the world may be heading for more trouble, and we need to prepare for hard times ahead.  But it can be daunting to decide what to do, what to stock, and when to get it.
I've been working at this a while, and I've figured out a simple balance in what to buy, and when to buy it, that I think will help other Preppers move ahead with confidence.
You could call it my 100/1,000/10,000 system, and I hope it helps you get going, and get to a place where you feel more prepared for the tough times ahead.

Step One
Step one is to become a "100 level" Prepper.  If you're not there, you're helpless in the event of even a minor disruption.  Luckily, you can get to the 100 level fast, and inexpensively.
At the 100 level,  you're prepared for a brief disaster.  You have some food and water, you can keep warm, travel, and protect yourself in the very short term.  It's a start.  The bare minimum.
Here's what you need:  100 cans of food, 100 bottles of water, 100 lbs of fuel, 100 rounds of ammunition, 100 silver dimes, 100 dollar bills.

Food:  Buy 100 cans of foods that are easy to eat, even right out of the can.  Baked beans, Dinty Moore Stew, Corned Beef Hash, Spaghetti-os.  Canned Spam will do the job, and lasts for 3-5 years.  (Generic brands can cost half the price, so shop around.)
Throw in some cans of veggies that you like too. In a crunch, this 100 cans should feed you for over a month.  Don't forget a can opener!
Water:  Store 100 of those little pint (.5 liter) bottles of water.  That gets you about 12-13 gallons, instantly available.  If things fall apart, you'll want instant availability.  This should get you almost a month in a pinch, when added to other liquids you have in the fridge and on the shelf.
Fuel:  Liquid fuels weigh about 6.5 lbs per gallon, so we're talking about 15 gallons here.  I recommend 5 gallons of gasoline, and 10 gallons of Kerosene (in 2 of those blue 5-gallon containers).
Get Sta-bil for the gas, and once a year dump that 5 gallons in your car gas tank, and refill the container with new gas.  The kerosene will store for a decade or more, especially if you add PRI-D.  Buy a little 10,000 BTU kerosene heater on Amazon, Craig's List, or eBay, and you'll stay “warm enough” if the power is out for a few nights in the winter.
Ammo:  Buy a pistol, and practice with it regularly.  Be sure to use a common caliber.  I don't recommend 9mm, for lack of stopping power.
I bought a Hi-Point S&W40 semi-automatic pistol for $175, and with 100 rounds of Ammo you have the beginnings of home protection.   It's the cheapest gun on the market, but it puts big holes in things I  point at.  Remember to replace your ammo when you practice!  Wal-Mart has cheap ammo.
Silver:  Depending on your finances, either think 100 Junk Silver dimes, or 100 Oz. of silver coins.  At today's market price of $24 per oz for silver, you're either looking at $180, or $2500.  Your goal should be to move as much of your liquid assets as you can into silver.
I like junk silver dimes because they are instantly seen as genuine.  No one is counterfeiting old Roosevelt or Mercury silver dimes.  Plus, they are small, light, and even if silver explodes in value, they are very spendable for small items.  (You won't want to buy a loaf of bread with a 1 oz gold coin, that may well be worth as much as a car.)  And the premium on junk silver is small, compared to the true silver value in the coins.
Silver 1 oz coins are also great, and the ones from the U.S. Mint are very popular and available.  There shouldn't be any question about their genuine value either.  They do sell at a hefty premium at times, though.  (Avoid silver bars, as people will assume they are fake, and they are too cumbersome.)
Cash:  If the ATM is down, and your credit cards don't work because the power or the internet is out, you'll want $100 cash on hand to get over a brief crisis.  Small denominations allow for all kinds of transactions, with little need for change back.

Okay, the first important step is behind you.  You are set for a weekend power outage.  A winter ice storm.  A weekend of civil unrest.  Congratulations.  It's an important start.

