What is a Deep Pantry, Why You Need One and How to Start PT 6 “Off Grid”

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What would happen if you woke up tomorrow with no electricity? No lights. No running water. No heat or A/C. No stove to cook breakfast on. No coffee maker. No toaster. No microwave. Nothing. How inconvenienced would you be?

What if this lasted for a week? Two weeks. Months. And for whatever reason staying at somebody else’s place wasn’t an option. What if everyone lost power.


Would you be able to survive? Sure, you’d learn to improvise. You’d figure out how to cook in an empty aluminum can over an open flame. But wouldn’t it be better to begin preparing for this possibility before it happens?


Oh, that’s right. It’ll never happen to you. This is America, after all, not some third-world country. We might lose power for a couple of days at most, but the utility company will have it back on again in no time… right? Pretty sure that is what the people of Venezuela thought. Things are so bad there, that they are eating pets and zoo animals.  
If that’s your thinking then you can go ahead and keep believing we are invincible, and above calamity. I’ll choose to live in the real world and begin preparing now. Just in case. I prefer the “better safe than sorry” approach. Especially when it comes to the well-being of my family. With all the things that are going on in the world right now, N.Korea, the Middle East even the extremely high stock market. Don’t you think it would be very wise to think ahead and prepare? 


So,  You see you need to get to where you need to be in order to live comfortably without electricity?
(And I’ll assume you’re not hooked up to solar or wind.).


1. Heat Source if you live in an area where winters are cold, you’ll need to think about this. Since it’s going to be below freezing tonight for us, right now especially we realize that a source of heat for our home is extremely important. And as we have seen this past week even if you don’t normally have below-freezing temperatures you still need to have a plan in place if it does happen. 

Installing a wood-burning stove is probably your best option, if at all possible. That’s what we have. Outdoor boilers, or water stoves as they are called, are great for heating your home without using the furnace, but they still require a small amount of electricity. If you do opt for the wood stove, try to get one that you could cook on as well. We put in a wood stove several years ago it has been wonderful. If you have a wood stove you need to try and have a couple of years worth of firewood on hand. We try to have at least that much, then if we have a winter where we can’t get wood due to some unforeseen circumstances such as an injury or illness then we don’t have to worry so much about heat.

A generator would work for a while, but once you are out of fuel it won’t be any good to you. The same goes for kerosene and propane heaters. I know a lot of people with pellets stoves but they also need electricity to run plus you have to a have a source of pellets.
If you are unable to install a wood stove (and even if you do), you’d be wise to at least have some warm clothing and extra blankets on hand. Long underwear, thick socks, gloves, hats (something comfortable enough to sleep in), warm outer clothing, and good sleeping bags and/or blankets for every member of the family are a must. I’d consider co-sleeping as a family during the coldest of nights as well. Nothing like body heat to warm you up. You can also close up all the other rooms in the house and hang blankets over the doors and just use the living room, it will be easier to keep one room warm than trying to warm up the whole house. You can also set up a small camping tent in the house for the family to sleep in to stay warm. 


2Clean Water
See the post here on water.
We all know how vital it is to have a source of clean water available to us at all times. But when the power goes out, how can we access it?

A well with a hand pump would be ideal. Unfortunately, not all people live on land with a well we are relying on a few other sources of water. Since we are fortunate enough to have running water on our property, that’s gonna be our main source.We have a large water tank that we want to hook up to a gutter system to catch rainwater. Then we can use it to water the garden, and to use in the house for toilets and washing but it would be good for drinking and bathing water as well. If you can get at least one rain barrel installed, it’ll be a good start.

3. Cooking
Without the use of a stove, microwave, how do you plan on cooking when the power goes out? Even if your stove runs on propane if you have no way of accessing more fuel when you run out it’ll be of no use to you.

