Preparedness on a Budget

by Kellene

Filling your preparedness pantry doesn't have to cost a bucket load of money. photo c/o

While perusing advertisements for “emergency preparedness” supplies, I saw some pretty hefty price tags just for a year’s worth of food. This doesn’t count the bucket loads of money that one could spend on other gadgets like a solar oven, pressure cooker, first aid supplies, etc. So, let’s get real.  What can a person with only a few hundred bucks a year do to increase their state of preparedness?  Well, here are a few of my suggestions.

First and foremost, spend your money in order of prioritization.  Stick to the priorities. If you’re starting from scratch, review the 10 Areas of Preparedness. Remember that such a list is a prioritized one.  The higher up an area is on the list, the sooner you’ll be confronted with it in need or crisis scenario.  This also means that areas of preparedness further down the list will essentially be at the mercy of your preparedness level on areas of higher prioritization.

The first area is Spiritual preparedness. Fortunately, that area doesn’t require much in the form of funds to implement.

The next area is Mental Preparedness. You could spend a bit of money in that area in the form of books and classes, but a great deal of knowledge, thus mental preparedness, can be provided to you via the library and the internet.

Physical preparedness is a must in completing the Ten Areas of Preparedness

The next area is Physical preparedness.  Again, this is an area that does not necessarily require money but rather a consciousness effort to get your body in better health. This does not need to come at the cost of expensive supplements and gym memberships.

The next area is Medical Preparedness.  Remember, that this are may require you some preliminary funds in terms of first aid supplies for you and your family and then for others. But keep in mind that providing medical care for you and your family is the first priority. So only spend enough money to take care of that first and foremost.  I have found that with coupons I have been able to acquire a boatload of medical supplies for free or very cheap. Also, in the vein of Medical Preparedness I have taken advantage of whatever free community classes I can that teach CPR, and other areas of commonly necessary medical knowledge. As I review my medical supplies, including medication alternatives, I know that I’ve spent very little by making use of coupons and alternative medical options.

Be sure your 72 hour kit is packed and ready to go. photo c/o

The next area is Clothing/Shelter Preparedness.  Most of you are already starting out with some kind of shelter complete with bedding and clothing. So you can usually check that off the list. However, I also recommend folks having a weather-appropriate change of clothes that they can grab and go in a hurry if necessary.  I can assure you that when I created such outfits, I didn’t take them from my existing wardrobe. Instead, I went to the thrift stores and purchased complete outfits for very, very cheap. I then store those outfits in my “get up and go quickly” supplies. That way I’m never stuck with “just the clothes on my back.”  Along with that though is alternative shelter such as blankets and a pup tent for a “get up and go quickly” scenario. Again, these were obtained very cheaply thanks to army surplus and thrift stores.

cheap sources for fuel, such as butane and alcohol complete your preparedness pantry.

Fuel comes next. This is an area in which you can’t cut corners on. As such I would recommend focusing the majority of your available funds in this particular area.  While you will be able to get much of the equipment at an army surplus store, you will need to purchase your fuel via mainstream venues like the rest of us. However, there are less expensive forms of fuel than others such as butane and isopropyl alcohol. I’ve been able to stock up on my cans of butane as cheaply as $1.27 each.  And I’ve been able to get my butane stoves as cheaply as $12 each.  We also have recently purchased lanterns for only $1.97 each!  The key is to keep your eyes open for the equipment you need. Compare prices. If you have the appropriate heating and light equipment, getting a 55 gallon barrel of isopropyl alcohol delivered to your home is very economical and you can keep it outside since it won’t freeze.  See? This is why mental preparedness comes before these other areas-so that you can use these kinds of ideas.

After fuel finally comes your Water Preparedness.  Water is obviously an affordable commodity. There are plenty of corners you can cut. You don’t have to be a purchaser of 2 liter bottles of soda pop to obtain plenty of those kinds of containers from neighbors and friends.  Simply get the used containers from others, wash them out well, and fill them up and store them.  No money necessary.

Then there’s the Food Preparedness.  The most affordable way to have a sufficient amount of food cheaply is to simply utilize coupons in your regular shopping so that you can purchase more of it—at least this is definitely what I’ve discovered to be the case. If you’re one of those people who read this, though, and say that couponing takes too much time, or that you can’t get all that you want with coupons, I recommend that you search on the articles that I’ve

Freeze-Dried Foods are tasty, nutritious, have a long shelf life, and are a real asset to your preparedness pantry.

previously written about couponing. I assure you that there’s very little food stuffs that I haven’t been able to purchase free or cheap. Also keep in mind that freeze-dried produce is actually less expensive than fresh produce, not to mention cleaner, more convenient, lasts longer, etc.  If all you want to do though is to buy some food items and forget it, then I would recommend purchasing whole wheat, sprouts, a quality powdered milk, salt, and a quality honey. None of these items should break the bank if you are prudent in your selections of them. If you spend money on no other food, I would recommend that you at least have these five.

