psst crackersPrepping for Pennies…OK, Dollars

I hear people say it all the time: “I can’t afford to buy anything extra for prepping. I’m on a budget. I just don’t have the money right now.” While I can understand this to a point, my response would be: “How can you afford NOT to?”

The people on the East Coast have been devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Some people will go days, even weeks without power. The grocery stores are empty. The roads are impassable in some places. Does any of this sound familiar, you know, like you read it in a book of fiction? Prepping isn’t just about TEOTWAWKI. It’s about being ready for any event that could disrupt your day-to-day life. So, what can you do if you don’t have the money to invest in a year’s supply of food for a family of four in one fell swoop? The answer – buy cheap. Here’s a few suggestions.

The Dollar Store
The dollar store is a gold mine of items you can prep cheap. Emergency candles, matches, zip bags, garbage bags, bleach, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, socks, aluminum foil, even some canned and dried food – the list is endless of the SHTF appropriate items you can find for a dollar each. Spend five dollars a week there, which is less than the price of lunch out, and you’ll start to build a nice stash of items you could use in an emergency situation.

The Grocery Store
Every trip to the store finds me in the Manager’s Specials. Truthfully, I make a beeline for that section. I have gotten so many useful items from those shelves. The suggested sell by date is getting close, so the store throws the items into a clearance bin. There’s nothing wrong with them, and many are shelf stable for years. I once found a 20-pound bag of rice for five dollars. If you have the means to can meat, I have found it as cheap as fifty cents a pound. Large packs of Jello for 49 cents. Wait, I can hear you saying it: if my power is out, I can’t make Jello. No, but you can drink it. Jello only needs water. A large pack has over 150 grams of carbs in it. You know what carbs are, right? Energy. Don’t discount store or generic brands either. A one-pound box of saltines for less than a dollar is a really good deal, and we like them better than the brand name. A can of tuna and a pack of Ramen noodles makes a great high protein, high carb meal, for about a buck fifty. A case of bottled water will carry you almost a week in an emergency situation, and you can get them about three dollars. If you buy one or two extra items a week, or set a goal of spending an extra five dollars a week at the grocery store, it will add up faster than you think.

I know it’s hard to change your buying and spending habits. Been there, done that. However, if your budget includes you eating lunch out every day, or buying an expensive coffee once a week, it’s so much better for your family and yourself to take your lunch at least two days a week, and stay out of that drive-thru lane. Chances are something you’d bring from home would be a whole lot healthier for you anyway.

Little changes can make a big difference in your ability to prepare for the unforeseen catastrophe. I can tell you from experience, it feels really good to not be one of those people who rushes to the store to buy stuff when a snowstorm is forecast anymore. Here’s hoping you can find a way to not be one, too.