I got a call from a friend today. After years of calling me a doomer, she has decided that between North Korea, Swine flu, economic collapse and peak oil, storing a bit of food might not be the world’s worst idea. She was aking about how to get started. I could have suggested a good book for her but I resisted the impulse.

As she was just getting started, I did not address things like wheat and grain grinders. I wanted to stick the the familiar and easily doable. I suggested she go to one of the big box stores for most things.

Breakfast: Oatmeal and/or Wheatena/Cream of Wheat-any cereal that requires cooking generally stores well, is inexpensive and calorie dense. Add brown sugar, dried fruit such as raisins and apples, powdered milk and canned juice. Now purchase a “just add water” pancake mix and canned fruit. Calculate how many meals you will need to prepare and decide how much of each item you need to have breakfast for a period of two weeks. Don’t forget coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It is possible to add things like canned bacon and powdered eggs but we are talking basic here.

Lunch: There are any number of meals in a can or box. Mac and cheese, chile and stews are all good choices. They are high in sodium and fat and not what you would want on a regular basis but we are thinking about a two week crisis. Add powdered milk and canned juices as well as some canned fruit. Calculate the amount as for breakfast.

Supper: Think pasta and sauce, rice and beans, canned meat and vegetables and fresh foods that store well without refrigeration like potatoes and apples. Add in some canned brown bread, pickles and other side foods and some fun foods like puddings and gelatin.

The next part is trickier. Figure out how much water preparing all of this will take. Pasta and rice must be boiled and hot cereal requires it as well. Don’t forget that powdered milk needs water as will the pancake mix. Add water for drinking and washing up. If water is going to be in short supply, add in disposable dishes. The water will take up a lot of space and be very heavy.

How will you cook this food? Do you have a small propane stove or other means of cooking? One can pick up a decent stove at a camping supply store as well as the propane cylinders. Don’t forget matches. Find a dry, cool, dark spot to store these supplies.

Now make a commitment. Twice each week, prepare a day’s meals what you have stored. As you do, replace it with fresh supplies.

That’s it. It isn’t the perfect diet. It will get boring pretty quickly. Adding some sprouting seeds and the ingredients for baking as well as a portable oven that works on your propane stove top will make meals healthier and more interesting. Freeze dried foods can add variety. Hard cheeses store well. Butter and meats are available in cans. Herbs and spices will perk up your cooking. Pretty soon, you will want to investigate some of the on-line sources for those harder-to-find foods. You will buy a canner and a dehydrator so you can put up your own food. Your storage will expand from 2 weeks to 2 months to a full year. You get a Big Berkey for your birthday. Your library fills up with preparedness books. You might start a blog to talk with other preppers. People will start to ask you for advice. You will begin to watch the news with a eye toward possible disasters. Then it happens. You won’t even realize it at first but your friends will. You will officially be a doomer.