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Prepping supplies don’t last forever. Food can go bad, tools can rust, items can be taken from the stock and not replaced, or needs can change.
It can be hard to keep up with all the inventory; food expiration dates, water rotation times, medication usage. In our household, each month we have one area that we check on.
It usually takes less than an hour to check through the stock and add the needed items to our next shopping list. One hour a month keeps our supplies fresh.
I will share today our 6-month rotation plan. I mark my google calendar with an event and on the first of the month I get a reminder of which category to check for the month.
Why 6-month plan?
- Home canned goods last for about a year, commercially canned foods can last longer but not all food items have yearlong expiration dates.
- We live in a small apartment, some items make more sense to stock a smaller amount of and restock more often as we don’t have too much space. (For example, a year’s supply of toilet paper would be hard to find space for but 6-months’ worth we can handle.)
- A 6-month supply is cheaper than a 1-year supply. For those on a tight budget, finding extra cash for prepping can be hard. If you come to your band-aides for example and find you didn't need any in the last 6-months, you can buy your normal 6-month supply again. Now you have doubled your supply, without stressing your bank account too much. It makes a nice incrementally way to stock up.
January and July – Car Supplies
We spend a lot of time in our cars, and I am almost always with my car. I drive to work, drive home, drive to friends, drive to the store, you get the point. I see it as a priority to ensure my car is in the best functioning condition and fully stocked with what is supposed to be in there.
We start the checklist in January, as for colder climates the weather is starting to get pretty snowy so it's a good time to check up on winter gear. For July, it's the turn of the seasons, and prepping for summer fun.
Twice a year, check your car for summer or winter gear:
- Check fluids (quart of oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, brake, funnels)
- Check for spare clothes, blankets, gloves etc
- Check for a knife (I love this one), hand warmers, shovel, snow brush, sunscreen, trash bags and other random survival items
- Jumper cables, spare tire, jack, crow bar, air pump
- Check for hammock or tent or sleeping bags or blankets
Car Questions to Ask Yourself
Am I prepared for any roadside emergencies I could expect in my area? Is there a safe way to carry water? Check out ----- 35 Items You Need To Put in Your Car Right Now---- for a complete list of what I store in my car.
February and August – 72hr Bag + Information
The 72-hr bag is a backpack with everything you need for 3 days. It could be grabbed on the way out the door during evacuations or it could be kept in your car for when you can't make it back home.
Information is the important details of your life that would be hard to do business without: SSN, medical insurance, car insurance, etc.
- Restock missing items
- Pare down to the essentials you NEED to survive for 72-hours
- Replace expired items (MRE's, protein bars, etc)
- Copies of important information on hand (USB drive + paper)
- Insurance numbers (car, medical, home, etc)
- Credit card information
- SSN, Passport #, birth certifcate
- Driver license #
- Primary Care Physician's name/phone
- Emergency contacts (family, friends, etc)
- Medications and allergy information
- Pet vaccination report, identification, pictures
- Cash on hand ($100 at least in small bills)
Questions for 72hr bag and Information:
How can I keep my 72-hr bag light but complete? Check out ----- 4 Steps to Building a Better 72-Hr Bag ---- to see what I keep in mine. How much cash should I have on hand? What information is critical to know that would be difficult to find if I wasn't at home? See: 21 Important Pieces of Information to Gather for Your Family's Reference
March and September – Water Supply + Cleaning
We are know you need water to live. Cleaning supplies are handy when water is scarce. Stocking both allow you to save your water for drinking cooking and your life from a dirty mess.
- Store at least 1 gal per person per day for 3 days (6 gallons at least for 2 people)
- Store your favorite Gatorade mix, instant coffee, tea, other water flavorings if you usually drink them
- Consider Water purification tablets + filters (I recommend the Lifestraw or the Family LifeStraw)
Cleaning and Sanitation
- White Vinegar
- Trash bags
Questions about Water and Sanitation
How much water do I have space to store? Do we have enough supplies to handle a sanitation crisis? Can I handle no running toilet water? I talk about both here:
October and April - First Aid and EDC
Your first aid kit is bound to get used the most, as you take items you need over the months. Replacing used band aides and allergy medications are top reasons we check our first aid kit every six months.
EDC is every day carry: The items you keep in your pockets or purse that you always have with you. These items also can get used, lost or misplaced over time. Be sure to check that you have what you think you have.
Standard Medicine Cabinet
- Painkiller / Anti-inflammatory
- Anti-Diarrhea / ingestion
- Cough Drops
- Cough Syrup / cold medications
- Allergy medications
Homemade First Aid Kit (or this pre-made one)
- Anti-itch cream
- Anti-bacterial cream
- Band-Aids / Bandages
- Sanitizer / alcohol wipes
- Sun burn relief
- Tweezers / scissors / thermometer
EDC – Every Day Carry
First Aid and EDC Questions:
Medicine Cabinet: What other medications do you use on a monthly basis? What is a 6-month supply of those items?
EDC: What are the absolute essential to always carry on me? 9 Steps to Planning Your Every Day Carry Items
November and May – Food
A man's gotta eat. Food storage can be as simple as canned goods or more complicated rice and beans sealed in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. But we often steal from our canned good supplies and need to reminder to check it has what it should.
Short-Term Food Storage
- Check food storage for expired items
- Rotate older items by replacing with new items
- Replace items never used for more common ones
- Have a way to cook without electricity like a Butane stove and fuel canisters (no-power cooking method)
Is this 1-month supply of food things we normally eat? Are there items we normally eat that are not included? I cover what’s in my compact food storage for one person for a month.
- One-Month Food Stash for Less Than $150
- 8 Steps to Evaluating your Food Preparedness for Power Outages
December and June – Paper Products
While we touched on sanitation when checking our cleaning supplies paper products can also reduce the amount of water needed. Toilet paper is as much a comfort item as it is a convenience and sanitation item.
- Extra toilet paper
- Tampons/ Pads
- Shampoo/ Soap
- Extra Paper towels
- Paper plates + cutlery
- Napkins + wet wipes
Paper Product Questions:
Is this enough for the 1-month food supply so you don’t have to wash dishes? Do we use them and have to supply more than this? Learn more:
At Modern Self-Reliance, we hope to share what works for us in the hopes it helps other people become more prepared, organized and self-reliant.
Did you find this helpful? What others things do you check regularly? Thanks for reading our work.
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