What did you learn from the experience from COVID-19?

Did you learn something fundamental? Were you rocked to your core? Or did you learn something little that you just want to share with the world?

For me it was the realization that 2 weeks of prep just won’t cut it. I was prepping with a big earthquake in California in mind. But with toilet paper disappearing for a month it finally dawned on me how desperate the whole state will be after an earthquake. With so many people in need there’s no way there will be enough logistics to feed everyone or supply water for weeks or months. I’m going to have to rethink things.

One small thing I learned is you can chop up green onion and it keeps in the freezer. I like to dress up my Top Ramen with more ingredients and green onion is one of my favorites. In the past I would just use fresh from the store, but in order to reduce my trips to the store I tried freezing it and it worked out great.


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  • Comments (25)

    • 8

      The biggest lesson so far for me has been how shaky our foundations are. I mean the US. I would never have expected this level of impact? Is that the right word? Like the unemployment numbers. And it’s not just old companies going out of business like Jcpenney. It’s Uber and Airbnb too. I thought the country was more shockproof than it looks like it is.

    • 8

      Sorry this ran long, but it’s a great question and it deserved a well thought answer because I’ve been thinking about this, too and wondered how other people are doing.

      For me, there are two major aspects that I’m reflecting upon, one is the physical prepping and the other is the psychological prepping.

      Although I would have liked to have a little extra (who wouldn’t?!), I’ve found that we’ve been comfortably prepared for the situation thanks in large part to some bulk purchases as cases initially began to spread, then rise.

      So far, we can leave our regular prep stocks untouched. Every 20-30 days, we can restock. Thankfully, there’s a little extra coming from unemployment, so, this has come in handy and with what we can set aside , we should be able to add to our reserves.

      Given what l remember from AP Biology, I knew this wasn’t just going to be a “flash in the pan”, a “hunker down for a month”, or a “one and done” -situation.

      I’m an introvert by nature and have never liked crowded places (especially grocery stores, even pre-pandemic) so, in general, being cut off from others hasn’t been a tremendous burden. Over the years, I’ve been [very, very slowly] focusing on mindfulness and meditation -although not nearly as much as I should have been and that has kinda bitten me in the ass a couple times. I’ve found myself not checking-in with myself; didn’t realize why I was feeling grouchy, anxious, worried, or whatever and ended up drinking a little too much.

      I’m going to be really honest here.

      Initially, there were a couple points at the beginning where I saw social unrest was an inevitability. You’ll recall that, at the beginning (at least here in the US) there was talk of not having to wear a mask and we didn’t know what we now know about how the virus spread, so, in my mind, all it would take is an errant cough (due to a seasonal allergy or whatever) and someone with a very paranoid, germ-phobic trigger finger and off we’d go into these dystopian scenes of cars on fire and blood trickling down the gutters in the street.

      When toilet paper started getting hoarded, I began thinking about how people were basically caught completely unprepared would soon run out of food or supplies and how they would surely turn to stealing from- or murdering- neighbors to survive. Sure enough, my brain would circle back around to this outlandish, overly dramatic “fire and brimstone” scenario -whether it be toilet paper or pasta sauce or meat or whatever item of the week was being cleaned off store shelves.

      In my desire to have myself and my family prepared, there’s one prep I didn’t have as ready for this as I should have: my mind. I didn’t practice what I knew would bring me peace and rational thought. I didn’t utilize my awareness to my advantage. I didn’t consider the harm I was doing myself (and my loved ones) as I ticked boxes on inventories and other checklists but ignored rational, reasonable thinking.

      @FPV California,

      I’ve been doing the frozen green onion thing for years. So glad I’m not alone! Here’s something else to try: dried shitake mushrooms. Drop one or two into your ramen until they rehydrate. It adds a decent flavor, even if you might not eat the actual mushrooms. Bon apetite!

      • 5

        I’m glad you mentioned meditation. I’ve been using an app called Calm off and on for a while and it’s really helpful. I don’t know a ton about meditation and I’m okay with that. I just recognize that it helps me when a massage or some other, more common?, sort of escape isn’t in the cards now.

