Home Survival StrategiesHomefront Using Prepping Checklists to Create an Emergency Binder

Using Prepping Checklists to Create an Emergency Binder

by Candi Hanson

pen on top of a piece of paper checklist

Prepping to survive for months or years after some sort of major disaster or an apocalypse level is a huge undertaking. It isn’t something you wake up one morning and decide to do and be done with it by the end of the day. Prepping for something big takes a lot of time, resources and very careful, strategic planning. It requires you to know exactly what you have, what you need and a plan to make it all come together.

The idea of prepping for disaster has become more popular in recent years. Television shows about survival and people preparing to survive without things like grocery stores, jobs or banks fueled the curiosity about the prepping movement.

Prepper pantry with shelves holding canned food

What the shows don’t show the average person is how long it takes to build up those stockpiles or how much consideration must go into every little item put on the shelf. People with large stockpiles or intricate shelter systems have typically been prepping for years.

Their achievements are inspiring and encourage others to start putting together a stockpile of food and water just in case. Prepping is a big deal and if you are not ready for what it entails, you will quickly become overwhelmed.

It is like starting a hike to the top of a mountain. All you see is this massive mountain in front of you, and you don’t see the path that leads to the top. You may look at that mountain and give up before you even get started.

Prepping is a journey. You have to forge your own path. You should be storing things that are important to you and foods that your family will actually eat and enjoy. While you can learn a lot from other experienced preppers, there is a lot you have to learn for yourself. Prepping is a journey that doesn’t end when you get to the top. It is something you will be doing from here on out. Once you commit, you are going to discover the rest comes pretty easy.

Shopping cart in a store filled with food

Prepping Shopping Spree

One of the biggest mistakes new preppers make is running to Costco or their big warehouse grocery store and going on a shopping spree. They buy all kinds of food, water and other supplies, stick it in the basement or the pantry and call it a day. They are prepared for anything—right? WRONG!

Not only did they just waste a ton of cash, they didn’t think about what they were stockpiling and how it would help them actually survive. Bulk is not always best. Buying this or that on a whim is certainly not a good idea or a good use of resources.

You need a binder.

Yep, prepping is such a big deal you actually need checklists to guide you and a binder to keep them in so you can stay organized and know exactly what you have on your shelf at any given time.

Food Checklists

You can find free checklists all over the internet that will help guide you. The checklists can be customized to suit your family’s needs. Or you can just make your own. Checklists that just list out food, but don’t include quantity goals are not going to be all that helpful. Sure, they will give you an idea of what to stockpile, but when a line item reads “corn” does that mean a single can, a case or 100 cans?

The best food checklists are those that give you ingredients for meal planning. You will be doing all of your cooking from scratch. That means your meals are only going to work if you have what you need on hand. You can’t exactly run to the store for sugar or salt.

An even better option, one that you can do yourself, is to sit down and list out the meals your family eats today. What is the typical dinner for your family? List out all of the ingredients it takes to make the meal big enough for your family. Then multiply your ingredient list by 4. This is the amount of ingredients you need to store to make that particular meal for a month. If your goal is to build up a stockpile of food that will last your family a year, adjust your calculations.

Buckets of spices

Be sure to read Food Storage Mistakes Even Veteran Preppers Make for more info about building up your food supply.

While it is a lengthy process, it ensures you are getting the right foods for your family.

A good rule in prepping is that you only store what you eat. Don’t buy a bunch of stuff on sale and assume your family will eat it because that is all there is. It won’t be a fun argument and if you can save yourself any more stress, why not just plan ahead?

Also, avoid buying a bulk can of tomato sauce (or whatever the ingredient may be) because you need it to make your meals for the month. You won’t have refrigeration. It will spoil and you will be left without tomato sauce or whatever ingredient.


There is a plethora of supplies you will want to have on hand should disaster strike. We never really think about what we use on a daily basis when we know we can always get what we need from the store should something come up. We are talking things like toothpaste, shoestrings, sandwich bags, batteries and so on. Little things that seem unimportant, but when you are living without electricity, grocery stores, the mall or commerce in general, all of those little things suddenly become very important.

Laundry detergent, dish soap, body soap, shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste

Hygiene Supply Stockpile

You would be wise to print off numerous lists from experienced preppers who have put a lot of time and thought into building up their own stockpiles. There are a lot of lists out there—print them all. You may find just one or two things different, but those tiny differences could be life changing in a true survival situation.