Step Two
Now, it's time to strive for the 1,000 level Preparation.  This is the point where you and a couple loved-ones can handle a significant breakdown of civil society.  9-12 months without our accustomed infrastructure will be survivable at the 1,000 level Preparation.

Here's what you need:  1,000 pounds of food, 1,000 gallons of filtered water, 1,000 lbs of fuel, 1,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,000 silver dimes, 1,000 dollar bills.

Food:  Now you need to get serious about food storage.  Balancing your diet, and expense, really come into play here.  And remember, you need to stock up on things you will eat, and that you can prepare easily.
Double your 100 cans of food, and continue rotating your stock.  Eat your oldest can of baked beans, and replace it.  Canned foods are actually fine for several years after their Best By dates, and bad smell will usually warn you something has gone bad, but rotation just makes sense.  Add more canned veggies, as nutrition is now more important if this disaster lasts longer than just a few weeks.
Now add bulk rice.  You can buy white rice in 50 lb bags at Sam's Club for $14 today.  Rice is the right choice at this level, because it's so quick and easy to prepare.  White rice stores better.
Buy 400 lbs of rice, and store it in 6-gallon food-grade buckets.  Figure about 40 lbs of rice per bucket.  People often sell the food-grade buckets on Craig's list used, for $1-$2.  Stock some spices and plenty of soy sauce to make eating all that rice more pleasant.
Bags of Pasta are great, and easy to prepare and eat.  Think about boxes of oatmeal, and bags of mashed potatoes.   You can also store flour, if you use it regularly, and can rotate it.  Flour only stores for a few years, because the wheat “berries” have been broken open and exposed by the milling.
Powdered milk, baking powder and baking soda are important for food preparation, as are oils, salt and sugar.  Oil has a 1-2 year shelf life, but Crisco lasts a long time, and salt and sugar are forever.  Throw in 20-30 pounds of honey as well.  Honey adds nice variety, and never spoils.  It's very quick calories with no preparation, in an emergency.  ( And you can slather it on cuts and other wounds as a disinfectant, in a pinch.)  I also have lots of brown sugar, to go with all the oatmeal I've stored.

Water:
 Add to your 100 bottles of water.  It's not that expensive, and if things are suddenly falling apart, you want the ease of grabbing a quick bottle of water.  (My rule of thumb is, never pay more than $1 per gallon of bottled water – roughly 13 cents each for the little .5 liter bottles.)  When you get to at least 50 gallons, or around 400 pint size bottles, you can relax.  There is also water in your water heater, and if you see trouble coming, you can fill up the bath tubs in the house.
But for longer term quantity, you need a good water filter.  One to consider is the Lifesaver Bottle 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle.  Priced at $149 at Amazon, it will filter over 1,000 gallons of water.  If you figure a gallon per day for three people, that gets you a year of safe drinking water. [JWR Adds: Lifesaver bottles are also available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers. Please check their prices, and when you do order, please mention where you saw their ad.]
With fancy water filters, the cleaner the water you put in them, the less the filter has to do, and the longer it will last.  So I have stored 1,000 coffee filters as well.  Pass any water thru several of those first, to extend the life of your filter.  They do sell replacement/spare inserts for the bottles as well.

