Frugal Preps

Here’s Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

by Todd Walker

It’s well documented by DRG that I’m a container freak. Plastic jugs, metal tins, glass bottles, clay pots – I hoard collect them all.

Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

A small sampling of my metal tin fetish

Wooden pallets – don’t get me started! This free wood can be used to build bird houses, fences, furniture, compost bins, and other useful stuff with a little sweat equity, imagination, and simple tools.

Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

A bluebird outhouse built from old barn and pallet wood

Yesterday, I received a sign from above pointing out my inability to turn down “trash”...

Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

Here’s Your Sign! How could I turn down a 14′ x 40′ used billboard!?

If you’ve priced tarps this large at retail stores, you’d spend a decent wad of your hard-earned cash. One box store sells 20′ x 30′ heavy-duty tarps for over 100 bucks. My tarp sign set me back $14. They don’t look this large when you pass them on the freeway.

I won’t be using it with the printed side exposed. The backside is solid black and can be used for projects like ground cover or emergency roof repairs.

I may use this portion as a training aid for our dogs. If I could only teach “Moose” and “Abby” to read.

Here's Your Sign: Turning Trash Into Survival Treasure

Doggy boot camp

I cut a section of the sign and plan to use it as a tarp for my base camp shelter I’m building. Modern debris for a debris shelter. It pays to have a possum mentality!

Here are a few more up-cycle ideas for fellow dumpster divers:

You don’t have to break the bank to get prepared. With consumerism gone wild, people have to have the latest stuff. If you’re anything like me, which I suspect you are, other people’s “trash” is survival treasure!

What’s your best method of using other people’s “trash”?

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

A Simple Fixin’ Wax Recipe for Fixin’ Stuff

by Todd Walker

Need another DiY fix? Stay tuned, I’m fixin’ to give you one!

Wouldn’t it be great to have an all-purpose, all-natural, miracle substance that, when applied, fixes most stuff?

Stuff that would fix chapped lips, busted knuckles, ax-heads, wooden tool handles, bow strings, a squeaky hinge, wooden spoons, leaky tents, rusty metal, leather sheaths, and… be edible!

First, for those unfamiliar with Southern speak…

Fixin’ means:

  • About to do stuff or in the process of doing stuff – replacing such worn expressions as ‘about to”, ‘going to’, ‘preparing for’, etc. Examples: “I’m fixin’ to cook dinner.” Or, “I’m fixin’ to go fishing.”
  • An accompanying food dish to round out a meal. Example: “Grandma made Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins.
  • The process of repairing stuff. Example: “The fence needs fixin’.”

Then there’s the simple, multi-functional stuff called fixin’ wax. It’s also an edible emergency lamp fuel (replace the olive oil with fixin’ wax).

Ingredients for Fixin’ Wax

  1. 2 parts tallow – click here to make your own
  2. 1 part bees wax
  3. shea butter (optional) – 1 tablespoon
  4. essential oil (optional) – a few drops
A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Tallow and bees wax are the must have ingredients

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Optional ingredients

Fixin’ Wax Procedures

The ratio of tallow to bees wax is 2:1. In hotter climates, you may want to make it half and half to keep a more solid consistency.

Step 1: Melt the tallow and bees wax together in a container. Remove from heat and stir occasionally while it cools to ensure these two ingredients combine.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Double boiler method is best

If you choose to add the optional stuff (shea butter and essential oil), do so while over the heat. For a pine scent, add chopped pine needles and strain the liquid through a clean cloth to remove the needles from the liquid wax.

Step 2: Line your mold(s) with wax butcher paper. I used the press n seal wrap in my tins. Wax paper would work better as the thinner press n seal wrap made removing the fixin’ wax from the tins more challenging. Live and learn. I had to use a butter knife to pry the product out. Not a problem.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

The benefit of using the sticky press n seal stuff was that it formed to the tin and produced beautiful, tin-shaped fixin’ wax! I’m guessing you could use a muffin tin for larger batches. Maybe insert cupcake liners in the individual forms for easy removal when the fixin’ wax sets.

Step 3: While liquified, carefully pour the stuff into your mold. The half-pint jar filled one and one half tins.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Ready for some fixin’

Step 4: Allow a few hours for the fixin’ wax to cool and set. Once solid, rub it with your finger. You should get a film on your finger tip. Apply it to your lips so you don’t waste any. I used a few drops of peppermint essential oil. I like the cooling effect on my skin.

Step 5: Remove from the form. Wrap the fixin’ wax in butcher paper – wax side touching the fixin’ wax. I placed the partial block back in the Altoids tin for use around the house.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

For my bushcraft kit, I wrapped the full block in wax paper, placed in a brown paper lunch bag, and tied it up with a length of jute twine. This gives me an excellent emergency fire starter – jute twine, brown paper, and fixin’ wax are known to burn well.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

Wrap it up, I’ll take it!

Wrap it up and give it as a gift to someone for their bug out bag.

Here’s an old leather screw driver pouch I repurposed for my Bacho Laplander folding saw sheath. It needed some fixin’ wax love.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff


Rub the bar of fixin’ wax all over the surface and massage in with a cloth. Rejuvenating and sealing leather and dried wood is easy and effective with fixin’ wax.

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff


Do you have a recipe or other uses for this amazing fixin’ wax? Drop us a line in the comments.

