When Have You Prepped Enough?


How much is enough? For those who have been preparedness-minded for a number of years, and for those who have made considerable inroads to their state of preparedness, when have you prepped enough? Is there a time?

What are the criteria for being reasonably prepared and is there a point when you slow down?

Here’s my general opinion…

It’s never enough ;)

However with that said, there are certainly some very reasonable goals and milestones that you might set for yourself such that when you reach or exceed them, you might consider yourself to be reasonably prepared.

A moment ago I said that ‘it’s never enough’ because I consider preparedness in general to be a life long way-of-life in which I am always gaining new preparedness related knowledge, learning new related skills, and acquiring new related things to support them.

Again, having said that, there is a point at which one might consider themselves to be reasonably prepared… and the keyword is ‘reasonably’.

The question becomes, what is ‘reasonably’ prepared?

That answer will vary (as most all things do) with respect to one’s situation, circumstances, geo-location, risk perception, risk tolerance, and opinion. But is there a point when that person might relax (somewhat) and say that they’re reasonably prepared?

Before you can consider if you’re reasonably prepared, I suppose you need to consider your basic criteria for preparedness in general.

Given that we can breathe air, the top considerations for survival preparedness include water, food, shelter, and security. There is much more (of course), but in this context we’re mostly talking about high level parameters (requirements) to consider when focusing on basic preparedness.

So, logically, if you’re pretty well set in those areas (for the amount of time you deem ‘reasonable’), then you might consider yourself to be reasonably prepared.

Basic preparedness takes into account that we might (for a time) lose the modern day sources and conveniences that we take for granted – including water, food, electricity, shelter, and security. Water flows from our taps, food is at the grocery store, electricity powers most all of modern life, we live comfortably with a roof over our head in a house or apartment, and we presume that we’re reasonably safe given our relatively civil society and the ability to dial ‘911’.



This is an extremely important preparedness topic (there are lots of articles here about this). However it is largely overlooked due to the extreme normalcy bias associated with it. The thing is, we literally cannot survive much beyond several days without it.

Most people rely on (and take for granted) the municipal water sources that process and pump clean water to their faucets. Even those with well water will be without the capability if the electricity stops flowing.

Perhaps a reasonably prepared person would have or know of an alternative source of water along with a method and means to continually transport it to home during a time of disaster or SHTF (without the presumption of vehicular transportation and readily available fuel).

Additionally that person might only be reasonably prepared if they also had method and capability to store that water and to filter the water for safe drinking.

Note: People consume more water each day than they might think…

Depending on the size of the household, a reasonably prepared person might store at least several gallons of water per person per day to account for a period of time that they consider ‘reasonable’.



Food storage is probably the most focused-on aspect of preparedness. It is so extremely and almost ridiculously easy to acquire a sizable food storage that I am surprised that more people don’t do it. But that’s another subject…

A person might consider themselves reasonably prepared if they have acquired a diversified group of foods for their pantry and/or storage and are storing them in a favorable environment and containment in order to maximize shelf life, and an amount of food with sufficient calories and nutrition to support their household for a time period that they consider reasonable.

What is that time period in order to be considered ‘reasonable’? That’s your call. Personally I have several years for each of us – and the reason for that is the following…

Not only do you need to consider food storage, but your definition of ‘reasonable’ in this category might include the ability to procure more (without reliance on the systems which supply your neighborhood grocery stores). That means the ability to successfully garden, harvest, and preserve those foods – as well as any other means to procure food. While having one year of food storage may sound like a lot, ‘what if’ your garden largely failed during the first year – or your lost your livestock, etc… then you’ll sure be glad that you cushioned yourself a second chance…

With that said, it might be quite reasonable to simply have a 3-month supply of food storage – which would cover most ‘typical’ and perhaps most likely disaster scenarios. But a true big-time SHTF food collapse… this will not be nearly enough.



