How To Start Prepping – Beginner’s Guide to Preparedness – Prepping 101

how to start prepping

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve either started thinking about preparedness or maybe some kind soul has decided to share this prepping guide with you in the hopes that you might consider getting prepared.

Either way:

Welcome to your preparedness journey!

Let’s dive right into it!

rogue preparedness

Step 1: Who are you prepping for?

Are you prepping for yourself? Your family? Your neighbors? Extended family? Friends? You can prep just for yourself and your family or you can decide to prep for others as well, it’s completely up to you. This distinction needs to be made, though. This will help determine your emergency disaster plan (we’ll get into that later), as well as your overall stockpiles.

For now, don’t be concerned if your family or friends aren’t on board with prepping. You understand the importance so push forward in your goals. If your family isn’t on board, still make sure to prep for them because you’ll be their rock when the time comes to implement your preps.

bug out water purify water

Step 2: Do some research.

I know this sounds super boring but researching potential threats that you’d like to be prepared for will be helpful in your overall prepping process. If you’ve lived in one spot for a while, you should generally be aware of what goes on when it comes to weather events. However, I’d highly suggest going to Google and do a local search of major natural disasters that have or could happen in your area.

After that, think about everyday threats that could occur such as:

  • car accidents or car trouble,
  • fires,
  • blackouts,
  • sewage backup,
  • contaminated water,
  • minor injuries,
  • cold weather,
  • hot weather,
  • illness,
  • locked out of house,
  • road closures,
  • personal protection,
  • job loss,
  • plus much more.

We’re not just prepping for big catastrophic, apocalyptic events; we’re prepping for the everyday problems which we want to be able to solve ourselves to the best of our ability.

food storage 101

Step 3: Start with food and water.

I always suggest that people start their preparedness journey by getting food and water. It’s incredibly easy to stock up on food and water. The next time you go to the grocery store, grab some nonperishable food and a few gallons of water. That’s it. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time.

Here are some food ideas to start stockpiling:

  • Bag of rice
  • Canned beans
  • Canned fruits
  • Canned vegetables
  • Just add water pancake mix
  • Just add water hash browns
  • Canned meats (chicken, turkey, beef, spam, tuna, salmon, etc.)
  • Canned soups
  • Canned pastas
  • Ramen
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereals
  • Snack/protein bars

As you’re just getting started, don’t get too complicated with your food and water storage just yet. Just grab easy stuff that you can simply set aside, such as canned foods and gallons of water.

Be sure to grab food that you eat regularly. If you don’t eat ramen, don’t buy ramen. We’re prepping food now so that we’re not making a stressful situation (emergency or disaster) even more stressful by getting foods that we don’t even eat or like.

You can grab just a couple cans and a couple gallons of water at a time each time you grocery shop and it’ll add up very quickly over time.

If you’d like to learn more about food storage, head over to my Food section.

Step 4: Make some lists.

Now that you’ve gotten a taste for prepping by starting your stockpile, it’s time to start making some lists. Lists will help you put all of your ideas onto paper so you can physically see what you need.

In order to help you make all of these lists, I have some checklists to help give you some ideas.

Here are some lists you might want to write out:

  • What type of gear you’d like in your Bug Out Bag.
  • Type of gear you’d like for your home.
  • What type of gear you’d like to carry everyday with you.
  • Gear that could go in your car for emergencies.
  • Type of knowledge you’d like to learn (fire making, first aid, firearms, etc).
  • Write down the type of gear and knowledge you already have.
  • Write down the type of emergencies and disasters you’re prepping for.

These are just some ideas. I highly suggest making lists for everything before diving in. This is especially important for something big like creating a bug out bag. While your preps will change over time as you become more knowledgable, you want to give yourself the best advantage possible right out of the gate.

preparedness planner

Step 3: Set goals.

Now it’s time to set some preparedness goals. Your goals should be based on your budget and time (we’ll talk about those next). They should be realistic and attainable. I know it’s really temping to want to get prepared RIGHT NOW, but it’s okay to take your time. This is a journey, not a race.

