What did covid-19 expose as a weakness in your preps?
No prep is ever done or perfect. So whenever something bad happens I try to learn from it as a real-world stress test.
What did the last few months with covid make you realize was a weakness in your preps?
My husband and I already had the important supplies on hand like respirators and food. But the biggest “d’oh!” moment for us was that we didn’t have some of our food supplies labeled with purchase dates to know which food should be eaten first. It probably won’t matter, but if we needed to survive on what we have for a long time, it would be nice to know what will spoil first. We solved this by putting a Sharpie marker on a string by our food shelf and will write the year on everything we buy.
We also did not have enough gloves. We had a box of 100, but two people can run through those pretty quickly when using a pair or two every day over months.
If you could go back in time before COVID, what would you change about your preps?
- SeaBee SeaBee - May 14, 2020
Lack of variety in food storage: most of my food preps were the emergency bucket types (Augason Farms, Emergency Essentials, etc). NYC apartment, so I never had a chest freezer: fixed that recently and, with a vacuum sealer, am looking forward to better, more varied reserves.
Logistically, I realized I needed more nuance with BOBs. In thinking about an “oh shit they’re locking down NYC a la Wuhan” scenario, I needed more than just the BOBs. I created a secondary level of prepped gear, which basically just encompassed more robust camping kit than the BOB setups as well as more food. BOBs are what I grab if we are only making one trip out the door; this is what I take if I can make a second trip.
Wish I would have listened to that voice in my head 18 months ago and apply for a handgun or rifle/shotgun permit. It’s a nightmare in NYC (and, for the record, I’m glad it is). But yeah, huge oversight.
Rich DCContributor - May 13, 2020
Hair Clippers (not urgent but helpful and it didn’t dawn on me until most were sold out). Or even having general purposes “scissors” in a go-bag (I had/have medical sheers which might work but decent scissors don’t take up too much space and seem more appropriate than a knife for some tasks).
I had previously bought travel size liquid bottle/containers, originally for having water to flush wounds for a first aide kit but they work great for holding hand sanitizer/refilling from larger bottles. Just having some unallocated “spares” to repurpose on demand was a pleasant lesson-learned (less of a “would change” more a “happy accident”).
Dragoon - May 13, 2020
I was disappointed when I tried to refill a smaller sanitizer container and the size of the hole made it impossible. Good idea with the travel size ones!
Supersonic - May 14, 2020
My partner lost her job because of the lockdown and we got caught without much of a savings account. We had just paid off the credit cards from some big holiday spending and a holiday trip. We stupidly bought those things by planning to dip into savings.
Josh CentersContributor - May 14, 2020
My biggest regrets have been not getting my shop wired for electricity and not planting trees three years ago when we moved in. Also not cycling my chickens out sooner. Most everything else I already had or was able to get easily enough. I’ve had a set of Wahl hair clippers for years because I cut my own hair anyway.
John RameyStaff - May 14, 2020
What does “Also not cycling my chickens out sooner” mean?
Josh CentersContributor - May 14, 2020
Hens stop laying after a few years. Mine are nearly three years old and aren’t laying much now. We only get maybe six eggs a week. I bought some new chicks a couple of months ago but they won’t be laying until the fall. If I’d bought them last fall I’d be good on eggs now.
pint of beer - May 14, 2020
definitely did not have enough food in our house. too used to going to the market every sunday
SeaBee - May 14, 2020
Nuqneh - May 15, 2020
I typically just wipe down doorknobs and light switches and stuff with a microfiber cloth. The only disinfecting product I had approved for COVID was a half a bottle of Lysol Bathtub cleaner. I used it to clean the surfaces when we started lockdown, and all I’ve been able to find since is another bottle of the same stuff. I stocked up on food about a week before everyone started freaking out here, but I never thought of household cleaning supplies.
Overall we’ve been very comfortable moving into quarantine and haven’t wanted for much. I do need to reconsider my duct tape supply though. My 5 year old has gone through 1.5 rolls building a cardboard fort in the living room.
