Advertise with us!

Prep for emergencies and to save money

By on May 28, 2012
emergency stockpile

People stockpile for various reasons, whether it’s to take advantage of a sale or to stock up in case of emergencies, unplanned extra expenses, distance from stores, bad weather, natural catastrophes or lean times.
The majority of frugal people who are stocking up or prepping aren’t extremists or hoarders like you see on television, clearing off grocery shelves. Many were raised to be prepared or have mastered a streamlined, frugal way to shop. It’s typically done over time, based on what items their family will use. Some preserve food from their gardens and consider that part of their stockpile. Some are avid coupon and rebate shoppers, too.
Whatever your motivation, here are a few ways to work on your own preparedness at home:


Start slow:

To begin your stockpile, I suggest you buy a few extras each shopping trip if an item you use is on sale. If you have coupons, you’ll save even more. You can accommodate the extra expense by cutting something else from your grocery list or budgeting a few bucks more for your groceries. With that extra money, look for a sale item you typically use. Maybe you’ll find a buy-one-get-one-free deal and you can buy four. The following trip, use the money you saved from the first sale to take advantage of the next sale. You’ll build enough savings so that instead of buying a couple extra when an item is on sale, you can buy more. Eventually, you won’t be paying full price on much of anything. You’ll have a decent stockpile, too.

Emergency preparedness:

Have supplies handy such as a generator, water, money, clothing, firewood, oil lamps, hand-crank radio, cook stove, first-aid supplies (including medication), blanket, nonperishable foods, tools and batteries, to name a few. Each family member should have his or her own emergency bag, and it should be easily accessible. Keep a kit outside of your home in a shed, garage or your car, too. One reader, F.W. from Michigan, shares: “Military surplus stores carry disposable rescue blankets that fold small and reflect heat well. I keep a small stockpile of lighters and matches, too. It’s best to keep emergency supplies in several places in the house; for example, don’t store all the candles in the dark basement, in case of a power outage.”

Container storage:

You can stock larger quantities of pantry staples such as flour or sugar. Reader Jan B. from Missouri shares: “I’m trying to prepare because I believe that it is my job to make sure my family is fed and taken care of, no matter what the situation is. Most recently I bought brown and powdered sugar for 75 percent off. I used four food-grade buckets (frosting buckets from the bakery, which sells them for $1.50 each) and packed 25 16-ounce bags in each bucket. The lids have a rubber seal, so ants can’t get to my sugar.”


While some people freeze produce to preserve it, dehydrating and home canning are other options to increase your stockpile. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a free-standing freezer for extra food storage.

Organizing and learning:

Know what you have in stock, and more importantly, use it as needed and rotate your inventory so it doesn’t expire and go to waste. If you have time, learn more ways to be self-reliant through books, classes or online. Another reader, Marie H. from the Midwest, shares: “I am consolidating all of my pantry excess onto a shelving unit in the basement. From this, I’ll create an inventory sheet of what I have. My goal is ultimately to have a one-year supply of food and health and beauty items. I attended a fascinating program on aquaponics last month, and right now I’m attending a class on raising backyard chickens. I will be starting garden seeds next week.”

If you’d like to learn more about prepping and stockpiling, visit

photo by Seattle Municipal Archives

One Comment

  1. Leigh

    12/30/2012 at 11:16 pm

    After losing my job less than a year ago, when i started a new job, i decided to start to have a stockpile. It was a scary time and thankfully my cabinets were semi-full. Before i lost my job, i purchased six months of things we use commonly from the dollar store. Fabric softener sheets, cleaners, Ziploc bags, air freshener, carpet cleaner, etc..

    But none of those are essential in a pinch. I started buying the largest staples i could hold. Flour, sugar, butter. These items can be made into just about anything with a few recipes. I found some old plastic cereal storage containers, and vacuum sealed what i could, then threw them in the freezer that we use less.

    Brown sugar is just sugar with molasses, so i always keep molasses on hand to make a new batch. Butter, i mean the oily kind, has been under a dollar for some time now and every time i hit the store i grab two or three and freeze them. In a pinch i can make butter with my food processor and some heavy cream. I also know how to make a basic cheese, sour cream, and plan to expand that skill to cheddar and hopefully mozzarella

    I started with bare bone basics and continue to grow my stash little by little. I really don’t believe in those “food kits”, mainly bc how good can a dehydrated or sealed meal really be? If i don’t develop high blood pressure from all the salt, it would be a miracle.

    Next was salt, pepper, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, yeast, and baking mixes. Honey, pasta, canned staples like tomatoes, potatoes, corn, green beans, all most commonly have a shelf life of one year or longer and are very important to stock.

    One question is how much will i need? Water is big, and essential vitamins are big. Such as potassium, glucose, fiber/grain, and all the vitamin c, d, e etc.. Of course fire or a way to cook/heat up and a way to replenish your stock when it all runs out, eventually it will. My family on the East Coast ran out of food after about one week and the price gouging and problems just getting food were abundant!!
    I hope to have a good variety of real foods and a little of junk food. Certain “junk” foods can be made such as granola bars, and chocolate bars.

    Cakes, brownies, and frosting were all one dollar for a long period of time one about one and a half year ago. Now Frosting, and muffin mixes and some cake mixes are at the dollar store consistently. But cake mixes have gone up, so to offset that i purchased cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and more flour.

    I added items to my emergency bag, such as flint, some disposable charcoal/bbq trays, old pots and pans & powdered milk. A crank cell phone charger is something my family on the East Coast needed very badly , so i just grabbed one of those.

    Found some cheap fire starters and wood after summer and store them in a secure spot next to the grill. In addition to more long shelf life food here and there such as tuna in a pouch, those single serving packets of peanut butter for .47 cents, and fruit in sealed glass jars and those single serving veggies in a cup. Neither has an expiration date, but i check my stuff once a year just in case.

    I have a dedicated shelf in the house to just hold emergency food and wrote the expiration dates on the front so i can use them and know to buy more when needed.

    There is no question i need more water. So i am using an plastic garbage bin to store water for flushing, watering, etc. I plan to use a few drops of bleach and clean it out in 6 months. I placed it near the lawn/garden area so that if it goes nasty i can dump it out and start another. The water for drinking/cooking is being saved in soda bottles or other food grade containers such as milk jugs, a commercial grade oil jug (cleaned out throughly).
    Making my own laundry detergent and fabric softener has saved us a ton of money now and i am stockpiling the needed ingredients for the future.

    I also have learned how to knit and sew recently and plan to start a small garden as i fear fruits and veggies are going to skyrocket in the coming months. I am learning how to can as we speak. I also heard milk might jump to 8$ per gallon, as of this week, here it already went up almost one dollar. If that happens, i plan to purchase Parmalat and or powered whole milk. Also bacon went back up, i am going to put some money aside to stockpile this next time it comes down.

    Most importantly i have a plan a, then a plan b, then a plan c, then d, and a last resort. I use my skills and knowledge now to save us money, and in the future that will keep us going.

    I plan to barter, grow my own, and hope to be creative and use what i got the best i can. My profession is a medical caregiver so i am hoping that my skills, supplies, knowledge will go a long way in everything from a rainy day to a financial collapse.

Leave a Reply

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