Keep Doing the Stuff… with Fixin’ Wax,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. Ready to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

How to Build a Bushcraft Tripod for Your Outdoor Kitchen

by Todd Walker

Southern Ice Storm Cooking Check List

  1. Propane cooker and fuel: √
  2. Camp stove and Coleman fuel: √
  3. Lump charcoal for the Green Egg: √
  4. EmberLit stove: √
  5. Firewood: √

We stock up on all these items in case of emergency events like the latest ice storm. Fortunately, we were without power for only three hours. Other Georgians didn’t fare as well.

Our Plan-B cooking methods were in place but were never called into action.

Today, cabin fever struck. I needed some back yard dirt time. What to do???

I know… make a tripod for our fire pit!

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

Roast me!

The first two emergency cooking fuels on my list are non-renewable. I’m sure I could make lump charcoal but not something I’ve done before. I don’t count on a method until I’ve practiced it. Always trading theory for ACTION!

Firewood is plentiful and gives us one more cooking option. Now I needed to build cooking equipment for our primitive outdoor kitchen.

Materials and Tools

Here’s what you’ll need to build your own sturdy cooking tripod:

  • Three green saplings – each about 6 to 7 feet tall
  • 20 feet of thin, strong cordage – tarred bank line works great (find it in Hunting and Fishing departments of box stores)
  • Cutting tool to harvest saplings
How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

All you need is wood, cordage, and cutting tools


Cut the three saplings and trim branches. The base of my trees were about forearm size with the tops about wrist size. Don’t discard the branches. You’ll use these resources later in your build.

Lay the saplings side by side. Tie a Timber Hitch with bank line onto the end of one of your poles. Here’s an animation for a tying a Timber Hitch.

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

Simple Timber Hitch

For this application, skip the half hitches if you’re using tarred bank line. Fold over a 4 inch tag and twist the loop several times. Then pull the long tag line through the loop and cinch it tight about 4 or 5 inches from the top of one of your poles.

With poles laid flat, wrap three revolutions of cordage. Use a stick, screw driver, or attachment on your Swiss Army Knife to pull the loops tight. Now make three more passes and pull tight again. Keep the cord as tight as possible while keeping the poles side by side – don’t allow them to bunch together.

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

The packaging hook is a jewel for pulling cordage tight

Next, thread the cordage between the first and second pole below the previous six wraps. Pull the cord up and over the top of the six cords. Repeat this until you have three revolutions around the six strands running perpendicular to your poles.

Tighten your cord every third wrap. You now have six wraps running horizontally with the poles. Tie off the tag on the sixth wrap with a half hitch.

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

Lashing between two poles

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

Joint on left needs two more wraps

Spread the poles out and set up over your fire pit. Mark where the ends meet the ground and fold your tripod back up. Place the poles on a wood anvil and trim the ends to a point for a better bite.

Re-install the tripod around your fire pit.

You should have a long tag of cordage dangling down the center of the tripod. Use this to hang cooking pots over the fire. If you don’t feel #36 bank line is sufficient, you could use a metal cable or small chain.

How to Build a Killer Cooking Tripod



Make a toggle out of one of the limbs from your sapling. I made mine about 8 inches long. Cut a notch in the middle and secure the bank line in the notch.

Slip the toggle through the wire handle to suspend the pot. You can adjust the pot height by looping the cordage over a pole stub at the top of the tripod.

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

Toggle holding cast iron squirrel pot

Hook and Toggle

I also made a hook for the toggle system. Notch the top of the hook safely with a knife and tie a 12 inch piece of line around the notch. Tie a loop in the long tag end for your toggle stick to go through. This hook will allow you lower the pot close to the fire keeping the bank line farther away from the heat.

How to Build an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

Squirrel stew pot ready!

This set up is simple, sturdy, and functional. Wrap your tripod in a tarp or canvas drop cloth to smoke the thawing meat in your freezer. Just a thought.

Only thing missing is a few squirrels.

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. Trade theory for action and join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Preparedness | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

35 Reasons You Should Never Be Without Vinegar

This article first appeared on Survival Life and republished here with the author’s permission.


Whether you are storing up supplies for hard times or just want to save a little grocery money on cleaning supplies, one thing you should never be without is vinegar.

35 Reasons You Should Never Be Without Vinegar

Vinegar with the mother!

People have been using it for ages – and not just for cooking or preserving foods. Vinegar’s versatility is virtually unmatched when it comes to having multiple uses.

There are literally hundreds of uses for vinegar around the home.

Check out below to see just a sample of how vinegar can be of use to you, hard times or not:

1. Disinfect wood cutting boards.

2. Soothe a sore throat; use 1 tsp of vinegar per glass of water, then gargle.

3. Fight dandruff; after shampooing, rinse hair with vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.

4. Remove warts; apply daily a 50/50 solution of cider vinegar and glycerin until they’re gone.

5. Cure an upset stomach; drink 2 tsp apple cider vinegar in one cup of water.

6. Polish chrome.

7. Keep boiled eggs from cracking; add 2 tbsp to water before boiling.

8. Clean deposits from fish tanks.

9. Remove urine stains from carpet.

10. Keep fleas off dogs; add a little vinegar to the dog’s drinking water.

11. Keep car windows from frosting up; use a solution of 3 oz. vinegar to 1 oz. water.

12. Clean dentures; soak overnight in vinegar and then brush.

13. Get rid of lint in clothes; add 0.5 cup vinegar to rinse cycle.

14. Remove grease from suede.

15. Kill grass on sidewalks and driveways.

16. Make wool blankets softer; add 2 cups distilled vinegar to rinse cycle.

17. Remove skunk odor from a dog; rub fur with full strength vinegar and rinse.

18. Freshen wilted vegetables; soak them in 1 tbsp vinegar and a cup of water.

19. Dissolve mineral deposits in drip coffee makers.

20. Deodorize drains; pour a cup down the drain once a week, let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.

21. Use as a replacement for a lemon; 0.25 tsp vinegar substitutes for 1 tsp of lemon juice.

22. Make rice fluffier; add 1 tsp of vinegar to water when it boils.

23. Prevent grease build-up in ovens; wipe oven with cleaning rag soaked in distilled vinegar and water.

24. Kill germs; mix a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

25. Clean a clogged shower head.; pour vinegar into a zip-lock bag and gang it around the shower head. let it soak overnight to remove any mineral deposits.

