How to Survive When Prepping Just Isn’t Enough


by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:

Have you noticed a sense of urgency in the prepping community lately?

Maybe it’s the tensions with North Korea.

Maybe it’s the slow-motion collapse of the brick-and-mortar retail industry.

Maybe it’s a contagion from the other places around the world that are actively preparing for the potential of nuclear war.

Whatever the reason, it seems like natural disasters are becoming more catastrophic lately and experts are ringing the warning bell about our economy. Really, it’s only a matter of time before our world changes dramatically.


Many of us have stocked our homes to the rafters with beans, rice, bullets, and band-aids.  Each trip to the store adds more to our stockpiles as we try to get what we need before time runs out.  Newbie preppers are feeling even more frantic, wondering how to get prepared when each week it takes more money to put less in the grocery cart. (If you’re new to preparedness, here’s a littleprimer with some great links.)

But if you read Jose’s article last week about the things he could never have prepared for in Venezuela, it is very clear that merely stockpiling is not enough.  No matter how many cans of green beans you have stored away, one day they will run out.  We have become so dependent on the “buy it as you need it” lifestyle that despite our food storage, there are still gaps that must be filled.

And the only way to fill these gaps is to take things a step beyond prepping.

And that step is self-reliance.

Self-reliance is defined as the ability to provide for oneself without the help of others.  No amount of stockpiling gives you true self-sufficiency.  That can only be garnered from a combination of skills, supplies, attitudes, and habits that mean the difference between a person with a great pantry and a true survivor.

Self-reliance is what will save you when…

  • The grocery stores close their doors or become so expensive that people cannot afford to shop
  • The banks go on an indefinite holiday, after draining depositor savings accounts and pension funds
  • Electricity and heat on demand become so expensive that only the wealthy can afford them
  • Medical care no longer exists for the average person
  • A natural disaster, an act of terror, a nuclear strike, or EMP completely, irrevocably changes our way of life

The list could go on and on.  And you could probably add a dozen different scenarios of impending doom, yourself.

Self-reliance, unlike prepping, doesn’t cost a lot of money – it’s about planning and acquiring basic skills and tools. But more importantly, it’s about putting your plan into practice before you have no other option but to do so. Because trust me when I tell you that if your plan is to open up your bucket of seeds when you’ve never gardened before or hunt deer when you’ve never hunted before, you will be in for a rude – and probably deadly – awakening.

Self-reliance is a lifestyle and to be successful at it, you need to start living it now.

What would you do if you could never go to a store again? If you could never have utilities provided by a supplier again?  What if you were truly on your own, forever?

For some situations, prepping just isn’t enough.

As Jose warned us, there are some situations you simply can’t prep for. And for those situations, you must be self-reliant and realistic.

To truly embrace a self-reliant lifestyle, you have to take a good hard look at what is available around you and focus your efforts there. Most of us aren’t going to have a cow in milk at all times. Bananas aren’t going to be a common food unless you live in Hawaii. Think locally and embrace your resources instead of trying to maintain a life exactly like the one you have right now.

That’s why, right now, wherever you live, you must develop self-reliant plans for the following necessities.


Clean drinking water is one of the most important requirements for survival.  Now is the time to figure out how you will get water if your stored water runs out.  Some ideas might be:

  • Rain barrels (which are illegal in some states)
  • Less obvious water collection containers like pools and ponds (don’t forget the roof if you live in an apartment building)
  • Ways to purify the water you’ve collected (When you purchase a filtration device, don’t forget to stock up on extra filters and repair kits)
  • Locate nearby lakes, rivers and streams and have a way to manually move the water, like a hand cart, wagon, or even a baby stroller
  • Wells (including non-electric pumps)

Food production

Many people believe that they will just be able to stick some seeds in the ground and feed their families year round.  It isn’t that easy. You can only learn the foibles of your bit of ground through trial and error.  It takes a lot more veggies than most people think to feed a family for a year.  Anything from a blight to bad weather to a horde of hungry bunnies can wipe out all of your hard work and leave you without a bite to store away. Look into some of these methods:

  • This article talks about how to grow a survival garden what to do if your garden fails
  • Gardening in your backyard or on a balcony
  • An aquaponics or hydroponics system
  • Raising chickens, rabbits, and other micro-livestock in your backyard
  • Sprouting
  • Hunting and foraging (a nice supplement to your diet but a risky plan for long-term survival when everyone else has the same idea)
  • Full-scale farming/homesteading
  • Rooftop gardening
  • Greenhouses and cold-frames

In the event of a break in the supply system, start working on your garden immediately. If it fails, you will still have your stockpiled supplies to rely on.

Food preservation

Not all of us are lucky enough to live in a place where we can grow food outdoors all year long.  For the rest of us, food preservation is a lifeline in the winter.  A few basic supplies and tools are needed.  Just like food production, it’s important to practices food preservation and work out the kinks now, while you still have moderately affordable groceries as a backup.  As well, this allows you to rely on healthy, non-GMO foods instead of the inexpensive, highly processed garbage at the stores.  Learn the following skills:

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