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Prepping Checklist | Prepping for Beginners Supplies & Guide

Prepping is more than a hobby, it's a lifestyle. In an instant, chaos can erupt and disrupt your regular routine. When this occurs, many people find themselves in a panic, attempting to prepare for the eventuality after it has already happened.

However, those who aren't panicking have taken the necessary steps to prepare for these events well in advance. Learn how to start prepping for beginners without feeling overwhelmed or confused.

In this guide, we'll detail how you can start the process of how to be a prepper. Specifically, we'll discuss the crucial beginner prepper checklist and prepping survival strategies for various natural disasters that could impact your livelihood depending on your location. We also offer adownloadable version of this survival guide for your convenience. 

How to Start Prepping for Beginners  

be prepared

As a novice in the world of prepping, you must first establish a solid foundation. This means you need to comprehend and prepare for any emergency. Some situations will be evergreen and standard for all preppers.

Other scenarios will be more specific to your geographical location and the events that can occur there. For instance, living on the west coast, wildfires are a more probable threat than if you dwell in the midwest.

The same principle applies if you reside in a coastal state like Florida. The likelihood of experiencing a hurricane is significantly higher than encountering a blizzard. Below, we detail six fundamental steps for how to start prepping as a beginner that will guide you on the right path 

The Beginner Prepper Checklist 

  1. Build a solid foundation.
  2. Get your home ready for two weeks of self-reliance.
  3. Be able to leave your home with only a moment’s notice (“bug out bag list”).
  4. Prepare for emergencies that happen while you are away from home (“get home bags” and everyday carry).
  5. Learn core survival skills and practice with your gear.
  6. Share and recruit while continuing to learn and going beyond the basics.


1. How to Prep a Solid Foundation 

As a novice in the world of prepping, laying a firm foundation is your initial step on this journey. To build a reliable base as a prepper, you should begin by stocking up on a few everyday essentials.

We often refer to these items as evergreen products. Evergreen products are items like water reserves, emergency food from providers like Valley Food Storage, first aid kits, hygiene products, and sanitation supplies. These are the first products every beginner prepper should start with. 

Food Prepping: A Guide on How to Start Prepping

valley food storage long term food storage buckets


While both processes offer extended shelf life, freeze dried food shelf life is generally longer due to the thoroughness of moisture removal. This enhanced longevity makes freeze-dried food a popular choice for emergency food storage, particularly when planning for long-term scenarios. However, you can (and we do!) use high-barrier packaging and oxygen absorbers to boost the freeze dried food shelf life of dehydrated food, helping it to also reach that goal of a stable 25 year freeze dried food shelf life.

Emergency food can be the difference between panicking and peace of mind in a crisis. Therefore, we at Valley Food Storage recommend starting out by storing at least two weeks of emergency food as a fundamental aspect of prepping for beginners. More seasoned preppers often have 6-24 months worth of food stored.

Yet, the more emergency food you stock, the longer it will last and the better prepared you will be. Here at Valley Food Storage, you can find emergency food like survival kits, freeze-dried meats, freeze-dried fruits and freeze-dried vegetables

[product_render product-handle="7-day-emergency-food-supply"] 

Knowing how much food to prepare ahead of time is vital for survival. The amount of calories a person needs to remain healthy depends on age, sex, activity level, and body type.

In any survival situation, maintaining your energy levels is crucial. It's essential to plan your emergency food supply based on the specific nutritional requirements of your household. For instance, high-protein and high-energy foods are especially valuable in a crisis scenario, as they offer sustained energy and are often packed with essential nutrients.

Younger adults and kids typically require more calories because their bodies are still actively growing. As you age, you need to consume fewer calories. 

On average, men consume more calories than women. This is because the average body type and size of males is larger than the average for women. Your activity level also affects how many calories you should consume. 

Typically, the more active you are, the more calories you should consume. So, for example, in a bug-out situation, you will need to eat more food than if you are hunkering down and bugging in. 

Water Prepping: An Essential Step on How to Be a Prepper

rain water collecting in a rain barrel


The next thing every beginner prepper should stock up on is water. Stocking up on water is as important as stocking up on emergency food. You won't make it very long without food or water when disaster strikes.

