If you’ve been prepping for a little while, you’ve probably got the basics covered.  You have a bug-out bag, a decent stash of MRE’s or #10 cans of freeze-dried food and a plan to keep it all secure once you’re hunkered down.  What’s next?  Besides piling up more supplies, what else can you do to further prepare yourself for a disaster?  Here are 5 ideas you may find useful in going from beginner to intermediate prepper.

1. Bug out picnic/range day/camping

This is a great way to include the family.  If we’re having a slow weekend day and want to have a little adventure I’ll yell “bug out picnic!” and give a time limit for when we’re driving away.  This helps with organization, prioritization and delegation of tasks.  These little adventures are also a good way to cycle out older supplies and shake down your gear for deficiencies.

2.  Skill-of-the month

Reading through accounts of people who have survived through terrible circumstances, you will rarely (if ever) find someone who says “I didn’t know crap but I sure spent a lot on supplies”.  It is a widely held opinion that the most important tool is between your ears.  So, try your hand at a new skill once a month.  I’m not saying go out and buy a full reloading setup to get familiarized; I’m saying once a month you should take a crack at a new skill that you may find useful to add to your mental arsenal.  Don’t just stop at an instructional video or book, get hands-on experience to drive home the lesson.  Some ideas are: lock-picking, primitive fire starting, small game trapping, food preservation techniques, first-aid instruction or celestial navigation.

3.  Spice up your food preps

Look around for new and tasty additions to your foodstores.  Living off a 50 lb bag of rice will get old quick and it doesn’t take much to change up the menu a bit. Search for foods with a long shelf life that are different than what you’ve got a lot of.  Smoked wild Alaskan salmon  with a shelf life of up to 10 years?  Count me in. Honey, bouillon and salt are all essential and have extreme shelf lives.  Some Johnny’s seasoning salt and Tang drink powder are cheap and easy products to literally spice up your meals. Not to mention sustainability years after the apocalypse- throw some seed packets in your cache to offer fresh foods if possible to the end times.

5 Ways to Up Your Prepping Game
Tonka Seafoods salmon. Photo by Rex Nanorum

4.  Challenge a friend

There’s safety in numbers and much to gain with a little friendly competition.  Challenge a prepper friend to improve their game in one particular aspect.  Start saving up so you both can attend a shooting school or go on a primitive camping trip.  Even if your friends aren’t preppers, you should be able to find a way to challenge them in a manner that will prove productive for your mental, physical, or logistical preparedness.  A few ideas are: race to increase supply stores by a certain percentage, compete together in a shooting or fitness competition, or go over each others disaster plans to find weak links.

5.  Start living it now!

There is no experience like hands-on experience.  Live the prepared life now and you won’t be caught short when the SHTF.  When you’ve found skills you enjoy using, keep after them!  Raise chickens, learn (and use!) local foraging, brew wines and meads, can your own foods and start a garden.  Even if the best you can achieve in any of these examples is a tiny version (single tomato plant, brewing beer in a class at your local brew-shop), the level of learning with hands-on experience is tenfold that of lessons memorized from a book or internet article.  I feel time spent gardening and camping are essential to this step.

Read by the light of your handmade candles and live the prepared life ready for disaster, not afraid of it.