You Can Prep for $5

Far more threatening than a natural disaster, civil unrest or a terrorist attack, is a much more likely calamity for American families: job loss.  Once more, nearly a half million Americans lost their job last month, and the unemployment rate is well above 10%.  As individuals and families face drastic income losses, those with a preparedness mindset may wonder, “How can I prep with little or no money?”

Dozens of fellow preppers over on the Survivalist Boards forum started a thread listing $5 preps, and after more than a year, that thread is still going strong!  Sure, there are some people who can fork over ten grand to pay for a year’s worth of food for their family. Most of us, though, do what we can, when we can.  Take a look at some of these $5 preps.  I think you’ll be encouraged!  Depending on prices in your area, you might even be able to beat some of these!

  • Five packages of Idahoan instant potatoes (flavored)
  • A case of ramen noodles (20 pkgs)
  • five cans of sardines
  • five gallons of purified water
  • nearly two cases of bottled water
  • four cans of peaches, pears or fruit cockatail
  • 2 jars of mandarin oranges
  • five pounds of rice
  • three to four pounds of spaghetti
  • Two cans of spaghetti sauce
  • Four packages Dinty Moore heat and eat meals
  • five packages of corn bread mix
  • Four pounds of Sugar
  • Five pound of Flour
  • 1.5 quarts of cooking oil
  • three one pound bags of dry beans
  • two cans of apple juice
  • a jar of peanut butter
  • two boxes of yeast
  • two bags of generic breakfast cereal
  • 10 8 oz cans of tomato paste/tomato sauce
  • four cans of soup
  • four cans of Chunky soup
  • 8-10 pounds of Iodized salt
  • 100 rounds of .22lr ammo
  • 25 rounds of 12 ga birdshot or small game loads
  • 20 rounds of Monarch 7.62×39 ammo
  • 2 packages of hooks and some sinkers or corks.
  • artificial lure
  • two packages of soft plastic worms
  • three Bic Lighters or two big boxes of matches
  • A package of tea lights
  • 50 ft of para cord
  • a roll of duct tape
  • a box of nails or other fasteners
  • a flashlight
  • two D-batteries, four AA or AAA batteries or two 9v batteries
  • a toothbrush and tooth paste
  • a bag of disposable razors
  • eight bars of ivory soap (it floats)
  • a box of tampons or bag of pads
  • two gallons of bleach
  • needles and thread
  • a ball of yarn
  • 4 bottles 500 count 325 mg aspirin
  • 2 boxes of generic sudafed
  • 4 bottles of alcohol
  • a box of bandages (4×4)

What others can you think of?  To read the entire list and see even more ideas, check out this Survivalist Boards thread.

Now, add all of this to all the free research material available online and through your library, and you are well on your way to becoming a very well-prepared prepper without maxing out that credit card or emptying your bank account!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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  1. says

    What a great post! And a great list as well. When we first began preparing, we spent $10/wk at a local store called Aldi's. That $10 would buy 15 pounds or more of pasta, 20 cans of evaporated milk, 18 pounds of pinto beans. And that's how we built up our storage, just a few items at a time. When you see your pantry quickly filling up, it makes you feel like that goal of a year's worth of food isn't so difficult after all.

    • says

      Prepping can be intimidating, but once you start taking small steps on a regular basis, little things add up fast, and before you know it, you feel pretty darn good about what you've accomplished. Sort of like weight loss. LOL

    • iFerret says

      I love Aldi's! I can load up a cart from top to bottom over flowing with food for $200 or less. You don't have to wait for things to go on sale 'cause prices are rock bottom every day of the week. No coupons need.

      • TheSurvivalMom says

        OK. Where is this Aldi's of which you speak? Unfortunately, they don't have any stores in Arizona. I will have to make a lengthy sojourn to shop at one, but according to you and other readers, it will be well worth my time and effort!

        • LizLong says

          One warning re: Aldi. I've gone once, and they required CASH!!!! No credit cards. I got all sorts of oddball things to add to our preps like unusual flavored stuffing, canned asparagus, and I think that's where I got the canned carrots.

          It's kind of ironic: our pantry is actually not very full anymore. I don't have more than one or two of anything we use in it, which makes it easier to find things and harder to forget what we have. Our BASEMENT pantry, on the other hand…. I need to go buy more super-cheap shelves from Ikea, especially since I'm going to the LDS storehouse soon. I've got more and more things in 5 gallon buckets, though, which effectively hides them, and that makes it feel kind of like we have less squirreled away than we do.,

  2. rightwingmom says

    For those who can't afford 60 hour emergency candles, I purchased 5 glass container Catholic candles at the dollar store for $5. I was able to remove the label and now have clear glass pillar candles. (No disrepect to Catholics!) I've used them before. They can last for days.

