Really curious about this one because obviously, it’s not past me to look for deals when it comes to buffing up a prepper stockpile, and obviously I happily go the cheap items on Amazon route often when it comes to gear – so why the heck not buy dollar store items to prep or add to a survival kit when they’re really worthwhile?
I’ve heard a bunch of people talk about how they get their mason jars for jarring their own food from the dollar store, as where could you ever find a better price for mason jars than something like a Dollar Tree. I’ve myself picked up a bunch of lighters, whistles, matches, and other little items for things like Altoids Tin Survival Kits from local dollar stores, but I’m really bad at imagining more creative ways of using dollar store items, especially when it comes to items for full on prepper stockpiles and not just little items for survival kits.
So I’d like to hear from you guys:
- What items have you bought from dollar stores before that have made it to your survival kits (in any size, shape, or form)?
- What dollar store items do you find great value for boosting your bug-in prepper stockpiles at home?
- Is there anything you would never buy from a dollar store? Or are you fine getting dollar store items as back ups, say in case your quality lighter somehow breaks, you have a bunch of cheap dollar store lighters as back ups since, why not, they’re so cheap?
- Do you have any other advice for dollar store shopping for preppers & survivalists?
In terms of the last question, the only advice I really have is to look out for dollar stores around your area that are closing/shutting down, because we all know how cheap dollar stores are but when they’re packing up to shut down there’s some absurd deals to be had there. I’ve taken advantage of some of these myself – they’re awesome, especially if you keep visiting back to see if the items you have your eye on have been price slashed again.
Let me know any and all thoughts you have on this topic down below!
I will the following comments.
One day, I had a discussion about tools and equipment with one of my older mentors – 101st airborne and retired fire fighter. We were doing the same thing – deliberately walking through Home Depot looking at items and thinking about how they might fit in to a survival situation.
Personally, I walk Best Buy, Lowes and Home Depot deliberately twice a year. Many of those times, I walk out without buying anything. I always take a note pad and pen. I want to see the latest technology and contemplate using different items in a survival situation.
On the rare times that I go into a drug store chain, I go only to the clearance section. Incidentally, my son makes a living buying from the drug store chain clearance sections and reselling the items on the internet. He has two warehouses.
I plan my daily car trips so that I am down to about 3,000 miles a year. I simply don’t just run to the market for a quart of milk. I string a number of stops. Today, I driving 13 miles one way to get an epidemic vaccine shot. I will make other stops, including walking all the aisles of discount and grocery stores.
I am forever reading about buying luncheon meats and Spam from discount stores. There is no problem with having such items as part of your survival foods. I have them. However, research the amount of sodium chloride that you will be consuming. It is way way beyond reason and the health admonitions of professionals. Restated, a little bit goes a very long way.
You don’t need much meat protein to survive. However, you do need it. Before WW2, the average American family ate meat one meal a week. Meat with every meal came in with the gis in WW2. You do need meat though. The Depression was so bad that 20% of the potential inductees were found to have been malnourished.
I hear what your saying about “buying luncheon meats and Spam” as survival food. I mentioned it below in regards to one of the items I purchase from a dollar type store. I do pay attention to the sodium content of foods we generally eat on a regular basis. And for the most part we generally consume meals that are cooked from scratch. I don’t plan on eating those 10 cans I purchased in the next two weeks.
Talking with my wife She believes that we have only purchased 2 lbs of bacon this year because of the the high sodium content. She actually divides the pound in fourths and freezes 3 of those packages. I like bacon but only eat two slices once in a blue moon. The human body can handle it in moderation. The problem is many people must have shot taste buds that they load their meals with sodium. When we do go out to eat at a restaurant I’m amazed when I see some people grab the salt shaker and go to town before even tasting the dish. And yeah, most of them are morbidly obese. So I understand what your saying. You get out what you put it.
Thomas Xavier says
Yeah, the girl has been on my case with the sugar & salt content of food. Doing my best to cut out as much as possible (within the realms of reason!). I guess for my fried spam with noodles is a comfort food from my time in Asia that I struggle to let go of. ;)
I usually get plastic forks and spoons, candles, lighters, duct tape, tarps, and some canned goods at the dollar tree in town. I purchased a can of “Bristol Classic Luncheon Loaf” last month to try out. Good substitute for SPAM for a $1 a can. I went back and purchased 10 more. Can get creative adding it in many quick dishes. Like SPAM a little better but not enough to pay 2 1/2 times for it.
Thomas Xavier says
I love spam, sadly the girl isn’t a fan. :(
What I like to do is to cut it into slices, fry it with butter and garlic and have it as the meat in instant noodles, throw in a couple of eggs and you got yourself some fantastic comfort food!
Dollar Tree stores here have the best prices on bottled water. When we had long-term water problems last year, they were a good source once our basic stores were gone.
