Getting Food After Your Storage Runs Out

Level 4 Preparedness. It’s the level at which you’re striving for a self sustaining lifestyle. And when it comes to food, it’s about doing it yourself to the extent possible. Getting your own – doing it yourself. Growing your own. Raising your own. Possibly with the help of like minded others too.

Most preppers simply store an amount of food for ‘just in case’. This may range from an extra supply of several weeks worth, to several months, or even a year or more. It all depends on one’s risk tolerance thresholds.

A nice inventory of diversified stored foods will be just fine for just about every typical preparedness scenario that you could think of. However as one ventures further down the ‘rabbit hole’ of possibilities, today’s uncertain times are calling out to many preppers… to get more prepared for the unthinkable. A time when running out to the grocery store may not be such a simple option.

So what happens when you’ve finally used up all your food storage (for whatever SHTF reason)? Well hopefully way before that happens – you’ve set plans in motion to keep yourself / household fed!

Where’s the food going to come from? Where are you going to get it?

A few brainstormed thoughts surrounding a few methods of Level-4 food procurement preparedness…

Growing Crops

  • Sprouting seeds (fast and easy)
  • Fast growing vegetables vs. longer time to maturity
  • Container gardening
  • Square-foot gardening techniques
  • Large scale gardening
  • Full-on farming
  • Land requirements, good soil
  • Geographical location differences
  • Weather, growing zone, season, limitations
  • Greenhouse
  • Fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Pests, critters
  • Fencing
  • Knowledge and experience
  • Corn and Potatoes (high in calories)
  • Some vegetables store well, others don’t
  • Equipment
  • Fuel for equipment
  • Lots of manual labor
  • Irrigation, water
  • Harvest and preservation methods (and gear)
  • Canning equipment
  • Heirloom varieties, save seeds for next season

Raising Livestock

  • Selecting livestock based on your needs, limitations
  • Chickens, Rabbits, Swine, Cows
  • Food and water for livestock
  • Containment, fencing, and equipment
  • Butchering
  • Knowledge and experience
  • Land for this
  • Animal health and medical issues
  • Breeding
  • Predators


  • Hunting what?
  • Trapping
  • Bow (silent)
  • Firearms
  • Experience and know-how
  • Ammo, Reloading
  • Field dressing
  • Butchering
  • Equipment
  • Processing, preserving
  • Land to hunt


  • Got to have a source nearby, otherwise SOL
  • Knowledge of area ponds, rivers, streams, lakes
  • Rods and reels, lines and equipment
  • Nets
  • Cleaning fish
  • Boat

Foraging / Wild Edibles

  • Plant identification (safety)
  • Reference guides
  • Local knowledge

Bartering For Food

  • Trading your labor for farmers food
  • Trading (whatever services you can provide) for food 

We sure do take food for granted. It is not easy providing your own. In fact it can be nearly impossible when you consider total household calorie requirements if you don’t already have some major experience and the needed resources to get it done. So many things can (and will) go wrong. Lots of labor, resources, and time. Some luck needed too.

It’s just food for thought.


    1. John Doe,

      Don’t know where it started…don’t particularly like the term…that said… it’s slang for human meat/cannibalism.

      1. …assuming you were asking for a definition, see my response…if suggesting it as a survival option, you’ve landed in the wrong blog.

      2. Dennis – I think you’ll find that phrase has roots in the Philippines; not so much as a delicacy, but as an indirect warning.

  1. To be serious if we really do need to go to level 4 heaven forbid it gets to that point. God have mercy on us.
    I am planning on becoming a fish farmer.
    Pretty much all my neighbors will be dead…
    Down here in South FL everybody has swimming pools covered with large birdcage screening structures. This provides some filtered shade and Bird of prey protection. After 2-4 weeks the Chlorine has pretty much dissipated. I will be sending the boys down to the creek to fish for crappies aka sun fish bring em back alive and start stocking the abandoned pools and transplanting the local creek flora in nursery pots into the pool.
    Feed is natural palmetto bugs (aka giant freakin roaches), termites ect. will make the perfect feed.
    I have several solar pond pumps to create some oxidation for the water. built many of fish ponds in my profession. so this should be easier with established pools. Have actually researched this. In the UK they have a guy who converts old pools into natural pondscapes filled with fish. Don’t freeze in the winter down here.
    Just thinking outside of the box… Should get you thinking too.

