Commonly referred to as prepping, being equipped to deal with an unexpected event or disaster is important, and can provide peace of mind in uncertain times. Whether your 'event' is economic collapse, job loss or a destructive hurricane, gathering items to ensure your family's safety and comfort should be a priority. However, it can be difficult to even consider prepping when your current budget is already stretched too thin.
It is surprisingly easy to begin prepping with just $10 a month. This can be achieved by briefly cutting back on meat, switching to the store brands for a few items, or even selling unwanted books, DVDs or CDs on Ebay or Craigslist. Take a close look at your purchases each month and really consider their necessity. Could you push back buying a new frying pan and instead buy a couple pounds of dried beans? Instead of spending $5 on a tub of ice cream, take that money and buy an LED lantern. Keep an eye on local sale flyers and stock up when items are cheapest.
I found it helpful to begin with a list of what my family would need for one week without electricity, running water, heat, or the ability to go shopping. This is what my basic list looks like for my family of two adults and one breastfed baby:
3 lbs dried beans
a couple bags of quinoa
28 cans of vegetables (2 cans each for 7 days)
28 cans of fruit
Hand crank radio
Filled gas can
Matches and/or a fire starter
Ax or machete
Extra cell phone with car charger
Feminine hygiene products
Canned cat food (for our cats, not us!)
You will have to consider your unique circumstances when compiling your list. For example, I did not include water as we have an artesian well that can be manually pumped. I also did not add diapers as we use cloth and are willing to deal with hand-washing them if necessary. We have a charcoal grill and lots of wood on our land, so I did not include a cook-stove. When our baby begins eating solid food, I will have to include additional items for her.
Never count on your regular supplies being stocked. Something could happen right when your tube of antibiotic ointment runs out, or the day before your big grocery shop. Everything you prep should be separate and secured in a waterproof container if possible, such as this giant tote from Home Depot. Also, make sure to note the expiration dates on food and medications and swap them out accordingly.
Once your basic list is complete, you have a choice. You can either continue by padding your current supplies, or move up to the next stage and begin prepping for the long term. This can be a bit scary, because you need to start imagining worst case scenarios. People in the direct path of the recent hurricane Sandy were without power for many weeks. Job loss can affect a family for months. If economic collapse is something you think about, that requires a whole new level of prepping and would be an entire article unto itself.
Don't let yourself become overwhelmed; the goal is to start small with what you can manage. Jot down basic items as you think of them, then begin whittling the list down to the essentials. It can take many months to prep on a budget, so don't be discouraged! A good prepper's work is never done!
Find even more articles on stockpiling!
Do you prepare for the unexpected? What are some items that you have on your essential list?
Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.