I have included this category within the realm of being reasonably prepared because the implications of living without it are so great. They vary from short term inconvenience to downright disaster and collapse. I would not consider myself to be reasonably prepared unless I had alternatives to every aspect of my current reliance upon electricity. This might include the means to cook your food, see in the dark, heat your home, power your well, refrigerate your food, fuel your vehicle, on and on… When the power goes out, the stores close. All of them. Banks, ATM’s, gas stations, grocery stores, you name it…

Most everyone can easily deal with a short term power outage. But if it drags on into days, this becomes entirely different. If you live in a cold climate and this happens during the winter… there’s lots to consider and prepare for.

Life without electricity is a huge categorical topic and it hinges upon so many systems that we take for granted today.

When considering the word ‘reasonable’ in this regard, we’re probably talking about a reasonable preparedness time period of several days or up to a week (for ‘typical’ circumstances). When you get beyond that, we’re talking about SHTF and major major implications which go way beyond reasonable… although VERY important and impacting.



Unless you own your home outright with no mortgage, you are especially at risk to becoming displaced. Although you never ‘actually’ own your own home/property (.GOV requires you pay property taxes else get evicted – therefore they seemingly own it), if you’re paying rent or a mortgage – you must continue to pay – else face eviction. Arguably eviction might become difficult or impossible to enforce during a big-time SHTF collapse, however when one is considering the word ‘reasonable’, one might simply consider a financial cushion for the ability to pay rent or mortgage for a reasonable period of time.

A reasonable consideration for shelter may include a pre-planned bug-out location, especially if you live in a hazardous area or city where evacuation (for whatever reason) may become necessary.

The ultimate shelter is actually already living in what would be one’s bug-out location.



When systems break down, even for a relatively short time, personal security may become a top priority. When considering reasonable preparedness for your security, only you can ultimately decide what that is – because only you know and understand the risks related to where you live, etc..

What is reasonable? Certainly we’re talking about a few firearms – a handgun and a long gun for starters (and a reasonable amount of ammo to go with it). More importantly is the ability to reasonably proficiently use these tools (which means practice).

I have posted quite a number of articles not only on all of the topics above, but on the subject of security and situational awareness. A key element to being prepared with security is situational awareness which itself may lead to avoidance of potentially threatening situations. However when avoidance isn’t enough, you must be prepared to defend yourself – because only you are responsible for you.

During disaster or SHTF, do not depend on ‘911’. These services and police will have their hands full, and unfortunately the criminal element knows this.

It is somewhat difficult to define what may be generically ‘reasonably’ prepared in this category. With that said, I would not consider being prepared until I have practiced situational awareness to the extent of confidence, as well as having the firearms which I personally consider to be reasonable in this regard – as well as the proficiency to reasonably use them.



As I have been writing this, there have been so so so many more aspects that have come to mind – so many that I would have to write a book to cover them all. I know that there is no ‘right’ answer when asking the question, “When have you prepped enough?”, but I believe that the topic is one that may encourage some of you to set goals in various categories. It will hopefully encourage some of you to think more about basic high-level categories which may not be listed here (there are more).

It’s so easy to go down the rabbit-hole of endless preparations, so I believe it’s a good idea to step back once in awhile and discover where you’re at. Is it enough?

For me it will never be enough. But that does not mean that I am a hoarder and won’t be satisfied until I’m sitting on top of a huge pile of preps. For me it is about at least a baseline of preps and then it’s about proficiency, adaptability, self-sufficiency, a way of life which helps me to at least partially escape modern systems of dependence. From that point on, it’s fine-tuning and spending some time in particular areas of preparedness (and/or self-sufficiency, self-reliance, etc..) which happen to interest me. None of us can know it all, but we can each specialize in our own interests…

Hope some of this made sense ;)


  1. Ideally I would like to have a 3 year supply of food for the house. As well as three years of seeds for growing vegetables. The seeds can be tricky as they lose viability over time. Then of course the means to preserve everything is just as important. I think food is our weakest area right now. Yes I have a year supply for just the two of us, but we currently have 4 other people living with us, so realistically that one year supply will last about 4 months. I am working on increasing that as time goes on, but my biggest problem is space. I am re-thinking certain items that we store such as reducing canned beans for dried beans as they will not take up nearly as much room.

