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Stockpiling Needs vs. Wants: What Do You Need?

Are you stocking up because you need it or because you want it? Do you really need it? How much of it will you use? How important is this item? Should you be spending your money elsewhere?

So many questions.

Stockpiling can seem so easy and so hard all at the same time. You know you should stock up on the necessities, but what are the necessities?

The necessities really depend on what you are preparing for. You may be worried about just short term events which would make your preparations look differently than your long term events. You may be just preparing for weather events as opposed to job loss. You may be preparing for a long term grid down situation.

If you are preparing for short term events (weather, etc.), your list may look like this:
  • Water (3 gallons per day per person)
  • Food that can be easily eaten or heated (1500-2000 calories per day per person)
  • Matches and lighters
  • Candles
  • Flashlights and lanterns
  • Camp stove and fuel (usually propane)
  • Charcoal for the grill or fire pit
  • Propane cylinders (full) for the camp stove and grill 
  • Cleaning supplies and buckets
  • Buckets and toilet paper for sanitation
  • Trash bags
  • Baby and toddler supplies (if you have or are expecting them)
This is not a comprehensive list, but this is a good start for what your list should look like for a short term event. Make sure you have a good estimate of the number of people you are preparing for to cover all their needs.

Notice I said needs. Needs are often confused with wants. We want a lot of things to have a more comfortable experience while weathering the events we are preparing for. However, the necessities have to be covered first and that can be confusing sometimes. What areas do your necessities need to cover?
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Warmth
  • Sanitation
  • Safety/Security
  • Oxygen
At a minimum, those items have to be covered whether this is a short term or long term event. If you don't have a plan and the supplies to cover those seven areas, you will be less likely to survive or will be depending upon help. How long of a time for the events we are preparing for will determine how much we need to stockpile.

As any prepper can tell you, we all make some mistakes in our stockpiles. Needs can change. What we thought were needs can suddenly become wants in a hurry. What we thought were wants could become needs in the right situation. However, the line is usually pretty black and white.

You might say that you don't see prescription medicines or extra glasses on the needs list for short term events. If you have these things, you know that they are a need and you need to stock up on them. If you have things you honestly can not live without, you know you need to stockpile them. That is just common sense.

As I have been making a concentrated effort this winter to use some stockpiles up, I started to ask myself if I really needed to stockpile these items. Sure I use them and certainly have a need for hand lotion and foot lotion during the winter. But...did I need 10 tubes of each lotion? I go through approximately 1-1.5 tubes a winter. I can make this stuff last awhile! I really need it? In the short term event, I could live without. In a long term event, I would okay until my stockpile ran out. Then I would have to live without or figure out a substitute from my food stockpiles.

You will hear so many people say they cannot live without X, Y or Z. There are some really vain people out there who have fooled themselves into thinking they need superficial things. No, most women do not need makeup or jewelry, but you would be amazed by how many think they do. You would also be surprised by how many men cannot live without air conditioning or television. In a crisis, these people are usually the ones to complain the loudest because they don't have their "needs" met.

A word of warning: if you are preparing for an event and live with someone with an addiction, you need to prepare and stockpile for that too. This is not a pleasant thing for most people to do. However, if you have a smoker or a drinker in your home, you need to anticipate that. The withdrawals can be harsh and really not something you want to deal with in a crisis. The same goes for someone who depends on caffeine or eats a fair amount of sugar. The headaches, mood swings, fatigue, and other symptoms of withdrawal are not easy to deal with in a normal situation much less a crisis.

Food and water are necessities. Soap is a necessity. First aid items are necessities. Many other things are not. While only you can determine what is a need versus want, you really need to decide what you can and cannot live without.

Thanks for reading,

(Stay tuned for the long term stockpile needs vs. wants!)

Related posts:
In Order to be A Better Prepper, You Must Do Hard Things
We Are Nine Meals From Anarchy


  1. Very good advice to follow. I believe it will become very bad whenever "whatever" happens. Last weekend the total movie revenue was over $180 MILLION dollars. That figure could easily double when you add in concessions. We have the funds to prepare but would rather entertain or worries away. The writing is on the wall yet most do not take heed. Sound familiar? Captain Marvel will not be there to protect you or bring you food. I know this sounds rather cold since some cannot make ends meet let alone stockpile food. I'm talking about those who can. The money spent on entertainment "wants" vs needs is shocking. The term "S#@t hits the fan" is going to be an understatement.

  2. Everyone's needs are different but as the author is pointing out keep it real.
    And don't limit yourself with magical numbers with X per person. The west Texas 115 degree folk with no water near might NEED more then the Illinois couple that have a creek 50yds from the house at 85 degrees.
    I laugh at folks on the caffeine who think you don't need it but expect you to run 24hr operations 365. How many years y'all been doing 24 + hr operations? Yeah that's what I thought. I can be up 20 hrs and an incident happens, on my way home, which requires my skillset and yeah it becomes a need so that others may live. It certainly isn't a like or a want cause I want sleep.

  3. Ditch the hand lotion. Get a couple cans of Crisco. It's dual purpose. Or else eat more lard.

  4. I’ve been feeling the pull too. Trouble is we are on a very limited budget.
    Love your blog. What other blogs or YouTubers do you follow for prepping and simple living?

  5. Great post!
    Another product I found handy was the EZ Battery Reconditioning System. Literally save hundreds of dollars by never buying another battery.


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