26. Shine patent leather.

27. Remove the smell from laundry that has been left in the washer too long; pour 1 cup of vinegar in with the load and rewash it.

28. Make propane lantern wicks burn longer/brighter; soak them in vinegar for 3 hours, let dry.

29. Act as an air freshener.

30. Soften paint brushes; soak in hot vinegar then rinse with soapy water.

31. Remove bumper stickers and decals; simply cover them with vinegar-soaked cloth for several minutes.

32. Prolong the life of fresh-cut flowers; use 2 tbsp of vinegar and 3 tbsp of sugar per quart of warm water

33.  Prevent Mildew; Wipe down shower walls with a vinegar solution.

34. Soften calloused feet;  soak your feet in a mixture 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water for 30 minutes then scrub them with a pumice stone. The dead skin should slough off easily.

35. Treat Acne;  start with a solution of organic apple cider vinegar and water at a ration of 1:8, apply the toner to blemishes and  leave on a minimum of 2 minutes.

Can you think of anything that I missed?

Also don’t think that you have to buy vinegar from the supermarket.

Check out this article I wrote on how to grow your own vinegar!

Starting your Mother of Vinegar

About ‘Above Average’ Joe

I am the managing editor of I am just an average guy with an exceptional passion for learning. I am excited to share the things I learn with you but I am most interested in learning from you. Survival Life is more than just one man. It is a growing and living community of individuals; all with the desire to be prepared to survive and thrive no matter what this world throws at us. I look forward to growing with you! Feel free to follow me on facebook

Categories: Frugal Preps, Natural Health, Preparedness | Tags: | 11 Comments

From Waste to Water Reservoir: Building a Rain Barrel from a Trash Can

Guest post by Garret Stembridge

Environmentally friendly rain barrels can be made from pretty much any 55 – 60 gallon container, but one of the most readily available is a basic trash can. Other options include reusing old plastic pickle barrels, soda barrels or any barrel that once carried food-grade materials in it.

From Waste to Water Reservoir: Building a Rain Barrel from a Trash Can

A simple trash can works for rain barrel water collection

By making sure the previous contents of your recycled barrel were food-grade, you can feel more secure about using the water collected in it to feed your vegetable garden or wash your dog. Barrels that contained harsh chemicals are often hard to scrub out entirely and could still contain traces of toxins.

The basic rain barrel

Regardless of what barrel type you choose, your basic rain barrel consists of four parts:

  • The barrel to hold the collected rain water
  • A screened inlet that lets in rain water but keeps out leaves, mosquitoes and small animals
  • An outlet near the bottom that can be opened and closed
  • An overflow near the top, in case your barrel reaches capacity


DIY rain barrels can be as elaborate or simple as you want them to be. This project gives you the basic model but it can easily be added on to and expanded to fit your rain gardening needs. To build a trash can rain barrel, you’ll need:

  • A 55 – 60 gallon trash can (lid optional, but recommended)
  • Window screen (instead of purchasing new, consider cutting it out of an old screen window or door)
  • 1 garden hose, ½” diameter (standard)
  • ½” boiler drain (spigot)
  • 1, ½” conduit lock nut
  • 2, ½” flat metal washers
  • 2, ½” rubber washers
  • Grease pencil or marker
  • staple gun
  • pliers
  • utility knife
  • scissors
  • screwdriver
  • 2 – 4 old cinder blocks or gravel
  • caulking gun and silicone (optional)


  • Creating the outlet: This part is a lot easier if you have a ½” hole-boring drill bit for an electric drill, but if you’re doing this project by hand, draw a ½” cross hatch a couple inches from the bottom of the barrel and use it to cut out a ½” diameter circle through which you can thread your boiler drain. When cutting, a little less is better than a little more. If the opening is too big, even the rubber washers can’t stop a leak. Be sure to thread a flat metal washer and then a rubber washer on the boiler drain before threading the drain through the opening.
  • At this point, if you are using silicone, coat the boiler drain threads and opening before threading the boiler drain into place.
  • Seal the boiler drain on the interior with the rubber washer first, then the flat metal washer and finally the lock nut. The rubber washers should be directly against the trash can on both sides. Use the pliers to tighten. The hose will attach to the boiler drain to direct your rainwater for use.
  • Attach the screen: Take your screen and drape it over the top of the uncovered trash can. Using the staple gun, staple the screen in place, pulling it tight as you go to keep it from sagging. Use the scissors to cut off the excess and to give it a finished look.
  • Prep the lid: Even though you don’t necessarily need a lid for your rain barrel – the screen will keep out larger debris and most insects – a lid will keep yard critters from potentially falling in and will give the finished product a cleaner look. If you’re using the lid, cut out a square opening large enough to accommodate the downpour spout on your gutter.
  • Cut an overflow: A few inches below the top of the barrel, cut a hole roughly 1″ in diameter for excess water to escape. If you want to direct the water away from the house, follow the same instructions for installing the first boiler drain except instead of a boiler drain spigot, use a ½” PVC male adapter so that you can attach a hose directly to the overflow outlet and run the hose away from your house.
  • Prep your gutter: Locate your gutter down spout and measure enough room to fit not only your rain barrel, but the barrel stand (gravel or cinder blocks – see below) and the extra length of gutter spout you’ll need to attach to the end to direct the water into the rain barrel. Cut the down spout using your utility knife and attach the gutter spout.
  • Place your rain barrel: Before putting the rain barrel under the gutter spout, prep the ground underneath either with a pile of gravel or 2 – 4 leveled cinder blocks. This will ensure that your rain barrel stays in place even in the heaviest downpour and doesn’t retain water around its base. Once in place, adjust the rain barrel so that the gutter spout flows through the lid opening and you’re done!

