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Traditional Homemaking or Doomsday Prepping?


“Prepping” is a word hot in our culture right now. There is an inclination that food storage, elaborate first aid kits, and other means of preparing, is an indication someone is awaiting Doomsday. The truth is, for decades women would prepare for her family’s needs before the need came about. It’s a way to love your family, while being a good steward of your family’s income. Basically, the only new thing about it is the stigma.

Why preserve? A good home economist knows how to stretch a dollar, and stocking up on food when prices are low is smart. It’s not hoarding, and it’s not being paranoid – –  it’s understanding that to assume nothing will happen is a risk.

But what could happen? Incidents of nature, an unexpected expense, or job loss can happen. If you have never watched your bank account dwindle to nothing as you continue to look for a job, you might not get it. It’s an unemployment experience which propelled me into the world of stocking up. Now that we are on track again, I continue to stock up because I’ve had a life’s lesson I’ll never forget.

The main reason in my immediate mind for preserving and stocking up is, saving money. I shop in the bulk section at the farmers market where restaurants buy their produce for a song. One time I got 38 pounds of cabbage for $5. I get cases of Roma tomatoes for $10-$12, and last fall 42 pounds of apples once for $12. What can you do with all that food, you ask? It cooks down. A lot. Thirty pounds of apples yielded only 6 quarts of apple sauce. Tomatoes cook down tremendously, and I use them for sauce and sun dried tomatoes. Ten pounds of cabbage yields 5 quarts of sauerkraut. So it sounds like my family eats like a stadium of teenage boys, but the raw numbers (if you will) are misleading. Next time there’s a sale on produce, and you think, “we could never eat that much,” you might not be thinking about the actual yield.

My family has delicious, preservative-free food for an extremely low price. We get to enjoy the seasons’ harvests all year long. And buying in bulk allows me to experiment, and if those experiments don’t turn out, I’m not out much money.

My home canned food just tastes fresher, is more flavorful, and I get to adjust the recipe to my family’s tastes. I make peach barbecue sauce, relish, salsa, and even taco sauce. It’s fun, and it’s special. As a side bonus, my family is really proud of my canned concoctions. My 8 year-old proclaimed my canned turkey soup “the best soup in the world.” My honey spiced peaches have become a winter tradition for my family. I can them each summer, and my kids stare at them with anticipation of popping the jars open when winter makes its chilly appearence.

Another way canned and preserved food comes in handy, is when produce sales are not good. Instead of paying high prices for fruit one week, I’ll either serve applesauce, frozen fruit or smoothies, canned or dried fruit. Same with vegetables. We were recently getting ready for vacation, and I didn’t want to buy food, only to let it spoil while we were gone. So, I simply used my preserved food instead.

I use my preserved food almost on a daily basis – – I don’t lock it away for years, I actually use it. With things like jams, sauces, and fruit butters, I use those within three years. But my pressure canned items like soups and pork barbecue, I like to use within a year, even though they are safe for eating well beyond that.

If my husband comes home and tells me we have a $4,000 car repair, I can tell him I won’t need to grocery shop for a few weeks, and after that I’ll just need some incidentals. If we get snowed in, I’ve got it covered. If someone in my family gets sick, I’ve got homemade chicken soup all jarred up. When my neighbor had surgery, I had an extra meal in the freezer I could share.

There is a blog I really love called “Hickory Holler.” The author talks about how people consider her a “prepper” and mock her for it. But an ice storm blanketed her town, and there was no electricity for weeks. So, the author warmed her canned food over a fire, since they were prepared with fire wood. They delivered the food to neighbors, who were not prepared. Here is a quote from her blog:

“So the next time someone remarks negatively about your lifestyle choices or makes comments about your gardening addiction, quilting addiction, food hoarding or canning addiction. The next time someone tells you that you can buy it cheaper at Walmart than you can grow or can it. Or better yet how old fashioned you are. Just smile and think to yourself that there may come a day when those Walmart shelves are empty and plant a little extra for the neighbors.”

It’s interesting how stocking up on food is seen as extreme, when people spend money on flood and other emergency insurance, when the chances are slim something will ever happen. But there’s a chance, so it’s better to be prepared. I consider my children not eating for a couple weeks as the same level of risk. It likely will not happen, but why take a chance?

If you are a prepper, good for you. I consider you to be a hard working, self-reliant person who understands FEMA may take three weeks or more to feed your family in an emergency, if they even get to you at all. Preppers don’t feel entitled to what others have – – they are providing for themselves ahead of time. They won’t be breaking in people’s homes for food, or blaming their children’s empty stomachs on the government. They won’t be expecting neighbors to take food away from their children to give over to them, because they didn’t plan. I have respect for preppers.

