Making the Best of Basics – Family Preparedness Handbook Review

M.D. Creekmore Gear Reviews 3 Comments

Making the Best of Basics – Family Preparedness Handbook 11th Edition. James Talmage Stevens. Get Ready! Network, LLC, 2009. Paperback, illus.

I would like to give big hugs and sloppy kisses to the folks at Directive21 for sending me a copy of the 11th edition of this classic work dedicated to survival planning and emergency food storage.

With more than 750,000 copies of previous editions sold, Making the Best of Basics (click here to check the current price of this book at, has long been the standard in-home food storage and family preparedness reference – many of you, no doubt, have considered adding this book to your library, but question how thoroughly the book covers the subject and how it differs from previous editions?

Mr. Steven’s 11th edition of Basics is a huge book with hundreds of pages of advice, charts, diagrams, and recipes (there are also newer editions of this book available). The book covers a lot of ground and is full of good advice – just don’t expect an exciting read. Basics is best used as a quick reference guide – which is what, I think the author intended.

While the book presents itself as a preparedness handbook, don’t expect to find much information on anything except food storage and preparation. This isn’t a negative to the quality of the work, most books cover only one part of the whole – basics is no exception…

There are hundreds of recipes using basic storage foods and considering the fact most people consider cooking as something to be done with microwaves, instruction in this area is needed and sufficiently covered within its pages.

Although the recipes are great, detailed and easy to understand, many may-not be practical under certain conditions, depending on the severity and depth of the collapse. For example; A number of recipes given call for specified temperatures and time requirements, which mightn’t be possible.

I think one of the most useful features found in the book are the forms, charts, conversion tables, and lists given. I’m sure most people will make copies of the worksheets, electing not to write in the book or to tear out the pages. I found the lists given in Chapter 23 “Basic Supplementation” to be very useful, to the point and easy to understand.

I found Chapter 27 “Creating a Preparedness Library” to be extremely bloated, listing hundreds of titles – many overlapping and covering the same subject matter. There are some excellent resources listed but it is difficult to distinguish between what is actually needed and filler.

If you’re interested I have my own listing of books to include in your preparedness library that you can check out for free or if you prefer to watch a video the take a look at this one that I posted a few months ago.

Should you buy this book? If you have a previous edition of Basics, then no, you should not buy the 11th addition. However; if you don’t have a previous copy and need a detailed, comprehensive food storage reference the 11th addition of “Making The Best of Basics” should definitely be considered…

What is Your Opinionquestion

Comments 3

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  1. I have the book, purchased it years ago from Paladin Press I believe. I acquired a second copy from the thrift store. It’s true the book doesn’t serve as a guide to prepping per se as it does not delve into subjects related to prepping such as firearms, home security, bugging out and so on, but it’s focus is on being stocked and well supplies with the food, water and other supplies to survive in tough times.

    The book focuses on food storage and preparation to basically keep you fed and eating when one is not able to work and shop for supplies or other immediate necessities. You can read testimonies of people who read the book and made use of stored food when unable to work or when times were lean. It’s not a survival manual as we would imagine or expect, but rather a pantry and stockpiling guide that covers various forms of storage and foods we can utilize to feed ourselves and our families. There are better books on the subject of surviving doom and chaos, but this book covers the subject of food and supplies more thoroughly than many other books do. It is a “how to book” not just an overview and I think it is a must have for a prepper’s library because it teaches what it was meant to.

    You hit the nail on the head stating that some books cover certain aspects more than others and for that reason one needs a few books and I kind of lean towards the classics or older books which have the most substance and are actual instructional guides by people who have tried and done what they have written about.

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