Rain barrel water can be used for pretty much any ‘gray water’ purpose, from watering the garden to washing the car, filling bird baths and keeping your compost pile damp.

What do you use your rain barrel water for? Where have you found suitable containers for creating rain barrels?

About the author: Garret Stembridge is a member of the Internet marketing team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for the home and for businesses. Their East Tampa, Florida self storage facility has been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption, and can be found here.

Related articles

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps, Water | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Daisy Luther’s Plan for Stocking One Year of Food in 3 Months

Editor’s note: What would you do if you lost your food in a fire or disaster or moving to another country? Here’s Daisy Luther’s first hand experience of starting over with a plan to build a one year supply in 3 months. 

Be sure to check out her bio at the end of this article. This article was originally published on her website, The Organic Prepper

Keep doing the stuff,


P.S. – For the Primal folks, you can adjust the food items to your lifestyle. 



Posted by:  | on August 4, 2013

pantry primer

Did you ever stop to think about what you would do if all of your preps were gone?  Heaven forbid such a misfortune might happen, but what if your pantry was wiped out in a fire or flood?  If you had to start over, how would you go about it?

As many of you know, my daughter and I have recently moved across the continent, from the easternmost part of Ontario to the Pacific Northwestern US.  Because we were crossing the border, driving through extreme heat, and then storing our belongings in a trailer for a month, I couldn’t bring our food supplies.  We still have our tools and equipment, but we are starting over as far as our pantry is concerned.  As well, we only brought a small trailer, so we are also starting from scratch for goods like toilet paper and laundry soap.

Being without my one-year supply of food makes me feel uncomfortable and very vulnerable, given the economic circumstances in the US today.  To make matters worse, because of the timing of the move, I won’t have a garden to rely on this year aside from a couple of tomato and pepper plants that my friend kindly allowed me to plant in her own garden.

We are fortunate enough to be staying with friends while waiting for our new home to become available, and much to our anticipation, we’ll be moving in this week.  I’ve gotten away from blogging about the day-to-day stuff, but I thought that it might be interesting, especially to new preppers, to see how we rebuild our food supply and get our little farm going on a very tight budget. (That move was expensive!)

Why do you need a one year food supply?

Why do you need a one year food supply?

Simple. A one year food supply means freedom.  It means that you are less subject to the whims of the economy. You can handle small disasters with aplomb.  You aren’t reliant on the government if a crisis strikes.

Food is a control mechanism and has been for centuries.  I wrote an article recently about how governments around the world have used food as a way to subjugate people and bend them to the will of tyrannical leaders.

Here we are, just like at other times in history, right on the verge of losing freedoms to the government machine.  In question is our right to bear arms, our economy, our choices in health care and taxation without representation (via the Obamacare bill).  The offerings at the grocery stores are not just poor, they’re toxic, but growing your own food is frowned upon and made difficult.  Many people believe martial law is close at hand, and there is discussion in the US Congress about microchipping people and about requiring global ID cards.

We are being spied on, taxed, and silenced.  The sheeple don’t care – they just want that next refill on the EBT card, or the next paycheck that will go to pay the minimum payment on their maxed-out credit card. There will be different levels of resistance before it gets to the point of starving people into submission.

First, there are the liberal left-wingers, who don’t require persuasion or bribery – they are giving away their freedom with both hands for the greater good.

Then, you have the dumbed-down population on assistance by choice.  It would be an easy thing to persuade them to take a microchip or hand over their guns.  In fact, we’re seeing just that with the buy-back programs, where folks are trading guns for gift cards.

As times get more desperate (and they will, you can count on it) regular everyday people, like the ones you work with, will give up what seems like a tiny amount of freedom in order to have the “privilege” of putting more food on the table or keeping a roof over the head of their families for another month or two.

That’s when the real crackdown will begin.  When the majority of people are subjugated, tagged and inventoried, even more than they are now,  that’s when the rest of us will be targeted.  Suddenly, without an ID chip, we won’t be able to access our bank accounts.  This would mean that we can’t buy necessities or pay our bills.  If we won’t surrender our weapons, we won’t be able to send our kids to school or access our money to buy food.  Our children won’t be able to see a doctor if they’re sick.  The plan will be to make us so desperate that we will opt for subjugation over freedom.  And they’ll use food to do it.

But you can avoid all of this…simply by being self-reliant. And that starts with a pantry full of food.

