Ask Tess: Seriously, where do I start?


I have just jumped on the prepper band wagon (pardon the  term) and have started creating a food supply… but I want to do more than just have a pantry. I want be able to survive in the barest of conditions. So, I’m asking you, where do I begin?



Hi Greg,

Kudos to you for seeing the light on living a more independent lifestyle. And you are right, prepping is more than just having some supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice. I have often told others that skills are more important than preps. You can have all the supplies in the world, but if you run out, then you are going to need to fall back on skills to acquire more supplies. I think this is where a lot of preppers go wrong – they accumulate rather than practice and refine survival skills. But we must practice these skills to the point of proficiency in order to be able to depend on them.

Skill proficiency takes an investment of time and it’s much more than just reading about them on the internet and in books. You should regularly practice and go so far as to live the lifestyle and make the mistakes along the way in order to learn from them. Physically putting yourself into a simulated environment will help open your eyes to what you need. Simulating the environment also puts you in survival mode and keeps you refining your skills. For instance, simulate a “lights out” scenario for three days and see what skills you would need to survive it. When we simulated our three days off grid, we realized how to make candles out of different vessels.

I like to start my “shtf simulation” with two things: a mental mindset and a set of basic skills to survive the harsher conditions.

  • Mental Mindset – It is true that knowledge is power, but you must prepare your mind for a drastic change. When a disaster event occurs, you are no longer in your normal environment where most of your needs are met. You are in a survival situation and this involves a shift in thought. If you have prepared your mind to survive and prepared it to do so, then you have a better chance of survival.
  • Physical Skills – Pure survival is where you can meet your most basic needs: food, water, shelter and an ability to maintain your body temperature. Essentially, your bug out bag should help you accomplish this, but as previously mentioned, it’s important to learn skills considered as bushcraft, where you meet your needs using what you have around you. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the skills to meet these basic needs, then your days are numbered. Start learning ways to make fire without matches, ways to trap food, use a busted phone to meet survival needs, build emergency shelters, learn what to eat when you have no food or how find edible weeds. These skills can go a long way in terms of survival. Further, I would also educate yourself on the layering approach to your survival clothing.

To be fully prepared, there are many pieces to the puzzle. Start with your basic needs and skills on how to maintain them and go from there. Again, I have often found the living the lifestyle and practicing skills really opens your eyes to what you need in order to survive. I hope this helps you in your skills endeavors and best of luck!


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published November 16th, 2013
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