John RameyStaff - May 16, 2020
Did your kiddo call it their bug out location? 😂
Juna - May 16, 2020
An extra freezer would have been helpful. They were one of the first items to be sold out here. A better electricity back up system as well as we already had 3 (short) power fails. Now we have only two 80W solar panels and a 100ah AMG battery with a 250V inverter which only charges small devices and batteries, especially as we live in a cold (cloudy) area.
Watermelon Samurai - June 19, 2020
I didn’t buy yeast, so the Feast of Unleavened Bread went on for about 2 months…
C P.Contributor - July 4, 2020
Maybe too late to help you, but I bought the book Tartine Bread to solve that problem. It has good instructions for making your own sourdough starter, just from flour and water (no grapes, etc. required). I have in my head a list of ‘Cookbooks of the Apocalypse’ (books that work well for shelter-in-place cooking) and Tartine Bread is definitely on the list. I can’t say my sourdough always comes out pretty, but it’s always tasty.
Whatevs - August 9, 2020
What other cookbooks are on the Apocalypse list?
Ironclad Amoeba - August 11, 2020
I heard about The Storm Gourmet but I don’t know what it’s worth.
Zabeth - August 19, 2020
Hi Ironclad Amoeba, I read The Storm Gourmet several years ago. As I recall, it contained recipes that required a good deal of preparation time and some ingredients that were a bit pricey. I don’t think it’s the most practical book of its type. However, it did educate me as to some of the more unusual food items that can be ordered to add to a prepper’s pantry. I’d suggest you try to get a copy from a public library to read first so you can see if you really like it before spending the money to add it to your home library.
C P.Contributor - August 11, 2020
I have an old copy of the LLBean Book of New New England Cookery that I have found a new love for. The recipes are all simple and seasonal, making it easy to use pantry staples plus garden produce, nothing exotic. And there are so many recipes for using garden produce. For instance, most of my cookbooks have maybe one recipe for using pumpkin in savory dishes, if they have any at all. The LLBean book has at least 10. Plus there are recipes for things like jerusalem artichokes (an easy-to-grow permaculture staple) and dandelions.
Also getting a fair bit of use is Deborah Madison’s The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. We’re not vegetarians, but Madison’s book has lots of great bean recipes (which we like and are a great food prep), plus a nice variety of quick breads, which are a nice accompaniment to soups.
Zabeth - August 19, 2020
Hi Tirol. I don’t know what other books are on C P.’s list but here’s my own list of cookbooks and cooking-related books (divided into categories) that I think people would find useful in an “Apocalypse” situation:
America’s Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (100th Anniversary)
The Art of Homemade Bread, by Carolyn Thomas
The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., et al.
A Cheesemaker’s Journey, by Mary Jane Toth
The Cheesemaker’s Manual, by Margaret Peters (a/k/a Margaret Peters Morris)
Cooking – Camp/Campfire/Dutch Oven:
Easy Campfire Cooking, by Peg Couch
(Lodge’s) Field Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking
Scout’s Dutch Oven Cookbook, by Christine Conners and Tim Conners
Cooking – Dehydrated Foods:
The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook, by Tammy Gangloff, et al.
Backpack Gourmet, by Linda Frederick Yaffe
Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook, by Mary Bell
Quick and Easy Dehydrated Meals in a Bag, by Tammy Gangloff, et al.
Just Add Water, by Maggie Ingles
Cooking – General
The Prepper’s Cookbook, by Tess Pennington
The Prepared Family Cookbook, by Enola Gay
The Made from Scratch Life, by Melissa K. Norris
Apocalypse Chow by, John and Robin Robinson
The Storm Gourmet, by Daphne Nickolopoulos
The Can Opener Gourmet, by Laura Karr
I Can’t Believe It’s Food Storage, by Crystal Godfrey
Pantry Cooking: Unlocking Your Pantry’s Potential 350 Recipes, by Cheryl Driggs
Cookin’ with Home Storage, by Peggy Layton and Vicki Tate
A Year Without the Grocery Store, by Karen Morris
Bean by Bean: A Cookbook, by Crescent Dragonwagon
Make-A-Mix, by Karine Eliason, et al.