The Plan

The goal is to rebuild a healthy one-year food supply over the next three months.  I plan to do that using the following methods:

  • Shopping the sales
  • Buying in bulk
  • Buying from local farmers and preserving the harvest
  • Getting a fall garden going

Our budget isn’t big.  We are starting at square one – our cupboards are absolutely empty. Our journey is comparable to that of a family with a week-to-week budget who is just beginning to build a pantry.  Because we are concurrently shopping for groceries and all of those odds and ends which arise when you move into a new home, I won’t be able to blow an entire weeks’ grocery money on a 100 pound bag of sugar and a 100 pound bag of wheat berries – I have to also keep us fed, healthy, and in clean clothing. After a few weeks of building the pantry, I’ll be able to forgo a weekly shopping trip and put that money towards some large purchases.

pantry now

Today’s Shopping Trip

Today we took a small shopping trip to Big Lots and found some good sales.  Please keep in mind that the foods I purchased can probably be found cheaper than what I paid. However, I opt for organic and chemical free whenever possible. The good health we enjoy from our careful eating habits is well worth the added expense to me.

  • 2 boxes of organic granola $1.95 ea
  • 1 box of organic puffed wheat cereal $1.50
  • 1 box of couscous $2
  • 4 pounds of organic brown rice $2.80
  • 1 box of organic instant oatmeal packs (cringe) $2.50
  • 2 pound bag of sea salt $2
  • 2 cans of organic pasta fagioli soup $1.50 ea
  • 5 containers of spices $8
  • 1 bottle of extra virgin olive oil $6.50

Total with tax:  $33.72

Except for the olive oil, half of the above items will be repackaged and moved to the pantry for storage.  We also purchased

  • 60 rolls of toilet paper $15.00
  • 2 pump bottles of hand soap $1 ea.
  • 1 jug of laundry soap $4
  • 2 bottles of dish soap $1 ea

The laundry soap will last us until we gather the supplies to make our own homemade soap in a couple of weeks.

The dried beans and the peanut butter weren’t a good price, so I’m still on the lookout for those.  We’ll require some fresh items once we get moved in this week: fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, and I plan to pick most of those up at the farmer’s market on Friday.

If you’re new at this…

Please don’t be discouraged when you see all of the doom and gloom out there.  You can take the most important step today…the step of getting started.  I invite you to take this journey with me – we’ll both have a year’s supply of food in no time at all!

About the author: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at


Categories: Food Storage, Frugal Preps, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Being a Prepper and Producer

by Todd Walker

If you had the four basic materials – graphite, cedar, metal, and rubber, could you produce a wooden pencil?

You may be wondering why we’re even talking about a simple writing utensil. They’re not on most List of Lists to help you survive mutant biker zombie attacks. I’ve read that we need guns, lots of ammo, and mall ninja weapons to repel the un-dead. Even blunt objects work in a pinch!

This question isn’t just mental gymnastics. The reality is that no one person can produce a single wooden pencil. The production process is too complicated. If you want to learn more on what goes into producing one pencil, read Leonard Reed’s essay “I, Pencil.” You’ll never take pencils for granted.

If you can’t produce a simple pencil, do you have any hope of producing sustainable stuff like food, water, and fuel? The good news is, yes!

Here’s more good news – you don’t have to produce everything. In fact, you may be better situated by being dependent on others for some of your stuff. This may not sound like SmartPrepper advice, so I’ll explain.

Complete self-sufficiency is rarely going to happen. Think for a moment about the complexity and interconnectedness of our goods and services that we depend on and consume. I make my own DiY deodorant, grow some of our food, collect rain water, and pride myself in being able to produce some stuff we need around our place. I trade time and skill as a teacher for stuff (money) which I exchange with other producers to fill in the gaps for things I don’t or can’t produce, yet. We haven’t ‘arrived’ yet, but every new item I learn to produce is one step closer to freedom.

Take a look at self-sufficiency pins on Pinterest, or #PrepperTalk on Twitter, or other popular preparedness/homesteading blogs to see if you measure up. We tend to fall into the dangerous trap of comparison. Or we get motivated to apply knowledge and start doing the stuff.

Whether events unfold as we fear or not, there will always be the need to trade with other producers. Positioning yourself to be a producer, at whatever scale, will only add value to your future preparations.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of becoming a producer.

  • Value. Producers are people who add value to others. A product or service that adds quality of life to others will always be in high demand and barter-able.
  • Frugal. If you produce your own food or energy, you have a great appreciation for the stuff you’re producing. You understand the hard work, skill, and time that goes into your gadget or groceries. Producers are less likely to take their product for granted. Producers are stewards and are reluctant to squander resources.
  • Independence. Producing stuff, if only for personal use, reduces your dependence on the system that is rigged against you.
  • Interdependence. This is the flip side of producing stuff. No matter how self-sufficient we become, we’ll still need stuff others produce. You’d think this would be a negative. It’s not. If everyone was completely self-sufficient, where would you find a demand for you product. It’s all tied into the complex web of producing and consuming.
  • Wealth. This is a tricky word. The definition changes depending on the circumstance we find ourselves in. After a collapse, fiat dollars in a bank won’t build much wealth for you. When hyperinflation kicks in and you need a wheelbarrow of greenbacks to buy bread, you’re not a wealthy individual. Wealth in this situation means skills, tangibles, and attitude.

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment; I want my environment to be a product of me.” —  William Monahan

The road to preparedness and self-sufficiency is paved with obstacles. Some are speed bumps. Others seem like mountains. Having the ability to produce the food, water, and energy makes you more antifragile. Antifragile systems improve with random roadblocks. They don’t curl up in a corner and cry.

Fuel or energy is needed to do all the pushing, pulling, and lifting to leverage your time. Once the balloon goes up, there will still be modern heavy equipment and vehicles sitting around for resourceful, SmartPreppers use. Instead of an eight ton piece of yard art, producers will be able to fire up these bad boys and do work.

Prepping or Producing?

To prep or produce. Both are necessary. Storing stuff is smart. But how long will that your stored fuel last? And how much is enough? It will eventually go bad or be consumed. I have gas stored for emergencies, but not long-term use.