    1. WC,
      Sounds like a great plan as swimming pools will be in abundance and those coverings will make it easier to manage the water temps. Put tarps over it in the winter for those rare cold snaps or shade in the summer.

      Read an article years ago about a man in Louisiana after his kids moved out converted his pool to raise crawfish. Lotta crawdaddies will fit in a pool.

      1. was thinking for the bad guys I would have a special pool filled with gators ;)

    2. Think you could write whole article on pool fish farming,,,,great idea THANKS

  2. Growing much of your own food is desirable. But can you keep it? I would think garden theft would be worse than it is now. Same goes for livestock.

      1. – I have used rock salt in a .410 for some who thought they could “five-finger-discount” items. I have also used an ankle-high wire fence for a tomato thief with salutatory results. No come-back from those things.
        – Papa S.

    1. DJ5280, the theft has already started. Gardens and livestock are being pilfered. In the nearby small town, an Amish who has a farm store next to his home came out in the morning and his chickens were all missing from the coop. He did not have a clue until he opened the door to the coop. Keep in mind, the Amish generally have dogs also. Local farms were having various animals, supplies, and equipment taken this past year. Gardens and animals in sight of roadways are at risk.

  3. Regular seed sprouting gives you a dearth of seeds which can be sown in the ground . I sprout half a dozen different types all suitable for my grow zone all tradable and all available to sprout with no additional resources . Buy in bulk , Mole seeds in my country is where I buy .

  4. In my present location, I have 2 seed feeders set up to watch the birds come in. I would not like to trap them but, this is a worse case scenario being brought up. I would concentrate on traps made of monofilament fishing line tied to an anchor rock or stick called tanglefoot for use on birds. For rats and squirrels, I would set up an abundance of snares also made of monofilament fishing line. Ultimately, in my back yard, I would like to set up a dove cote where the birds could build nests and the squab could be harvested.
    There was a time when my paychecks were 6 weeks late coming from Denver so I was living and working in the mountains taking stock of my situation: I was single with very little money in the bank. I had a rod and reel with me with freshly spooled line and enough tackle to catch a few fish. I had several rat traps, a 22 rifle that was sighted in to hit quarters at 25 yards. (iron sights). 2-100 round boxes of shells for the rifle. I also had a sack of rice containing 5-10 lbs and a case of ramen noodles. I head shot a few grouse and caught a lot of fish so I never went hungry though it made me think. I have been storing away supplies and money since that day. This was my second season with the Park Service and I was 21 years of age.

    1. Calirefugee
      Fishing is a great sustainable resource I live about 400 yards from the Usk river which is tidal in my area . Again once you have the gear fishing can be done with minimal outlay :)

  5. A lot to consider
    So many factors
    Folks need to factor in failure too as it is super easy to have things go awry. Disease or bad weather wipes out your crops. Disease or predators wipe out your livestock and this can also cover wild game of all sorts. Then on top of that, what if the reason things went south was a huge nuke exchange, what if everything is a radioactive ash tray but you somehow survived or got unlucky and your stomping grounds just happened to be the recipient of radioactive fallout?

    Just so many factors, plans are good to have but please consider outlier possibilities as Murphey lives.

  6. All well and good. After much trills and error I have determined food resupply is not going to be easy no matter what I do. Last year I built a large fish pond and stocked it with catfish and perch. So for so good. I have put in 12 huge raised garden beads. Wife and I have been growing for 10 years. Our crops have gone from plentiful to very poor. We are now focused on potatoes as our primary crop because of so many failures. Growing food is dependent on weather conditions and soil quality. Use the wrong fertilizer and you will destroy your chances. I am considering chickens and or rabbits now at the risk of violating city laws which forbid all such animals. Let this be a worming, no mater what you do, if you are just starting out, it will be harder then you expect. when it comes to resupply nothing is easy and any one who says it is, is laying to you.