Make-A-Mix Cookery, by Karine Eliason, et al.
More Make-A-Mix Cookery, by Karine Eliason et al.
DIY Cookbook, by the Editors at America’s Test Kitchen
The Homemade Pantry: 100 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making, by Alana Chernila
Make Your Own Groceries, by Daphne Metaxas Hartwig
More Make Your Own Groceries, by Daphne Metaxas Hartwig
Cooking – Retained Heat a/k/a Thermal a/k/a Haybox:
Let’s Make Sense of Thermal Cooking, by Cindy Miller
Cooking – Solar:
Solar Oven Cooking, by Merry Bevill
More Solar Oven Cooking, by Merry Bevill
Solar Cooking, by Harriet Kolfak
An Outdoor Kitchen Full of Sunshine, by Kris Mazy
Cooking with Sunshine, by Lorraine Anderson
Solar Cooking for Home and Camp, by Linda Frederick Yaffe
The Morning Hill Solar Cookery Book, by Jennifer Stein Barker
The Solar Chef: A Southwestern Recipe Book for Solar Cooking
An Outdoor Kitchen Full of Sunshine, by Kris Mazy
Cooking – Woodstove:
Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range, by Jane Cooper
Traditionally Fermented Foods, by Shannon Stronger
Fermented Vegetables, by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey
Fiery Ferments, by Kirsten K. Shockey, et al.
The Artisanal Vinegar Maker’s Handbook, by Bettina Malle and Helga Schmickl
Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, by Rytek Kutas
Home Sausage Making, by Susan Mahnke Peery and Charles G. Reavis
Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman, et al.
Ironclad Amoeba - August 19, 2020
That is quite an extensive list, thank you.
If you had to pick one from each category, what would it be ?
Zabeth - August 19, 2020
Hi Ironclad Amoeba,
You’re welcome 🙂 It’s hard to pick just one from each category because they all have something to recommend them. However, if I absolutely had to start with just one from each category, here are the ones I’d get first (Note: for the “Cooking – General” category I’ve listed two because they are both very useful in different ways. If you can only get one of those to begin with, though, I’d suggest you get The Prepper’s Coobook):
Breadmaking: Bread Illustrated . . ., by America’s Test Kitchen
Cheesemaking: A Cheesemaker’s Journey, by Mary Jane Toth
Cooking – Camp/Campfire/Dutch Oven: Easy Campfire Cooking, by Peg Couch
Cooking – Dehydrated Foods: The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook, by Tammy Gangloff, et al.
Cooking – General: The Prepper’s Cookbook, by Tess Pennington,
Cooking – General: Make-A-Mix (expanded edition), by Karine Eliason, et al.
Cooking – Retained Heat/Thermal/Haybox: Let’s Make Sense of Thermal Cooking, by Cindy Miller
Cooking – Solar: Cooking with Sunshine, by Lorraine Anderson
Cooking – Woodstove: Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range, by Jane Cooper
Fermenting: Fermented Vegetables, by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey
Sausagemaking: Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, by Rytek Kutas
Zabeth - June 21, 2020
Wish I had bought a lot more N95 respirator masks and a chest freezer last year when they were: A) available and, B) available at reasonable prices!
Ironclad Amoeba - July 3, 2020
Simply put, it exposed a psychological weakness more than anything. I could have had all the gear in the world, it wouldn’t have mattered as I wasn’t willing to wear a respirator long before other people started to panic and wear masks, nor was I too happy about risking confrontation with my remote working-averse workplace to work from home full time.
As I work in a major metropolis and am fully dependent on crowded public transportation for my daily commute, I think not catching the coronavirus was a matter of luck more than caution. The actions I took that mattered the most were probably taken too late.
It is an aspect of prepping that isn’t discussed very often and that is vital in a scenario like a pandemic, where staying one step ahead is a matter of public behavior as much if not more as a matter of equipment.
