It can become costly to plan for an emergency or large-scale catastrophe, but it doesn’t need to be. Although investing in high-quality equipment is important, some preparation items are consumable or are less important in terms of cost. For these consumable prep pieces, your local dollar store can be a gold mine.
Not only are zip ties useful for strapping together cables and hoses, but they have a very wide range of other uses. Many dollar stores have a range of zip ties of varying sizes and will also have bags of a range of different sizes and colors.
Batteries from the Dollar store are cheaper and do not last as long as their name brand counterparts. Stocking up on dollar store batteries has one benefit, which is that they are perfect for barter and trade.
Batteries are going to be almost a form of currency when the lights go out, and when the chips are down, you don’t want to trade away high-quality batteries when you could instead barter with dollar store batteries.
You will find a fairly varied variety of cordage at your local dollar store, from garden twine to chain. You may also find objects such as baling wire, brass wire, or image wire that can be useful for trapping or repairs for emergency survival.
At a dollar store, you will also find pens, pencils, paper, sharpies, notebooks, etc. for a fraction of the cost of going to a big box or stationery store. Another thing I almost exclusively get from my local dollar store is stationary.
The dollar store does not sell duct tapes with high-quality brand names, but what they sell will be more than enough.
Dollar store duct tape will do the job with most applications, and as with many things on this list, dollar store duct tape is perfect with exchange and bartering.
From band-aids to gauze and even some over the counter medications, it is possible to outfit a basic first aid kit from your local dollar store.
Related: DIY Dollar Store First Aid Kit
My go-to for buying toiletry products for camping, hunting, disaster, or travel toiletry kits is the dollar store. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, deodorant: all available at the dollar store in travel sizes.
These are inexpensive and thin poly tarps and will not stand up to a great deal of violence. In case I need to cover a broken window, pit, dirt pile, etc, I like to have these on hand. These tarps I consider to be one-time use and disposable.
This is another perfect barter item, because after a large-scale disaster, dollar store flashlights are so cheap and flashlights will be in short supply.
The flashlight with the batteries included would always be cheaper than buying the batteries alone.
You can get all manner of disposable lighters at the local dollar store, including windproof outdoors lighters. These are also great for barter and trade.
Dollar stores are full of inexpensive canned goods that are typically products that are generic. Sometimes, they would also have dry products such as pasta, rice, sugar, salt, cereal, etc. While these items are not of the same quality as their brand-name counterparts, they are definitely good enough for the apocalypse.
The world ending is no excuse to stop cleaning up after yourself.
The dollar store is where I buy 90% of my cleaning supplies and I like to keep a good stockpile for disasters as well.
Usually, here you’ll also find the small travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer at a dollar store.
These are great for adding into first aid or hygiene kits.
Toys and Games
Most of the toys you will find in a dollar store are of very poor quality, although some playing cards or travel-sized board games can be found. These are perfect for a bug out bag or camping/survival pack to fit into.
These are not sewing needles or threads of skilled quality, but they can do the work in a pinch. I’ve made a few sewing kits from supplies I purchased from my local dollar store, and these little DIY kits can’t be beaten for daily rips, tears, or missing buttons.
You can never have too many candles and like a lot of items on this list, they make outstanding barter items.
You can also find them in a lot of different sizes and types.
Without some sweet, sweet candy, no good emergency kit is complete. The dollar store is a perfect place to pick up a wide range of not just candies, but also chocolates. Not only will these give you a post-apocalyptic moral boost, but they will also be another great item of trade.
Rubbing alcohol is not only a disinfectant but can also be burned in certain alcohol stoves.
There are also occasions where we need small containers to store liquids while we are assembling emergency kits.
The tiny travel-sized containers in the dollar store that you will find are also ideal for the job.
Related: Survival Kits for Every Emergency
In a survival scenario, bungee cords have a myriad of uses and are also susceptible to wearing out, so getting a lot of them is often a good idea. The dollar store variety may not have the durability of brand names, but for light-duty applications, they are fine.
In different sized containers at your local dollar store, you will also find bottled water. The purchasing of bottled water in greater amounts elsewhere is less costly.
Nonetheless, if you want to fit a car kit, Get Home Bag, Bug Out Bag, or your EDC bag, then the dollar store is a great place to buy smaller amounts of bottled water.
In survival scenarios, trash bags have a vast amount of applications, but what you would most likely use for post-disaster use is for their intended use. I like getting several boxes filled in my emergency kits, in several different sizes.
Our devices are like an extension of our bodies and it is very important to make sure they remain charged. Sometimes, the dollar store would have either battery banks or emergency chargers for sale until used. These are excellent not only for keeping our smartphones at 100%, but also as a barter piece.
These 23 items are by no means the end of all the preparation items that can be offered by your local dollar store. The products listed here are those that I have personally purchased and used for myself and my family to create different kits.