Here are some sustainable ideas on how to feed the machines to get work done. Before any environmentalists write nasty comments about creating greenhouse gases, go out with your spade and till an acre, no, just a half-acre garden spot by hand and get back to me. Nothing runs like a deere.

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Produce it Yourself energy. To build a generator, you’ll need wire, motion, and magnets. The amount of electricity produced depends the size of these items. Here’s a simple science experiment you can try with the kids to get you in the flow.

Water is a way to provide the force needed to create motion. Hydro power is a viable alternative for those with water available. And you don’t need a large river on your property to get the power flowing.

Producing stuff should be an essential part of your preparedness strategy. That stored stuff won’t last forever.

What’s your plan for producing stuff?

Doing the stuff,



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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, DIY Preparedness, Frugal Preps, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Dandelion Chip Recipe: Eat Your Weeds and Improve Your Health

[Editor's Note: Dandelion is the scourge of many a homeowner. Monsanto to the rescue. Millions of dads dutifully grab their Roundup and kill these pesky weeds - unwittingly reeking havoc on their family's health. John Robb of Resilient Communities says that we spend $30 billion a year maintaining a trillion square feet of yard space in the US alone. Staggering!

What's a better solution? Eat your weeds. Caroline Cooper posted this excellent article recently at Eatkamloops. Thought you might want to try this recipe.]

Delicious Dandelion Control

Posted on May 16, 2013 by 

“The common dandelion, enemy of well-kept lawns, is an exceptionally nutritious food. Its leaves and root contain substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.”
Dandelion Leaf by Mountain Rose Herbs

dandelion chips Delicious Dandelion Control

Dandelion Green Chips are a wonderful spring snack. If this snack caught on it would improve everyone’s health while reducing lawn herbicide!

Are you looking for a non-toxic dandelion control? Eat your weeds and improve your health at the same time!

This winter I discovered Kale Chips. Kale Chips have become my favorite snack food. I couldn’t seem to get enough. As the winter progressed my husband started complaining about the cost of organic kale.

My husband has since planted kale in the garden and will try to overwinter the plants to satisfy my winter comfort food. While in the garden, I was looking at the tiny kale plants and wondering when I could have my first snack. A bright yellow flower caught my eye and said: “Why not Dandelion Green Chips?” It’s times like this that I realize I am walking through my days only half awake.

6-8c garden dandelion greens, remove stem end
1-3T organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2tsp sea salt, ground
pinch of bird’s eye chili or other hot chili, ground

I got a large bowl and started pulling out leaves. I filled the bowl and returned to the kitchen. I removed the stem ends. I tossed the dandelion greens with some extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and a very small amount of bird’s eye chili. I thought the chili might counter-act the bitterness of the dandelion greens. I cooked the dandelion greens at 300°F for about 10-15 minutes.

About 50% of the people in the household loved the Dandelion Green Chips and the other 50% found the chips too bitter. Of course, I have been eating kale all winter so the dandelion didn’t taste bitter to me. Give the recipe a try and tell me what you think.

Categories: Frugal Preps, Natural Health, Real Food, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

20 Ways to Build a Whole Food Kitchen on a Half Price Budget





[Editor's Note] This was originally published by Daisy Luther on her site The Organic Prepper and reprinted here with permission. Daisy has been a friend to our site and frequent contributor. Please share it with family and friends. Check out her bio at the end of this article.

by Daisy Luther

garden veggies

Making a trip to the grocery store these days is like running a gauntlet.  From one side you are assaulted by food-like substances in brightly labeled packages, some even touting exaggerated health benefits from the toxins within.  From the other side, you are gouged and poked by cleverly marketed “natural” foods that are 4 times the price of conventional foods.  When you change directions to avoid one onslaught, you are immediately attacked by the other.

We’re at war and the grocery store is the battlefield.

That war has been declared on us by multiple enemies with unlimited budgets, such as Monsanto, Big Pharma, Big Agri and Big Food.  What’s even worse is that they are aided and abetted by their allies at the FDA and the US Congress, administrations peopled by those who are actually supposed to be the gatekeepers that protect us from this.

What’s a frugal whole food shopper to do?

Lots of people write to me and say, “I’d love to eat the way you do, but I can barely afford regular groceries. There’s no way I could afford all that healthy stuff.”

Good food might be expensive, but as the saying goes, have you checked out the price of illness lately?

If you don’t believe you can afford to eat healthfully, consider the high price of being sick and lethargic.  Calculate the cost of days missed from work for illness. Add up the price of having no energy to play with your kids or to do things that would help you to save money.  Think about the exorbitant prices of medical care.  Many of these things are completely avoidable – all you have to do is feed your body real food and you will be astounded at the resultant glowing health.  How much money have you spent over the last year fighting ill-health that could have been avoided through good nutrition?

GMOs have been proven to cause cancer, ghastly tumors, organ failure, and death.  Many of the additives included in the products proudly displayed on grocery store shelves have been banned in other countries because of the health consequences they wreak.  Top this with a produce section absolutely drenched in pesticides that have been proven to result in cancer, hormone disruptions, and learning problems in children.

To quote the Terminator, “Come with me if you want to live.”

We all know the reasons that we should switch to whole foods, but with the ever-increasing checkout counter inflation, how can we make it happen?  Here are a few realistic tips that do not include relocating to 30 acres of prime spring fed organic  farmland blocked off on 3 sides by mountain ranges.  Realistically, you may not be able to make every one of these things happen, but for each positive change you make, you are taking steps towards better health and you are revolting against the toxic food cartel.