Fuel:
  Now get serious about fuel.  1000 pounds of fuel means roughly 170 gallons, and I suggest you break it down as follows:  110 gallons Kerosene, 60 gallons of Gasoline.
For the Kerosene, I bought 2 of the 55-gallon plastic barrels, for $10 each.  For fuel storage, get the kind of blue barrel with 2 small bung holes on top, and get a Buddy Bung Wrench at Amazon to open and close the openings securely.  $10.
I buried the barrels 2 ft deep under my deck, so just 1 foot is sticking up above the ground.  They are out of the sun, and the ground will keep the temperature of the Kerosene relatively cool and constant, which fuel prefers.  I added PRI-D so it will last 10+ years, and filled them up 10 gallons at a time, using my 5 gallon blue cans for transport.  Find PRI-D on line at Wisementrading.com, among other sites.  (The D is for Diesel, but it preserves Kerosene just as well.)
Don't forget to buy a hand-crank pump to get the Kerosene out of the barrels, when you need it.  You can't siphon up hill, remember!  I bought a nice rotary hand crank barrel pump on Amazon, with an attachment to fit the bung hole of the drums, for about $40.
You still have your 2 original small containers full of Kerosene as well, so that actually gives you 120 gallons.  That's just enough to keep you cold but alive from a few winter months in Wisconsin.  Your pipes won't freeze.  Even with no power, you won't have to abandon your home.
For the gasoline, I purchased 12 of the 5 gallon plastic gas cans.  I filled one each month for a year, adding Sta-bil, and labeling the can with the month it was filled.  After 12 months, I began to rotate, by dumping the oldest 5 gallons in my car, and filling the can back up with fresh gas.  So I always have 60 gallons of stabilized gas on hand.  In a real crunch that would get me close to 1500 miles.  And I have plenty of gas for my chain saw – don't go into the Apocalypse without a chain saw!  (In place of Sta-bil, you can also use PRI-G, and the gas will last almost forever.)
Ammo:  Now you need a long rifle, and a lot more bullets.  I bought an AR-15, for $700.  It's a semi-automatic, holds 30 rounds in the magazine, and I bought 10 extra magazines.  (If things get crazy, you don't want to be reloading magazines in a fire-fight.)  Buy another 100 rounds for your pistol, and 800 rounds for your rifle.  And keep practicing regularly, and replace the ammo you use for practice. 
You can get good police surplus body armor for around $250, if you are so inclined.  I used BulletProofMe.com.  Remember, it can stop a pistol round, but rifle rounds are tougher to stop.  FYI.
Silver:  Now get serious about turning more of your assets into real money.  It's something the government can't print more of.  So now reach 1000 silver dimes ($1800), or 1,000 oz of silver coins ($25,000).  If we have a hyper-inflationary depression, none of your cash will be worth the paper it's printed on.  Put whatever you can spare into precious metals, and sleep better at night.
Regarding Platinum and Palladium, I just don't recommend them.  They are too industrial, so if the economy crashes, so will their demand.  Most people don't know about them, or understand their value.  Finally, when it comes time to convince someone that your Platinum 1 oz coin, which they've never seen before, is really worth 10 head of cattle –  well, good luck with that.
Cash:  Now move towards having $1,000 cash in hand.  It's always spendable, and if the banks are closed for a week, or a month, you'll be glad you have something people recognize.  It may be worthless eventually, but it may not, so have some on hand.  If not all $1s, have some $5 bills too.

Congratulations, you have reached a big milestone.  The 1,000 level of Preparation is quite an accomplishment, and you are certainly in the upper few percent of  Preppers.  You and a spouse and child could hunker down for a year, and survive without begging others for help.

Now, are you ready to prepare for the complete breakdown of civil society, and the End Of The World As We Know It?  Good.  Me too.

Step Three
This is the 10,000 level preparation, and it will enable you to keep a dozen adults safe and healthy for 2+ years.  How cool is that?
Why a dozen adults?  If things really fall apart, you'll find friends and family at your door, asking to be taken in.  You can either plan on sending them away, or you can plan on taking care of them.  I suggest you plan on taking care of them.
Besides, you'll need a dozen adults to protect your retreat/home.  You can't stay awake 24 hours a day guarding your stash.  You can't be watching in all directions.  There will be troublemakers to deal with.  You need time to sleep, regroup, cook, wash, garden, play.  That means you'll need help.  Stock enough food for them, and they will come.
Why 2 years?  Because it may take that long for things to settle out.  It may take that much time for you and your friends and family to learn to grow food, and hunt and trap successfully.  There's a lot to learn, and you don't want your first crop to be a matter of life & death.