Food and water are always the first two products that disappear at stores, making it crucial to have your own stockpile as part of effective prepping survival tactics. For example, when starting your water stock, you need to stock two types of water.

The first should always be clean drinking water that will last at least two weeks. This means keeping 14 gallons of water stored away. We based this on the daily average water 

consumption for humans. Collected rainwater is the second type of water you should be storing. Collected rainwater is a great way to store lots of water in rainwater barrels.

When considering how to start prepping, it's important to remember that water purification tablets or a reliable filtration system should be a part of your survival kit. This ensures that you can make the most out of your stored rainwater, even using it for drinking once properly purified.

The first way to use rainwater is by purifying the water to drink. You would want to do this once you run out of your normal stock of emergency water. The second use for collected rainwater is to replace your running water. For example, collected rainwater is great for cooking food, washing dishes, watering the garden, washing clothes, and doing other household chores.

During infrastructure failure running water is one of the first things to fail. You can read more about collecting rainwater, harvesting, and purifying in our blog abouthow collecting rainwater can help you survive.  

First Aid Prepping: An Essential Aspect of Prepping Survival

first aid prep

Another essential evergreen product for beginners is first aid supplies. During emergencies, hospitals often become overwhelmed, and wait times increase. When this happens, you need to be capable of managing injuries yourself while you wait for care. This means knowing how to treat cuts against infection or how to splint broken bones. Below is a list of first aid supplies recommended by theRed Cross.

  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Leg splint
  • Arm splint
  • Latex gloves
  • Emergency blanket
  • First aid guide

    One aspect of prepping survival often overlooked is the necessity of prescription medications. If you or any member of your household relies on prescription drugs, having a stockpile could be lifesaving. Talk to your doctor about getting an emergency supply of necessary medications.

    Besides collecting the tools you will need to perform first aid, it’s also a great idea to gain the skills you will need also. Chances are that well-seasoned preppers who have been prepping for years already have the first aid skills necessary to provide medical care in an emergency. However, beginner preppers might not. That is why signing up for basic first aid and CPR training with the Red Cross could make you a hero when minutes matter. 

    Prepping Hygiene and Sanitation: A Key Aspect of How to Be a Prepper 

    cleaning supplies in a pantry


    Hygiene and sanitation products are products beginners should stock up. These products are anything that you use to keep your personal hygiene in check or keep a clean home.

    In a crisis, maintaining personal hygiene can prevent many health issues. As part of your prepping survival strategy, don't forget to include items like hand sanitizers and wet wipes. These can be used when water is scarce, helping to prevent the spread of germs and disease.

    These products can be hard to find or get to in emergencies, depending on the type of emergency. 

    Therefore, we recommend keeping a stockpile of all the hygiene products you use in your bathroom. These include soap, hair products, feminine hygiene products, dental care, toiletries, and hand soap. 

    This will reduce the chances of your personal health declining. We also believe it is crucial for beginners to keep a stockpile of cleaning supplies.

    In addition to basic cleaning supplies, consider including disposable gloves and garbage bags in your prepping survival kit. These will not only help maintain cleanliness but also assist in waste management, a crucial aspect of how to start prepping.

    Keeping a cleaning supply stock is crucial for lowering the spread of disease. The dirtier your home is, the higher the chance for disease to spread. In addition, as we mentioned earlier, hospitals are overcrowded in emergencies. 

    Keeping a clean house lowers the chance of getting sick and keeps you away from crowded hospitals. 

    2. Prepping Survival: How to Start Prepping for Two Weeks of Self-Reliance

    In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it may take weeks, even months, to get back to everyday life. That is why we recommend how to prep yourself to be self-reliant for a minimum of two weeks, if not longer.

    For example, if your food reserves will not last multiple weeks, you need to have a plan to get more food. Hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging for food are all essential skills to remain self-reliant.

    In terms of food storage, Valley Food Storage provides a wide range of emergency food options that can be a lifesaver during such times. With long shelf-life and easy preparation, these food items ensure that you have a reliable food source, reducing the immediate pressure to hunt or forage.

