5 Dollar Preps – You CAN Afford to Prepare

Some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

5 Dollar preps“I can’t afford to” is definitely the number one excuse people use for not prepping. They believe this because they read about someone who has a $20,000 dollar gun collection and a basement filled with a 10 year supply of freeze dried food. That is just as unrealistic as saying that you want to buy your first house, so you attempt to get a multi-million dollar mansion. It’s just not going to happen.

By following the Survival Food Pyramid and spending just a few dollars a week on preps you will be surprised how quickly your stockpile will grow. Here is an entire list of food and gear you can get for just $5:


  • Five gallons of purified water
  • 5 pounds of sugar
  • 5 pounds of flour
  • 1.5 quarts of cooking oil
  • Two cases of bottled water
  • 4 cans of fruit
  • 10 pounds of white rice
  • 2 pounds of spaghetti
  • 4 Cans of potatoes
  • 4 Cans of vegetables
  • 4 Cans of beans
  • 2 bottles of garlic powder or other spices
  • A case of Ramen noodles
  • Five packages of  instant potatoes
  • 4 cans of soup
  • 2 12 ounce cans of chicken or tuna
  • Two 12.5 ounce cans of Salmon
  • 5 pounds of oatmeal
  • 5 packages of corn bread mix
  • 3 pounds of dried beans
  • 2 jars peanut butter
  • 2 boxes of yeast
  • 8-10 pounds of iodized salt
  • A jar of instant coffee. For a buck or two more, a can of coffee.
  • 10 boxes of generic brand mac & cheese

Non-Food Items

  • A manual can opener
  • Two bottles of camp stove fuel
  • 100 rounds of .22lr ammo
  • 25 rounds of 12 ga birdshot or small game loads
  • 20 rounds of Monarch 7.62×39 ammo
  • A spool of 12lb test monofilament fishing line
  • 2 packages of hooks and some sinkers or corks
  • 3 Bic lighters or two big boxes of matches
  • A package of tea light candles
  • 50 ft of paracord
  • A roll of duct tape
  • A box of nails or other fasteners
  • A flashlight
  • 2 D-batteries, 4 AA or AAA batteries or 2 9v batteries
  • A toothbrush and tooth paste
  • A bag of disposable razors
  • 8 bars of ivory soap (it floats)
  • A box or tampons or bag of pads for the ladies
  • 1 gallon of bleach
  • Needles and thread

OTC Medications

  • 2 bottles 500 count each, 500 mg generic acetometaphin
  • 2 bottles 500 count each, 200 mg generic ibuprofen
  • 1 box 100 count, 25 mg generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine HCI)–also available at walgreens under “sleep aids.”
  • 2 bottles generic aspirin, 250 count each, 81 mg
  • 1 box of generic sudafed
  • 2 bottles of alcohol
  • a box of bandages (4×4)

What Else?

If you get just one of these things each time you go to the grocery you will be well on your way to preparedness. Add the use of coupons and shopping in thrift stores, yard sales, and dollar stores, and you will quickly find yourself well and truly prepared!

What other $5 Dollar Preps can you think of?

All prices were checked at Walmart.com as of the date of this posting.

Guest post by Lucas, founder of Survival Cache blog.



60 thoughts on “5 Dollar Preps – You CAN Afford to Prepare”

  1. Cheap clothes and/or shoes at garage sales or the Goodwill. Cheap shoes. Socks. Work gloves. Canning supplies (lids, bands, maybe jars if you can find them that cheap.) Baby food. Baby diapers, wipes, powder, etc.

    Heck, we picked up a bicycle for two dollars at a garage sale and it just needs a little oil on the chain and grease on the bearings.

    You can pick up bicycle supplies, even some auto supplies.

    Prepping (to me) means the stores are either gone or so expensive due to hyperinflation that they might as well be closed. what do you need everyday? What can you imagine being a problem if you can't find it? What can you make?

  2. 1. 4 -5 Catholic candles ~ Remove the label. The candle burns approx. 10 hours per inch of wax. (Don't forget the fireplace matches OR lighter wand to reach the wick!)

    2. Hydrogen Peroxide ~ I buy mine at CVS or Walgreens when they're 3 / $1. There are multiple uses for hydrogen peroxide. It's not just for boo boo's anymore.

    3. Walgreen's recent sale ~ 3 tote bags for $1 (Iimit 6) Those durable bags will come in handy if I'm bartering at a flea market or swap shop environment.