Here's what you'll need:  10,000 pounds of food, 10,000 gallons of drinkable water, 10,000 pounds of fuel, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, 10,000 silver dimes, 10,000 dollar bills.

Don't panic!  It's not as difficult or expensive as you might think.

Food:  When you begin to really stock up on food, in this kind of quantity, the game changes.  What you buy, how you buy it, and how you store it, are the keys to your success.
In addition to the 1,000 pounds of food you already have, now you need to seriously stock up with food that will last, and not leave you broke.  We need 55 gallon plastic barrels, and 20+ of them.  Happily, they don't take up all that much room, with just a 2ft diameter footprint.  35” tall.
Buy the blue plastic barrels with the full open top, and big steel bands that seal the tops air tight.  Used, I can find them on Craig's List for $15 each.  Get food-grade, but to be safe, splurge on 55 gallon food-grade drum liners.  This food will be good for 30 years if you store it right, so don't skimp here.  I bought 25 of the 55 gallon LDPE Drum Liners from U.S. Plastics, for less than $3 each.
Start with more rice.  Buy 800 pounds more white rice, and fill 2 of your 55 gallon barrels.  The best price I found was Sam's Club, in 50 pound bags, at around $14 each.  But if you have a Restaurant Depot near you, find a way to join and check there too.  Figure $350 total for all your rice.
Now buy Hard Red Wheat.  Purchase it by the 60 lb. bushel, in SEED grade, from a farmer's co-op or seed distributor.  That's the key to Bulk Wheat.  (If they ask, you intend to plant it!)
First, seed grade wheat is EXTRA clean.  It's not treated with chemicals.  Just wheat berries, no field crap or bugs.  So you get just Wheat Berries, ready to grind up into flour.
But it's also perfect for planting, having been guaranteed for 90% germination.  It's alive.  Someday, you may want to plant some of your wheat yourself, to restock your supplies.  Or you might trade a bushel of seed to a farmer, in return for 5-10 bushels of grain come harvest time.  So buy Hard Red Wheat Seed – it's just really clean wheat.  (Winter & Spring refer to when it can be planted.)
I paid $13 per 60lb bushel for seed, when I might have found regular wheat for $8.  But Seed wheat is actually easier for the public to locate, and that $13 per bushel is much cheaper than the price “by the bucket” folks charge on line for plain wheat.  Less than 25% of the price.
I bought 4,000 pounds of Hard Red Wheat, or 67 bushels.  That filled 10 more of my barrels.  Another $850.  (Half Winter, half Spring wheat.) But I wasn't done with the grains just yet.
I also bought 1,200 pounds of Rye (21 bushels weighing 56 pounds each), and 800 pounds of Triticale (16 bushels weighing 50 pounds each).  $12 per bushel for rye, $15 for Trit.
 Rye is a great compliment to your wheat.  You can add 25% rye to your wheat when milling it with your hand grinder, and get a more balanced set of nutrients in your bread.  Or you can grind and bake with the rye alone.  The rye filled 3 more barrels and cost me $250.
Triticale is a hybrid of Wheat and Rye, and a hardy plant for growing.  It has a nutrient balance   similar to Wheat and Rye, and looks like both of them.  The “Trit” filled 2 more barrels, for $250.
The Rye cost a little less than the wheat, per bushel, and the Triticale cost a little more.  Is it necessary to have these other grains?  No.  Could you store just Hard Red Wheat?  Sure.  But variety is good for flavor, nutrition, baking choices and growing options, so I splurged a little on the Trit.
The grains have an incomplete set of proteins for people to digest, and if you only eat wheat, you'll eventually starve to death.  Your body would stop digesting and metabolizing it.  What you need to round it out is beans!  If you mix 1 part beans with 4 parts wheat, you have a good balance of proteins in your diet, and your body will be happy.
So now add 1600 pounds of Beans.  I went with mostly Pinto beans.  They are common, tasty, and simple to work with.  Most Mexican dishes sold in America use Pinto beans.  But you can also  store Navy beans, and Kidney beans, as well as others.  (Avoid soybeans, as they aren't right for your home survival meal preparation.)
The best source I found for beans was Restaurant Depot, paying about $31 for 100 pound sacks of pinto beans.  So I spent about $500 more on beans.  (I also have plenty of canned baked beans.)
Fill up 4 more drums with the beans, and you have roughly your 10,000 pounds of food, most of it ready to store for 20-30 years.  (Put extras that don't fill a complete barrel, in 6 gallon pails)
Storage:  Now, it's time to finish putting all this great food away for a rainy day.  You've got your barrels, and your food-grade liners.  Now you dump in the grains and beans, shaking the barrels to help the food settle.  Don't mix foods.  Fill each barrel with one specific item.  And label the barrels!  (Wear a mask when dumping the bushel bags, or you'll cough for days from the fine dust.)
These barrels will weigh 400 pounds when full, so they need to be in the right place when you fill them.  Moving them after that will be difficult.  Put a piece of cardboard or wood under each barrel, if you put them on a concrete floor.  Plastic likes to draw in chemicals from concrete, and you don't need that, even with your drum liners.  Do the same under your 6 gallon pails.
 Try to store them in a cool dark place.  Basements are great.  A garage, where the temperature gets up to 110 degrees every summer, is bad.  Stable, cool temperature extends shelf life.
Fill the barrels almost to the top, and then hollow out a little dip in the middle of the grain.  This is where you will put your one pound chunk of Dry Ice.  Put down a paper plate, some paper towels on top of that, then your dry ice on top.  Put the lid on the barrel, loosely fitting – as there must be room for the air to escape, for safety!  Never let the dry ice touch your skin – you'll have instant burn-like injuries.
As the dry ice “sublimates”  the gas will settle to the bottom of the barrel, because CO2 is heavier than the oxygen in the drum.  Over the next few hours, the dry ice will “melt” and drive out the oxygen.  A low oxygen level stops any critters from living in the barrels.
Immediately after the dry ice is gone, remove the paper, with the moisture and ice crystals drawn out of the air.  Put in 10+ of those little desiccant packs, to reduce moisture still more.  I bought hundreds on e-Bay, but you can get them at hobby shops, for drying flowers, very inexpensively.  It's silica gel.
Now snug down the lid, and tighten the metal band that seals it closed, and you're set for 30 years.  If you seal several barrels at a time, you won't have to make as many runs for dry ice.  I got my dry ice from a dairy company, for $1.25 per pound.  Check the phone book under Dry Ice.