      • 7

        Yeah, there seems to be no shortage of apps to help guide newbies into mindfulness/meditation. The trick is to make it a habit to use them.

        Another thing I’ve found useful are apps that generate white noise (or white/brown/pink -noise). Some even have nature sounds (rain, waterfall, stream, etc). These apps are especially useful -because we’re all kind of stuck at home- for blocking out (for example) the rambunctious 5-year old next door who spends most of her day screaming at the top of her tiny, yet surprisingly powerful lungs.

      • 6

        I appreciate your comments about the psychological aspects of this.  I was on my way to starting a new thread about mental health during all this but you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head here.

        My two cents to add:  I don’t have specific links but I’d seen a few articles earlier on in this that talked about how people, even in masses, can surprise you with how they can come together in times of crisis.  Even if you see specific incidents to the contrary having some measured faith in humanity can help (even if you’re also preparing to be disappointed in humanity at the same time…).  Sometimes ‘societal problems’ like toilet paper shortages have solutions like newfound acceptance of bidets (silly, and I’m not totally on board, but my spouse is twisting my arm).  Loss of connections with friends can result in newfound appreciation for cool neighbors (from an appropriate distance…).

        I’ll volunteer this, as a fellow introvert, this has grated on me in ways that I didn’t expect.  While I was all for the socially sanctioned alone time at first some of my usual outlets and coping mechanisms for life in general are also gone (used to go to the gym more for mental health, can’t do that and working out at home isn’t the same for me).  Small things like eating out after a stressful day at work instead of making dinner or decompressing with friends over a drink at a bar are the little things I had taken for granted and really miss, things that can turn a bad day into a better day.

      • 7

        Thank you! Unless someone has already started, I’ll be posting a mental health preps thread shortly. I think it would be great to open the discussion beyond this thread here, especially because I don’t want to take away from the things we can all learn from this particular topic.

      • 8

        I didn’t think about the psychological aspect but yes come to think of it I experienced more stress than I let on. I’m the type that is steady and reliable and always calm, but in this situation and others like it I can get into a mindset of constant low level stress that doesn’t turn off. I always think logically so I’m not doing anything rash but my mind is always on and always going through the possibilities. I’m sure it’s not healthy in the long run it might be taking years off my life. I guess now that I’m aware I can work to find better balance.
        But to be honest a little stress is needed to be prepared. You need to be worried at least a little bit to stay ahead of the masses but not so much that it ruins your health.

      • 5

        If you haven’t already tried this, it works 🙂  Buy green onions that still have the roots attached to the bottom of the “bulb”.  Cut off the top portion of the green onion, leaving about a couple of inches still attached above the “bulb”.  Chop up and eat (or refrigerate or freeze) the upper portion of the green onion but place the bulb, roots, and partial stem portion in a small glass of fresh water (city tap water is fine to use if that’s what you have) with about an inch of the stem protruding from the top of the water.  Set the glass on your kitchen counter away from direct sunlight.  Change the water every few days.  Within 2-3 days, new green onion shoots will start to grow up out of the existing stem.  When they get about 10-12 inches long, you can cut and eat them and start the process all over again.  It’s an easy way to do a little indoor “gardening”, get some fresh, tasty green onions without having to go out to a store, and save a little money in the process 🙂


      • 6

        @Zabeth, Cool idea I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks for sharing!

      • 3

        FPV California, You’re very welcome!


    • 8

      I’m keeping a ‘lessons learned’ document with things gone right and things gone wrong.  Overall, nothing that rocked my core. Some areas of improvement:

      • Not knowing the rate of consumption of some products.  I was shocked at how much toilet paper our household uses each week.
      • Not having a freezer prevented us from stocking up on frozen foods.  It hasn’t really affected us at this point, but with the shutdown of meat processing plants, meats may become scarce and will likely be much more expensive.
      • Some supplies were beyond their ‘best buy’ dates.  I had adequate amounts of isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and hand sanitizer but many were beyond their date.  I need to track these dates more closely.
      • We ran short of a few items like popcorn and butter.  We typically have a large supply of popcorn but didn’t replenish it in time.  However, we were able to buy more through curbside pickup at the grocery store.  We also needed more supplements and were able to order them online.
      • Waiting for some supplies to go on sale before replenishing them.  I was waiting for paper towel, toilet paper, and disinfecting wipes to go on sale before replenishing them.  Luckily they did go on sale prior to the panic buying.