A good thing to have in place is a way of cooking food using wood for fuel. I realize that not everybody has wood readily available to them. If this is the case, it might be a good idea to start piling up whatever wood you can get your hands on now. Or you could store up a good supply of charcoal. If used wisely, a little can last a very long time. Remember, in an emergency situation, you can burn a lot of other stuff in place of wood too,( remember the pioneers burned cow patties and buffalo chips). It’s just important to have somewhere outdoors or in a well-ventilated area to burn an open flame.
Here are a few ideas to think about:
Build a fire pit. Even if you only have a patio, you could have a small steel fire pit to burn-in.
Burn wood in a charcoal grill.
Cook in an open fireplace.
Cook on your wood stove.
Buy and install a wood cookstove.
Buy or make a solar cooker you can make one with only cardboard, duct tape, aluminum foil, and glue!
Build an outdoor oven.
Make a wonder oven or get a thermal cooker. I have a thermal cooker that I just love. You put your food in bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat and put in the thermal cooker and it looks like a slow cooker without the electricity.

Don’t forget that you’ll need cast iron cookware for cooking over an open flame. Frying pans, a bread pan, and a camp dutch oven are a must.

Also, remember to have a good stash of matches and lighters kept in a waterproof container, also some flint starters ( learn how to use these before you need them, they are harder then they look) I also keep steno and fire starter on hand.


4. Bathing
Without running water, bathing will take a little more effort. Hopefully, you’ve set up a rain barrel or something to collect water in. If you have a way to heat your water, you’ll be able to boil enough to take a shallow hot bath in a tub. A nice large enamel pot would be good to have on hand for boiling large amounts of water in. Make sure you have a good bathtub plug too.

If you don’t have a bathtub, you might want to keep your eyes out for a large galvanized wash tub that you could fit in comfortably. You haven’t lived till you have taken a bath in a #10 galvanized tub, haha. When I was a kid and we remodeled our bathroom, that was how we took baths and in the kitchen.

You could also build an outdoor solar shower. You can buy a solar shower for around $10-$30, or make one similar. Whatever method you choose, plan on bathing a lot less frequently, and instead simply wiping down with a washcloth most days. Make sure you have a good supply of soap on hand. And know how to make soap.


5. Lighting
Obviously, lots of candles would be extremely useful. You can often find used ones for free at yard sales. If you have bees you can make your own. Save the wax from old candles and broken crayons to make new candles from. You can also make your own from beef tallow you can go here to see how.
Oil lamps are great to have too. I’ve been picking these up at yard sales for really cheap as well. The larger, outdoor style oil lanterns would be handy as well as the more decorative indoor lamps. That lamp oil is expensive; kerosene is cheaper and works just as well, although it may produce a little smoke. I’ve also read that you can burn olive oil in lamps, something I want to experiment with. Although olive oil is pretty pricey. You can also burn diesel it will have a lot of smoke though.

Solar flashlights are another great thing to have. Solar yard light is great too, put them out during the day and bring them in at night to use.

Use your daylight wisely. Go to bed soon after the sun goes down, and rise with the dawn. This way you won’t use up your resources “burning the midnight oil”.
Keep a supply of lamp and candle wicks, oil, and matches on hand.


6. Washing & Drying clothes.
Of course, if you have a creek nearby you can always wash your clothes in it, right? But what if you live in town?

You can make a “washing machine” out of a plunger and a 5-gallon bucket. Though all you really need is a washbasin, scrub brush or scrub board, and a bar of soap. Make sure you have a place where you can put it without having to bend down. When my washer went out I was washing by hand in the bathtub, my back was not happy with me.

You might also think about what you’d need to hang some stuff up indoors if the weather was bad. I got an expandable drying rack to put in my bathtub or in front of the woodstove for hanging clothes on. Don’t forget to stock up on clothespins. They break pretty easily.


7. Refrigeration
I am trying to get away from using the freezer as much and canning and drying my foods instead.
If you leave the fridge and freezer doors closed, the food inside will stay good for about 3-4 days. But once frozen stuff starts to thaw out, you’ll need to either can it, dry it in a solar dehydrator, or eat it quickly.

Though most of us can live without it, a good refrigeration method would be nice to have to keep food and drinks cool through the hot months.

This is an option you can make a Zeer Pot to keep your foods cooler and fresher for up to three weeks.
Again, if you have a nearby source for running water, you can use the cool stream to keep your foods from spoiling as quickly by submerging them until ready to use.