After the Food Preparedness area then you have the areas of Financial Preparedness and Communication. These areas aren’t so much a cost to you as they are disciplines, and perhaps a Ham Radio license.  What I’m trying to get at is that preparedness doesn’t need to cost you much more money than you are already spending living your days. See? Everyday preparedness not only works better, but it costs a heck of a lot less money.

(By the way, Five Star Preparedness has a Group Buy on Raw Honey this month. Just go to

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To the uninitiated, 'sprouts' on your list of the five essential food items to store, might mean going to the grocery store and buying small plastic containers of green alfalfa sprouts from the produce section.

Perhaps, "seeds and beans for sprouting" (since you already have wheat on the list and it's great for spouting as well) would be more clear.

Good article. Got to look into that 50 gallon barrel of alcohol.

Preparedness Pro's picture

Actually, nope. I wouldn't dream of telling folks to "store" the alfalfa greens from the produce section. They are already grown. But you're correct, I should have been more clear on what I meant by sprouts for the sake of those who are new to this site and preparedness. Please do a search for "sprouting" in the search bar for a more detailed sprouting article. Thanks.

I have been unable to find butane fuel locally. Is there an inexpensive website I can go to to buy this fuel and even the butane stove? Thank You!

Preparedness Pro's picture

your big name hardware stores carry as do the sporting goods stores. You'll also find the stove at a camping type of store such as REI. I know of the little stores in my area that sell it cheap, but perhaps not yours. I'm not aware of a website for these items. Perhaps some of the other readers can assist.

Hey Randy - you might try Amazon for butane fuel and stoves. You'll have several selections and get to read customer reviews. I've never seen it for the price Kellene paid though ($1.27)! Great article Kellene. It's good to set priorities as it's so easy to get in the mode of buying what we saw in the last article we read.

Where is a good place to get freeze dried foods?

Preparedness Pro's picture

If you do a search on "freeze-dried" you'll get my article(s) that point you in the proper direction.


Luckily I have a teenager in the house, so 2-liter soda bottles are easily obtained in my household (although I don't buy them, because I won't spend money on sugared water -- the teenager has to buy soda with her own money)! When I get 5 or 6 empties, I spend a little while washing them with hot water & just a teensy bit of dish soap, then rinse like crazy. Then they go in the crawlspace under my platform bed that has drawers under each side and an empty section right down the middle that is about a foot wide and 2 feet tall. (Putting them there also helps deter the cats from going underneath & leaving furball "gifts".)

What I have learned is that being prepared is really pretty low cost and stays low cost. I am still new to this as a lifestyle, but I have found that I am saving money every month on my food budget and prep budget. I'm not panic buying, I always shop sales cause I already have the basics. Just like anything you have to shop around to get the best price.
A good example is rice I've seen it for sale in 44 pounds in a bucket and Mylar bag for $45.00 " on sale". But I can get 50 pounds of rice for $11.00 in bulk at a local store. Heck for that price I can get buckets, bags and some DE and still beat the "sale" price. I didn't know what a great value Freeze-dried vegies and fruit was, until I got educated by Kellene. Something I have to add to my storage.
Jeanne I love the soda bottles, I don't drink as much as I used too. I'm up to 100 gallons now of stored water and that dosen't count "rain barrels" or ahot water heater. Funny how fast those fill up, you'd think they are repoducing by fission. :)

I do have admit I was bit panicy about my plan of buy in bulk and whole grains. I did know I would not want to live on MRE's for a year. Heck most soldiers can't do that.
Gosh it happened so fast, 50 pounds of rice,wheat and beans. Heck I had it, No not complete but then I could build on it. I know what I like but you know what you like. This gives you the basics to build on. Learn more and incorporate it in day to living. I knew I wouldn't starve. I had time, I could hit all the big stuff.
I got a great deal on a little camp stove/oven for $170.00 on lay away and on sale. Now the same oven is going for $230.00. heat and a oven not on the grid.
I think the best answer is to have your basics for a year and then shop sales thinking to yourself 1. Do I need this? 2. Will I need this?
It's food on sale or a good deal on a tool or flashlight or heck matches and hooks. My whole point is to be as pro active as possible. Every little bit helps, you are building yourself up.


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