    Likewise, for water, it’s vital to have a plan to continue collecting and treating water if the water you prepped ahead of time runs out. We recommend having at least two different strategies for collecting and treating water.


    3. Prepping for Beginners: How to be a Prepper Ready to Bug Out With Only a Moment’s Notice 

    In certain scenarios, the most intelligent decision may be to evacuate or bug out. For example, imagine a hurricane bearing down on your home located in a flood-prone area. The best decision, in this case, is to evacuate to higher ground and wait out the storm in a safer location. 

    To evacuate efficiently and to remain prepared while on the go, you need to have abug-out bag. Typically, a bug-out bag is a backpack filled to the brim with different survival necessities that help you stay fed, hydrated, and generally more comfortable throughout your evacuation.

    As you begin to build out your bug-out bags, consider these tips.

    • Everyone in the family should have their bug-out bag and know exactly where it’s located. 
    • Bug-out bags should contain a reserve of fresh drinking water and ready-to-go food, along with other survival equipment.
    • The equipment you pack into your bug-out bag should be lightweight and travel-sized.  
    • Your bug-out bags should be stored in a cool and dry location. For example, you can wrap yours in a trash bag and keep them in a specific plastic tote in the garage.

    Start building your own bug out bag with ourbug out bag essentials checklist.


    4. How to Prep for Emergencies that Happen Away From Home 

    Ideally, you will know ahead of time when sh*t is about to hit the fan (SHTF). But realistically, you never know when disaster may strike. That is why it’s essential to be prepared, no matter your location. 

    For example, think about leaving your home to run an errand, and in that time, an earthquake strikes. In this scenario, you may not be able to return home right away. But, in this case, you’ll be glad you prepped emergency supplies in your car.

    For those of us who travel often or frequently commute to and from work, prepping a bug-out bag in yourhigh water vehicle is a critical step in being properly prepared. 

    Here are some recommendations to consider for your travel-sized bug-out bag.

    • Have a change of clothes just in case you are caught in your work attire.  
    • Prep a backup pair of comfortable shoes if you need to change out of sandals, high-heels, or formal dress shoes.
    • Consider alternate routes back to your home or bug-out location in case your main route is impassable. 
    • Design a communication plan ahead of time with your family back home just in case you cannot get home quickly.

      5. Prepping Survival: Learn Core Skills, Practice With Your Gear & Maintain Your Equipment To Prep 

      Being adequately prepared for any disaster imaginable does not just mean hoarding food, water, and equipment until every empty space in your home is filled with emergency supplies.

      On the contrary, being adequately prepared means having the correct amount of supplies, knowing where they are located, and having the skills to utilize them efficiently. Not to mention also keeping them maintained, so your supplies are ready no matter how long it has been since you started prepping.

      One aspect of how to be a prepper that is often overlooked is the mental preparation. It's crucial to understand that emergencies and disasters can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for this stress can make a significant difference in how effectively you can respond to an emergency situation.

      You’ve all probably heard the age-old proverb, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

      This proverb encapsulates the essence of prepping survival. It's not just about gathering resources; it's also about acquiring knowledge and skills. The more you know, the more self-reliant you can be.

      Learn Core Skills

      • Hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging
      • Fire building 
      • Survival shelter construction 
      • Water collection and treatment
      • Orienteering 

      Practice With Your Gear

      • Cook on a camp stove
      • Practice pitching your tent 
      • Navigate and orienteer with a map and compass
      • Grow a garden
      • Practice making a fire utilizing different techniques

      Maintain your Equipment 

      • Check for expiration dates on your food and medications
      • Label and organize your emergency supplies
      • Replace dead batteries 
      • Store your supplies in an area that is protected from water damage and rodents

      6. Connect and Share Your Prepping Experience With Other Preppers 

      Prepping for emergencies and disasters can feel like it’s you against the world. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. In reality, there is an entire network and community of like-minded preppers who are passionate about remaining self-reliant and protecting their families just like you.

      Nowadays, the internet is a wealth of knowledge. For example, there are a ton of helpful blogs and Youtube channels that can help you begin prepping. Similarly, there aregroups of preppers who enjoy working together and sharing their knowledge about prepping.

