For those of you new to the scene, a little catch-up: Thomas and I moved to the U.K. from Canada a little under a month ago. This cross-continental move put us in a bit of an odd position from a prepping point of view. Quite obviously – it left us in the weird position of not having a stockpile at all for the first time in years.
Even while we were gearing up for our move, we did have a good amount of emergency supplies. Why would we bother to keep supplies up when we knew we were moving? Easy – whatever we didn’t use before we left we could just give away to family, which is exactly what we did. Nothing needed to go to waste. But now that we’re in a new country and are a bit tight on cash considering our recent purchase of a flat to live in, while I wouldn’t say it’s exactly like starting to prep from the very beginning, it is prepping from the ground up, from scratch in terms of physical supplies, even though we have our knowledge to help us restart the stockpile.
The most valuable thing right now that I feel I can stockpile is household supplies. I know this may sound counter intuitive, especially since in a real emergency situation, a food stockpile is much more valuable (here in the U.K. it rains enough, not exactly worried about water), but here’s why I’m not starting with stockpiling food: the food here is different and I don’t quite know what we will and won’t eat a lot of. This is a really important thing to know before building up your supplies if you’re the kind of prepper who rotates through your food stockpile.
Why I’m Not Rushing Into Food Stockpiling
The first time Thomas and I ever began stockpiling was a few months after we’d met. We started with food and first aid supplies, as well as some household goods, but we concentrated our efforts on the food side of things, especially considering how appealing the discounts were at grocery stores. We bought way too much of specific kinds of things (sauces, canned food, bars, etc.) and that ended up being a real waste of resources. What we learned from this experience: make sure even if you really like a specific kind of thing and honestly do think you’ll finish it before the expiry dates rolls around that you invest the bulk of your funds in foods that have really long-term expiry dates for your stockpile, because good intentions and “I seriously thought we’d finish that in time” do not help when you look back on a slew of items a year or two past their expiry date and sadly have to throw them out.
So until I know better which particular food items I’ll even want to build my stockpile up around, I’m not going to invest much of my money in a food stockpile.
What will I be waiting for?
- Trying out a great deal of the inexpensive long-term expiry foods available to me.
- Having made a decision with regards to which we prefer, waiting for sales to roll in on those items.
Only then will I really begin to build my emergency food stockpile. Because right now that’s the only way that makes sense to me. And again, I’m not going to be pouring much money into things that expire in a year or two. Yes, I’ll probably have some of these on hand, but I will be careful not to overdo things this time, because I know what happened when I did overdo it in the past.
As I mentioned in this thread, eventually in Canada I tended toward sticking in particular to these kinds of things for stockpiling;
- Rice: wild, jasmine, and basmati
- Dried lentils
- Dried beans
- Dried pasta
- Instant/freeze-dried coffee
- Spirits &
- Dried herbs
Obviously this is not all I had stockpiled, but these items were the bones of the stockpile I did build up. These days I think I’ll have to cross dried lentils off the list, especially since we rarely ate them, and invest a lot heavier into dried beans, trying new ones so that we have a better idea of the variety we can achieve with these kinds of foods. I will also likely cross instant/freeze dried coffee off the list since Thomas isn’t drinking very much coffee anymore, and since what coffee we do have we drink for free anyway (yay for Waitrose cards – with which you can get a free coffee, cappuccino, or latte a day).
Why Start With Household Supplies for Stockpiling?
So this brings us back to household supplies. As I said I’ll be starting my stockpiling there. Why? I already know exactly which items I’ll be needing, a result of Thomas knowing a great deal about the products having lived here before already and of his grandmother Sue’s recommendations. If and when those items go on sale for good prices, nothing is holding me back from building up my stockpile of those items. And since many of them never expire (toilet paper, wash cloths, sponges, etc.), while other things take ages to expire (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.), and since I know approximately how long it takes us to go through household items that do expire, I can calculate what I need for the year and stalk the store shelves to be able to optimize my household supply stockpile at home.
