Most of us are familiar with the concept of an iterative process for preparedness. We set interim goals and upon reaching them, decide whether or when to start toward the next milestone and in which area of preparedness. An example might be setting an intermediate goal of a 1 month food supply. When that is achieved, the next item may be paying off a credit card. After that, back to add another month of food storage or toward goals of more options for light or cooking capability. By taking the iterative approach, we can have shallow coverage in many areas, then work to deepen coverage in specific or more important aspects that meet our unique requirements and resources. In this example, each iteration of food storage was interspersed with a goal in another area of preparedness. By working in these iterations, we can focus our resources in a coherent way and not feel overwhelmed in the process.
So what do I mean by 'interstitial?' As a physical scientist, 'interstices' are the small empty spaces in some larger structure. Like the black spot in the photo above, it becomes a prime area for some other mineral to grow. Another example (simplistically), if nature shoves some iron into the empty spaces in a quartz crystal, quartz becomes amethyst -- something different and better than plain quartz to some people. "Interstitial' is just the adjective to describe the spaces -- and we can avoid using 'interstices,' which is a really goofy noun. Seriously, say it three times really fast! It doesn't roll off your tongue easily, does it?
How does this concept apply to preparedness? What are the spaces? When and how do they get or need filling? For me, the interstices are the little things we do between iterations to improve what we achieved in past iterations. Sounds daunting, but it's really simple.
Here's a food example: if my first interim goal was to have 1 month of food, and my budget was limited, I may have stuck with bare bones: Rice, beans, pasta, tomato sauce, oatmeal, raisins and a few cans of fruit. While I'm working on the next area of major emphasis, I may have a spare dollar or two on occasion. Sure, the items on the plan for the past iterations (above) will sustain me and my family, but by day 15 or so, we'll have food fatigue. I can use that extra buck or two to fill the 'spaces' in my 1 month food supply. Focus for these 'interstitial' items is for flavor or nutrition and that are on sale or are especially low in price. Some green chili or sriracha sauce may give the beans and rice a lift. Today, green chili was 3 cans for $2, the chili sauce was $2.84. Brown sugar on sale? A pound of that would brighten the oatmeal. Perhaps some Italian seasoning for the tomato sauce? In each case, I can add some life to that month of food for $3 or less. Don't forget a few packets of Kool-aid, instant ice tea or tang if there's a good sale.
Big Lots is a great place to find these interstitial preparedness items, at least in the food area. Gatorade powder, condiments and canned items are almost always in stock. They carry a lot of other national brands for much less than the average grocery store price. Many of these items are already packaged for easy storage.
Food storage is the most obvious area for interstitial prepping, but there are others, too. How about medical supplies? I'm not sure we can ever have a full-service medical kit, for so many reasons. I had most of the major bases covered, but when the opportunity for an epi-pen came along at a reasonable price, I was able to take action. I knew it was a hole in my preparedness, but the need was low to moderate and the price was normally higher than I could afford. Now, that interstitial prep may save me or someone close to me.
The key to interstitial prepping is to identify those specific 'spaces' and be on the look out for an economical way to fill them. Because you have the basics covered, you can wait for a price that aligns with the risk (or pleasure) level of not having the item. Your preparedness dollars will go farther and your comfort level with your preparedness supplies will increase.