  1. Buy local. Ideally, you never need to set foot in a grocery store.  Change your shopping habits and buy from local farmers, either directly from their farm or from a farmer’s market.  You will get your produce at the optimum time, right after it was picked. As well, you can directly ask the farmer about his practices.  Sometimes farmers grow organically and they just haven’t gone through the expensive and highly regulated certification programs that exist to make increase the monopoly of factory farms. (Find a local farm HERE.)
  2. Join a food co-op or CSA. This is win-win, because it helps out the farmers and it helps out your family.With both of these options, you can register ahead of time (in some cases you pre-pay for the season) and then receive a box brimming with abundance from your own area.  You will get to try lots of new things (this is how we tried one of our family favorites, rutabaga, for the first time) and you will get to do this at a fraction of the price.
  3. Buy produce that is in-season. Purchasing food that is in-season is not just cheaper, it is nutritionally beneficial too.  Buying strawberries in January and asparagus in October requires that the produce be picked before it is fully ripe, and the produce begins to decompose and lose nutrients the second it is separated from the plant.  Avoid the high cost of transporting your “fresh” Christmas berries and melons and stick to the items that nature is currently providing in your area.
  4. Grow as much as you can in the space you have.  Plant a sunny windowsill with salad veggies and herbs, grow a container garden on a balcony, or turn your yard into a mini-farm.  Every bite of food you grow yourself is a revolutionary act.
  5. Plan your menu AFTER shopping, not before. This allows you to stay on budget because you aren’t shopping for special ingredients to make pre-planned meals. You can take advantage of the best deals and plan your meals around those.  This can also help by keeping those unplanned budget purchases from going to waste in your crisper drawer while you carry on with your planned menu.
  6. Drink water. We generally stick to drinking water. Not fluoridated tap water – we purchase 5 gallon jugs or fill them in a spring when that option is available.  Water is cheaper and healthier.  Beverages that you make yourself like coffee and tea are far less expensive than the soda pop and energy drinks that fill most modern refrigerators, not to mention, relatively free of the toxic chemicals that overflow in the store-bought drinks.
  7.  Buy staples in bulk. Organic grains like brown rice, wheat berries, cornmeal, barley and oatmeal can be purchased in bulk quantities.  This reduces the price to lower than or equivalent to the smaller conventional packages that are offered in your local grocery store.
  8. Buy some meats frozen instead of fresh.  Some butcher shops freeze meat that isn’t sold immediately and sell if for a lower price.  Look for deals on frozen chicken breasts, frozen fish, and frozen turkey breast. Fish is nearly ALWAYS cheaper frozen. Just read your ingredients carefully and make sure you are just getting fish, and that the fish is from a safe source (not the radiation-laden Pacific Ocean, for example, or a tilapia farm where they feed fish their own recycled feces).
  9. Buy meat in bulk.  Look into buying beef in quantity.  Check out the prices at local farms for a quarter of a cow.  You will pay slightly more for the lesser cuts but much less for the better quality cuts.  It balances out to a much lower price for meat farmed in the healthiest way possible.
  10. Add some lower priced protein options.  While lots of us would love to have grass-fed beef and free range chicken breasts twice a day, the cost is prohibitive.  Add value-priced wholesome protein with beans, farm fresh eggs, homemade yogurt and cheese, nuts, and milk.
  11. Stop eating out. Just one McCrud meal for a family of 4 is between $20-30.  Delivered pizza is about $25 plus a tip. The $45-55 that you would spend for this “convenience” could buy a lot of whole foods.
  12. Get into the habit of bringing a cooler with you.  If you are going to be out running errands for the day, load up a cooler with healthy snacks, water, and even a picnic lunch.  This is the perfect answer to the lament from the back seat, “I’m huuuunnnngryyyy.”
  13. Don’t buy anything with an ingredients list greater than 5 items. The more items on the ingredients list, the more likely you are to be consuming someone’s chemistry project.  Even things that sound relatively innocuous, like “natural flavorings” can be, at best, unappetizing, and at worst, harmful.
  14. Cook from scratch. Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you might expect.  I don’t spend hours each day slaving in the kitchen. Spend a weekend afternoon prepping your food for the week ahead and you can have weekday dinners on the table in less than half an hour.  Consider the price differences in homemade goods:  homemade tortillas (pennies for a package that would be $3 at the store), pizza dough, peanut butter oatmeal cookies, trail mix,  and granola bars. This stuff is literally pennies on the dollar in comparison to the same goods store-bought.
  15. Some conventionally grown foods are okay. Learn about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.  Some foods have a fairly low pesticide load, even when conventionally grown.  Use these foods to help offset the higher prices of items that are soaked in poison, like strawberries.
  16. You will actually eat LESS when you feed your body.  Part of the reason that the obesity problem is epidemic in North America is because people are desperately seeking nutrients from depleted food-like substances.  Their bodies are crying out, “I’m hungry!” even though they have consumed thousands of calories, because their nutritional requirements are not being met. What’s more, many chemicals are added because they are engineered in a way that makes you want to eat more and more (like MSG, for example).  They don’t stimulate the satiety centers in the brain that tell your body that it’s full.
  17. Brown bag your lunches.  When I worked outside the home, most of my coworkers ate out every single day.  They often invited me along, saying that a certain restaurant offered “healthy” food.  The thing is, the price of that presumably healthy food was 4-6 times higher than the healthy food that I had brought from home.  My daughter takes a healthy lunch from home to school every day, as opposed to eating the offerings there.  Depending on the school, this may or may not be cheaper, but it’s guaranteed to be more nutritious.
  18. Preserve food.  Whether you grow it yourself, rescue it from the “last day of sale” rack at the grocery store, or buy it by the bushel from a farmer, learning to preserve your own food allows you to buy in bulk and squirrel some of that delicious food away for the winter ahead.  Canning, dehydrating, and freezing are all methods to help extend the summer harvest for use later in the year.
  19. Eat leftovers.  The act of eating leftovers is almost unheard of, it seems.  But if you put aside small amounts of leftovers in a freezer container, you can make “soup” for a meal that is basically free because it came from items that would have otherwise been discarded.  Use larger amounts of leftovers for lunch boxes or  a “buffet-style” meal for the family.
  20. “Shop” from nature.  You might be surprised to learn how many edible plants are growing wild in your own neighborhood.  Even city dwellers can often find things to forage.  When we lived in the city, we used to pick up fallen walnuts from a tree in a local park.  For those not ethically opposed to it, hunting or fishing can abundantly supply your protein needs, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are consuming antibiotics and hormones with game.