John RameyStaff - July 3, 2020
Big kudos on the self-aware learning. It takes courage to do things “the crowd” doesn’t. Something that many people tell themselves to work on this over time — which is the only real way to improve yourself in this manner — is that “if I don’t feel a little uncomfortable about something, then I probably waited too long.”
Another thing I was telling myself in February: “Someone might think it’s silly I’m wearing a mask, but if I get sick, are they going to take care of me, do my work, or pay my bills? Nope. So F what they think.”
H. P. - July 3, 2020
Discovered I had a “Get out of Dodge” streak – most of our preparation was “grab and go” to get out of the metro area and ride out a disaster.
However… Yeah, staying put for an extended period was pretty much the opposite of that!
So I was playing catch-up, even if I was slightly ahead of the general curve.
The “be ready” mindset was good, though!
Bigwig - July 3, 2020
Some areas of improvement that I needed to make:
- Getting a freezer so that we could stock up on frozen foods.
- I need to keep better track of best buy dates, as some key supplies were well beyond their dates.
- I wasn’t properly planning for some key pandemic supplies. While I did get sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer and nitrile gloves, I could have done a better job with masks (the non-valve kind), disinfecting wipes, bleach, and some medical suppliers (zinc lozenges, cold remedies, and an oximeter).
One of the bigger shortcomings is not knowing our consumption rates for various supplies, especially paper products. I’ve been keeping a weekly record of usage of toilet paper, paper towel, and tissues. Very eye opening…
Josh CentersContributor - July 8, 2020
A few months into this mess, my biggest regret is buying a Glock 19 (9mm) instead of a Glock 23 (.40 S&W). My rationale was that since the 19 is so popular, ammo, parts, and support would always be easy to get, and 9mm was significantly cheaper. Unfortunately, since everyone and their mother owns a Glock 19, 9mm ammo now costs more than .40 S&W with all the panic buying.
What I could have done instead of dropping $600 on the Glock 19 (after tax) was buy a police trade-in Glock 23 (since a lot of cops traded for Glock 19s after the FBI switched) for $350, bought conversion barrels for 9mm and .357 SIG, and it’d been about the same price and I’d be able to shoot more calibers. I considered it at the time and I’m kind of kicking myself for not doing that instead.
The takeaway? Flexibility is key.
nosname - July 8, 2020
Responding to the OP regrets about nitrile gloves: You can make a box of 100 last a long time if you reuse them. When you take off a pair, turn them inside out and save them in a paper bag. Periodically let a batch of used gloves sit for a week or two in the paper bag and in that time any virus on them will have died and they can be reused. Just make sure you save them in a warm, dry place so they dry out.
Gently blowing into the glove will flip the fingertips right-side-out and make them easier to re-don. Reusing gloves in this way can also largely obviate the need for hand sanitizer.
Carlotta SusannaStaff - August 18, 2020
Although I am privileged enough to be able to visit a dentist regularly (or have been able to until recently), I am prone to cavities and gum problems/infections. Flossing was already part of my routine, but since lockdown I made the extra effort to keep flossing regularly, using antibacterial mouthwash, and using interdental brushes. Because of this, I’ve been stocking up on floss, mouthwash, and otc dental meds.
Scott P - August 26, 2020
Lots of weaknesses in my prep. Firstly we had a vague plan on heading to family that live in the country on lots of land, but this got us to really dial in our go kits. Also since we live in the city in an apartment we haven’t devoted tons of space to food storage, we do now. Luckily we already had a dehydrator and vac sealer since we are really into backpacking and climbing.
The most significant issue though was that while my wife practices some skills, and has a good amount of wilderness experience, I have the vast majority of the skills (in my group). So we are trying to practice more, and also practice with extended family. Everything from critical medical skills, firearms, and the such. I think it would have been easier if we had put together some drills/ skill practice ideas ahead of time. There is plenty of time to practice now, and it would take any stress out of it by not having to figure out what to work on.
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