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How to Start Prepping in 2023 – The Basics of Being Prepared

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The Hundred is a sci-fi television series depicting what happens after a nuclear apocalypse.

Some survivors landed in space, others in caves, and others survived by living in a giant, underground bunker completely furnished with everything you could possibly need for years and years to come.

How to Start Prepping

They were ultimate preppers. If you’re new to prepping, you’re probably not going to want to run out and buy a bunker or complete solar array.

But if you want to know how to start prepping for 2023 – you want to start with the basics. 

The basics of prepping include assessing your risks and needs and then gathering a two-week supply of emergency items. These include water, food, shelter, warmth, hygiene, and first aid. After you have two weeks of your basic needs covered, you can begin to expand it to one month and then one year. 

In this article, we’ll go over what you need to start prepping in 2023. First, we’ll talk about how to assess your needs and risks, and then we’ll talk about what basics you should have covered for two weeks.

But first, let’s talk about the prepping mindset. 

The Prepping Mindset

This could be as simple as having freezer meals on hand in case you get the flu or keeping extra groceries in the pantry in case of a bad snowstorm. Maybe it’s keeping bottled water in your basement if a local water main breaks and you don’t have water for a few days. 

Being a prepper isn’t necessarily about planning on living off-grid or in an underground school bus. Instead, it’s about taking responsibility for how to take care of yourself and your family during an emergency that disrupts everyday life. 

If you’re just starting with prepping, you need to start with small steps and focus on the basics. Don’t stress about needing to be 100% self-sufficient immediately – just think about your basic needs and how you would provide for them. 

Assess Your Risks and Needs

The first thing you need to do is assess your risks and your needs, and the needs of your family. For example, your prepping might look totally different if you have a newborn baby and a toddler than if you live alone. 

What does your family need? 

Think about the members of your family and any special needs they may have. For example, do they have any dietary restrictions? Special medications? Do they have mobility issues or need baby formula? 

What kinds of risks are present where you live? 

Weather is often the cause of emergencies, but that will vary from place to place. For example, do you receive excessive snowfall during parts of the year? Or is your location more prone to flooding?

What about earthquakes? These types of natural disasters will vary depending on where you live but may require slightly different preparedness plans. For example, if you live in the hottest parts of Florida, you probably won’t need a woodstove to heat your home.

But if you live in Pennsylvania or other more northern areas, you’ll want to consider how you would stay warm during the winter. 

Start Basic Prepping with a Two-Week Supply 

When you’re just starting, you’ll want to consider covering a two-week supply of your basic needs. You may already have roughly two weeks’ worth of food in your cabinets, so this may not be a difficult task, but you’ll want to think through each basic need to ensure you have it covered. 


Water is critical for our existence, and while you can go without food for several days, you won’t do well at all if you don’t have water. FEMA says you should have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day at a bare minimum.  

That means you’ll need to store 14 gallons of water for each person who lives in your home. However, you’ll probably want to have extra on hand for hygiene and keep a supply for any pets in your home, as well. 

A gallon of water costs roughly a dollar, so you’ll probably spend $15 per person for water storage and more if you have pets.  


Although you can survive without food for a few days, you don’t want to. Food will give you the energy you need to survive, accomplish basic tasks, take care of others, and travel if needed. 

The American diet is considered to be roughly 2000 calories per day. However, some people need more while others need less. So, if possible, estimate how much you actually eat in a day and use that as your guide. But it’s always better to have too much food than too little, so don’t be afraid to stock up if you have the space to do so. 

When you plan your survival pantry, make sure it consists of food that your family will actually eat. If they won’t eat it, it just isn’t worth storing. 

In a true emergency, you might not have access to electricity to keep food cold or cook it. So you’ll want to have a two-week supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat items. You may want to have food items such as: 

  • Granola bars 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned goods such as beans, meat, and vegetables
  • Shelf-stable milk and dairy products 
  • Dry cereal 
  • Snack foods 
  • High calorie and high protein foods that are shelf-stable 
  • Comfort food items 
  • Any items needed for special diets such as infant formula, allergy-free foods, etc. 

If you have canned goods, you’ll need to also have a can opener. In addition, you may want to include some additional items, such as paper plates and plastic utensils, so you don’t have to use precious water to wash dishes.

