The first thing you will want to do is to visit a couple of websites to gather your lists. Redcross.org and Ready.gov are both good sites, you can also search for similar sites that have more detailed and lifestyle-specific lists. Now you have your lists you need to start gathering these items and you cant spend a ton of money doing it. Don’t worry you have options, you are not limited to expensive camping/survival catalogs, websites, or major department stores.
The most important items on your list are food and water. You can easily and cheaply stock up your cupboards. When you are making your grocery list for the week add a couple of items to it. Make sure to check the expiration dates; most canned goods are good for two years. When you get home put those extra items in your designated storage area and do not forget to rotate. Do this every week or every time you go to the grocery store and in no time you will have a supply of food built up.
Gardening will also provide you with food cheaply; you don’t have to have a huge piece of land or yard to grow your own garden. You can start a container garden on your patio or balcony. Surf the web and you will find plenty of cheap container gardening ideas with all the how-tos. Once you have your garden growing you will want to do research on canning those vegetables. Yes canning, is the same thing our grandmothers and mothers use to do. It isn’t that complex and relatively inexpensive. Canning supplies as everything else can be gathered from friends and cheaply purchased. Again, check out the internet on canning how-tos.
The next thing you will want to do is go through your home and look for items on your list. You may already have many items and just don’t realize it; go through your drawers, cabinets, garages, and basements you will be surprised at what you already have. What you don’t find at home you can ask friends and neighbors for. It may surprise you how willing they are to part with duplicate items. Now, go back through your list and see what is left. Everything else you will have to purchase. Again, do not panic; you can purchase the rest of your needed items cheaper than you think. Take your lists and head to your local dollar store, thrift store, and yard sales.
In our area, Dollar General is now carrying outside oil lamps (metal lamps & can be used indoors) for five dollars and the oil itself is five dollars for fifty-eight ounces. Not bad considering local department stores are charging upwards of twenty dollars for the same lamp and upwards of ten dollars for the same oil. If you go to the automotive or home improvement section you can find duct tape, bungee cords, rope, flashlights, ice scrapers, tarps, plastic sheeting, gas cans, gloves, dust masks, etc. all of which are below the normal department store cost. No, it’s not going to be a name brand but it will do the job.
In the first aid aisle, you will find most of what you need to make your first aid kits for your home, car, and bug-out bags for again half the cost. Personal hygiene, toiletries, and disposable paper items are also cheaper and usually sold in bigger quantities for example twenty-four rolls of two-ply toilet tissue for six bucks, or if you purchase four six-packs of toilet tissue for a buck ten each you save even more.
In the home and garden section, you can find small tabletop grills for three to five dollars. These can be used in a pinch to cook outside whether at home or during an evacuation. You can also find coolers (large & small), thermos bottles, metal kabob skewers, and depending on what your local store carries you may even find a Coleman propane-type stove.
Thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find items as well. You can find things such as extra blankets, boots, clothing, cookware, food storage containers, utensils, thermos bottles, portable potties, tents, camping gear, and anything else you could not find at the dollar stores.
Again, you do not have to run out and buy everything at once. Make a weekly or bi-weekly trip and pick up a couple of things; continue this until you have your supply cabinet stocked. Now relax and pat yourself on the back; you and your family are prepared for an emergency and you did it without breaking the bank.