Preparation tools:
  Don't forget to have the proper tools to process all this grain.  Have a good hand crank mill, so you can mill wheat into flour with the power out.  Having two mills may be smart, so you have a spare – you have a lot of grain.  Amazon sells some simple ones for around $75.  (Rice won't need grinding, which is a plus.)  Buy the book “How to Live on Wheat ” for your library.
Beans should be soaked in water for hours, then cooked well to destroy the natural toxins in them.  (Refried beans actually means "Well-fried" beans.)  But after years of storage, if they just get too dry, they can still be milled into a powder, and mixed in with wheat in small quantities, for baking
Many other items you purchase also store well in barrels.  It protects them from light, moisture and critters.  I have all my oatmeal, still in the boxes, in barrels, along with pasta noodles, sugars, mashed potatoes, powdered milk, etc.  Barrels are just handy for all my non-canned foods.  I stack these barrels on top of the Wheat and Rice barrels, and then slowly fill them up with perishables.

So, what did I spend on my bulk food?  $350 for the rice.  $850 for the Hard Red Wheat.  $250 for the rye and $250 for the Trit.  Another $500 for beans.  That's a total of $,2200 for the bulk food.  Figure in the cost of drums and liners, dry ice and desiccants, and call it an even $2,500.
To feed 12 people for 2+ years.  (Eating almost 2,000 calories per day)  That's $100 per person per year.  When they show up at your door, ask them each for a couple oz of silver, and call it even.

Water:  Now, you're wondering how we're going to have 10,000 gallons of safe, drinkable water, aren't you?  Actually, it's cheap and easy.  We don't try to store it, we make it.
First, you buy a 16 oz bag of Pool Shock at Inyopools.com.  It is 100% Calcium Hypochlorite with 65% available chlorine.  Cost, about $4.  You can find this same formula elsewhere as well. 
With this pound of Pool Shock, you can now make 1,000 bottles of chlorine bleach.  Each time you drink one of your pint bottles of water from the 100 level preparation, save it.  When you refill that little bottle with filtered water, and add pool shock, you have a bottle of great disinfecting bleach.
Each one of those 1,000 pint bottles of chlorine bleach can be added to 12 gallons of filtered water.  Let it sit 30 minutes, and you have 12 gallons of safe drinkable water.
So your one pound of Pool Shock will disinfect 12,000 gallons of water.
I actually have 7 pounds of Pool Shock set aside.  If things really fall apart, I plan to sell/barter pint bottles of bleach to others who are less prepared for long-term troubles.  Since I have enough Shock set aside for 7,000 bottles of bleach, I should have a nice little business, and I'll save lives at the same time.  (I'll never run out of bottles to put the bleach in, because the “price” of a new bottle of bleach will include the customer trading in an old empty bottle.)

Fuel:  Now we're talking about 10,000 pounds of fuel for your retreat.  No problem.  You have enough gasoline – you're not bugging out, you're bugging in.  That just leaves more Kerosene.
Another 9,000 pounds of Kerosene means almost 1,400 gallons.  How did I manage that?
First, I went on Craig's List, and found a guy selling 330 gallon used pallet box totes.  These are big, square plastic barrels, inside steel cages.  They are super tough and stack-able.  Their footprint is the size of a pallet – 47 inches by 39 inches, and they are 54 inches tall.  I bought four for just $75 each, delivered.
Then along my back lot line, along a woods, I built a big stack of fire wood.  5 ft high and 20 ft long.  Behind it, I dug a trench long enough and wide enough for the 4 totes, 2.5 feet deep.