As you grow your prepper pantry, you’ll need to consider items that require cooking. For example, dry rice and beans are excellent dried staples that will store pretty much indefinitely under the right conditions. However, you’ll need to cook them before you can actually eat them.

So you’ll need to have a few additional items on hand – water for cooking, pots to cook the food in, and a heat source, such as a fireplace, camp stove, rocket stove or grill – to cook the food. You’ll also want spices and sauces on hand to mix with the rice and beans so that they taste good and different each time. 

Remember to store your supplies in a cool, dry place away from heat, light, and pests. And don’t forget to plan food for your pets, as well. 


Your home is your most basic prepping shelter. In many disasters, you will simply shelter in place or ‘bug in.’ Your home is an excellent location because it already holds your supplies, you are familiar with it, and it is comfortable for you. But you may want to tweak it just a little bit to make sure it’s ready for emergencies. 

  • Make any necessary repairs 
  • Make sure the heat, air conditioning, and ventilation systems are working 
  • Make sure you have adequate storage for your prepping supplies. 


In climates with cold winters, you’ll need to make sure you can stay warm. For example, does your home have a woodstove? Or some other means of staying warm in the winter? If not, you may want to consider some type of heating for your home. 

You may want to consider an indoor kerosene heater, a candle heater, or some other way to keep warm. In addition, you might consider keeping some chemical hand warmers on hand for extra comfort. 

If that doesn’t work, choose one room to gather in and insulate as best you can with blankets,  towels, and tarps. Pile on layers of clothing and huddle together for warmth. Sleeping bags can be a great way to stay warmer indoors if your heat doesn’t work. 


Don’t underestimate the need for good hygiene, even in a short-term emergency. You’ll want to be able to wash your hands, clean your body, and go to the bathroom. If you can’t flush your toilets in an emergency, you may need to set up a five-gallon bucket with a trash bag to act as a toilet until you can use the toilets again. 

If you have women or teenage girls, you’ll need feminine products, and if you have babies, you’ll need disposable diapers or extra water to wash your cloth diapers in. 

Good hygiene is critical in an emergency to prevent disease and illness from spreading. 

First Aid

It might be difficult to get medical treatment during an emergency, especially for minor problems. You’ll need to be prepared with a few first aid items in case help isn’t readily available. 

Make sure your first aid kit is stocked with a variety of bandaids and bandages, wound care supplies, tourniquets, and any other items that may be necessary. Also, make sure you know what is in your kit and how to use it. 

Include any medication you or your family members regularly need and prescription eyeglasses. It should also include face masks. 

Miscellaneous Items 

There are a few miscellaneous items you’ll probably want to have on hand for emergencies. Consider: 

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Battery-powered radio for emergency broadcasts
  • Entertainment and comfort items 
  • Extra phone chargers 

You can use this checklist from as a guide. 

Communication Plan 

Make a plan for how you can communicate with your family during a crisis. For example, you may want to write down a list of phone numbers and addresses for family, emergency contacts, and crisis shelters in case you need them. 

Final Thoughts on Getting Started Prepping

A two-week supply of food, water, and other items will get you through many different emergencies and help you get a solid foundation of prepping without getting too expensive. Over time,  you’ll start to figure out what supplies you actually need and what kinds of things will help you emotionally. 

After establishing two weeks’ worth of essential supplies, you can begin to extend your prepping to a month and then a year. Then you’ll want to start including skills like gardening or building and backup preps, such as additional ways to get food and water. But for now, focus on the basics so you feel confident that you can weather any storm. 

Related Questions 

What should I be prepping for? 

When you first start, you should prep for any common natural disasters in your area, illnesses, or periods when you might have to shelter in place.

Do I need a bugout bag? 

Eventually, you may want to have some kind of a bug-out bag that suits your needs, but if you are just getting started with prepping, focus on the basics and get a two-week supply going first. You can find out more about bugout bags here.  

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Hi! I’m David. For most of my life I have been interested in emergency preparedness. Over the many years things have changed a great deal. From freeze dried food, to LED lanterns, preparing for an emergency has never been easier. The continual research I have done over the years has become the basis for this website. Now it is one of the most trusted sources to learn about emergency preparedness.