prepping on a budget

Getting started prepping is a daunting prospect, particularly if you have never had that mindset before. Jumping into prepping with both feet can be expensive and a mammoth task, but I have some ideas for beginners to start prepping on a budget.

You can achieve prepping on a budget by planning strategic purchases to slowly improve your stockpile of reserves at home. Start with the most important aspects, such as water and food, and work your way through the list to safety, medical supplies, and personal hygiene products.

Prepping does not need to be an all-consuming part of your life and finances. With a few simple strategies, you can implement a prepping program right now, even on a limited budget. Even on a small scale, prepping makes more sense now than ever before, given the uncertain times!

If you’re looking for a guide to prepping for beginners on a budget, you’re in the right place Keep reading for multiple ideas for prepping on the cheap!

Can You Prep on a Budget?

This article includes affiliate links.

Prepping on a budget is a great way to get started and develop a level of safety and food security for you and your family.

The most important aspect is to start prepping with whatever means you have rather than do nothing at all and simply hope for the best. Budget prepping is not only possible but should be a high priority on your radar to be prepared for shortages and interruptions in the supply chain.

Many people do not start prepping because they already struggle to get through the month and make ends meet. How is it possible to stretch your already stretched finances to start prepping?

The good news is, it’s surprising how much progress you can make to build up some supplies with relatively little financial commitment!

How To Start Prepping on a Budget

The best way to start prepping on a budget is to take a step back and consider the most important aspects or items for life in a disaster situation or a time of non-commercial supply.

What items would affect your life the most if they were no longer available? Prioritize these items or factors in order of importance to prepare yourself with the higher value aspects first.

To begin prepping on a budget, some things to consider fall into the following categories.

  • Water. Water is a basic essential that many of us take for granted. Many preppers start stockpiling food but forget about their daily water needs. You need a method to have access to clean drinking water as a top priority.
  • Food. When major food items are no longer available on the grocery store shelves, how will you feed yourself and your family?
  • Safety. How do you ensure safety for your household at a time of disaster? Do you have a plan?
  • Medical supplies. If you or a family member requires critical medication, what will you do if there is a shortage of your medication? How will you treat injuries in the event of an accident?
  • Personal hygiene. Keeping yourself clean is a top priority to avoid illness and disease, especially when medical care may be disrupted.

These are all important prepping aspects, but you can build on each one over time and at a relatively low cost with a little ingenuity and planning.

Prepping for Water on a Budget

bottled water is an important aspect of prepping on a budget

Clean water for drinking is a top priority in any emergency situation since you cannot go without water for long before it becomes a problem.

Dirty drinking water can be more dangerous than no water at all, but you can build in some preparedness for lack of clean water with a few simple and inexpensive measures.

Stockpiling water takes a lot of space, and water can become contaminated if it is not stored correctly. To prepare for a water shortage on a budget, you need to focus on drinking water first, rather than water for cleaning.

My recommendation is to implement the following measures to have water available without spending a lot of money.

  • Store some water. Don’t store water in large quantities but store some water so that you have some immediately available until you can find more. A few cheap food-grade 1-gallon plastic containers are useful for this purpose. Ensure they are dark to avoid algae growth in the water and recycle the water in the containers every few weeks.
  • Have water purification tablets on hand. Water purification tablets are cheap on Amazon and last a long time if unopened. These tablets allow you to purify the water you find and make it suitable for drinking. A 100 tablet supply costs under $15.
  • A life straw for each person. A life straw is a personal water purification device that you use to drink water from a potentially contaminated water supply. The filters will clean out bacteria and particles but cannot filter out heavy metals or viruses. A set of 4 Life Straw Filters costs under $50 on Amazon.

Prepping For Food on a Budget

food prepping on a budget

When it comes to food prepping on a budget, there are many ways to go about it. Here are a few of my favorite ways to build a prepper pantry on the cheap.

When you go shopping for food, whether monthly or weekly, add two or three long-term storage foods to your shopping cart.

Items such as canned foods, and dry goods, such as rice, dried beans, chickpeas, flour, and dried fruits and vegetables, make for good long-term storage foods.

Adding these items to your shopping list may increase your shopping bill by $10 to $30 each time you go shopping, but you will build up a food supply that will last.

If even that amount is too much for you, toss an extra can of vegetables or tuna, a bag of beans, or a package of pasta or rice into your cart. You can do this for less than $5, and it adds up over time. Just be sure to replenish the items as you use them.

Buy Food on Sale

Look out for special deals on long-term storage foods and only buy them when the store offers these specials. This way, you get more value for your money.

Store Your Food Properly

Once you start building a food supply, you will need to figure out a budget-friendly method of storing the food to prevent it from spoiling or being contaminated by rodents. Food-grade plastic buckets and totes are inexpensive and good for protecting food for long-term storage.