      Some of the things that did work:

      • Purchasing in volume ahead of time for items like toilet paper, paper towel, tissues, canned food, garbage bags, bath soap and shampoo, etc.
      • Purchasing small quantities of products over time allowed an inventory build-up.  I would buy a few of these US DoD Pandemic Flu Preparedness Kit at each gun show and had a nice stash without realizing it.  The same with Harbor Freight and nitrile gloves.
      • Purchasing products on sale at bulk.  One store had hand sanitizer at a discount a year ago and I was able to purchase a nice amount of product at a ridiculous price.
      • Found some companies that had Mountain House in stock after the panic buying.  One company was going out of business and even offered the product at a discount.

      One of the surprise products that I found useful was alcohol swabs.  I had bought them in bulk a few years ago with no specific use in mind.  I ended up using them to clean smartphones and remotes.

      Some additional benefits of creating a stockpile in advance of a pandemic:

      • Products will likely not have been exposed to the pandemic agent.
      • Products produced after the pandemic may be of reduced quality due to the pressure to get products out.
    • 12
      • I’m more of an introvert than I thought I was.
      • People are even dumber than my most cynical mind imagined.
      • Smart preparedness is always a good investment.
      • Wild onions are pretty good.
    • 9

      I’m fortunate to have a secure job for at least the next 18 months and a healthy family, so my perspective is inherently privileged. That said, I’ve learned:

      • Children really do react to adult guidance, and my kids have been rock stars through this. They would much rather dig in the dirt, throw spears and play ninjas in the woods than suffer through distance learning. I’m on board.
      • I’m way more comfortable with uncertainty than I expected to be, although I think a large part of that has to do with wrapping my head around this eventuality from mid-January onward (thanks, in no small part, to the COVID coverage from this site, which continues to be amazing).
      • This has been my introvert dream come true, as far as amazing excuses for not engaging socially.
      • I really __REALLY__ wish I’d had the good sense to deal with the NYC gun permitting process sooner. Huge oversight.
      • This is the middle of the beginning, and I predict a long dark path ahead for this country.
    • 9

      I’m still learning from it.  The COVID-19 pandemic SHTF crisis is not over yet – we are still just in the first wave.  Now is the time to prepare for the possible (some say likely) second wave.


    • 9

      I live in California, as well.  I  have been prepping for the shelter in place scenario for years – figuring it would serve me well in an earthquake too. I have approximately 90 days of food, not counting what is in the fridge. It took about a year to get up to that point.

      With that being said, I was rocked to the core by the impact empty shelves have had on my psyche.  It seriously messed with my head.  I did not see that coming.

      I give myself a solid A- for the SiP preps I had on hand. I didn’t have enough cat food and cat litter stored up – that’s been rectified. I was not a hand sanitizer person prior to the pandemic, so I didn’t have any on, ahem, hand. I did have the basic components, so I made my own .I still do.

      I’m also adjusting what I have in terms of short and medium term food storage and will start cooking with some of the long term storage items as they need to be swapped out so that I’m comfortable with when I need to dive into that part of the supply.

      OvaEasy eggs have been a savior. Yes, they are a bit spendy, but totally worth it.

      I am stoked to have been introduced to this site. I have been a bit of an activist in trying to get folks to have at leas a 3 day supply to prepare for a quake, but kept my level of preparedness under wraps from all by my closest friends. It’s nice to have a place to be able to come out, so to speak.