    1. Why would you remove the label from the candles? Is it dangerous? Does it scare you or something? Weird.

      1. Because the labels block as much as 120-180 degrees of light from being cast out. It might be worth experiment with wrapping half of the candle in aluminum foil if you want to cast light in one direction only though. I’ve never tried it.

  3. Plastic sheeting
    Utility knife / box cutter
    Cotton clothesline
    Jutte twine
    Bag of steel wool pads
    Pack of green scouring pads
    Deck of cards + box of crayons + coloring book
    Box of gallon zip locs

    Hit up the dollar store
    Keep an eye on expiration dates for dry goods and OTC medicines

  4. These are all great ideas. I am printing the list to add to my notes on preparedness. Thanks for the great post!

  5. The first thing that comes to mind is garden seeds 3-5 packages. Many on the packages have more seeds than you need for one season so if you go in with a friend or two and share seeds you can have a complete garden. If you buy heirloom seeds you can save some seeds from this years crop for next year.

  6. Join, or go with a member friend, to a "Big box store" like Costco or Sam's Club. Many things are packaged big, but that makes the price per pound low. (Sometimes the packaging costs more than the product in it.) I buy four pound boxes of Morton's iodized salt for eighty nine cents, and twenty three ounce jars of taco seasoning for about two dollars. Mind, not everything is cheaper. Many things are the same price you'd pay at the grocery. Almost everything is either in a bigger package, or a multi pack. You have to research, and keep track to know your deals.
    Two or more friends or family members can join together to buy one membership. One person gets the member card, and takes another as a guest. (The card holder must actually make the purchase.) (*hanging head in shame* I know, this is a mild cheating, but this is survival here. When you become richer, you can make up for it by buying a membership for a less fortunate person.)

    1. Actually, while I'm sure they would like to get each individual to join themselves, I recently saw a magazine article with "etiquette questions" that brought up exactly this. They went to an exec at Costco or one of those stores. They said that they're happy to have members bring in guests. The more the merrier, more or less. So no worries about your mild cheating as far as the Big Box stores are concerned. 🙂

      1. Costco has a pretty cool version of corporate ethics (if that’s possible). My understanding is they pay above minimum wage and are forward-thinking in their labor/benefits policies, in general.

  7. Again, watch those drug store sales!

    I've found:
    Ajax and Comet cleansers 3 /$1
    Latex gloves (50 ct.) 3 / $10
    School supplies: pencil packs, erasers, markers, paper, etc. are usually .5 – .10 cents w/ the start of school sales.

  8. Don't forget Dollar Tree, if there's one in your area. That's where I get aspirin, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial cream, hydrocordisone cream, bandaids, gauze–all kinds of medical stuff. Also small jars of Prego, which are perfect for a family of 2. Just walk the aisles!

  9. Dollar Tree is great for prepping on a budget. I've bought lots of first aid items, bandages, anti-biotic and anti-itch creams, etc there. I've also bought rope and safety goggles and gardening gloves. I even found some large brim straw hats for working outside. Here in the south where I live the sun is very strong for long hours each day.

  10. I started my food storage this weekend. There are just too many signs pointing to bad things coming. I don't want to be thought of as a "nut"….love the word prepper! I am a single mom and live in a small town in south central u.s. If anything ever happens, I realize I am completely dependent on everyday luxuries (running water, electricity, etc….). Thank you SOOOOOO much for providing all this valuable information.

    1. This weekend my turn out to be the most important weekend of your life. Congratulations on joining the sisterhood!!

  11. And don't forget to hit post-holiday sales with an open mind. I just bought muffin / cupcake liners for $.50 per package instead of $2 (faster easier cleanup with less need for soap and water) and I could've picked up a throw blanket for $2.50. I bought a bunch of warm-looking tights for $1.25 instead of $5, and they had them for little girls too. Paper goods included napkins, plates, and straws. Of course, there were little items like bubbles and pencils that you can add to barter or gift supplies. (I'm holding them for next year's trick or treaters so I don't have to buy as much candy then.) And a TON of cake mix and frosting for 75% off. They're all Halloween themed, but I don't care! And my kids are happy to eat the Oreos with orange frosting since they rarely get them, which lets me skip buying some higher-priced treats on the next grocery trip.

