Prep for emergencies, save money |

Prep for emergencies, save money

Sara Noel

People stockpile for various reasons, whether it’s to take advantage of a sale or to stock up in case of emergencies, unplanned extra expenses, distance from stores, bad weather, natural catastrophes or lean times.

The majority of frugal people who are stocking up or prepping aren’t extremists or hoarders like you see on television, clearing off grocery shelves. Many were raised to be prepared or have mastered a streamlined, frugal way to shop. It’s typically done over time, based on what items their family will use. Some preserve food from their gardens and consider that part of their stockpile. Some are avid coupon and rebate shoppers, too.

Whatever your motivation, here are a few ways to work on your own preparedness at home:

Start slow: To begin your stockpile, I suggest you buy a few extras each shopping trip if an item you use is on sale. If you have coupons, you’ll save even more. You can accommodate the extra expense by cutting something else from your grocery list or budgeting a few bucks more for your groceries. With that extra money, look for a sale item you typically use. Maybe you’ll find a buy-one-get-one-free deal and you can buy four. The following trip, use the money you saved from the first sale to take advantage of the next sale. You’ll build enough savings so that instead of buying a couple extra when an item is on sale, you can buy more. Eventually, you won’t be paying full price on much of anything. You’ll have a decent stockpile, too.

Emergency preparedness: Have supplies handy such as a generator, water, money, clothing, firewood, oil lamps, hand-crank radio, cook stove, first-aid supplies (including medication), blanket, nonperishable foods, tools and batteries, to name a few. Each family member should have his or her own emergency bag, and it should be easily accessible. Keep a kit outside of your home in a shed, garage or your car, too. One reader, F.W. from Michigan, shares: “Military surplus stores carry disposable rescue blankets that fold small and reflect heat well. I keep a small stockpile of lighters and matches, too. It’s best to keep emergency supplies in several places in the house; for example, don’t store all the candles in the dark basement, in case of a power outage.”

Container storage: You can stock larger quantities of pantry staples such as flour or sugar. Reader Jan B. from Missouri shares: “I’m trying to prepare because I believe that it is my job to make sure my family is fed and taken care of, no matter what the situation is. Most recently I bought brown and powdered sugar for 75 percent off. I used four food-grade buckets (frosting buckets from the bakery, which sells them for $1.50 each) and packed 25 16-ounce bags in each bucket. The lids have a rubber seal, so ants can’t get to my sugar.”

If you’d like to learn more about prepping and stockpiling, visit

Preserving: While some people freeze produce to preserve it, dehydrating and home canning are other options to increase your stockpile. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a free-standing freezer for extra food storage.

Organizing and learning: Know what you have in stock, and more importantly, use it as needed and rotate your inventory so it doesn’t expire and go to waste. If you have time, learn more ways to be self-reliant through books, classes or online. Another reader, Marie H. from the Midwest, shares: “I am consolidating all of my pantry excess onto a shelving unit in the basement. From this, I’ll create an inventory sheet of what I have. My goal is ultimately to have a one-year supply of food and health and beauty items. I attended a fascinating program on aquaponics last month, and right now I’m attending a class on raising backyard chickens. I will be starting garden seeds next week.”

If you’d like to learn more about prepping and stockpiling, visit

• Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living.