If you’re ready to make a change to a whole foods lifestyle, don’t let your budget hold you back!  Take a long hard look at what you are spending on take-out coffees and lattes, fast food, delivered pizza, microwave meals, and frozen dinners that you shove into the oven. Look at the beverage budget you spend at the grocery store every week, and keep track of how many soda pops you buy from the vending machine at work. You might be pleasantly surprised when your budget goes down, instead of up!

About the author: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at


Categories: Frugal Preps, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hunt-Gather-Eat Wild Foods: Ostrich Fern Shoots

Editor’s Note: Today we’re pleased to have a guest post by The Crunchy Mama on eating wild foods. We look forward to further value adding posts by her in the future. Before going out to gather a basket of weeds to eat, make sure you have properly identified the plant before eating. This is a valuable skill in a pre and post SHTF world. 

This article originally appeared on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead. See her full bio below. 

My wild [food] adventures — ostrich fern shoots


My journey with wild foods began when I first became aware that socio-economic collapse was possible (and probable).  I bought several wild edible field guides and began to look for the plants.  For the past few years, I have added a few wild edibles to my knowledge base and diet.  Last fall, I found a revolutionary set of books on wild food that my set of wild food adventures on fire!  Those books are John Kallas’ (KAY-less) Edible Wild Plants and Samuel Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden.  I’ll be talking about the books in coming posts but I want to dive into some great and ready-right-now wild foods that are easy to find and identify.  In the meantime, you should check out their reviews on

So, let’s take some wild food adventures together!  Spring is a great time to learn about, find and eat wild foods because there is not too much vegetation to overwhelm you — at least in the Midwest and northern part of the US.  Once the heat of late spring and summer comes, it might be harder because so many things are growing.

The first and tastiest wild vegetable that I want to urge you to go out and find is ostrich fern shoots and fiddleheads.  Oh my goodness, if people were to be introduced to wild foods with ostrich fern shoots and fiddleheads rather than dandelion leaves, we might have more wild food eaters.  And, one more thing before we begin: I will only post about wild edibles that I have personal experience with.

ostrich fern shoots mid-spring

Green Deane, who runs the most watched foraging channel on YouTube called EatTheWeeds (, teaches us to itemize a wild food.  ITEM = identification (be sure the plant is what you think it is by examining its features), time of year (is it the right time for eating a particular plant part?), environment (where does it like to grow; under what conditions?), and method of preparation (can you eat it raw or must you cook it a particular way?).

So, we are going to itemize ostrich ferns because there are some fern species that you don’t want to eat.

Identifying features of Ostrich ferns during the edible season for this plant which is spring when the trees are leafing out:

  • The ostrich fern shoots are either green, smooth and shiny or have a thin whitish powder covering the stalk. The ones that I’ve enjoyed are the ones with a very fine whitish powder.
  • They have a tightly coiled top (called a fiddlehead).
  • They have a deep groove running up the middle of the shoot (think of a celery stalk groove) and, according to Samuel Thayer on page 80 of The Forager’s Harvest, this groove is what distinguishes the ostrich fern from other INEDIBLE fern shoots.
  • They taste crisp and sweet.

Time of year for collecting and eating ostrich fern shoots:

  • Mid-spring; about the same time as when the leaves begin to emerge on the trees


  • The Midwest and Northeast of the US in river bottom forests and “places prone to erosion by floods or human disturbance” because they need bare soil its spores to germinate.
  • Mine are in a flood plain of a creek.  Unfortunately, I do not have large population of them so it is a rare spring treat to have a few servings of them in the spring.

Method of Preparation:

  • Pick the stalks near the base when the stalks are between 8 and 28 inches tall AND they still have the tightly coiled top (the fiddlehead).
  • Only pick 1/3 to ½ of the stalks from one rosette so as not to kill the entire plant and only do this once per season for each rosette.
  • They can be eaten raw but boiled or steamed until tender and served with butter is a very tasty way to eat them.
  • Thayer lives near a super abundance of them and collects enough to freeze and pressure-can some so that he can enjoy them throughout the year.
  • ostrich fern shoots to boil

Here is a video of ostrich fern shoots growing on my property:

Remember that “knowledge weighs nothing” and, even if your food storage is stolen or destroyed, you can still have food by knowing the foods that nature supplies!  Practice eating wild foods now so that should you ever need to rely on them for short-term or long-term you will have confidence in foraging for them.

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation.  She can be followed on Twitter @thecrunchymama or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.


Categories: Bushcraft, Frugal Preps, Real Food, Survival, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

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