    Water is the least of our concerns as we have multiple sources very near to us as well as multiple filtering abilities.

    Shelter is also not an issue as our mortgage has been paid off, and we have kept up with repairs, so we will not have to replace or fix anything anytime soon.

    Security, we have weapons for everyone in the house and plenty of ammo.

    Electricity, the biggest headache will be to pump water from our deep well, and to run the furnace for hot water. The refrigerator is also a concern. Everything else I can live without as I have been gearing everything towards life without electricity.

    To supplement the food supply I have been learning to forage. Meanwhile I will continue to increase our food stores as time goes on.

  2. I believe it comes down to coming to terms with and accepting what you can do “without”.We would all have different items on that list.I can do without 10 chords of seasoned wood but you in cold winter areas could not.Maybe you can get by without a couple cans of WD40 but I cannot if I want to have my tools usable and rust free(we get 120 + inches of rain a year!).I have 10,000 gallons of stored water 20′ from my house.When both my water pumps failed the same day I had to carry 4 5 gallon containers up my house stairs to flush toilets and wash dishes that night.I had to treat/boil the water to do dishes as I had to use water that had not been treated.It was TIME CONSUMING.I would rather not have to do that every night.
    Many everyday “conveniences” are really TIME SAVERS.Time to get every thing done each day may be the very commodity that will be in “short supply” for many of us.I’m ramping up my preps in time consuming areas…

  3. Ken
    You bring up an absolutely interesting point. IMHO, You have written this article from the stand point of “stuff” (water, food, electricity, shelter, security, so-on) and as you said the list could be endless. I would like to toss in a little different approach while staying on subject. This being the spiritual AND lifestyle aspect of being a “prepper”. After all it’s truly a total ball of wax, right?

    First the spiritual side, if a person or family is not prepared within themselves and the major SHTF, I believe that most will become unraveled and become for the lack of a better word, Crazy-Lost. So if one is only going to church on Sundays lets say and the SHTF, the church is suddenly no longer available than what? So, what is enough in your particular faith? is having a Bible on the table enough? Everyone must find their place within themselves in order to survive, just as how much food…. to have.

    Second, the Lifestyle, As someone that is a “prepper”, I will never have enough “stuff”, I will always strive to have “just a little more” not by putting a 2-3-4 year limit on food lets say, but as a continual growing resource. After the SHTF if I happen to have that 10 years of food stored would I not be willing to help that child that is starving because Dad was to stupid do prepare? How about that 5 years? or 3 years? Is that not what the “lifestyle” is about?

    This is a very powerful statement from you —“For me it is about at least a baseline of preps and then it’s about proficiency, adaptability, self-sufficiency, a way of life which helps me to at least partially escape modern systems of dependence”— A WAY OF LIFE….. Not about how much “stuff” one has as long as you and your family can survive for at least one more day how much is really necessary?

    Just food for thought

    1. That’s exactly correct, NRP. Preparedness simply becomes a way of life. At least it has for me… and still is unfolding. I thoroughly enjoy it.

    2. in the aspect of spirital i beleave we all will find it in the midst of an event no matter the severity. if one only goes to church on sundays to seek guidance and repentance they will only find heart ache.
      as far as refrigeration goes i don’t know how many have a cellar or basement they can spare room in but if you take a partition and insulate the walls heavily you can make a refrigerator out of frozen five gallon water buckets stack along the walls to the ceiling and be sure to rotate melting ones out for drinking water. works quiet well from what if seen on some survival deals lately. as a block of ice will maintain 32f. till completely melted.