Thomas Xavier says
Thanks for sharing Jacob!
Great article and it hits home for me. I’m really more of a survivalist than a prepper, in that I buy things that I carry out into the backcountry, and that’s my focus. Having said that, most of these items are full-on bugout bag ready.
I’ve found that Dollarama here in Canada actually carries a few nice bugout items such as mylar “space” blankets, and just last week I saw a mylar “emergency shleter” tent. Small, compact and cheap, but definitely usable in a bugout scenario. I also stock up lighters, cotton balls, candles, duct tape, jute twine etc. Probably the most unique re-purposed item was a stainless steel kitchen utensil caddy. It is round and full of holes, and makes an excellent wood stove! I’ve used it to melt wax and could easily put my camping pots or kettle on it for cooking. It works great and I can store items inside it for carrying in a pack or the box on my ATV.
I sometimes melt the candles down to use with cotton balls & jute twine to make fire starters. I just made a batch of homemade “fatwood” by soaking dollar store popsicle sticks in melted dollar store candle wax. That was a “just to see it” project, but it actually worked quite well.
My advice to others on dollar store purchases, as well as inexpensive items from Amazon (I might have an addicition….), is two things – 1, watch the quality, as there is a reason why it’s so cheap. Some things don’t matter and some things do. I sometimes get caught up in the price and overlook that it’s a piece of crap. And, 2, TEST the items thoroughly. I bought a container of waterproof matches exactly like the one in your picture (with the striker on the side), off Amazon, and carried it around in my ATV for a year as a back up. One day, I lit a match and….it didn’t actually flame up! It burned like a sparkler on Canada Day! It never actually produced flame. In an emergency I could definitely use it to produce fire, but it was NOT what I expected, or bought it for! Always take things out of the package, look them over and test them out.
I find shelf-stable cartons of milk at the dollar store. They’really not long term, more short term stocks. And when you live miles from town, it’s nice when you run out of fresh. I’ve also picked up Vienna sausages and canned bologna there.
So far, we’ve been picking up items for barter purposes mostly. Things like band aids, triple antibiotic ointment, lots of manual can openers, both heavy duty and the smaller average ones. Oh, and boxes of matches, hard candies, and all the candles we can get. (The ones in glass canisters-think religious style).
In many/most survival situations shelter is a priority.
Get ten shower caps for $ 1.50 (cdn), held compact by a mini ziplock and an elastic (also from dollar store), they take less than a cubic inch each.
Other than instant head covering they can waterproof your feet and reduce friction inside your shoes.
Keep some in a survival tin or other EDC.
russ holding says
un scented cloraxx bleach
stereo should read Sterno.
I’ve purchased small canned food items such as baked beans, Vienna sausages, deviled ham, single serving Spam slices from the dollar store along with paper products, plastic utensils, etc. All disposable. Band aids, cotton balls, sponges, Bic mini lighters, birthday candles, other candles, cans of stereo. Not much I wouldn’t buy if I could use it and it’s cheap. Many items can could be used in trade. Others like disposable cutlery, plates, come in handy.
Yes, you pictured some of the items. A person can go to the expensive sporting goods store, REI or A16 and buy the same items.
My son has an internet business. He frequents places that you mention, closeouts, after holiday sales, and thrift stores. He also takes the seasonal closeouts from the sporting goods stores.
My elderly mentor simply walks through Home Depot and Lowes, picking up ideas.
Whether it is also called Dollar Stores, Big Lots, 99 cent store (and imitators), I walk the aisles. It is not just the great, budget buys. It gives exercise in air conditioned quarters.
I also watch youtube videos. Today, I will go to the local grimmy bike repair shop and ask and maybe pay for used bicycle inner tubes. They won’t be for ranger bands today. I need the rubber tubing for exercise. I am afraid of using the quite expensive and yet breakable medical tubular material.
Mike E. says
The bicycle stores will likely give you plenty of their used inner tubes for free, since to them they are just garbage. They are great not just as ranger bands, but also to use as tourniquets. Cut a tube into 3 ft. sections and then cut them lengthwise. Now you have a long, flat, rubber strip tourniquet that when rolled up is a fraction of the size, and the cost of a CAT.
…improvise, adapt, and overcome.
A couple of years ago, I went to a bicycle shop and got some used inner tubes.
It took almost two years to wear out the one used daily for Kaiser rehab exercises.
I also went through my small collection of bike tires and cut up one.
This is much cheaper than the exercise bands bought at the medical supply store. However, because I also had to use exercise bands of varying color, I went on line at eBay and bought yards of material instead of the usual short bands in the store. The savings was incredible. It is much easier to tie off the exercise band material around a stationary object. However, the material does not last like an inner tube.