I am wanting to try and build an ice house. I have an idea of how to do it. Hoping to get it done soon so I can try it out this summer.

8. Sanitation
Unless you have a composting toilet, power outages mean no flushing potties. If you are fortunate enough to live in a wooded or secluded area then going to the bathroom won’t really be any trouble for you. Just dig an outhouse,  you do need to think about having some lime on hand it will help keep the smell down. Also, you want it a little way from your house.

But, if you live in the city or in town and can’t just dig a hole in your backyard, the build-up of sewage can become a very serious problem., I’d highly recommend that you stock up on trash bags. You can use smaller ones to line your toilet with, or you can use a 5-gallon bucket lined with a larger trash bag and kitty litter for very effective waste disposal. This will at least keep things from spilling over and stinking up the place, and creating major health hazards. I read of one lady who lives in the city, she built an outhouse in her backyard and built a potting shed around it and no one is the wiser.

9. Communications
If some major catastrophe has occurred, and lights are out all over town, it would be of some comfort, to have some means of communication with the outside world. A good solar/hand-crank emergency radio is important to have on hand.

You might also consider some good quality walkie-talkies.(Make sure you have a solar charger for the batteries, you can charge rechargeable batteries in the solar lights.) If you and your family members have to separate over a fairly short distance for any particular reason having a way of communicating with each other could be life-saving.

A ham radio would be a wonderful thing to have, even if you don’t have a ham license you can at least listen to one and catch the news from other places.

10. Books
When the internet is down, and your phone-a-friend lifeline is no longer available, you’ll really be glad to have  “how-to” guides on hand. Get a wide variety, you can find them at yard sales second-hand stores or online. Don’t forget to get some fun to read books also, it will be nice to have something fun to read once in a while.

 I don’t know if we’ll ever need to use these suggestions. I pray I PRAY we don’t. But like I said before, doesn’t it seem so much wiser to be prepared, just in case? What harm could come from having a backup plan? I am reminded of two quotes,

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
-Benjamin Franklin

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
– John F. Kennedy

Although I’m not sure in which context these phrases were being used, I do believe it easily applies to survival preparedness. The more of us who are ready to take care of ourselves in a crisis, the less strain there will be on those who come to help. And we will be in a better position to help others.
We all remember what happened when Katrina hit. It was a long time before any help arrived, and those who depended upon it suffered horribly. I don’t want to see my family suffering, I don’t want to suffer… and I don’t want you and your family to suffer either. Especially when all it takes is a little planning ahead of time. Get prepared.

I’ve talked about if there is no power at all next I will talk about cutting our cost because the power may be there but we may not be able to afford much of it, power cost is rising sharply and if money is tight you will have to cut back. 

3 Replies to “What is a Deep Pantry, Why You Need One and How to Start PT 6 “Off Grid””

  1. NRP & Blue

    Holy Macaroni and Cheese…. WHAT A GREAT Article.

    I have to admit this (Lights Out) is one on my greatest fears bar none. Most other things, piece of cake, no power…… OMG.

    BTW, do y’all know there are over 12 Countries that have the ability to set off an EMP (look it up) AND the way to deploy one/several? Iran, N-Korea, Russia, China, need I go on?

    I have read several .gov reports on what would actually happen if the Grid went down (Lights Out) permanently. You do NOT want to know the catastrophe it would cause. All I will say is, “complete devastation” and leave it at that.
    Go do a search and read for yourself. Think it “can’t happen”? Did you happen to see that Unicorn that just walk by?

    When I read the Article, I could see 10 new articles one for each of your points….

    Again GREAT Article Connie, Thank You.
    I sure hope someone out there is listening, if you can help just one Family, than you have done a Wonderful Thing.

  2. Toni (in Niagara)

    Who was it that advised “Hope for the best but plan for the worst.”?
    Thanks for the nice article!

  3. Pingback: What is a Deep Pantry, Why You Need One and How to Start PT 7 “Off Grid Pt2 - Frugal Living on the Ranch