What’s Next on the List?
After stocking up on household supplies, I think my next move will have to be first aid supplies. Again, this is the kind of thing I’ll really have a good sense of what we’ll be wanting/needing, but I don’t want to rush into building up a first aid supply until I write up a list and can then, as with everything else, stalk store shelves for sales and discounts on the products I want.
What Would You Stockpile First?
If you had to restart your stockpile from the ground up today, where would you start?
Would you do things differently if you were moving to a new house, VS moving to a new city, a new country, or even to a new continent?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
Bob Ocean says
I go through a lOT of Toilet Paper, so that would be a priority in a restock situation.
Apart from the obvious intended use, we use far more as small handy towels.
2x rolls of GOOD quality Double Layer paper will fit on a single Handy Towel wall rack.
Much more economical and convenient to use with the tear off sections.
Also, try and stick to one or two cleaning products..
Do you really need separate glass cleaner, bench cleaner, carpet cleaner, toilet cleaner, bath room cleaner, kitchen cleaner blah blah..
Vinegar, Baking Soda and Dr. Bonners Castille soap will cover ALL your bases.
Why make it complicated? AND, if you Bulk Buy, will be even cheaper.
Thomas Xavier says
Simpler is indeed often much better, Elise & I don’t bother with kitchen towels- we have toilet paper and washable rags/cloths.
A year late, but I just moved and found myself in a similar situation.
I’m less financially constrained, so I follow an easy algorithm to build out my pantry: start with 1-2 cans of everything that looks good at the supermarket. Then, the next shopping trip after I use a can and enjoy its contents, get 2-3 more of it.
Great article and thanks for sharing.
Nicholas C says
Congrats on your move! Sorry to hear you have to start over with prepping.
Like you, I think a realistic goal for us would be to start stocking up on household supplies when they’re on sale. Having 2-3 months worth of laundry or bathroom supplies would save us from having to make emergency trips in the middle of the week to buy things we should have remembered to pick up on our regular weekend shopping trip.
Elise Xavier says
Exactly my point! It’s not so bad going back to the grocery store here as everything is walk-able distance, but those days you just don’t want to go, it’s very handy to have extras lying around. Also much easier to concentrate on prepping other things once you’ve got household supplies out of the way and never really have to worry about checking in on those past “oh looks like I’m half through, time to restock” once or twice a year.
Great article and thanks for sharing.
I know hindsight is always 20/20 and it is easy to look back and second guess some of the things you (we) did in the past, but if we focus on the world at large and prep accordingly, it would be beneficial to prep things that allow us to survive that unexpected situation. Toiletries, water, emergency food (rice, refried beans, pastas). The government now-a-days doesn’t want us prepping more than seven days of food or we could be labeled as bad guys/gals. If you have a garden, a few rabbits then instead of being a bad guy?gal, you now become somebody with a garden and a few pet rabbits.
Purchase items that can be bartered in an emergency, toiletries, water and such.
Elise Xavier says
Definitely good to have household supplies considering they can also be bartered in an emergency. Toiletries are amazing for that, and for the fact that they’re mostly buy, stash, forget.
Welcome Home !
I have just starting readng your Blog, and really enjoying it… please keep it up, really interested to see how your Prepping changes tack over here.
Preppers in the UK tend to focus more on Homesteading (as its called over the pond),….we call it Gardening !
Of course we ove gadgets too, but our EDC rules are stricter so we tend to focus more on skills I think.
I have been prepping for a few years under the disguise of renovating a cottage in Wales. Now that it is livable (as a holiday home…ie bug-out-location). I am focusing on prepping it.
My latest projects are around planting (fruit trees, nuts, veg etc), and setting up a workshop for woodworking, mending etc
good luck settling in !!!!