  4. Prepped enough for what? If we only knew the answer to that…

    Prepped enough also implies you are able to stay put throughout the crisis and/or you have a stocked bug out location. If you have to abandon home then it’s all gone.

    I don’t know the answer or the best things to do. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    1. That’s true – that if one knows exactly what to prepare for, it becomes simply a matter of a checklist… (sort of).

      No one knows the answers, and you’re correct in saying ‘prepare for the worst and hope for the best’.

      Additionally, preparedness will change your mindset in general and becomes a way of life and a way of thinking which is a bit different from the mainstream (which may be why they portray us as wacko’s). When someone doesn’t follow the crowd, they are challenged and chastised. But that’s okay. I see the big picture and understand (to the extent that I can) why the mainstream crowd is the way that they are… There’s no changing it.

  5. Taking into consideration the article and other comments I feel reasonably comfortable in my preps. However, prepping will always be an ongoing event for me, gathering new skills, sharpening the ones I have, and at times replacing the material preps I have. I did have a checklist of “must haves” that I used as a guide over a five year period. It has been completed this year. This has resulted in my spending time and resources helping others in my prepper family in getting them “more prepared”.

  6. I read your title Ken and from that I had my answer. I have not learned enough and I am not done preparing. I am comfortable with what I have now, but always needs room for improvement. Some food will expire so I’ll eat it and replace it as always.

    I will be laid off next month for winter until people come back to the lakes next spring, so I will have projects to do, and I hope it isn’t all shoveling snow off the roof. I also hit a milestone in my savings last Tuesday (woo hoo!)and will save more money as part of my preps. A prepper’s work is never done!

  7. You write: “the topic is one that may encourage some of you to set goals in various categories” and your article states the obvious categories: water, food, energy, shelter. But for how long determines how much. The answer is 7. Don’t laugh, don’t pooh-pooh. Be it 7 hours, 7 days, 7 months, or 7 years or 7×7, that is what you prepare for. And don’t equate preparation with storage capacity.

    1. The stock market has come back, it looks like we’re over the crises and it’s all sunny skies ahead from here on in. No more need to prep anymore.

      1. @ TIC
        HAHAHA, I don’t know what drugs your on, but could you please share some? LOLOL

  8. Me personal, enough is when I’m 6 ft under. No one can have enough items, we can not tell the future. We all say, ONLY if I knew. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

  9. Skills are the best prep of all. I taught martial arts and won shooting contests. Security. Avid hunter and love my garden and know how to preserv food. Food. Built a water catchment system and have stream s and ponds local. Water. Daughter is a nurse. Medical. I am an aircraft mechanic with 3 years of electronics and a qualified welder to boot. Power. My wife has gardening and canning skills as well as food prep and firearms. My son has gardening and computer engineering skills. Along with 1 year supply of food and limitless firewood for cooking,home heating and water purifying and a lot of ammo,swords,bow and arrows. I believe we will be the last of the people on the planet. Just my thoughts.

  10. My main concern is water. I live in a desert, and once the water stops flowing the city is dead. I also can’t “bug out” for various reasons, so our preps are all of the shelter-in-place variety.

    As long as the water keeps flowing I can survive. I can produce my own food, can it, dehydrate it, store it, but water…Right now we have about a month of basic necessities water, mainly in plastic water jugs in every conceivable space and two 70 gallon water heaters.

    I’m planning a water catchment system, but that isn’t much in an area where it rains an average of three times per year.