    1. Man on foot
      Have you considered quail instead of chickens? I live in an HOA that frowns on “livestock”, but my quail are quiet and easy to hide. If someone questions me on them, they are my pets (they really kind of are!). I have 3 females that give me an egg a day, and one male, whose call is relatively quiet and blends in with the wild bird calls. 5 quail eggs equals one chicken egg, so what they provide is plenty for DH and me. Push comes to shove, they don’t take up much room, so we could keep them in the garage, or even inside somewhere.

  7. My maternal grandfather provided for my mother, her 5 siblings, and my grandmother in a 3 room house he built himself…around 600 sq. feet total…A shallow well he dug and brick-lined himself…and no electricity…through the great depression.

    A portion of their table fare came from wild game which quickly became hard to find during those trying times. As a child visiting him, some years after the depression supposedly ended with beginning of WWII, I watched as he wove gill nets on a homemade frame in the “big room” of that little home. He told me stories of how he set gill nets in all the creeks, stock tanks, and the East Fork of the Trinity River that bordered his farm to help feed the family. I saw stacks of home-built rabbit traps in the shed. Stories of night hunting with a kerosene lantern in search of Robin roosting in the brush along the creeks that he would snatch off their roost and carry home in a gunny sack (tow sack). He made fish patties similar to salmon croquets from carp (considered by many to be a trash fish you only ate as a last resort) meat pressure cooked to fall off the myriad of bones, mixed with crackers and spices, breaded with corn meal and fried.

    I share this to make a point. Hunting and fishing for survival is not/will not be the sport we think of. If you don’t score, you go hungry. You take advantage of whatever tactic you can muster. Be able to look at animals as protein. A Robin red-breast may be songbird, a crow may be a nuisance bird, possum and coon meat might not strike you as table cuisine…but…necessity is the mother of changed palates.

  8. Game populations will go down with increasing pressure. Fish will be thinned out and the game that we shoot will be wise to the ways of humans. I saw this happen on the farms and ranches I worked on and the park I worked in. There is one thing that allowed the population to recover: the snows fell and people did not travel to the high country lakes. The populations of fish could recover during the winter months.
    To this day, I like shooting squirrels in areas where they have been shot at before. After the first shot is fired, the survivors take cover. Within 5 minutes, you begin to see the tops of heads and eye-shine. This is why I practice shooting at targets the size of a ping-pong ball year round.

  9. Reply to Romeo Charlie on crawdad harvesting: This was a group effort that we used to do in the manual removal of mats of aquatic vegetation from concrete lined drainage canals. We only did this on an annual basis but, each time we did it, we would harvest a bunch of crawdads. We placed them in a tank of clean water then boil them up when we had side dishes prepared. (much like butchering of a hog being a community affair). The community I grew up in, the churches all had a working kitchen. I grew up helping out making side salads, baked goods for such events. I learned a lot about cooking and eating different things from other people that cooked at these social events. (deep pit BBQ for really tough cuts of meat or meat that was not aged for very long – popular among the Okies and Arkies that resettled in California’s Central Valley)

    1. I love eating mudbugs (crawfish) along with some red potatoes, corn on the cob and ice cold barley pops.

    2. Calirefugee
      Up here I found a large crawdad in a local lake with a tail4 to 5in long. Looked like a mini lobster. I trapped out a bunch and put them in my crawdad pond/swamp. They’re called “pacifica crawdad”. They did well, now I don’t have to leave the homestead to get crawdads, and I don’t need to buy their damn license!

      Yeah, they’re some good eatin….

    3. Calirefugee
      Up here I found a large crawdad in a local lake with a tail 4 to 5in long. Looked like a mini lobster. I trapped out a bunch and put them in my crawdad pond/swamp. They’re called “pacifica crawdad”. They did well, now I don’t have to leave the homestead to get crawdads, they’re good sized and I don’t need to buy their damn license!

      Yeah, they’re some good eatin….

  10. The previous commenters had a lot of good ideas about trapping, which I began doing as a child, so I would just like to add… mushrooms! I have been studying commercial mushroom farming, and find it fascinating. I think it is a great way to grow food indoors. I already plan to grow Chaga in my birch trees. Any ideas?

    1. We’ve had several mushroom farmers here in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. They grow and sell a variety of them at our local farmers market.

      They can be a great meat substitute taste-wise. Still must supplement essential amino acids with beans & corn/rice or meat/fish.

      Canned goods should last a good while past their “best-by” date.

      I’m planning a garden cage to keep the squirrels and chipmunks away from the tomatoes. Last year they robbed me blind.

      We’re placing a concrete slab under a large deck and screened porch area. Plan to add metal pans under the deck joist to run water off and then enclose the area with screen for a quasi-critter proof green house of sorts. We can use an extra Jotul F4 Woodstock to heat water for night time heat in 55 gallon barrels.

      As an agricultural engineer, I had many plans for self -sufficient living. Most have remained in the planning stage due to a very active engineering career. As I’ve reached retirement age (still a young whipper snapper at 70+); we have started to really focus on being self-sufficient.

  11. Was just thinking this afternoon that I need to select a young boar or two out of this year’s piglets as potential replacements for my breeding boar. When planning for long-term survival, the ability to ensure succession generations for livestock and plants will be needed.

  12. On the food prep subject after decades of my own trial and errors (there have been several) has led me to divide my food inventory into three age categories….level 1. One to three months, ….dry, wet, canned, freezer items. 2. Six months to two years,…… frozen, canned, or dry. 3. 3 years to realistically 10 years, …..dehydrated or freeze dried. By using this method and marking the items with date acquired and my own best by date I am able to simply the storage system and make it much easy to adjust quantities by for any of the 3 categories……cost and storage area are my principal guidelines..I am not giving examples trying to just showcase a system that works for myself. A couple of friends have tried it and found it to be a solution to their food preps. If anyone is interested about getting more details just ask. Blessings

  13. Agree with Mrs. U. regarding herbs. I am adding two additional beds and have started some indoors (greenhouse). Our greenhouse froze when we got near record lows and the power went out. At that time, we were eating lots of fresh tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cucumbers and eggplant. A great deal froze on the vine. I cleaned it out quickly because I could not state to look at the failure and future loss of food. I finally started over and I am working on ways to keep it warn without power. Planted sever of the raised beds this week, with spring veggies. Right now, we have about an inch of rain and very high winds. We are going to be fighting unusual weather patterns all the way. I am glad that most of the herbs I can use for colds and cough survived, with the exception of young horehound in the greenhouse. The starting over is more difficult with age, once per crop feels like enough, but this is not a hobby farm and life goes on.

  14. Reply to Old Alaskan on Mushrooms: The older I get, the more fascinated I am about mushrooms as well. In my current state of Oregon, mushroom hunting and cultivation is very popular. The cultivation of mushrooms first took place at the school of ag at UC Davis where they were trying to grow Shitake mushrooms. Now days, kits are being sold via internet to grow your own. With my health and cholesterol profile, mushroom based dishes are a suitable substitute for red meat or it is a flavor extender within soups and stews. (lots of umami/savory components in edible fungi).
    There is/was a university professor named Paul Stamets (check spelling on last name) that had a TED talk on how fungi can save the planet. He was one of the chemists/biologists called in to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf after the BP spill. Paul Stamets was the creator of the floating booms that soaked up the oil from the water and began the first steps in bioremediation to reduce harm to the environment. I see mushrooms and fungi as a good area for possible investment in the potential of both food production and bioremediation for our future. Relatively little is known about this group of organisms versus the plant and animal kingdom. More is being learned every day.

    1. Great comment Cali.
      May I also add growing sunflowers for seed and cleaning up polluted soils.
      Giant Russian Mammoth Sunflowers are super productive and their seeds contain a lot of nutrition and fats, needed in our daily diet. Their seeds can be used in just about any recipe. They are also a big bee magnet just like lavenders – needed for pollinating your other crops.

  15. years ago i was trying to convince an fellow to stock up on food . he said he would just kill someone and take theirs . i said wow thats harsh and changed the subject . he went immediately on the s.o.s. list . shoot on sight !

Comments are closed.