I know what you’re thinking. Has she gone off the deep end? Has this Brexit madness FINALLY gotten to her? The short answer is: – Maybe. I am concerned about our future but this is not what has inspired this article (especially after last-week’s MONSTER of a post!). What i’d like to talk about are the things we’ve learned from watching, listening and just generally engaging in the Prepper Community online.
I tumbled down this particular rabbit-hole about 2 years ago at the time when we were taking our walk into Frugality more seriously. I started watching Doomsday Preppers on Netflix after seeing a nice, normal-looking lady on the opening credits talking about preparing for global financial crisis by cooking (and I immediately found my tribe!). As I watched more and more I realised, these people are ALL normal – they’re just really concerned about the future and are super passionate about resourcefulness. Sure, there’s a super-squillionaire or two in the mix who are able to purchase underground, high tech bunkers or state-of-the-art helicopters as easily as they could sneeze but everyone else is doing the best they can with what they already have on hand.
Prepping is just another side of the frugal/resourceful coin and we have learnt so much just from sitting on the side-lines of this community. Here’s some things we’ve picked up:
- Prepping can be very Eco-Friendly – Along with being Good Cheap, Prepping on a budget is all about using what you already have on hand and finding alternative uses for everyday items. I’m talking about using any space in your home to store food & preps, considering biodiesel as an alternative, prioritising the Garden and any Livestock over shopping/staying current, etc.
- Off-Grid Living can be very Cheap – Apart from initial investments in equipment, many prepping essentials are very affordable if not free. You can make Solar Ovens, Fire Pits and Rocket Stoves with things from around your home. Items which need installation like Wood Burning Stoves (with or without rings), Off-Grid Stoves & Hobs, Off-Grid Refrigerators, Fireplaces and Greenhouses are very costly upfront, especially in comparison of what a conventional Fridge/Freezer/Oven would cost but these items are hardier, longer lasting and save you a ton of money in the long run. Smaller but necessary items like manual Tools, manual Sewing Machines, windable Clocks and Radios, solar Radios and Torches, Candle or Paraffin Lamps, Solar light bulbs and BBQ’s are much more affordable and usually easier to repair (especially when choosing older, trusted items). Everytime you use any of these items, you’re saving money on electricity or gas and using natural, renewable resources instead.
- You harness the Natural World – By using renewable energy sources like Sun-power for Solar Panels, Solar Ovens and even by using wood in moderation (when planting replacement trees) you aren’t relying on Electricity or Gas. We’ve considered making a Windmill when we have a home of our own and properly connected to a battery bank (to store the generated energy) through a converter we can rely less on the National Grid. This also goes for Fishing/Hunting responsibly and foraging carefully to make sure you’re not depriving local wildlife or others in your community.
- Buy Quality – Cast Iron Ware is THE best, longest-lasting cooking instrument if cared for properly. You can use them to cook universally and they will last you a lifetime. I find it difficult cooking with Cast Iron because of the weight but with Lee helping out, we’re able to make it work. We try to buy metal or wooden cooking utensils as they will last and can be repaired if necessary. Make sure when you’re buying something new, buy quality and care for it to help it serve you for many years to come.
- You Live close to the land and in connection with the Seasons – Eating seasonally has become trendy in recent years but it’s something we’ve done as people since the beginning of time. Now that it is possible to buy anything out of season, we don’t always consider what it’s taken for that one item to reach us and how exactly that item has been treated chemically/handled. If you are able, grow a Garden which will serve you throughout the year. Along with foraging seasonally, you will have a varied diet full of vitamins that came about naturally in their own time.
- Your diet is Healthier – I’m talking about Eating from the Garden, using staples without chemicals (whole foods like oats, beans, grains) and cooking from scratch. We buy less and less prepared foods from the supermarket and have found that we’re feeling better, we’re healthier and we’re losing weight.
- You learn new Skills – Gardening, Foraging, Canning, Cooking and Baking from scratch, Stockpiling foods you like, Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Weaving, Spinning, Turning, Carving and good old-fashioned Home Management are things we’ve learnt along the way (and we’re not done yet!)
- You can turn old items into New – Whenever we need a replacement item due to wear (this can be anything from socks and dresses up to side-tables and chairs) we use what we already have to make a replacement. I knit and sew so i’m responsible for the dressmaking, patchworking, quilting and mending side of things. For example, i’ve got old clothes that can be cobbled together into a new garment or homeware (i’m currently making my Dad a seat cover for his office chair out of old curtain velvet and some cool denim bunting that used to be Lee’s Jeans). Recently, Lee made a produce rack out of an old cabinet that was ripped out by the Council which worked out beautifully. It all takes time but it saves plenty of money and you have a sense of satisfaction at the end of the project!