Mylar bags are relatively cheap on Amazon and are an easy and effective way to protect food for long periods because they lock out light, moisture, and oxygen.

Have Alternative Ways to Cook Food

A method to cook your food other than using electricity or city gas line supplies is something else to consider so you can give your family a hot meal or make a hot coffee to start your day.

Basic camping gas stoves cost under $60 on Amazon, and you can buy replacement gas canisters periodically to build up a supply.

Grow Some of Your Own Food

Another easy and cost-effective way to develop some food security is to grow your own food at home. A few pots around the home can be used to grow lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, beans, peas, and many other food crops with very little expense and space requirements.

Pro Tip: I buy all of my sprouting and microgreen seeds from True Leaf Market. Use this link to get $5 off your first purchase:

Growing some food on a small scale will ensure you have fresh food to eat, even when the grocery store shelves are empty.

Pro Tip: Check out the following articles for growing your own food any time of year, even if you’re in an apartment or home with limited outdoor space:

The Best Cheap Prepper Food to Add to Your Prepper Pantry

If you’re on a really tight budget, you may want to focus on really cheap prepper food to buy in bulk for your prepper pantry. Here are some cheap budget prepper food to add to your prepper pantry, and my personal food storage strategy.

My personal strategy is to store a lot of cheap prepper food items I can use in various ways, and then round out my prepper pantry with non-essential food items, such as condiments, which add a lot of flavor and variety.

This provides me with a good amount of survival food without breaking the bank.

Here are some of the best cheap prepper foods to add to your pantry for prepping on a budget.


Rice is a cheap and easy food to add to your prepper pantry. It is a good source of calories and you can easily cook it in a variety of ways.

You can use rice to make simple dishes like rice and beans, or more complex dishes like stir-fries or risottos. You can also use it in desserts such as rice pudding. I’ve also used it as a cereal, serving it with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.

When shopping for rice, look for varieties that are high in nutrients and low in price.


If you’re a budget prepper, beans are most likely at the top of your list! Beans are one of the best budget prepper foods that you should add to your pantry, unless you can’t stand them. :)

Beans are an excellent source of protein and you can easily store them for long periods of time. They are also very versatile. You can use them in a variety of dishes.

One of the best things about beans is that they are very cheap and also very nutritious. This makes them an ideal food to add to a prepper pantry. You can store them for long periods of time without losing nutritional value.

You can cook beans in a variety of ways. You can bake them, boil them, or even roast them for a crunchy snack. You can also make bean spreads such as hummus for a healthy side dish or snack.

Depending on the dish you want to make, you can choose the method of cooking that best suits your needs.

There are a variety of dishes that can be made with beans. One of the most popular is chili. This dish is easy to make and is very filling. Other popular dishes include bean soup, baked beans, and bean burritos.


Pasta is a cheap and filling food that you can easily add to your prepper pantry. It is quick and easy to cook, and you can use it in a variety of dishes.

You can serve pasta with a simple tomato sauce, or toss it with butter, salt, and pepper, or used in more complex dishes such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese.

It is a versatile food that you can use in many different ways and is a great way to add some variety to your prepper pantry.


Oats are an excellent addition to a prepper pantry because they are very cheap and have a long shelf life. Oats are also very nutritious, and. Oats are good for more than oatmeal!

To cook oats, simply add them to boiling water and simmer for a few minutes. You can eat plain oats, or with added fruits, nuts, and spices. You can also eat oats without cooking. I like topping plain, uncooked oats with milk or yogurt and dried fruit and nuts.

You can also use oats in baked goods, such as cookies, cakes, and breads.

Some ideas for dishes that can be made with oats include oatmeal, porridge, granola, and oatcakes. You can also use oats as a coating for chicken or fish, or as a meat extender when making meatloaf.

Canned fruits and vegetables

Canned fruits and vegetables are a great addition to any prepper pantry. They are an inexpensive way to add nutritious food to your diet, and you can use them in a variety of ways.

Eat canned fruit and vegetables as-is or used in recipes. You can add them to soups, stews, and casseroles, or used as toppings on salads and other dishes.

Canned fruits and vegetables are a convenient and healthy option for those who want to be prepared for anything, especially since they have a long shelf life.

One wonderful thing about canned fruit and vegetables is that they contain some liquid, which is important if water is limited.


Flour is one of the best things that you can add to your prepper pantry. It is relatively cheap, and it has a long shelf life.

You can use flour to make a variety of foods, including bread, cakes, and cookies. I also like to use it to make tortillas, pancakes, biscuits, and even egg roll wrappers. It can also be used as a thickener for soups and sauces.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a great addition to any prepper pantry for a number of reasons. It’s highly nutritious, containing protein, healthy fats, and a host of vitamins and minerals. Peanut butter is also very versatile and you can use it in a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory.

