Prepping to Live, Not Just to Eat – How to Prep for High Morale in a Disaster or SHTF Situation

Building your ideal disaster preparedness inventory will have you thinking about the items you need to survive – water, basic nutritional and caloric needs, and vital supplies. But if you have the time, space, and resources, prepping to be self-sufficient in a disaster or SHTF situation will mean more than existing on basic supplies.

The reality of survival prepping means that you and your family may be living off of your supply for a long period of time. While you can survive on water and rice and beans for months on end – do you really want to? Maximize your disaster preparedness inventory.

The importance of morale cannot be understated. Morale, or the psychological well-being of those you’re preparing for, will correlate directly to motivation, irritability, internal conflicts, and more.

MORALE: The state of the spirits of a person or group as exhibited by confidence, cheerfulness, discipline, and willingness to perform assigned tasks.

In addition, it’s important to remember that even in the worst situation, there will still be things to celebrate and a need to consistently boost morale. (If you don’t believe us, turn off the wifi in your home for a day and see how your kids react.) With the potential of power outages, empty store shelves, and high-stress situations, you want to prepare to not only survive but to enjoy your time together as much as possible.

Here are a few ideas to consider that are easily added to your prep supply to add some morale boosts to a potentially very challenging disaster or SHTF situation.

Special Foods for Your Disaster Preparedness Inventory

While foods that aren’t pantry staples may be a luxury, the reality is that pulling out a favorite food at an opportune time can add variety and joy to an otherwise routine diet.

The time to plan to incorporate your favorite foods is while you’re building your inventory. We know to plan for unpredictability when it comes to refrigeration, but most recipes are adaptable to include ingredients that are shelf-stable. Family favorites can be planned for and can be a delightful surprise when your family is having to live off of basics.

Our recommendation is to think about:

  1. How long you are prepping for, depending on the types of situations you feel are potential risks to occur
  2. How often do you want to have availability of morale-boosting favorite foods – every other day? 2x per week? 2x per month?
  3. Safely store those favorite foods for long-term
  4. Remember to rotate through and backfill!

Desserts for Your Disaster Preparedness Inventory

Imagine that disaster strikes just before an important birthday. Of course, it would be understandable to skip the celebration, but finding ways to mark special occasions is important regardless of what’s going on in the world.

Planning your prep supplies around your family’s favorite cake ingredients can have you ready to celebrate birthdays or milestones and bring some familiarity to an otherwise rocky season. Boxed cake mixes and shelf-stable frosting last for a long time and are a quick way to whip up a celebratory dessert.

You can add ingredients like applesauce, flaxseed, or protein powder to your supply, which can be shelf-stable alternatives to eggs, which require refrigeration. These ingredients of course have many additional uses as pantry staples. Check out some effective egg substitutes for cakes here.

Other simple desserts and sweet ingredients that are also shelf-stable and don’t take up too much space include boxed jello and pudding, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, honey, and candies like M&Ms, toffee, and hard candy. Some desserts are easy to assemble with shelf-stable ingredients and don’t require power, like dairy-free no-bake cookies.

Games and Entertainment for Your Preparedness Inventory

Imagine your family is living off of your prepped foods and supplies for weeks on end. If there is no power, what will you do with your time, besides the necessary chores that were once handled by our modern conveniences? What will you do to get some enjoyment out of each day, and fight off monotony?

Perhaps you imagine spending time tending a garden or building a fire to cook your meals. As your household tasks become more cumbersome, you’ll need to be ready to entertain yourself, whether you are alone or hunkered down as a family.

One simple item that is space-conscious is a few decks of playing cards. There are hundreds of games that can be played with a deck of cards, some of which are easy enough for elementary school-aged children, and some of which requires enough strategy to keep the adults entertained.

You can also pick up a few dice to play games with. Check out Bicycle’s collection of card and dice games, and consider creating a binder of games with objectives and rules to keep the fun (stress relief) going.

Another item to keep handy in your inventory is a supply of paper and writing materials. This very basic item can provide hours of entertainment for even toddlers, as they can use their imagination to draw. Paper and pencil can also provide games like tic-tac-toe, dots, and Pictionary (check out more ideas here).

Stashing a notebook or journal can also provide an outlet for creative children as well as adults to practice creative writing or poetry, as well as providing the mental health benefits of journaling. If you have space, you can include some simple art supplies like crayons, colored pencils, or paints.

If you have space, consider stashing some family favorite games like Scrabble, Jenga, or Monopoly, or books of games like sudoku or crossword puzzles. You might also consider family members’ favorite hobbies, and put away some supplies like yarn, modeling clay, books, and more.

Physical Fitness

If you’re stuck without the gym – or without a vehicle – for a long period of time, you may want to think about storing some small items to move your body. These items can be a way for your family to have fun together while keeping your bodies healthy.

Items like jump ropes and sports balls are easy to store and great ways to stay fit. If fitness is important to you, you might consider investing in adjustable dumbbell weights like Powerblocks or other multi-weight compact dumbbells (here are some options), which take up minimal space but can be great for a home workout.

And, of course, there are lots of things you can do to maintain muscle mass with just your body weight. Here are some great options for books teaching exercise without the need for any equipment.


If you are effectively planning for a disaster situation with your family, you’re not just planning to eat, you’re planning to live. There are many unpredictable aspects of a disaster or SHTF situation, including the length of time that you will be in that situation. By planning ahead, you can mitigate boredom and boost your and your family’s mental health in the middle of a difficult time.

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  • I’m glad I came across this again. This is a subject that’s easy to forget about while you’re submerged in SHTF planning and prepping.

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