As for me, I’m just a traditional housewife, stretching my husband’s paycheck, and stashing away provisions. I’m about to restock some items we’ve consumed, and my goal is to have 3 months of provisions. It’s not obsession, or paranoia – –  to me, it just makes “cents.”





{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nancy May 30, 2015, 1:51 PM

    Great article! I admire the fact that you are prepared with food and wouldn’t go hungry if something happened. Also that you take advantage of the fresh produce in season. Smart idea. Our ancestors did it for generations and it is good to see it making a comeback! Keep on prepping.

  • Debra June 1, 2015, 6:09 PM

    Fantastic article! I am also a canner/prepper. I can’t imagine not being prepared for the “what if’s”.

  • Jerry Roberts July 2, 2020, 5:42 PM

    My wake up call was during the aftermath of hurricane while raising two teenage grandsons. Two weeks without electricity, one week without water, all roads blocked with debris for over a week and an empty cupboard. When the roads were opened I drove over 60 miles to the nearest opened Wal-Mart to find empty shelves and one mile long gas lines.
    Living on the Gulf Coast of Texas saves us from blizzards and multiple ice storms but in exchange we receive hurricanes and floods. Hurricane Harvey dumped 34 inches in 4 days. Thanks to our stores of food and medical supplies we were able to eat well and help multiple families in our area. Our medical supplies supported a volunteer clinic at a local church when the local hospital flooded. We never know what tomorrow has in store for us.

  • Jerry Roberts August 7, 2020, 6:38 PM

    Here are a list of Prepper items, and their use, that have a very long shelf life. Some are emergency replacements for products that may not be available. Add or subtract from this list as needed.

    Alcohol, Isopropyl 91% Sanitizing, fuel, self defense, insecticide
    Ammonia Sanitizing, insecticide, defense
    Baby Oil (Mineral Oil Base) Hygiene, skin lotion
    Bath Soap – Hard Bars Hygiene (will last 60+ years)
    Bicarbonate of Soda Acid Neutralizer, Used for Indigestion, deodorizer, underarm deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
    Coffee filters Water filters, scouring pads.
    Denatured Alcohol Cleaner, fuel, antifreeze
    Diapers, Disposable Absorbs moisture for sealed storage items
    Dish washing Detergent Cleaning, Insecticide, DAWN diluted in water will kill any insect when sprayed with the solution.
    Epson Salt Laxative, soaking wounds, fertilizer
    Fabric and thread Clothing or patching
    Honey (undiluted) known to last over 1000 years
    Kleenex Obvious, Toilet paper substitute
    Lamp Fuel or Kerosene Cheap lighting, penetrating oil – when the batteries are gone you will need a oil lamp for lighting
    Lamp Wicks – sized for your lamps Obvious
    Laundry Soap, Powdered – Granular Cleaning
    Linseed Oil, boiled Wood, metal and leather preservative
    Liquor Disinfectant, stress reliever
    Listerine Antiseptic, mouth wash, fine mist kills mosquitoes.
    Mask – N95 or Dust Sickness or dust concentrations
    Notebook Paper Notes, Documentation, Home School Lessons, etc.
    Paper Plates Multiple use
    Paper Towels Cleaning, filters, emergency lamp wicks
    Paraffin Candles, preservative, lubricant
    Pencils, Lead Notes, Documentation, Lessons, Homeschooling,etc.
    Phosphoric Acid Sanitizing, cleaning
    Q Tips Obvious – also a few drops of alcohol on the tip and ignite to light your stove or oil lamp when matches are low.
    Salt – Table, Rock, Canning, Sea Food preservation, seasoning, medicinal, melting ice
    Sugar, White or Brown Sealed containers, may turn hard but still usable. Self preserving.
    Sanitary Napkins Hygiene, bandages for wounds.
    Sulfur Medicinal, Insecticide (1 lb burnt in a vacated building kills everything – fleas, bedbugs, roaches, mice, snakes, etc.) The preferred exterminator of the 19th century.
    Tar, Roofing – Sealed cans Patching roofs, boats, tanks, Drain pipe sealer.
    Toilet Seats – Plastic Always keep a spare. If the old one breaks and the stores are closed.
    Toilet Paper Hygiene – More comfortable than corn shucks
    Vanilla Extract (Pure) Obvious, used as perfume in the distant past
    Vaseline Skin ointment, Lubricant
    Vicks Vapor Rub Medicinal
    Vinegar Pickling, heat rash, pain killer, glass cleaner, etc.
    White Lime (powdered) For deodorizing the outhouse, sprinkle over waste. Garden soil supplement to produce sweeter cantaloupes and watermelons. Sprinkle over harvested potatoes for preservation.
    Wines Takes the edge off – Turns to vinegar when old

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