There’s no doubt about it, sometimes prepping gets expensive. And, with most people in consumer debt and living paycheck to paycheck, it can be hard to prep on a budget. Can you get prepper supplies at the dollar store, though? That could save you a large chunk of change, if so.
That’s why I came up with the list of preps that you can get from just about any dollar store. It will not only allow you to get prepped, but it won’t break the bank.
Light sources at the dollar store
There are numerous types of lighting and fire starters you can get at your nearest dollar store. Here are the ones I recommend.
- Lighters (both regular and BBQ lighters which allow a longer reach.)
- Glow sticks – It’s a great and cheap way to provide light and entertainment for little ones in a power outage.
- Candles – From tea lights to candles that last for hours, you can find it all at the dollar store. You may not get scented candles or great smells, but in an emergency, that’s not what you really need.
- Flashlights (and plenty of batteries to spare!)
First aid and hygiene supplies
While many people think of first aid kits, they don’t give much thought to other hygiene supplies or don’t think outside the box. Here’s what I recommend picking up.
- Tensor bandages
- Hot water bottles
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- Feminine hygiene products (It may not be the go-to brands, but in a pinch, they’ll work just fine)
- Spare toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Mouth wash
- Hair ties (if you’ve got long hair or a kiddo with longer hair, these are practically a necessity.)
- It’s not the cheapest place to buy things like Tylenol or Advil, but you can find them here!
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Soaps and body wash
- Hand sanitizer
- Epsom salts
(Want to know what you need for emergency evacuations? Check out our QUICKSTART Guide.)
What cleaning supplies does the dollar store have?
While it may not always be the best quality, the cleaning supplies will work in a pinch or as a backup, such as in your bug-out bag.
- Garbage bags
- Paper towels
- Clorox wipes (or other bleach wipes)
- Dish soaps
- Wet wipes
- And many other cleaners such as Comet, toilet bowl cleaner, etc.
There is almost an endless amount you can get for a very low price in this section. If you don’t already have them, here are some good ones to get.
- Zip ties
- Duct tape
- Batteries (While they might not be the best batteries, they work just fine! Plus, they’re a great price!)
- Super glue
- Tools (Hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, nails, and screws, etc.)
- Rope, twine, and yarn
- Sewing kits
- Gloves (everything from heavy-duty gardening gloves to cheap latex gloves)
- Carabiners (Please note that dollar store carabiners are not good enough for climbing or to sustain a person’s body weight unless otherwise specified. That being said, they still have many other uses!)
Entertainment prepper supplies at the dollar store for the kiddos
While this aspect of prepping doesn’t often get addressed, keeping your kids both calm, and occupied in situations such as power outages, storms, etc., can be very important. It’s something Daisy has talked about before, but is often a prep that goes forgotten.
There are numerous things you can get at the dollar store that will keep the kids excited. My best tip, though, is to have the items you buy as a prep in a place where your kids can’t easily find or reach. If they can play or use these items any time, it won’t be nearly as helpful to keep them occupied in an uncertain situation.
- Activity books
- Craft kits and supplies
- Games (such as card or board games)
- Dominos (While this can be played as a game, it can also double as a toy to set up and knock over. Besides, who doesn’t love playing with dominos?)
- Glow sticks (I know I mentioned this one as a light source, but it does make for a fun toy to play with)
- Outdoor toys (think chalk, balls, or jump ropes)
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One last thing…
While it would be easy to go in and spend $100 on preps to fill your kit in a single trip, I know most people can’t afford that. The dollar store makes for a great way to build up your preps on a budget, but they may not always be the best quality.
I by no way means am saying you shouldn’t ever buy preps from the dollar store. That would defeat the purpose of this article. What I do mean, though, is that something is better than nothing, and you’re better off to have some preps than none.
But since we’re talking about this on a budget, try adding 1-3 things every trip to the dollar store. The amount you’ll be spending will barely be noticed, but it will help over time. When you have the money for better quality preps, get them. For now, though, these ones will work!
What are your favorite prepper supplies at the dollar store?
Do you ever get your prepping or emergency supplies from the dollar store? Is there something that I missed on my list that is always a must-have for your household? Share in the comments!
About Chloe Morgan
Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea.
When I go in I buy rolls of jute twine, coils of steel wire, and lighters each time.
I also sometimes put epoxy, zip ties, and superglue on the list of “each time I go buys”
Once I get to certain levels I stop buying and once I dip below certain levels I start up again.
This way I can have a decent supply without breaking the bank.
25% inflation seeing at $1.00 store, now $1.25…
What do you use the steel wire for?
Solar yard lights bring in put 2. Or3 in a vase light
I tried solar yard lights and found that they don’t recharge well or last long. Is there something I’m missing?
An emergency fire starter I picked up at the Dollar Tree (in the US) some years ago that remains today as still available is their “Magnifying Sheet” under their “Jot” label. It’s approximately a full book page in size at 6-5/8“ by 9-5/8“. It is in fact a Fresnel lens that makes an excellent solar fire starter — even under some marginal sun light conditions and without needing the dark ink printing on scrap paper for tinder that makes pocket credit card sized Fresnel lenses work much better.
Another decision might be considered regarding battery types. Would you rather stock up on the lowest cost dollar store alkaline batteries that have a bad habit of corroding inside your flashlights, radios, etc — or would it make better sense to lay into your supply a far lesser number of rechargeable batteries (whether Nimh or lithium ion types) in the various sizes that fit your gadgets as long as you acquire both the solar and the home AC power charging gear appropriate for whichever rechargeable type you choose. Besides avoiding the alkaline corrosion problem, you also address the long term power outage issue when solar recharging can make up for when home AC power recharging is not available. And yes, such non-alkaline rechargeable batteries and chargers for the sizes you need will be found on Amazon or other online sellers.
You can also get canned food as well as freeze dried fruit, salt, spices, muffin mixes, candy (not the greatest but in a survival situation I don’t think any of us are going to be watching our diets too closely, and chocolate could be a useful thing to trade).
One item that we stock isn’t from a dollar store but it is fairly cheap. $2 gets you a roll of “vet tape” 4″ wide and 5 yards long. Get it at pet supply and farm stores and farm co-ops. It has (at least) four uses –
Hold a large bandage in place with a decent amount of pressure if needed.
Improvise a sling for an arm.
Use where you’d have an Ace bandage for a wrist, elbow, or ankle.
Improvise a splint (add cardboard).
I know a number of Ski Patrol folks who carry it and some corrugated cardboard for making a splint.
Thanks for the suggestions! One thing I didn’t see is canned heat/gel flame. My local Family Dollar has those for a $1/can, which last almost two hours. Another item is off brand energy “shots” similar to 5 hour energy, but much less expensive.
I stocked up on these too. I remember reading somewhere that they work well
Gardening supplies Trowels and such, seeds, plants, potting mix to use in containers or pots. I bought tulle to put over vegetable plants in extreme heat, or frost and to use at night for would be critters.
I hope this helps someone
I have actually bought lots of prepping items from dollar stores. I even buy food (canned meats, bags of nuts & seeds) to put in my bug-out-bag. Every 6 months I go through & rotate out with fresh things & give the items that will be at their best before date soon to the homeless.
The most basic questions are:
What do you use every day and how much?
Each week and how much?
Make a list and plan for your needs.
I got emergency ponchos from the $1 store