Would You Be Pioneer Ready?


In the land of opportunity, pioneers make their way across the country in order to carve a life. Before they made their arduous journey, they had to make sure that they had everything they could possibly need to survive months of being cut off from everything.

In The Prepper’s Cookbook, I describe how homesteading, self-reliance, and what many of us call “prepping” is really neo-pioneerism. When early Americans migrated westward, they had to adapt to a new environment, and their supplies had to be multi-functional.

If you look at your food  preps you have stored away, you will realize that we are very similar to our pioneer ancestors who were getting ready for their arduous journey.

While helping my son with a history project on the great state of Oregon, I came across this list of various food items that pioneers needed from an article in the St. Joseph, Missouri Gazette dated March 19, 1847.


Mr. Editor;

Subjoined you will find a list of the principle articles necessary for an outfit to Oregon or California, which may be useful to some of your readers. It has been carefully prepared from correct information derived from intelligent persons who have made the trip.

The wagons should be new, made of thoroughly seasoned timber, and well ironed and not too heavy; with good tight beds, strong bows, and large double sheets. There should be at least four yoke of good oxen to each wagon – one yoke to be considered as extra, and to be used only in cases of emergency. Every family should have at least two good milk cows, as milk is a great luxury on the road. The amount of provisions should be as follows; to each person except infants:

200 pounds of bread stuff (flour and crackers)
100 pounds of bacon [more like salt pork]
12 pounds of coffee
12 pounds of sugar

Each family should also take the following articles in proportions to the number as follows:

From 1 to 5 pounds tea
From 10 to 50 pounds rice
From 1/2 to 2 bushels beans
From 1/2 to 2 bushels dried fruit
From 1/2 to 5 pounds saleratus [yeast]
From 5 to 50 pounds soap

Cheese, dried pumpkins, onions and a small portion of corn meal may be taken by those who desire them. The latter article, however, does not keep well.

No furniture should be taken, and as few cooking utensils as are indispensably needed. Every family ought to have a sufficient supply of clothing for at least one year after their arrival, as everything of that kind is high in those countries. Some few cattle should be driven for beef, but much loose stock will be a great annoyance. Some medicines should also be found in every family, the kind and quantity may be determined by consulting the family physician.

I would suggest to each family the propriety of taking a small sheet-iron cooking stove with fixtures, as the wind and rain often times renders it almost impossible to cook without them, they are light and cost but little. All the foregoing articles may be purchased on good terms in this place.


Many of our ancestors had to be ready for what may be on the horizon. Their “make due or do without” philosophy transferred into their food sources, as well. In all honesty, I am surprised that rations of salt or vinegar were not listed as these were pioneer staples that also have multiple uses. That said, with the exception of bacon (I am going to assume was to be used more likely for lard and survival fat sources), this list resembles many of our prep inventories.

To conclude, our preps are our lifeline. The items we choose should be able to carry us, not only through difficult times, but perhaps through impossible times. Having a food supply that not only utilizes the basic kitchen/pantry essentials, but also one that encompasses proper dietary needs will help you thrive in a short or long-term disaster.

Keeping the true pioneer spirit in mind, I encourage you to do an inventory of your emergency food pantries to evaluate your food stores and see if you would be ready to brave the wild like our pioneer ancestors once did.

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 ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 13th, 2012
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10 Responses to Would You Be Pioneer Ready?

  1. Danny says:

    I liked the fact that it was very detailed, right down to making sure they had a stove.

  2. Ken says:

    My wife and I have begun teaching canning to my fellow prepper groups. During the descussions on what they are preparing for most are looking at long term grid down situations.  The vast majority are into freeze dried foods, with a couple hostile to canning as its heavy in a bugout situation.  None could give me a good answer on how they plan to resupply when either the government is taking it all or it’s not being made as the grid is down.  Grandap and grandma didn’t have freeze dried, they canned it all.   Most have one to two years of freeze dried and that’s it.  Some way you need to preserve that which you are now growing, IF! That is you have seeds and the skills to grow them.  Food for teotwawki is a multi tier approach, and home canning is the long term solution.

    • Ken,

      You are so right, prepping is a multi tiered approach. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Something that you could suggest to your group is to invest in a food dehydrator and practice putting food away using this method. This is a more economical way to have stored food available and also doesn’t require a lot of fuel to prepare when its needed. Just my two cents worth.

      Thanks for your comment!


      • c says:

        Also Ken might discuss solar powered or just solar dehydrators. Youtube has some very good and simple to construct, solar dehydrators using the rays of the sun, natural convection currents and an enclosed space for quick and complete deyhdration. That  is actually a variation on what the pioneers would have used on some of their crops.

  3. countrygirl says:

    Great article. I agree that we are spoiled with the variety available to us. I also can and teach others to can. Self sufficiency is the goal and being able to can foods that are grown or gathered would mean a food supply you can replinish without outside help.

  4. LadyHawk says:

    Tess, yes I’m pioneer ready!!  I so admire those early adventurers and believe they would be kindred spirits of today’s prepper community. What challenges and trials they faced and endured.
    Hope folks will take you up to research and evaluate their preps, comparing to those early times- think they will be surprised at how together the pioneers had it and the lessons that can be learned and built on. Know I was.
    Purifying water? Silver and copper coins – silver for the bacteria and copper for the algae. Water movement over coins in barrel = ionization = potable water.
    You mentioned vinegar, many pioneer supply lists included a small keg – used in drinks, pies, preserving foods, sanitation, medicinal and crop use – based on what I learned, upped my inventory to include both apple and white concentrate.
    After reading some of the diaries, stocked up on hankerchefs and bandanas, shoe laces, hair ties and lip balm. Tools – learned alot  on what type, the need and how to use.
    As you can see, love this topic and hope you do some more articles on it.  Really enjoy your blog and thanks for the info. 😀

  5. Nancy says:

    I have a question.  I hope, REALLY hope it’s not a dumb one.  🙂  Ken mentioned teaching canning so that you can continue to replenish your food stores indefinitely.  HOW did the pioneers can food?  I mean, what happens after you run out of those lids that you have to buy when doing canning?

    I’ve learned how to make vinegar from scratch (and yeast), planted the crops necessary to make it if needed and mapped out (and printed) directions to the closest natural salt mines.  I’d love to think that canning was something that I could do but I pushed it aside thinking that I’d eventually need a new skill anyway (when I run out of those non-reusable lids). 

  6. Linda says:

    Nancy, re-usable lids are available, get them now.

  7. Blake says:

     Eating Freeze dried food would get very old fast, caned food helps with morale,my father grew up in the Great Depression(dirty thirties). He talked about food rations like dried fish and fruit being sent out western Canada in those times he said it was miserable. When his mother was able to can it was wonderful. This is a skill that is invaluable if you we’re able to grow a garden,or preserve meat. What good is just surviving if there is nothing to look forward to after the fact.

  8. Jamie says:

    Prior to canning, food was dried, salted, smoked, or pickled, and sometimes a combination of several of these.

    I just received my tattler reusable canning lids, but haven’t used any of them yet. Looking forward to trying them out this canning season.

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