Here are some example goals:

  • I want to have 2 weeks worth of food and water storage within 3 months.
  • I want to learn how to properly apply a tourniquet.
  • I want to make a first aid kit for my car by December (or whatever month).
  • I want to learn about water purification by February (or whatever month).
  • I want to purchase the bag for my bug out bag by January (or whatever month).
  • I want to purchase one item a month for my bug out bag.
  • I want to start walking at least 3 times a week.

Break these goals down into even more manageable tasks. For example:

I want to have 2 weeks worth of food and water storage within 3 months. I will accomplish this by: Getting 2 canned food items and 1 gallon of water each time I go grocery shopping.

Simply setting a goal is great, but you need to make it actionable. HOW are you going to accomplish these goals? Get as specific as possible.

bug out bags

Step 4: Set a budget.

Now that you have your lists together, it’s time to set a realistic budget. We all have budgets to live by and we need to figure out how much money we can realistically spend on preps each month. Whether you have $5 or $555 a month to spend on preps, you can get prepared.

Get out an excel sheet and write out all of your expenses as well as how much you make each month. If you have any money left over after expenses, that money could be going towards entertainment or gas or whatever else so budget wisely. If you think you generally have $25 a week or month that can go towards preparedness, then start with that.

Like I’ve said, it really is okay to get prepared on ANY type of budget. There’s no time limit and there’s no expectations that you need to be a millionaire to prep. Us commoners can get prepared just fine. ;)

how to start prepping

Step 5: Manage your time.

Now that you’ve budgeted your money, it’s time to budget your time.

Trust me when I say that even if you have a family, full time job and a boat load of other responsibilities, you can find time to get prepared.

Maybe you can budget 30 minutes on a Saturday evening to read a preparedness book? Or Maybe you can cut your Netflix watching in half so you can practice your fire making skills? Possibly you can wait until the kids are asleep to inventory your supplies?

There are many tasks we can do and many don’t take a lot of time or money. There are of course tasks that might take longer, but don’t get stressed. Set a schedule and stick to it. Set a reminder in your phone, write it all out in your preparedness planner and most importantly:

Don’t overwhelm yourself!

Preparedness should fit within your life seamlessly, it shouldn’t be a stressor.

If you’ve discovered that a particular schedule isn’t working, then readjust. Let prepping flow with your everyday life.

The most important takeaway when it comes to managing your time is to just make sure that you can be consistent. Consistency is key to creating habits that you stick with long term.

emergency disaster plan

Step 6: Make an emergency disaster plan.

Now it’s time to make an emergency disaster plan.

Basically, a disaster plan needs to outline what you’ll be doing in case of “such and such” disaster or emergency.

This plan should be made with everyone in the household. If you’d like, print out a copy for everyone to carry with them. You can even laminate it. Multiple copies should be easily accessible to everyone.

Have multiple plans for different scenarios. Find out the emergency plans for your workplace and schools and incorporate those within your emergency disaster plan.

Don’t forget to write down emergency numbers, you may want to laminate this as a separate card.

An emergency disaster plan should be looked at about once a year and updated if needed.

Take a look at this post for a more detailed explanation of how to make an emergency disaster plan.

Step 7: Fortify your home.

Your home will usually be your first line of defense in an emergency or disaster. There may be times when you’ll need to bug out (evacuate), but more often than not, bugging in (staying home and riding it out) will be ideal.

  • Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and you understand when to use it.
  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Make sure your windows and doors are in good condition and properly secured.
  • Make a blackout kit.
  • Have a few ways to purify water at home.
  • Know how to gather water from within your home (taking it from the water heater, filling sinks and bathtubs, etc).
  • Get an alternative way to cook if you don’t have gas or propane (such as. with a BBQ, solar oven, camp stove, etc.)
  • Have plenty of hand tools that require no electricity (hammer, screw drivers, manual can opener, etc.).
  • Keep extra toilet paper, cleaning supplies, gorilla tape, tarps, garbage bags and a couple 5 gallon buckets.
  • Have an alternative way to go to the bathroom in case your toilets were unusable.
  • Walk inside and outside of your home and look for any possible security breaches (bushes people can hide behind, really dark spots, etc.)
  • Figure out alternative ways to cool or heat your home without electricity.
  • Keep plenty of entertainment items on hand (board games, card games, crafts, etc.).
  • Consider buying or making a first aid kit for the home.

Whether you live in an apartment or a house, it’s important to fortify it to the best of your ability. You could potentially be stuck in your home for an extended period of time.

prepper fitness

Step 8: Create your bug out bag.

Now it’s time to create a bug out bag. Or go bag or emergency kit or or BONCH or whatever you’d like to call it.

A bug out bag should be created for each member of the household, even kids and pets.

First, decide on the actual bag. Do you want it to be tactical? Do you want it to just look like an everyday backpack? It’s completely up to you. Look around, do some research, read reviews, etc. Make sure you’re getting a bag that not only fits the style you want, but also your budget.

Second, decide on contents. Remember those lists that you wrote earlier? Whether you wrote a bug out bag content list then or not, now is the time to write a list of everything you’d like to go into your bag. You want to cover some basics: food, water, fire, shelter.

I have some great articles about what to put into a bug out bag and how to put together a bug out bag if you click here.

Remember, I also have a bug out bag checklist, plus other checklists to give you ideas on what to put into a bug out bag.

The standard bug out bag is made to keep you alive and thriving for 72 hours. I’d suggest starting there. In time, you may want to create it so that it can last longer than 72 hours, but you can worry about that after you’ve built and have gotten acquainted with your bug out bag.

One last thing, as far as weight is concerned, if you can comfortably hike with it for 3+ miles, it’s good. I don’t ever recommend that a bag should be any percentage of weight because it really depends on what the individual can handle. I’d suggest training with your bug out bag regularly.

Step 9: Learn skills and acquire knowledge.

To finish off this beginner’s guide, you want to constantly be practicing skills and acquiring knowledge. Whether you live in the city or the country, practice, practice, practice; learn, learn, learn.

Here are some ideas on what types of skills to learn:

  • Fire making with different tinders as well as with lighters/matches/ferro rod
  • Cooking with your food preps
  • Making your own fire starters
  • Learn how to purify water multiple wats
  • Make a rain water collection barrel
  • Make shelter with a tarp
  • Learn to navigate with a. compass and map
  • Practice mock drills (blackout drill, bug out drill, etc)
  • Make things out of paracord
  • Make a hobo or rocket stove
  • Learn to fish
  • Start a garden

There are countless skills to learn and practice, as well as DIY projects to complete.

Here’s an ultimate list of prepper skills to learn.

Here are some places where you can practice skills:

  • At a park using their free space and BBQ’s
  • Outside your apartment complex using BBQ’s or the open space
  • In your backyard
  • At home

There are countless places where you can practice your skills. You don’t need to live in the country or have the woods behind your house in order to practice skills. Start small and work your way up to practicing your skills out on a camping adventure, etc.

Here are some ideas on how to acquire knowledge:

Do keep in mind that not all advice out there will be geared towards you or your desires when it comes to getting prepared. Take all information with a grain of salt, try everything out for yourself and never stop learning and practicing!

Never stop learning.

This was just the beginning of your preparedness journey. I hope you’ll continue to learn more and become more and more self-sufficient. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you can take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Baby steps.

Remember, take it one step at a time. This is not a race. It’s a journey. Do what you can, when you can.

If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Feel free to print this and share it with your friends and family!

Conquer tomorrow, by preparing today!

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Morgan is the founder of Rogue Preparedness. She has been a prepper for over a decade. She's a wife, mother of two daughters and is homesteading off grid. She teaches people how to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.

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