      Finally, remember that prepping survival is a journey, not a destination. It's a lifestyle choice that involves continuous learning and adaptation. So don't be discouraged if you don't have everything figured out right away. The important thing is to start somewhere and keep improving over time. 

      Situational Prepping for Beginners: Tailoring Your Strategies to Your Environment

      firefighter doing his job

      We mentioned earlier that depending on your geographical location, you would experience different disasters. The following paragraphs detail how beginners should prepare for various disasters.

      The disasters that vary by location are wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes. Each disaster is different, and the way you prepare is too. Yet, the evergreen products we listed will still be essential for any of these disasters.

      To properly prep for the natural disaster that most likely affects you, it’s important to specialize in your prepping process and equipment. For example, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, the extra clothing you will want to prep will probably need to be lightweight and waterproof. On the other hand, folks who are concerned about blizzards probably want to prep extra heavy jackets, socks, and gloves.

      Prepping for a specific type of natural disaster that is likely to impact where you live is very important. However, there are some events, like preparing for inflation or grocery store food shortages that affect a wider area besides just specific geographical regions. 

      Prepping for Wildfires: A Beginner's Guide

      wildfire in a brush

      If you live on the west coast, you will likely encounterwildfires. These fires aren't limited to the west coast yet, but they happen the most in that region. As a beginner in the prepping world, you need to be ready to encounter a disaster like a wildfire. And the best way to be ready for a disaster is to prepare.

      One thing to consider is how to prep your house for wildfires. This involves creating a defensible space around your house, which is an area where vegetation has been reduced to slow the spread of the fire and reduce its intensity. This space also makes it safer for firefighters to defend your property. The defensible space is typically 30 feet of "lean, clean, and green" space immediately surrounding the house, and then 70 feet of reduced fuel space beyond that.

      Wildfires move rapidly and therefore are hard to contain. Because of this, you must prepare to flee when the fires get too close to your home. This means keeping an emergency, or bug-out bag prepped and ready to go.

      This bag should contain enough supplies to get you and your family from your home to a safe location. That means at least two days' worth of food, water, first aid, and hygiene products.

      These supplies should not replace your emergency food, and your emergency destination should still have a stock of evergreen prepping products.

      To properly prepare for a wildfire, you need to secure the six P’s.

      1. People and pets- ensure everyone in the family is present and accounted for, including your precious pets.
      2. Phone numbers and essential documents- communication with other family members, doctors, and emergency personnel is vital during a wildfire evacuation scenario.
      3. Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses- you should not have to sacrifice your health and well-being because you’ve evacuated from your home.
      4. Pictures and significant memorabilia
      5. Personal computers and other necessary technology- preserving your computers and other important devices will help you remain connected and access the internet.
      6. Plastic, i.e., credit cards, ATM cards, and cash- after evacuating, having your credit or ATM cards, or cash will allow you to book a hotel and buy food and water.

        Prepping for Hurricanes: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners


        cargo ship our in the ocean

        Beginner prepping for ahurricane is like a beginner prepping for wildfires. In both situations, you want to prepare to leave your home once at a moment's notice. Like preparing for a wildfire, you need to have a bug-out bag.

        These bags should have enough food, water, first aid, and hygiene to get you to your emergency destination. The difference between the two disasters is you can better prepare your home for a hurricane.

        You can prepare your home for a hurricane by boarding your windows and doors. Reinforcing your windows and doors will mitigate the water damage to your home caused by flooding. Knowing this, we recommend keeping a stockpile of plywood and nails to cover all your doors and windows. It is better to know how to prepare for a flood for survival.

        As part of your hurricane checklist, you should also keep a stockpile of sandbags in your home. During a severe storm, greywater backs up from the influx of water that enters the system. The extra water creates failures in the drainage system by overloading our waterways.

        Using sandbags can help mitigate the amount of gray water that enters your home. Sandbags should cover your home over floor wastes and drains. These drains are often found in bathrooms, showers, laundry rooms, and basements.