Some of the various specific checklists you will want to look for or try to create on your own after a LOT of research are as follows:

  • Personal Hygiene items
  • First aid/medical supplies
  • Tools
  • Gardening supplies
  • Pet supplies

Bug Out Bags

This is one of the hottest topics in the survival world. Everybody knows they have to be ready to bug out in a hurry should disaster strike. A bug out bag, often referred to as a 72-hour bag, is going to be what gets you by for a few days until you can get a more permanent shelter or from point A to point B.

Bug out bag with knives, a water bottle, gloves, socks, silverware, paracord, and a flashlight

There are a ton of checklists for you to use to pack your bug out bag. Tailor the bag to your specific needs, but use the checklists as a guideline to make sure you cover all the basics. Make sure you have a list of specific needs for a vehicle bug out bag as well. You always want to have access to emergency gear, no matter where you are.


This may sound silly, but you need to know how to do a lot of stuff the old school way. Your life is going to be very similar to those who settled the West back in the pioneer days. No power, running water, gas and of course, technology. You will have to know how to do everything from building a fire to taking care of an injury. There are plenty of skills, like leather making and flint knapping, that have long been forgotten, but they are going to prove very useful. Find a checklist that covers the many skills you will need to know to survive and start educating yourself.

Set a goal to learn a new skill every 3 months or more if you can swing it. There are plenty of prepping groups all across the country that offer classes on a weekly or monthly basis. The classes are often free or very inexpensive. You will get valuable information from experts on a wide variety of topics.

Emergency Plans

This isn’t a checklist so much as a place to jot down the steps you will take in the event of an emergency. You will want to tailor your plan to where you live and what things are most likely to occur i.e. tornado, earthquake, flood and so on.

Your emergency plan is going to be the guide for the whole family. When you take the time to sit down and hash out all of the details about where you will take shelter in, who is grabbing the baby and dog and where you will all meet up after the danger is gone, you can cover all your bases. It gjves you the precious time to go through all of the scenarios and think about the best course of action. This is a great time to include escape plans should there be a house fire as well.

Diagram of an escape plan with meeting place

Once you have created your plan, run drills to really fine tune it. Make sure your plan is updated regularly to account for changes in the family dynamic, room placement or anything else that would throw a kink in your plan. Always have a backup plan as well. Each time you run a drill, you are going to find ways you can do it better and faster. Keep tweaking it until it is the best it can be. Every second counts in an emergency.

Planning will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders in the actual event of an emergency. You will be confident that your family knows just what to do. You won’t have to be barking orders or panicking over little details.

Bartering Checklists

Without banks and jobs, money isn’t going to be worth much of anything. In fact, one of the disasters that could result in an apocalypse on some scale, is a major economic collapse. What would you do if all the cash in your pocket is worthless? Well, it would make a good firestarter or toilet paper, but that is about it.

List of bartering items for if SHTF

You are going to inevitably find there are things you need that you didn’t get a chance to stockpile. You may need the services of a tradesman if you didn’t get the chance to learn a particular skill. In order to pay for those goods and services, you will need to barter. Bartering will be the way of the future. Things that are plentiful now, like toilet paper, sugar, salt and so on are going to be very hard to come by when there are no manufacturing plants or stores to buy the items in.

There are going to be some items that people are going to absolutely crave or want. Things like alcohol and tobacco are going to be very high on the list. Those items are going to be extremely valuable and they don’t cost all that much today. Print off a bartering checklist and create a stockpile that will essentially be your personal bank account.

Putting it All Together

Once you have printed or created all of your checklists, you will see why it will be so important to keep things neat and organized. Keeping all of your checklists and plans in an emergency binder will make that easy. The binder can be a 3-ring binder or one of those small accordion files. Whatever works for you.

Organize the binder with tabs so you can quickly find the checklist you need. Try to update your checklists each week if possible. At the minimum, you should be updating the lists on a monthly basis. This binder can be stored with your stockpile for easy reference when you enter the space. When you add fresh supplies, your binder and checklists will be right there for you to check off.

Emergency binder

When you come across interesting reads or great ideas, print the blog or article and add it to your binder. You never know when you may need to know how to make candles from animal fat or dig a well. There are some very clever people out there who have written about their ideas. You can learn from them.

Don’t assume you will remember or assume you couldn’t possibly forget this or that. Part of being prepared is planning for anything. Take advantage of the many resources you have available to you right now. You can never be too prepared.

Is there anything else you would have a checklist for? Let us know in the comments below.


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Sindee March 18, 2017 - 12:32 am

Thank you for posting. Sharing….

J. Cash March 24, 2017 - 3:59 am

Thanks. All the every day toiletries I agree are overlooked. I keep at least one big pack of TP from Costco in the closet, along with a big Costco pack of paper towels. I also recommend paper plates that don’t need water to clean them. Utensils don’t require much water, so they can be reused.

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