  12. diane:
    I know it may sound expensive but really shop around and look for great deals, garage sales, clearance items such
    as sleeping bags, air mattresses and tools (not mechanic per-se) such as bow saws, gas cans, and the like at
    big box stores, also.
    Also don't forget your pets.

  13. The Big Lots stores around here keep getting the shelves stripped before I get to them, but they’re usually good for candles in quantity for minimal outlay. Also, a few years ago, I was snagging 10-packs of sterile 4×4 and 3×3 gauze, as well as 20 packs of the 2×2 size for $1 each at a few of their stores. I am still using those.

    1. Sorry to burst your bubble but lists of $5 preps can be found all over the internet by various authors on various dates over the past few years. This particular one was submitted by the founder of Survival Cache, and I have no reason to believe it was copied directly from your list.

      1. With all do respect, please go and read the link I provided you and notice the date. Additionally, please notice the exact language that was clearly plagiarized from the original work.

        1. Do any of us really care where the information came from. Gosh, the medical supplies suggestion could have come from my paramedic manual. But, thanks to every one of you that offered suggestions.

  14. Thank you for this excellent advice and the supplies list for 5.00. Its a economical way to see that we can prepare within our budgets. I am moving to a small town in the west where everyone has over 2 years worth of supplies and the town is teaching preparing methods. I believe the signs are in place for a complete collopse of the economy after Nobama’s reelection and we must be ready. Don’t forget to stock up on guns and ammo. I use Dollar Tree and watch bulk items sales to stock up. Also drugstores have great sales once a week and cupons so many items can be bought there for storage.

  15. Thanks so much!!! (and this list had diff stuff on it that the “other” list, but I think what would it matter anyway since it’s in the spirit of educating people and helping them out. But that list was different.) I appreciate all the help and info I can get!

  16. Waterless Shampoo
    Wash Rags/towels
    Wash tub for dishes
    Wash tub for clothes
    Shake Flashlights- no batteries required
    Solar yard lights – no batteries required
    I think of all things that need a power source and try to find an alternative that does not need that power. I also think of things that will/might be needed that money cant buy- Knowledge, and that is power. Learn something new, how to build a fire, make clothes from scrap, mend shoes, it is endless!!!

  17. Pingback: 5 Dollar Preps – You CAN Afford to Prepare » Staying Prepared

  18. I have found that you can purchase many low cost items in walmart alone…spices on the bottom shelf in spice section are 50 cents each, bullion cubes, liquid or granules will sure make a pot of rice taste nice, low priced laundry detergent ( it all cleans the same), bleach tablets ( evolve brand, each tablet equals 1 c. Bleach), and many others. If you look on the bottom shelves you will find the lower priced items. Some other tips…Box matches (dipped in wax and placed in recycled jars with strike strip), salt, pepper, water purification tablets, betadyne solution, Penicillin that can be bought at pet stores is the same as we use, plastic tubing( small in case IV is needed), janitorial supply stores can help with lower priced latex or latex free gloves. And please people…remember this, if others know that you have these things and times are really hard, they will take them with or without force. Airtight barrels like pickle barrels ( plastic) can be filled and burried under flower beds, steps, rocks, etc… Just be sure and keep the evidence to a minimum. Gravel covers a lot when hiding fresh turned soil. People cannot take what they cannot find. If you live close to the woods, bury things in them with markers you can recognize and keep a tally on them. We have all seen how greedy and desperate people are in and during a crisis. Economic collapse can be the beginning of something very dangerous. You definitely will find out who your friends are. They may laugh at you now but see who is laughing when food is un-obtainable. Good luck to you all and keep on prepping!!!

  19. I have 3 cats – so i stock up on food and litter. I buy mine online from walmart.com and they deliver them to my door. I don’t have children anymore so I always have toys and treats for the girls also.

    I love this site. im retired and by myself but I learn so much from reading everything here. living along the gulf coast, ive been a hurricane prepper all my life. you can never stop learning. keep up the good work.

  20. Clothespins and line, sewing kit, eyeglass repair kit, boxed mixes that only require water, tea bags, vinegar, rotary egg beater, socks, books (.49 per paperback at Goodwill), aloe vera plant, magnifying glass, thermometer, extra supplies to make your own laundry soap, bar soap, finger splint, non electric food chopper, yarn if you knit, vitamins, scissors in various sizes, charcoal, face masks, arm sling.