    • 10

      A lesson I was already learning and trying to do something about, and my “weakest area of prepping” is having a community around me. Not only a prepping community, but any community. I was beginning to be able to go out and do some social things, and within about a month of that- WHAM!- a pandemic hit. That being said, as far as physical preparations, I am not doing too badly as a single parent with a teenager and a lot of financial difficulty. We do not need to worry that we are going to run out of food (unless we get into an extended Armageddon-type situation), I have come very far (not far enough) in fixing the financial disaster, which is my most important “prep.” I am starting (a bit late, but I had other priorities) a container garden that is doing well, bought some random (really random!) canning supplies even though I don’t yet know how to can the vegetables that got started late and so aren’t growing very big. Also, I have a nice 8-inch, three-“leaved” onion growing from the end of an onion I chopped- thanks to whatever prepping site I saw that on! I have other prepping goals, and I decide based on “What is actually likely to happen, or happen first,” and then try to save for that. I’m glad to see an online forum that is *not* Facebook, which is tending to stress me out lately.

      • 9

        Ugh, I get it. I got off Facebook recently too and it’s been a big help for my mental health. The prepping groups on FB are mostly noise anyway.

      • 3

        I am also only seeing noise in the prepping Facebook groups which surprised me. Somehow the people in here are not like that and for that I am greatful.

        Annie I also felt not having a group is a weak spot for me. Why I tried those noisy Facebook groups.

    • 9

      I learned that I need to inventory my stocks of food and supplies on a more regular basis. Some items, like N95 masks, which I thought were in my pandemic supplies, were no longer there, as my other half had sent them to friends in China during the SARS epidemic when they were experiencing a shortage. A few of my canned goods were deteriorated, and my bins that did not close tightly showed signs of a mouse invasion, which necessitated disposal of some of the contents and some truly nasty scrubbing. Luckily, I started my inventory of food and supplies late last year before I had heard of the virus, but I had not yet replaced everything before the need to prepare for the current pandemic became apparent.

      I also learned that you may think you are psychologically ready for what is coming, but the actuality of dealing with the situation can still be a shock. I knew the virus would eventually make it to my midwestern state and my additional preparations were completed, but it still shook me greatly in early March when a close friend contracted the virus and died, the first death in our state. I somehow pictured the disease creeping slowly toward our state and my mental readiness and vigilance increasing the closer it got, not a member of my small circle suddenly dying of a pandemic that was still in its infancy with the only previous deaths in the US being few and far far away.

      • 5

        Sheilah, I’m very sorry to hear of your friend’s passing!


      • 7

        Sheilah, I’m very sorry to hear of your friend’s passing.


      • 7

        Thanks, Zabeth. What I would do differently because of that, I think, is that I would be more aggressive in disseminating information to friends and family about the hazards that most people seemed to be unaware of at that time, whether they wanted to hear it or not. My friends had flown to visit their daughter and grandchildren in a city in California where three people had tested positive for the virus, which received national publicity. When they both returned with pneumonia two weeks later, I was immediately apprehensive from the circumstances and symptoms that it might be Covid-19, but did not mention my concerns, as the odds of them contracting the disease seemed very low at that time. He collapsed 10 days later, was taken to the hospital, and admitted to the ICU, where he spent 5 days intubated before dying. His widow said it had never dawned on either of them that he might have contracted the virus until his second day in the hospital, as they thought it was just something over in China and that the ban on travelers from China would keep it out of the US. I have found that many friends and family members do not closely follow the news and were equally uninformed of the progress of the disease. I doubt that alerting them to the possibility that they had been infected would have led to a different outcome for those friends, but now I would not hesitate to urge them to insist on being tested.

      • 9

        I have a relative who died from it, and, at the same time, family members who think it must have been “something else.” I try to send things they might have even a small chance of believing. I am worried one or more of them will get sick. One thing I do is discourage them from visiting here, as they won’t do any PPE or social distancing. It’s sad.

      • 6

        In early March, a close friend told me “ ‘They’re’ just making everybody panic. There’s no need to panic.”  I am a voracious consumer of news and had started taking precautions in late January.

        She gets depressed by the news and seldom pays attention to it. I didn’t press the issue because I am non-confrontational and knew that reality would sink in very soon.

        She contracted COVID in April after a supermarket visit and is still experiencing post-viral syndrome. When we last emailed in mid- to late June, she said that if her husband weren’t there to take care of her she would probably be in a home.”