- You use your Body – I have Mobility problems so I get my exercise where I can, mostly in lightly cleaning the house and cooking/baking. Although not massively taxing, it works up a sweat and keeps everything in working order! Lee has developed so much muscle since swearing off power tools and the weight has dropped off of him. Using your body is good for your body – don’t leave things up to robots! Get a workout and get something done at the same time!
- You sharpen your Mind – Practical Problem solving like you resort to when you’re trying hard not to spend money, pushes you into a realm of creativity and resourcefulness that keeps your mind razorsharp. Once you make the adjustment in your thinking to viewing every item as an opportunity, you never quite view things as you did before. This is so healthy for your mind and by performing tasks that require concentration like Gardening, Woodworking, Sewing, Knitting, Baking, etc you stay sharp!
- You build connections with your Community – I speak from experience when I say that TV and constant Phone/Internet usage is a massive distraction from the real world. When I am at home, I am often by myself when Lee is at work and I used to fill that time with Netflix and Youtube. There’s nothing wrong with that but when Lee came home, I wouldn’t turn it off and it started impacting the quality of our communication and our time together. I was putting distance between us when I wanted to be close, i’d just gotten things out of balance is all. Now, I try to have the Radio on more so that we can both listen together or i’ll have a time of silence. We’re in a busy season right now so reading isn’t something I have a ton of time for at the moment but I need silence when i’m writing and first thing in the morning whilst i’m waking the house up. Having social connections through Colleagues, Friends, Family and our Church has been indispensable in our lives and keeps us plugged-in to what’s going on. There is no substitute for talking to others face-to-face and building that real-world support network.
- You stretch everything to it’s Thinnest – Think Poor Man’s Meals, the Rule of Half, enhancing everyday things with practical problem solving (like adding foil mounted on cardboard behind radiators or sewing thermal lining to the back of curtains), taking full advantage of the sunshine for drying, baking, deodorizing and bleaching, lighting and heating, etc. The best way to do this is to treat every single thing as though it’s precious and important to you.
- You don’t depend on a single source for your Entertainment – I am one of those people who loves books, so when it was suggested that people were throwing them away to replace them with digital copies, I had two thoughts. 1. Yay! Cheap 2nd hand books are coming our way! – and 2. How wasteful and Risky. If the technology you use to read-on fails, it’s annoying and you could easily lose your place in your book. If the Wifi goes out, you’re screwed. I admit, I use our phones/laptop for watching TV, reading and playing games but we also have physical back-ups like a well stocked library, board games, enough fabric and yarn to keep me busy for years, baking ingredients, a good supply for wood and seeds, a radio, etc, etc. I am one of these people who is beginning to not trust the reliability of mod-cons and want to have as many back-ups as possible.
- You are more aware of energy/resource Consumption – I watched a video recently on water consumption where an Influencer tried to live for a day with one large bucket of clean water and it was eye-opening. We pride ourselves on not using a lot of water but we actually do. It’s the same with any resource, we always use more than we think we will. Since then, i’ve tried to be more conscious of how i’m using any resources and I try to keep their use at a minimum. I’ve peeked at our energy bills and they are reflecting the change already.
- Security is Important– We have a night-time routine that involves saying “Goodnight” to the Pigs, checking all the windows and doors are locked and filling up the water bottle in the fridge. I was raised to lock the car doors the minute you get in and whilst some people have found this funny over the years, it has come in very useful on several scary occasions. Security is something we take seriously but not “Annie, get your gun” seriously. In the UK, Guns are not as widely available or used as they are elsewhere in the World, but it is perfectly possible to have a good security plan without using firearms. This also includes security of food and other preps which are just as important as securing your property or person. There are tough economic times ahead, be aware of people’s needs around you and of their motives – stay alert and keep secure.
- You’re a Good Steward – My New Year’s Resolution this year was to “Be a Good Steward” so it’s a phrase you’ll see over and over again on the blog. What I mean by this is take the very best care you’re capable of giving to your possessions and use your resources responsibly. This is multidimensional and extends to all areas of our lives including relationships with others, use of fuels and even taking precautions where perhaps we would have dived-in previously. Change your viewpoint and cherish everyone and everything.