  21. I’ve bought bandannas, work gloves, glow sticks, emergency blankets, solar powered yard stake lights (to bring inside after nightfall), and full body baby wipe-type bath sheets at the dollar store. You can use the solar lights in place of flashlights or lanterns to save on batteries.

  22. Pingback: 5 Dollar Preps – You CAN Afford to Prepare - TinHatRanch

  23. Pingback: Prepper News Watch for December 9, 2014 | The Preparedness Podcast

  24. One thing I have not recalled seeing on these lists are hair brushes & combs. I can’t imagine not being able to brush my hair daily. 🙂

  25. The best thing you can but for $5 is probably a stocking cap to reduce the loss of your body heat. Sometimes you can find them on sale for that much but a good wool one can help save your life. I suspect that most people who get stuck on the side of the road or get lost in the forest freeze to death long before they would die of dehydration or starvation. Staying warm and dry is what keeps you alive during the first few days especially in winter conditions. After that then water and food become super critical.

  26. Dollar store eye wash. Watch exp date and replace as needed. If you get something in your eye a sterile solution is needed to rinse your eyes. Dollar stores also carry the oval eye bandage or “patch”. If you have ever had a scratched cornea, you know how painful that can be. You need to keep from rubbing, blinking your eye lid. Use the soft patch and paper tape over your eyelid to stop the blinking, it will heal faster.

  27. Being a Nurse, I noticed that face masks werent mentioned. With the constant spread of Flu and outbreak of Ebola, it would be beneficial to have face masks to keep from breathing viruses. I firmly believe in the use of Essential Oils but I also use Colloidal Silver everyday. I know CS is a little more than $5 but it is well worth investing in and keeping on hand.

    @ Survival Mom… Thank you so much for this website and these postings…. you really help so many people with prepping and also showing my husband that I am not the only person that believes in prepping. 🙂

  28. Someone (I’m not sure this post is going to end up as a reply under the right comment) mentioned outside solar lights. I keep these in my flower bed and when we have a power outage, I just go get them and put one in each room of my home. Not bright light, but certainly enough to move around without running into furniture!

  29. This is great. Living in Christchurch New Zealand has been quite an expensive journey. After four years of EarthQuakes I have relised quite some time ago that basic inexpensive items work very well, The best thing I have found is light and compact is best if possible. Wind up equipment is a must. remove anything battery operated cut down on battery costs and lugging them around. Take care:)

  30. TIP:

    go to your local grocery store and get buckets for “FREE” the bakerys throw them when they use up all the frosting!!! great for barter, storage, and even a makeshift potty!!! Store water, clothing, food and dry goods……………. endless possiblities!!! Thanks!!! Great page by the way!!!

  31. I recently remodelled a small clinic and aquired ( by a bit of dumpster diving) some useful medical supplies they were throwing out. Including wrist and ankle braces, splints, etc. a couple of collar bone braces, one for infants/small children and one adult size. A Physicians Desk Reference ( outdated but still useful), Flashlight, and a Binoculars that has a built in video camera. There’s more but you get the idea. You can find a lot of useful things inthe construction feild.

  32. I would add Hydrocortisone cream and baking soda for bug bites. Also different types of salt. In addition to hydration solution salt can be used to preserve foods and add flavor to bland diets.

  33. I bought a couple of packages of underwear, laundered them and then put them in Ziploc bags. In case of emergency, I will have fresh underwear and be able to give a couple pair to any lady who might need a pair or two.

    I’ve saved soup cans and made my own emergency candles with the parafin wax sold in stores in the canning section. I put a candle and a couple of matchbooks in cupboards and rooms around the house, as well as having items in the basement for tornado warnings.

  34. Making “Crisco” candles is cheaper and easier than buying Roman candles and they burn WAY longer. A full size can of the generic Crisco costs about $4.88 at Walmart and by inserting wicks made of twisted paper or twine dipped in borax/water solution the candle will burn for 80-90 hrs. Cut the cost by using the smaller cans that cost about $1.88 at Walmart or Winco or sometimes you can even get them at dollar stores. Of course you’ll need to make more of them as you lose burn time per can, but it is more cost effective for those on a tight budget.

  35. Pingback: Thursday | Daily Five

  36. I know it may not be the best thing in the world to do, so I can’t really “advise” it, but forant years I have used super glue to close bleeding wounds quickly and securely. Of course I make sure I clean and disinfect it first, keep triple antibiotic ointment on it, and watch for infection, but I have never had any problems come up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *