You don’t have to spend a fortune to start being more prepared. With so many sites and forums talking about gear that costs a fortune, it can be easy for the beginning prepper to think that what they can do will not do them much good. That is far from the truth. In this post, I am going to list some items that can be a big help but are budget-friendly. The idea is that if you occasionally have an extra $5-$25, you can add something to your preparedness supplies. Over time you will be surprised what you accumulate towards the security and safety of your family during a long emergency.
Water Filters and Storage
Oh, I remember back when water filters were expensive and had to be replaced quite often. It wasn’t really that long ago. Here are some filters that are under $25 that can save your life in an emergency.
Capable of filtering 100,000 gallons of water, the Sawyer comes with a squeeze bag and it can be used inline with a hydration bag or attached to a bucket to filter water with a little ingenuity. Also since it has a squeeze bag, you can drink conveniently with no pumping required.
While the Lifestraw is a little harder to use than a Sawyer Mini, they have a good reputation and are often on sale. Just be sure to have a water bottle or other container that you can suck water out of with your Lifestraw if you don’t want to be on your hands and knees.
A few good Nalgene or other BPA free shatterproof water bottles are a good investment.
Collapsible Water Jugs
The advantage of collapsible water jugs is that they are easy to store and many of them have a spout that makes it easy to dispense water when needed. Although some people use milk jugs at times, they are not sturdy and will break down at some point.
Food and Beverage
I often advise people to throw in an extra 5 lbs of flour, rice, or beans when they grocery shop. This will only add a small amount to your grocery bill and if you shop weekly, that means in just a month you have 20 lbs of extra food put back. It really starts to add up fast. Here are the foods that offer a lot of calories for your dollar.
- Corn Meal or Grits
Be careful about shopping discount stores for items to store. These items are often close to expired and are not a good choice for mid to long term food storage. While there is nothing wrong with buying and eating these items within a short period of time to save money, spend the extra cash for food that has an expiration date that is as far out as possible. Online deals are also sometimes due to food having less than a year left on its expiration date. This happened to me when I bought a few cases of organic tomato paste. Great for using for 8 months but not for years.
- Powdered Drink Mixes such as Emergen-C. We like to keep this around because it helps replace electrolytes too.
- Any beverages that you don’t want to do without if you get stuck at home for a week. Soda, beer, wine, canned juice, etc.
- A few large jugs of water. At our store they sell 5 gallon water bottles for around $5. The jugs can be refilled by you later and a silicone stopper used to store more water in if desired.
It is important to have some way to heat up food. If you have a grill and propane, you can use that. I have seen people do this when the electricity failed for days during a winter storm. Other options include small propane burners and Sterno or fuel tablet stoves. Fuel tablet stoves do not work that well in my own experience, but they will at least warm up food enough to make it more palatable. Sterno seems to be more effective.
Wood fired rocket stoves can be useful as well if you can cook outside or under a covered yet ventilated area. Here are a few inexpensive stoves.
- Sterno Stove
- Rocket Stove
- Single Propane Burner and 1 lb canisters of fuel
Food Prep and Serving
For short and mid-length emergencies it is nice to have some disposable items for eating and drinking out of. It can be hard to do dishes sometimes.
- Paper plates
- Disposable cutlery
- Paper Cups
I have always been someone that had a variety of knives around except for maybe in college. I just carried a Leatherman back then.
A good everyday carry single-bladed knife is recommended along with a multitool. I carry both on a lot of days. With those two simple knives, you can take care of a lot of things, including small repairs. There are some multi tools under $25, but they are on the smaller side.
Multi Tools Under $25
Everyday Carry Knife Under $25
Great medical kits are often not just bought all at once. There are always items that need to be added. My advice is to get a good basic kit and add to it. I am going to include a few small kits that are suitable for stashing in an individual bug out bag or similar. They are also excellent for those living in apartments, dorms, or that travel often.
This list also includes some individual medical supplies that cost just a few dollars now that are invaluable during a long emergency or SHTF scenario.
- Benadryl Liqui-Gels for allergic reactions
- Immodium A-D for Diarrhea
- Activated Charcoal Tablets for Toxins
- Blood-Stop Powder
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Bic Lighters
- Ferro Rod and Striker
- Magnesium Tinder
- Waterproof Matches
- Books of Matches
Clothing and Warmth
- Bulk Packs of Socks
- Plain Cotton T-Shirts
- Fleece Blankets
- Knit Hats
- Emergency Bivvy Sleeping Bag
Lighting and Power Supply
- Battery Powered Lanterns
- Rechargeable Batteries
- Battery Chargers
- Battery bank for keeping phones and small devices topped off.
There are some things that you can get for very little to aid in self defense. Here is a partial list.
- Pepper Spray Canister For Keychain
- Small Karambit or Knife
- Keychain alarms that can be used to make perimeter alarms.
Entertainment and Communications
What else can you add that is useful and under $25?
I think this post has enough to get you started and help you realize that preparedness doesn’t have to take over all of your budget or spending on expensive gear that you may never use. All of the items in this post are useful and usable during good times and bad.
Remember that most events that you should be prepared for are short to mid-length events where even just having the supplies to get through a few weeks in relative comfort can make all the difference.