- It’s a taste of the Past – We have the privilege of knowing some wonderful older members of our Church who have lived through the toughest times of the last 90 years and the advice we’re given about want is always “If you wanted something during the War/Depression, you had to make it yourself”. This is invaluable advice and it goes to the very heart of self-sufficiency – make what you need, don’t buy. Don’t be wasteful, take your time and wait for what you need – only fools rush in.
- Come back to the Land – Realise the bounty that God has provided in Nature – Hedgerows and Trees are bursting with Autumn jewels at the moment and we are loving it! Forage and use what has been provided (you can also do this by using what is right in front of you – by pulling things out of skips and taking things from the side of the road -with permission of course!) and harness what already exists. Being detached from Nature as many of us are in Modern Cities and Offices is unhealthy and with Stress, Anxiety and Depression rates rising constantly, people are actually being prescribed walks in nature by their Doctors. Get outside, experience the seasons by being a part of them and realise that nature has it’s own pace and sense of renewal. For everything there is a season – slow down and live.
- Cut the Calories/Crud – The amount of chemicals in our food today is shocking. I looked yesterday at the list of ingredients on the side of our Margarine tub and felt genuinely confused. It’s the same with all the other boxed and bagged items in our home. Since cooking from scratch, we’ve reset our taste buds somewhat so that heavily processed foods taste exactly what they are. If you can eat smaller meals consisting of natural foods, you will lose weight and feel fuller. I follow no diet now and count no calories and am having success for the first time in my life despite not being able to take heavy exercise. The body is built in the Kitchen first!
- Eliminate dependency on drugs/alcohol/caffeine/high calorie food – As someone who relies on heavy painkillers to function and coffee as an added bonus, this is an area that I feel challenged in. I don’t/can’t drink, I don’t take recreational drugs but I do drink Coffee and sometimes eat high-calorie foods (normally once a month a part of a celebration or “Month-aversary”). In Moderation, I know food and drink to be useful and delicious tools but getting the balance right is crucial. All these things are have the potential to be bad for us (some more obviously than others) and without these items, we’d struggle. In disaster situations and even during the War, people who were already stretched to breaking point felt particularly deprived if they couldn’t have coffee or tea. Try to lessen your dependance and see how you go (obviously, not Prescription medication! Please take as directed by your Doctor!).
- Reusables over Consumables – No paper towels, no tissues, no disposable napkins, no single-use toothbrushes, no plastic wrap and for heaven’s sake – NO PAPER PLATES! (To be read in the style of Joan Crawford’s “NO WIRE HANGERS!!!” although wire hangers are both practical and reusable). I hadn’t come across people using paper plates on a daily basis until I joined a U.S. money saving board on Facebook and realised that this has become commonplace. Reusables are typically a one-time investment (unless you are me and you drop things on a regular basis) and can be washed, repaired, maintained and even made into something new at the end of their life. No toilet paper? That one is between you and God! Just remember, if a disposable item is used, you need to dispose of it! Something worth delicate thought. If there were to be a disaster situation, regular rubbish collections would be a thing of the past. Consider this also regarding electronics and things that will require batteries. Reusables are great but if they were unable to be recharged or replaced, you’d be stuck. Get back to basics and buy sturdy, foundational items that require nothing more than manual labour and maintenance.
- Slow Down – Read, play music, talk, enjoy the outdoors, get your hands into cooking and craft, put down your phone, stop thinking about work. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own so take one day at a time. We used to live our lives at 100 mph but all we got is debt and burnout. Come back to the land and slow down.
- Use what you Have – Last Winter, I decided that we needed a lamp for my Trolley so that when i’m travelling from room to room in the wintertime, I don’t have to keep turning lights on and off. Rather than spending out on a new lamp, we re-discovered our small curved tumblers that are perfect to hold a tealight and amplify the light. Problem Solved! I need a new winter dress and the fabric for it will cost £6 per meter without delivery (that’s extra). Rather than spending out, I looked online at Ravelry to find a knitting pattern for what I need instead so I can knit the stash and fulfill a need. Adapt your plan to fit what you have, not what you’d need to buy.
- In Omnia Paratus (prepared in all things/ready for anything) – By staying flexible, using what you have on hand and flexing your mental and creative muscles, you are well-equipped to take on new challenges and build self-reliance. As your skills grow, share them with others and show people how a lot can be done with a little. Stay Teachable!
These are just a few things that have come up as we’ve gradually learnt more about the world of prepping. Thank you especially to Canadian Prepper and Prepper Princess who continue to be excellent teachers through their Youtube channels and inspire us on a weekly basis.
We hope you enjoy this post and get as much out of it as we do! Have a Blessed week everyone 🙂