  11. We have an underground stream the comes out about 500 feet from the house , it actually is the beginning of Little Rocky Creek , the water is clear and cold , but to be able to drink it I prefer to boil it first , in this day I wouldn’t even think about drinking some of it without boiling , I have a pool , and a pond so that is what will be used after the water in the community water tank is gone , gravity feed , for flushing toilets , have stored water too , I figure I have about two years or better of stored food some store canned , home canned , freeze dried survival buckets , rice and beans packed in 5gallon buckets with Mylar bags and O2 packs , as for most every thing else I am in good shape , reload my own ammo , have put back a good bit of lead for casting my own bullets , after I run out of the cast ones I am reloading with now , guns and ammo supply good , tools and yard tools for garden good , some gas put back with StaBil , if it gets really bad the only transportation will be Atv’s and four wheelers , because you won’t want to go to towns . Pretty much everything else is good . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

    1. Ever thought of testing the water? If it tests good, you can eliminate the need for wasting energy to boil it. It tests for bacteria and chemicals and your fingers can’t touch the lip of the bottle, that’s how sensitive the test is. It costs me $28 to test my well water and it has to be sent/delivered immediately to a lab, at least 24 hours. May be worth your time.

  12. Ken, Again you are spot on…..my 30 year prepping journey, has been a passion, a hobby, and now a reward….because I have made mistakes, made progress, and now try and pass on what I have learned. Your site is so timely, the revelations keep coming and what we suspected in our gut in the past, is becoming a today reality. My message is do something today, get one thing at a time but just do it and do it today………the warmth you get from knowing your efforts, actions, are not only prudent but are on target. God bless you and may the the great articles you produce keep coming

  13. Ken, as usual a great thought provoking article.

    Many of us (your faithful readers) are ready for alot of scenarios. The best readiness IMHO is skills. For an unknown reason, my husband and I were drawn to our remote location after getting the last of our huge brood out of the house and on to their own lives. that was 11 years ago and we have been “prepping” solidly since that day.

    The most important facets of that prepping have proven time and time to be skills. So, as a large part of our journey, we polled all the kids and their spouses, found the largest holes in our collective skills and started training. Additionally, we have built a fantastic library and resource center….obviously we plan on staying put in any instance, but built in a location that should be ok in most circumstances.

    Still, I welcome your articles, food for thought, and keep my eyes, ears and mind open to new ideas and growth. Thanks again for this wonderful site and all our fellow contributors.

  14. With each day that passes, I become more self reliant. The day I stand on my own and need nothing from society around me. Will be the day I need not to prepare. Until then, learn more skills, practice those skills. And find new ways to provide what we need, with what is available.

  15. This is a comment that I wonder about myself, “Arguably eviction might become difficult or impossible to enforce during a big-time SHTF collapse”. We have seen after the 2008 housing collapse that it took in some cases years for mortgage companies to actually foreclose and force the occupants out of their houses. If a financial SHTF scenario would happen again but on a grander scale there would be mass unemployment and very few would be able to pay their mortgages not alone the taxes. What happens in this scenario I don’t see the capacity to foreclose and force occupants out of 75% of the houses in this country without it taking years.

    1. Yes it would take years, but in the meantime the bank holds all that property in reserve for the future–or the gov’t confiscates it. In either case, the people lose their property just when we’re (theoretically) starting to recover.

  16. In 2008 when the Great Recession hit, We began to plan for our exodus from a high tax/marginal jobs state to a new location where we could both work with a lower tax burden. WE BUGGED OUT. We lived off our stored food supplies and other supplies (minimized ordering new stuff too) in preparation for the big move.

    We lived as preppers for so long, it was strange to be consuming our supplies while doing the job search and out-of-state licensure on days off from our day jobs. All of this took time and effort. Prepping is a lifestyle and an instinct after living the life for so long. I got my start as a child growing up in a large family and observing our consumption patterns of food, booze and cigarettes. It later led to a degree in Economics in college.

    We are in a new state where we are both gainfully employed with a lower tax burden. I stocked up on canned soup after locating a discount/high volume food warehouse within a week of moving into our new home. The old instincts of packing away supplies does not go away. Are we prepared? Some would say so. I keep my eyes open to watch for the next “Katrina” type event because the 2008 recession hit my area of California in a slow rolling and devastating way. We were not going to wait for things to get better.

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