  3. katzien says

    I recently discovered my local Dollar Tree. I know, sounds crazy, but I thought dollar stores were full of plastic crap from China. But they have tons of household supplies, bath/ kitchen / cleaning products, sweats and tees for the 72-hour kits, picnic ware, storage containers, etc. Can't wait to go back when it's payday! Great list too.

  4. juju_mommy says

    I found some Sterno 60 hour emergency candles on the Walmart clearance isle a while back for $1!!!! I stocked up on a few. Woudl've gotten more but not too much room. I spread the word to family and friends (who, even if they wouldn't ncessarily call themselves preppers, down here everyone should have hurricane supplies on hand). It was a great find.

    I agree that just $5 at a time can get you well-stocked up in a shorter period of time than you'd realize.

    My suggestion: MAKE A LIST! I keep a little notebook in my purse. I have a prepping big-item list (i.e. wish list). Most of those things will have to wait for a while but at least I have researched what I want/need. Then, I keep a running list of the smaller items (which I stock up on when I go to the store). It helps to do a little inventory here and there of what you have and update your list. So, when you are shopping, you have the list with you all the time.

  5. juju_mommy says

    Oh.. and when you are prepping on a budget… do some research on the basics. For instance, stock up on the following and you can do all sorts of things with them: VINENAR, PEROXIDE, BLEACH, BAKING SODA. Those items are super cheap and have a ton of uses.

    • rightwingmom says

      My dad sent me a list of SEVERAL uses for peroxide! When it's on sale at CVS or Walgreens (3/$1) I grab all I can!! Peroxide is medicinal as well as a cleaning product.

      I have gallons of vinegar and lbs. of baking soda for the same reason. Can't have to much of the basics!

      • juju_mommy says

        I know! Isn't it cool that so many things can be done with super cheap (and natural) ingredients?!? I either use a water/vinegar mixture or a water/peroxide mixture for all my counter top cleaning. So much better for our health, the environment's health, super cheap, no smells, etc.

    • LizLong says

      Someday, I believe they will find a cure for cancer that involves vinegar and baking soda, and possible Avon's Skin So Soft. They fix everything else!!!! I use vinegar to kill the weeds growing in the driveway cracks.

      I was amused by the LDS calculator telling me 7 quarts of mayonnaise for 4 people for a year (seriously? we don't even use one regular grocery store jar in TWO years!) but only small amounts of baking soda, vinegar, and salt compared to most prepper lists.

  6. says

    Spot on, JuJu. I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar in lieu of shampoo and conditioner. Works great, smells nice and is so much easier on the budget! I also use vinegar in place of laundry softener, to clean windows, for pickling and preserving, as an AP cleaner. So many good uses!

  7. abbasgirl8 says

    You can do even more with $5 by going to discount stores such as Aldi's, Big Lots, etc. Also a place like Sam's Club or Costco is a good place too- just be sure to save that $5 up until you have enough to purchase.

  8. Lee says

    I always check the ‘managers specials’ table when I grocery shop, have gotten some great deals on bent/dent items. Family Dollar also has a great mark down section, have gotten a lot of first aid items and if you follow them online you can get discounts, so check your local dollar store/chain websites!

  9. Lisa says

    I live in the Midwest. Am a stay at home mom so safe to say we have little money to prep with but we go to auctions where we find tons of things for the home to help you stock pile this is great for finding extra sets of cookware, toiletries, tools, first aid, etc., you can get a whole box for $5 or less. Goodwill is another great option, I don’t know how many times I have found brand new stuff there, spent $25 and gotten two or three bags full of stuff. Especially of you go to the goodwill in a wealthy area that is where all the really good stuff is. Yard sales and garage sales and estate sales in wealthy or at least moderately well off areas is where you need to be in April and may. I found brand name very nice baby clothes for $.50 a piece!! Can’t beat that. After you do that if there are still things you need think about asking friends and relatives for certain items for Christmas or birthdays for you and your spouse or even the kids. My son always gets at least 1 prep present every Christmas and birthday angling with the most desired toys. Just some money saving tips for moms on a budget like me.

  10. attached2mykids says

    I’m a super newbie (this is literally the third post I’ve read on the topic), and I am starting a list on my One Note account. I can pull it up on my phone when I’m at the store.


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