        Another thing to consider when prepping for hurricanes is having a plan to stay informed about the storm's progress. This can include a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, preferably one that receives the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards network. Also, make sure to have a list of emergency numbers, including your local emergency management office, law enforcement, public safety fire/rescue, power company, and your family's contact information.

        Using sandbags will keep gray water from backing up into your home, causing water damage. 

        Prepping for Tornadoes: A Beginner's Guide

        tornado season prep

        Tornadoes are the next type of natural disaster that could cause you to flee your home. We recommend you utilize our tornado emergency kit checklist to be as prepared as possible. 

        How to start prepping for tornadoes? It's simpler than you might think.

        Tornado prepping is similar to hurricanes in that there are things you can do to your home to remain safer. 

        • You can remove dead or damaged branches from the trees around your home to remove the chance of falling overhead hazards. 
        • We recommend you remove debris and moveable items from around your yards, such as wood piles and BBQ grills.
        • Reinforce the weak points of your home, such as the windows, doors, and garage.This is a key aspect of tornado prepping survival.

        During tornado season, it’s essential to know the difference between a tornado watch and a warning. A tornado watch is a preliminary warning that informs you that weather conditions are worsening and that a tornado may be possible. We recommend preparing your home and bug-out bags during a tornado watch.

        On the other hand, a tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been spotted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings are severe and often indicate that evacuation may be necessary should the tornado come close enough to your home.

        Blizzard Prepping for Beginners: How to Prep for the Cold 

        cars driving in a blizzard

        Blizzards are the last type of natural disaster you might need to prepare for. Blizzards affect people in the northern midwest states. Blizzards differ from the previous disasters we mentioned.

        Instead of fleeing your home, you need to bunker down and not leave your home. Therefore, keeping a stock of survival food buckets in your home becomes crucial. It becomes vital because you need enough supplies until the blizzard has passed.In addition, keeping little treats like freeze-dried fruit can help make these long days pass a little easier, especially with little ones around.

        We recommend keeping at least two weeks of stock in preparation for blizzards. In this way, prepping survival for blizzards can become second nature.

        Even though a blizzard won't last a whole two weeks, the effects of a blizzard can easily last two weeks. These effects include infrastructure failure, empty grocery stores, and dangerous road conditions. Once the blizzard passes, you can leave your home and restock your supplies. 

        Power Outages: How to be a Prepper for Power Loss

        power outage prep


        Like blizzards, power outages can cause you to bunker down in your home for an extended period. Blizzards can cause power outages, but they are not the only cause of power outages.

        During a power outage, you want to ensure you have enough resources to last you two weeks. While preparing for a power outage, you want to ensure you have a plan for emergency lighting and regaining access to power.

        Here are some tips for surviving during power outages

        • Prepare an emergency generator and extra fuel ahead of time.
        • Utilize solar panels to charge your devices like cell phones, headlamps, and radios.
        •  Keep a stockpile of different-sized batteries.
        • Use auxiliary power banks and rechargeable batteries to keep your essential devices charged up. 

        You also want to make sure you have a way to cook your emergency food if you rely on electricity for cooking. You can do this by getting a camping stove and stocking up on propane and other types of fuel or knowing some method of cooking without electricity

        The Essential Beginner Prepper Checklist 

        emergency prep checklist

        For each of these situations, the supplies you need are standard, but the way you use them will differ. To make things easier on you, we have created a prepping list for beginners.

        These are products you should be stocking up on no matter what. Of course, the items on this beginner prepper list are not the only things you should be stocking. But it is a great place to start.

        Final Thoughts on Prepping for Beginners

        Beginning Prepper Survival Guide Download 

        Kudos to you for beginning your prepping journey! Prepping takes time, energy, and a substantial financial investment. But what you put into the process will all be worth it when you can keep yourself and your family more comfortable in the aftermath of an unexpected disaster and emergency scenario.

        We understand that the process of learning how to be a prepper may feel intimidating. So, that is why we are here to help. Our Practical Prepper Blog is a fantastic resource for beginner (and expert) preppers.

        And for any questions about freeze-dried food and food storage, we have product experts waiting at the ready.Click here to schedule a meeting and get all your questions answered. As you continue your journey of prepping survival, remember that Valley Food Storage is always here to support you