Cheap Preps Anyone can Buy for $3 or Less

inexpensive yet important prepping items include lighters, soap and triple antibiotic ointment.
inexpensive yet important prepping items include lighters, soap and triple antibiotic ointment.

Prepping can be expensive, but not all preps are expensive. Even with inflation, you can find items for $1 or $2 if you shop around and buy the store brand. I recommend Walmart and the various dollar stores. Here’s a list of some individual preps I buy that are inexpensive:

  1. Lighters. I buy a three-pack of disposable lighters for $1.25 every time I go to Dollar Tree. I find them in the checkout area. This allows me to distribute lighters in every pack, bag, car, and cache I make. Like many things on this list, they should also be good for barter.
  2. Beans. You can buy a pound of dried pinto beans at Walmart for $1. Black beans, navy beans and other beans may be as high as $1.25. Canned beans sell for 78 cents to $1.50 or more, but you’ll get fewer servings for your money. Of course, they are quicker and easier to prepare.
  3. Rice. Rice is my go-to survival grain and you can buy a 2-pound box for about $3. Buy a 20, 25 or 50-pound bag and you can pay as low as 50 cents per pound. If all you can afford to spend is $3, but the 2-pound bag, but if you have $10, splurge for the 20 pound bag.
  4. Noodles. On the subject of food, noodles and pasta are still a good buy when it’s time to add some calories to your prepper pantry. If you shop carefully, you can find spaghetti for $1 a pound and elbow macaroni is even less at Walmart. The great thing about pasta is everyone likes it and it’s easy to cook. I consider Ramen a sub-category of pasta. A packet is closer to 25 cents now than ten for $1, but that’s still a good price-per-calorie.
  5. Tea bags. Let’s face it, coffee will eventually run out. Tea is not only an alternative, it is far cheaper. You can get 100 tea bags for less than $2. One of the best things about a tea bag is that you can use it more than once. If you put several in a pitcher, you can make half a gallon of iced tea.
  6. Antibiotic Ointment. When you’re doing manual labor after the SHTF, you’re going to see an increase in cuts, scrapes, abrasions and splinters, especially on your hands and arms. These seemingly minor injuries can become infected and if left untreated in a post-apocalyptic world they can kill you. I stock multiple tubes of triple-antibiotic ointment and boxes of bandages to prevent a small cut from becoming a big infection. These are usually between $2 and $3 a tube.
  7. Hydrogen Peroxide. I remember buying a good size bottle of hydrogen peroxide for 25 cents or less. Today, you’ll probably have to pay $1. I can’t tell you how many small infections on the hands and feet of myself or one of my kids I have cured by soaking it for a few minutes in hydrogen peroxide. Highly recommended.
  8. Rubbing Alcohol. I don’t know if anyone still rubs this on kids to help lower fevers, but it remains useful as an antiseptic, to clean flat surfaces, and to kill germ on a tweezer, needle or scalpel. It’s about $1.50 a pint. Have a bottle, even if you only use it to clean your thermometer.
  9. Ibuprofen Tablets. Another thing that comes with extra physical labor is sore muscles. You can still get 100 ibuprofen tablets for $2 or less. We prefer to buy the big 500-tablet bottles. If you prefer acetaminophen, aspirin, or another product, buy what works for you. Just make sure you have some on hand for aches, pains, fever, and other minor ailments.
  10. Bar Soap. I buy bars of bath and hand soap at the dollar store. You can sometimes get four of them for $2. I expect we’ll all be dirtier after the SHTF and the water stops running, but there’s no excuse not to clean your hands before you eat and clean some smelly body parts before bed.
  11. Electrical Tape. I admit, this is a weird one, but it is quite useful for a range of things beyond electrical uses. For example, you can wrap it around the handle of a tool to improve your grip and reduce blisters. I can twirl a strip of it into an improvised piece of cordage. You can even use strips to spell out words like KEEP OUT. You can find a roll for less than $1, but Harbor Freight has a 10-pack for $7. It’s a good, stretchy alternative to duct tape.
  12. Work Gloves. Speaking of Harbor Freight, it is hard to beat them for work gloves. I like their Hardy latex-coated gloves, which are $1.99. They are not warm, but they are protective. I use them for carrying firewood and they last far longer than you would expect for a $2 glove. These occasionally go on sale for $1.79 each.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. You can spend $120 on 25 servings of freeze dried food in Mylar pouches, or you spend half as much on inexpensive but useful items and end up at least twice as prepared. Sounds like a win to me.