I dropped in the totes, leaving 2 ft above ground.  I ordered bulk Kerosene from a fuel oil dealer, after shopping for price.  I paid $3 per gallon, for the 1,325 gallons the totes hold.  $4,000.
I covered them with a camo tarp, down below the ground level, and covered the edges with 2 feet of dirt.  Just in case, I bought a second hand crank pump, to get the Kerosene back out.  $40.
I also bought another 10,000 BTU Kerosene heater on eBay, and a 22,000 BTU heater off Craig's List for $50.  Small one for the basement, big one for the ground floor, small one for upstairs.
These modern Kerosene heaters burn very clean, but you still need some ventilation when they are used indoors, so don't seal the place up tight.  And get several battery powered Carbon Monoxide detectors, to be sure.  Be safe, people!
I can either keep the retreat nice and warm for 2 Winters with the 1450 gallons of Kerosene I've stored, or I can stretch it out for 3-4 years, and shiver thru winters here in Wisconsin.   (I may also want to trade some Kerosene, if the price is right.)  12 adults will give off plenty of body heat, so that will help stretch the Kerosene.  Also note, Kerosene, plus 2 cycle oil at a 100/1 ratio, will run a diesel engine or generator.  That may come in very handy.  Put some 2 cycle oil aside as well.
Ammo:  Okay, now get serious about protecting the retreat from bad guys.  10,000 rounds of ammunition should be your goal.  If you know who you expect to join you, be sure to suggest what caliber weapons they should buy now, and urge them to stock up on the same type ammo as well.
I suggest at least 1,000 rounds for your pistols.  That's right, pistols.  Buy at least one more pistol, which fires the same ammunition.  I added a Taurus 24/7 for about $375.  15 rounds in the magazine, it's a nice little gun.  Any “guests” who arrive unarmed can use the 10 round Hi-Point pistol.
Now work toward at least 4,000 rounds of ammo for your rifle.  For me that was 4,000 rounds of .223 ammo.  My AR-15 from Olympic Arms also fires the popular police and military 5.56 NATO rounds, so it's more versatile when it comes time to scavenge for extra ammo.  I can use either one.
I also added an M1 rifle that I inherited, which fires large .30-06 rounds.  It's my backup rifle, for “guests” who show up unarmed.  1,000 rounds will have to do.  $300.
And it's time to get a .22 rimfire rifle, for small game hunting.  I bought one with a scope at Dunham's for $125.  Then I added 4,400 rounds of ammo at Wal-Mart, for around $160.
I don't have a shotgun.  Too few rounds on board, too bulky for close combat, too short a range. Too much time between shots.  But if you do, be sure to have plenty of ammo for it as well.
Silver:  Now you have to get serious about TEOTWAWKI.  Converting $18,000 into 10,000 silver dimes is a great stash if you can afford it.  Start to work your way there.  I like Gainsville Coins for my metal purchases.  Very safe and reliable.  Best prices I've found.  It comes in the mail.
If you're in even better financial shape, and want to protect serious wealth, then it's time to have $250,000 in the form of 10,000 silver 1 oz coins.  Even if things really fall apart for a while, you should survive the collapse with real money to invest in seriously depressed assets.
Cash:  The final step is $10,000 in $1, $5, and $10 bills.  You're not giving up any real interest income by holding cash these day, and if your bank doesn't open one day, you'll be glad you hold some currency.  Be sure it is well hidden, and a fire-proof box or safe is a good idea.  And tell no one outside your immediate family! 