Elise Xavier says
Yes, definitely will be gardening more here than in Canada (where the winter takes out 8 months of the year, and so there isn’t as much of a point). I don’t have a garden, yet, so those preps will have to come when we get our first house. Right now in our flat I’ll definitely be trying to grow my own herbs, but unfortunately that’s the extent to which I’ll be able to do gardening.
That being said, planning on picking up archery while here and doing a lot more skill based prepping since a lot of the year is nice weather by comparison to Canada and thus I’m sure I’ll get out a lot more. I know the EDC rules are stricter but it does make me happy that you can still use whatever you want in your own house ;). Means our knife collection (once it’s reunited with us) will not go to waste. Though definitely need to be buying more UK legal EDCs since we’re here.
That sounds absolutely wonderful about the cottage in Wales. Would love to do something similar. I am still in awe of how quick it is to get from one side of the country to the other. Will definitely use this everything-is-close aspect of the UK to my advantage ;).
I am 110% down for planting gardens that require little to no maintenance in years to come. Not quite a fan of plants you have to regrow every year or ones that take a lot of water. Probably just going to have a lot of berry bushes, fruit trees, etc. planted. Again, just need that house with a garden and it’ll all be fine and dandy :).
Carolyn McBride says
I think I’d figure out what disaster would be most likely first (burst pipes? heatwave? flooding?) and plan around that. Although it might be challenging to plan around burst pipes. Food would be next. Dried pasta, noodles, skim milk powder, oat flour, white flour, whole wheat all to make bread with. I’d freeze berries until I had enough to make my own jelly/jam/preserves, and so on.
But hey, everyone’s situation and preferences are different, right?
Good luck over there. I have a friend in London and another out in the countryside. Neither are preppers but they each love where they are.
laura m. says
I plan for hurricanes (live 90 mi. inland from gulf coast,) which I have been thru many over fifty some years. Canned meats, beans, noodles and boxed spaghetti and sauce, herbs, spices , oils, dry hi protein cereals, protein powder for drink mix, things that don’t expire also like salt , sugar, and household supplies for cleaning, Insect spray in large gallon @ home Depot. First aid supplies incl. insect repellent and anti itch creams. we went thru an 80 plus mph wind storm in March, like a hurricane. Candles and led lanterns, flashlites, batteries, matches, pet food stocks, etc.
Elise Xavier says
Thanks for the list, Laura! Hurricane aftermath looks absolutely horrifying to me :(. Takes a great deal of courage in my opinion to stick around where hurricanes have a good chance of coming through.
Elise Xavier says
This is a great route to take, Carolyn. I’m loving where I am living now, too. Only wish I was further along in my preps, but things take time, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself ;).
Dan Seven says
Well Congratulations on the Move and Best of Luck in your New Flat.
Things will be weird for awhile for sure. Contrary to myth, the English do not drink their beer warm, in fact the biggest seller is Canadian brand Carling to the tune of 5 billion Pints per Year, 30 billion worldwide. That out of the way, the next thing essential items to solidify the supply chain on for me would be just as You…the bulk non-perishables on Sale.
Every new place will have it’s local specialties to build a diet around even as beyond local supply chains break down. This is the beauty of the diversity economy in Europe that is way beyond what we have in the West, though not as strong as it once was.
Info says UK farms take up 69% of the country but produce less than 60% of the UK’s food requirements. That means if imports have issues, it will be a serious issue.
Hoping that in your explorations that You may find the local folk tied to their own food chain, and give you and Thomas a place at the front of the line !
Elise Xavier says
Thank you so much, Dan! :)
Definitely won’t be as strong as they were when you even wrote this post considering the referendum’s outcome – am hoping the food prices don’t go up too much, but am guessing they can’t as they’ll have to be subsidized.
And I agree about the issues that would occur if there was a problem with imports. Again, really hoping the referendum doesn’t bring about too much trouble, but in case it does, I’m guessing it’s best to jump start the stockpiling process for long-term survival foods as quickly as I can. So time to start trying as many new things as possible.