Spread peanut butter on toast or crackers, use it as a dip for apples, carrots, and celery, make cookies with it, or use it in an Asian stir fry.

Peanut butter is also relatively low in sugar content, making it a good option for those who are watching their sugar intake.

Powdered milk

Powdered milk is an excellent addition to a prepper pantry because it has a long shelf life and is a versatile ingredient. You can use powdered milk to make a number of different foods, including cheese, yogurt, and ice milk. For some of these, whole milk powder works better than non-fat powdered milk, but non-fat works for most items.

You can also use it in smoothies, white sauce, and cream gravy. I like making cheese sauce by first making a white sauce with butter, flour, and milk before adding in cheese.

It is also a good source of protein and calcium. Powdered milk is relatively cheap, so it is a good option for those on a budget.

Dried fruits and nuts

Dried fruits and nuts are a great addition to any prepper pantry. They are an excellent source of nutrients and calories. While the shelf life of nuts is limited, dried fruit has a long shelf life.

There are many ways to use dried fruit and nuts. You can eat them as is or use them in recipes. Dried fruit and nuts can also be used to make trail mix, or you can add them to cereals and baked goods.


Sugar is an essential ingredient in many recipes, but it also has a lot of other uses. Sugar helps preserve food, making it a great addition to a prepper pantry.

You can use sugar to sweeten food and make it more palatable, which can be important when supplies are limited. You can also use sugar as a barter item, as it is valuable and has a long shelf life.


Salt is an important addition to a prepper pantry because it has many uses. You can use salt to preserve food, as it helps to limit the growth of bacteria.

Salt can also be used to season food, making it more palatable. In addition, salt can be used as a barter item, as it is valuable and has a long shelf life.

You can also use salt for non-food needs such as melting ice in winter. This makes it a useful tool in winter weather.


Oil is an essential component of any prepper’s pantry. It has a relatively long shelf life and you can use it for many different purposes. Use it for cooking, sautéing, baking, and flavoring food, as a lubricant, and even as a fuel in simple oil lamps.

Prepping For Safety on a Budget

Not everyone wants to own a firearm, and not everyone can afford a firearm for safety. A firearm is also not a wise investment in your safety if you do not know how to use it correctly.

Prepping on a budget for beginners from a safety aspect should include items such as rechargeable flashlights and lanterns, pepper sprays, and developing an awareness of your surroundings.

Lighting is important to offer a sense of security and well-being when the lights go out. Rechargeable lanterns and flashlights, particularly those that can charge off a simple solar setup, are extremely useful items for your preparedness.

A solar rechargeable work light that comes with a built-in solar panel in the back to charge the batteries is the best budget option at under $30 per light on Amazon.

Pepper spray is a useful non-lethal form of defense that is affordable, and you don’t need a license to carry. Self-defense pepper sprays can be purchased for under $15 per person on Amazon.

Prepping For Medical Needs on a Budget

first aid prepping on a budget

First aid is an item you should consider for your home, whether you are prepping or not, but many households do not have a readily available first aid kit.

First aid kits are inexpensive, and you can buy a fairly comprehensive kit for under $60 on Amazon. If you’re an extreme budget prepper and this is too much to outlay at once, you can build it slowly. Use an airtight plastic container as your first aid kit and add to it with each shopping trip you make.

Wound care items, such as bandages and antiseptic treatments, can be purchased first, followed by pain-relieving over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and Tylenol. Allergy medicines such as antihistamines can also be added to the first aid kit over time.

If you or any of your family is on chronic medications, you need to consult your doctor about building up a supply of these medications over a few months to give you an adequate supply.

Prepping For Personal Hygiene on a Budget

Personal hygiene is an important prepping factor for staying healthy, and preparing for this aspect in your household on a budget is relatively easy and cheap.

To slowly build up your supplies in this area, buy two items each time you need to replace your item and put the spare aside to build up your stock level.

The personal hygiene items you should concentrate on are as follows:

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Laundry soap
  • Deodorants
  • Body soap and shampoo


Prepping on a budget is totally achievable and will allow you to build some supplies and peace of mind without causing you financial stress! As long as the items you add to your prepping plan are items you usually use, then it is never a waste of money.

Prepping actually saves money because you get to use items from your supply in the future, but you bought them at today’s prices!

Recommended Tools

Thanks for reading this article. Here’s a list of tools mentioned in this article. These are Amazon affiliate links, but are things I personally recommend. I hope you find this list helpful.

If you’re prepping on a budget, please don’t feel that you need to run out and buy these items. But these items are helpful, and you can add them to your stash little by little.

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