All the stages in between
Now you've seen the path from bare minimum survival, the 100 level, to a fully-stocked retreat.  The key is to keep these six ingredients roughly in their proper proportion.  Keep things balanced.
The guy with all food and no bullets is waiting to be robbed.  The guy with all silver and no food will not like the price a starving man has to pay for a loaf of bread.  The guy with all wheat and no beans will struggle with malnutrition.
I hope it's clear that there are many small steps between each of these three main levels.  You can be a 300 level Prepper, or a 2,000 level Prepper.  Each step is an important achievement, and gets you closer to true security.  You don't have to reach the 10,000 level of Preparation to sleep better.
In addition, there are lots of other smaller things you'll certainly want to buy along the way.  I have 200+ Votive candles, each good for 15 hours of light. (Ebay)  Boxes of rechargeable batteries and a solar charger, and LED lamps.  4,000 strike anywhere matches. Crank-able portable radios.  Lots of toilet paper.  Boxes of vitamins C, D and Multiple.  A big stash of fish antibiotics.  Walkie Talkies. Paracord.  Nails, thread and needle.  Seeds for a garden.  Rolls of razor wire. 200 bottles of bug spray.  Fish hooks.  Night vision goggles.  Lots of books on survival skills.  And chocolate syrup!

So don't ignore those details that all the Survival books and web sites cover so well.  Start your own list, and when you think of something you don't want to live without, add it to your list.  Then buy it, and put it away.  Someday soon you'll be glad you did.

Your life, and the lives of your family and friends, may well depend on your level of Preparation.  It's quick and easy to get started, and there's no reason to not be at the 100 level of Preparation.  But once you start, tell only your most trusted future allies.  Tell no one else, ever.
From the 100 level, keep adding to your stores in the proper proportion, level by level, as you can afford it.  But tough times are coming, so skip that vacation, or nice dinner out, and put that money into reaching your next level of Preparation.  You'll sleep better.  Good luck.


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