A somewhat hypothetical situation has always been in the back of my mind when prepping. However, this hypothetical situation is not becoming so hypothetical anymore. With past and pending shortages on everything from food to vehicle parts plus unfolding global events, this situation bears much consideration for anyone who needs to consider being prepared at home.
The question bearing consideration is this:
How long could you stay at home without leaving for anything?
This is a question that requires some hard, honest thinking. Now is not the time to be brash or bold about how long you could reasonably stay at home without leaving. You know the person who would be saying they could do a year at home without leaving when, in reality, they wouldn't last a week. This needs a hard, honest assessment about how long you could last without leaving for needed items.
This is also not addressing how long you could go without seeing anyone. That is an entirely different topic. However, if you are a person who goes shopping just to get out of the house to see people, you should think about how you will cope with that.
This is simply addressing your preps and your mental readiness. For example, how long could you go without leaving home for anything? How conditioned are you to go shopping once a week or sooner?
How long could you go without going to the grocery store? The average American only has one week's worth of meals and typically eats out 4-5 times a week between three meals a day. Just because many people reading this are prepping in some way doesn't mean you are exempt from those facts. We are conditioned to go to the grocery at a minimum of 1-2 times a month, but many people shop at least once a week. With that kind of habit and eating out at least once a week, you do not go very long without shopping for food and necessities.
You could give this scenario a test run and see how long you could go without going to the grocery store. However, with the current global and national situations combined with potential shortages, I don't think that is a good idea right now. You should be actively preparing for these things now. You could do an inventory of what you have right now and take note of how much of an item you use in a week and a month to give you an idea of what you will need to have on hand.
How long could you last without online shopping? We truly have been spoiled by this option, but if there are food shortages and supply disruptions, online shopping will not get you the items either. Unless you are willing to pay an often much higher price for a scarce item, you will not be able to get what you want online.
How could you go without shopping period? With prices going up, you may not be able to afford to shop like you are accustomed to in normal times. You may need to focus on making frugal meals that stretch with the addition of a few items. In the Great Depression and wartime, soup and casseroles became popular because they could be stretched to feed a few more people. They were also made to use up the food because food waste was abhorrent. In tough times, you will need to take on a similar mindset.
Shopping has also become a pastime for many people. Just because you aren't physically going to a store doesn't mean you aren't shopping. Online shopping has replaced physical shopping for many people and doesn't hardly seem like you are shopping. You pop onto an online retailer to look something up and will often end buying the item without thought. You can simply just reorder the same groceries every week without thought and pick them or have them delivered.
What happens when you may not be able to shop online anymore? That may have to come to an end if you can't leave home and you can't afford those items anymore. While times are decent now, you should be stocking up on things you think may become scarce if we continue to have further problems with food shortages and supply disruptions. Another thought is what could happen if you can not get deliveries due to a driver shortage or some other reason? We rely on a super convenient way of getting what we want, but that can always be disrupted.
Do you have alternatives for your convenience items like diapers and toilet paper? You may think these items are necessities and they are to an extent. However, they can also become scarce which means you will need alternatives. Yes, you might find it inconvenient to wash cloth diapers and toilet paper cloths, but you still would be able to do the job. You might want to keep extra laundry detergent and the ingredients to make more in your preps too because you may be doing more laundry.
How would you cook once the convenience foods ran out? How creative are you with food? Can you cook from scratch? Do you know what food substitutions you can make with cooking? Gathering some cookbooks and some cooking reference manuals can help you be more creative in the kitchen, especially after the supplies start to run low or run out. Practicing being more creative in the kitchen now will teach you to be more flexible in cooking in the future. When you run out of cream soup, for example, you can make cream soup from scratch with water, dry milk, bouillon, butter (or butter powder or oil), and flour.
What do you have for meals? I have talked about this before. Having a meal plan for your food storage is important because you can plan your food storage according to the meals you make regularly. Having a good supply of staple foods (meat, rice, beans, and vegetables) will get you started, but you need to have a meal plan to use them properly. By creating a meal plan, you can ensure you have enough food on hand to get through a month or longer.
Can you DIY, mend, fix, and more? You may need to just to avoid going or will not be able to afford to the store for a while longer. Do you have the skills and the tools to DIY or fix your own things? Are you creative enough to look for solutions outside of what is considered normal fixes? Developing this mindset to fix whatever you can before buying new not only saves you money but can keep you home for longer periods of time. This mindset, along with the skills and tools needed, can truly be the difference between suffering and making do for a while longer. And trust me, there is a big difference between the two.
While this still seems to be a somewhat hypothetical scenario, the reality is that some people have already experienced this to an extent. Some people got a taste of this during the lockdowns and shutdowns, but truthfully most items were still at their fingertips because they could order online or still could reasonably go to the grocery store. We experienced shortages and panic shopping during the beginning of the pandemic which makes this scenario all the more real.
Asking yourself how long you could be home without shopping or going anywhere will help you sharpen your skills and get your preparations in line for the next thing that could happen. The news already has reports of what could happen and potential shortages. Being prepared means you acknowledged the intel and have acted on it. The event may or may not happen, but you are not unprepared.
Thanks for reading,