How to be More Self-Sufficient

By Bernie Carr – author of The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster.  She also writes The Apartment Prepper’s Blog.

Preparing for emergencies usually involves buying enough supplies to last until things settle down. I believe there is another aspect of preparedness that will not only help you adapt to emergencies, but will also help you in everyday living. That is because buying supplies and equipping yourself with survival gear is only one part of being prepared. The other part is acquiring a variety of skills that allow you to become more self sufficient.

What does it mean to be self-sufficient? To me, it just means not having to run to the store for everything. A few years ago, when Hurricane Ike swept through our town, there was widespread flooding and supply trucks could not get through. Many grocery stores did not open for several days. If you ran out of bread, then you could not get it for a few days. But if you know how to make bread yourself, then you can whip up a batch without having to wait for the store to open. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that there is no way to become truly self-sufficient while living in a city. But you can take steps to make yourself just a bit more self reliant so you do not need to depend on others for all your needs. The skills I recommend are very simple and basic.


Something so simple as cooking a meal from scratch is a skill that everyone can learn.  Many families are so reliant on eating out or buying pre-made food that they would be in real trouble if restaurants and stores were to close for a period of time.   I have nothing against eating at restaurants or fast food  every now and then.  But for everyday meals,  it is a good idea to learn some basic cooking.  You will eat healthier and save a lot of money making meals at home.   You will find your homemade meals a lot tastier too.   Learning how to cook is easy.    Start with really basic easy recipes and go from there.  Whether you prefer the internet or television, there is no shortage of sources of free recipes.  You can also go to the library and check out a few cookbooks that catch your eye and try out a few recipes.

Bread Making

Bread making seems intimidating at first, but it is actually very easy. The ingredients are really inexpensive:  flour, yeast, a bit of sugar, salt and water. You have a couple of choices for making bread:

It is a good idea to try making it by hand first; if you like it, then try other bread recipes or with a bread machine. I found lots of inexpensive bread machines listed on Craigslist.

Yogurt Making

Yogurt is a staple at my house. We mix it with cereal, use it as a dip, and also as an ingredient in sauces. I was always having to restock on yogurt until I found out how easy it is to make at home. The easiest way I found was to make it in a crockpot. See No Need to Run to the Store:  Make Your Own Yogurt

Make your Own Cleaning Supplies

Buying commercial cleaners tends to get expensive. Many of these products tend to contain a lot of irritating chemicals that can aggravate allergies. If you have a few basic ingredients, you can make your own cleaning supplies. Here are a few basic items that are already found in most kitchens: vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice

All-purpose cleaner:  In a spray bottle, mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup of water. The vinegar smell goes away after a few seconds. Or, you can use 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup water. This mixture can be used to clean surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom tiles. Even greasy surfaces come out clean.

Scouring Powder:  Use baking soda instead of Ajax Cleanser for scrubbing. It is gentle on the hands but is effective in removing stuck on food and grease.

I actually experimented with home made cleaning supplies. See the results here:  Self Sufficiency Experiment: Make your Own Cleaning Supplies

Learn First Aid

People can become injured during a disaster and emergency crew may not be able to get to the area right away. Basic first aid and CPR are skills that can come in handy during an emergency. The Red Cross has a link in their website to find a class in your area. You can also check fire departments and hospitals for free first aid or CPR classes.

The above are only a few examples of skills you can learn easily. Here are some other examples:

  • Canning
  • Candle making
  • Soap making
  • Foraging
  • Sewing
  • Quilting

In conclusion, picking up a few skills to become more self sufficient can be very gratifying.  As you learn new things, you gain more confidence in your abilities. Supplies and gear are important, but can be lost or stolen. The skills you learn will always be with you and you will benefit from them time and again. Why not devote a few minutes a month trying out a new skill?  Even if nothing happens by way of a disaster, these new skills will help you save money and time in everyday life.

Don’t Miss an All-New Episode of Doomsday Preppers: The Time of Reckoning Tonight at 9P.


  1. robert ell
    g jct co
    November 28, 2012, 1:11 am

    Serious Nat? THIS is in line with the credibility you starting establishing close to 100 years ago? Maybe you can get StevenSegal to interview your preppers,,,what’s Jerry Springer doing these days? Too bad.

    December 3, 2012, 4:14 am

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. aql
    December 9, 2012, 12:57 am

    I gotta laugh when i see people bitch about doomsday preppers…. those bitches are the ones us preppers are gonna have to protect ourselves from down the road when the crap hits the fan!!!! thats the real reality! and they are to ignorant and arrogant to see it!!! thats whats so scarry!!!!

  4. Jean
    Ontario, Canada
    December 17, 2012, 10:39 am

    I know that some Preppers take things to the extreme but there is nothing wrong with just being prepared. I was once trapped on the top floors of a condo. Being in a wheelchair, I could not use the stairs to leave. The power was off for more than a day. I had no water. I learned to keep some preps around just in case…and sure enough, it happened again! However, I was prepared this time. You never know when your routine could be disrupted. So prepare…

  5. Show Me
    January 27, 2013, 5:17 pm

    While I find the show entertaining at times, and other times kinda silly when they are talking about things like polar fields switching. However, we live on the edge of tornado alley and that’s nothing to laugh at. I’m sure there are a few people at least who wish they had listened or at least been more prepared when Katrina hit. And look at the poor folks up there where Hurricane Sandy hit, and at such a cold bad time of the year. Be Prepared! We learned that in girl scouts many years ago. You can not predict the weather well enough, and you certainly can not predict an earthquake or a volcano eruption with any accuracy. And with all the nut jobs loose in this country, you can’t predict when they might contaminate our water supply or any other localized act of terror. Dirty bomb? All to possible. And we know we can’t depend on FEMA or any other agency as there simply are not enough of them. We need to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and be prepared to take care of ourselves, just as our predecessors did in this country.

  6. Show Me
    January 27, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I do have a comment for Nat Geo, however!! Could you please give some tiem to prepping on a budget. There are far more of us without the fund$ to build a million dollar underground bunker, or a castle. It would be appreciated if you could give those of us who don’t have $100,00.00 even. There are by far, more people without those kinds of means who would like a little more down to earth advice and suggestions. Thanks.

  7. bee
    February 3, 2013, 5:03 pm

    What is the best way to stock your food plastic, glass ,can