Prepping When You’re Poor


I recently received an email asking how to become better prepared when you are poor. This person is interested to do more to be better prepared, but apparently has no funds to do so. Admittedly, this is difficult, but the situation can be turned around by going about preparedness in a different way…

The initial actions of someone who has decided to take more responsibility for themselves and to become better prepared for emergency, disaster, or worse… is to go out and buy ‘stuff’. Preps. The things they think they will need to survive. The thing is, although these things may be of help, believe it or not it is not the most important aspect of being prepared. Here’s why…

Let me back up a little… having certain survival items, preps, can indeed be the most important thing to your survival under some circumstances that you find yourself in. But from a broader perspective and a more general ability to survive longer term, you need the right mind set, adaptability, and know-how. These do not cost money. They take practice.

I suspect that many of those who are, or have been poor, will already posses a certain ability to get by without having lots of ‘stuff’. I’ll bet they have developed an ability to get what they need, however that may be. After all, if you’re alive, you’re surviving…

Having said that, my first advice would be to have a look inward at yourself. Look at what it is that has kept you alive, kept food in your belly. How have you managed so far? Not only should you hone those skills, but expand on them. Look for even more creative ways to feather your nest. You may have to change your ways somewhat, but there’s always a way.

Here’s an example… If you’re poor, then why not discover local food pantries or charitable organizations that donate food. Visit regularly and build up some kind of inventory. Don’t be too proud to visit these places if you are truly in need. You may even donate some of your time there in exchange for more food to take home.

Another example… If you’re poor, scavenge. Take a look at the things that people throw away. It’s amazing the throw-away society that we live in. Lots of the things that are tossed out can be adapted for value by those who are creative and are willing to pick this stuff up. Look online. There is an amazing amount of stuff that people are giving away for free on Craigslist for example. Go pick it up! Then later, have a yard sale. Or if you have the room to store this stuff, then keep it until such time that some of it may become useful in some way. Be a pack rat. During the great depression, NO ONE threw anything away.

Another example… If you’re poor and on government assistance, then be very smart with the assistance that you do get. Spend your money wisely. Buy foods that are cheap versus the calories they provide. Eat Ramen (for example). DO NOT spend on useless or expensive items. Don’t buy brand names. I’ve seen my share of ‘poor’ people in the supermarket checkout line who in my opinion are purchasing some extravagant items with their gov’t handout. It’s a free country, but if you are interested to stretch that money such that you can be better prepared, then be smart about it.

Unfortunately many of the poor depend entirely on the government, which leads to a mindset of complacency and expectation, both of which are not favorable towards a mindset of preparedness and self reliance. They are contradictory.

Examine your interests, BEFORE you examine your present skills. Are you doing the things that you are interested in doing? Doing those things will lead to skills that you thrive at. If you are poor and you do have a job, think about whether or not you like your job. Could you express interest in doing something else at work? Show initiative to your boss… maybe you can become cross-trained elsewhere.

At home, spend more time learning practical things. Shut off the TV for awhile. Spend some time educating yourself by either the internet or reading. One of the most beneficial things you can learn is how to garden and grow some of your own food. Seeds are cheap. Dirt is free. Water is abundant. There are no excuses not to try gardening.

Being prepared while you’re poor is a matter of knowing how to survive if things get even worse… In a bizarre sense, some of those who are poor may be better off after TSHTF than some of those who are rich with all their goodies. The caveat being that ‘the poor’ are those who are not of a government-dependent mindset, and are capable of scrapping for what they need to survive. The rich people have never ‘scrapped’ for what they need. It will be new for them… at least it will be after their ‘stuff’ runs out.

The short answer is to do your best at bettering your position in life. If that means finding a better paying job, then figure out how to do that (go after your interests). If it means changing your purchasing habits with the little money that you do have, then change it. If it means asking for help, then ask. Just remember that although we all need some amount of food and shelter to survive, we don’t need nearly as much ‘stuff’ as some may have you believe in order to survive a collapse. It’s about your ability to adapt to the situation in order to get what you need. It’s about creativity, street smarts, practical skills, the people you know, your frugality, your ability to trade your skills for things you need, your value in a post-SHTF world, your ability to live off the land, the ability to successfully live with what you have. I hope you get the idea…


  1. Ben Franklin said to empty your purse into your head. Your knowledge is the one thing “they” can’t take away from you short of using ECT. Learn all you can and “teach your children.”

    1. Another thing you can do when you are poor. Research your area for foraging types of foods ie; Wild foods….elderberries, raspberries, huckleberries, rose hips. These are free to forage and dry well for long term storage, you can also make jam and medicines out of them for storage as well. We need to change our mindset to 100+ years ago…God gave us everything we needed to survive, now we just need to remember..

    2. You are so right. I forage our forest from spring thru autum gleaning edibles that I can both eat fresh and preserve for my food storage. I live in an area where people have a lot of apple trees.. this woman isn’t in the least shy about asking to pick a tree or gather the fallen fruit off the ground. Apple sauce, apple butter and pie filling go into jars and get canned up for winter use. I ask my Butcher for all the pork and beef fat that otherwise gets thrown out.. My crock pots make quick work of rendering these fats down into lard and beef tallow that get canned up. I’m not ashamed ti hit our food bank once a month … anything I can add to my “everyday pantry” is a plus for me. That way I can purchase “new” for my food storage and rotate accordingly.

      1. Twila;
        Good comment, and thanks for joining in the comments.

        This is exactly what I mean by living the “Lifestyle” doing things that a LOT of others would never think of and living well.

        BTW, Apples are in season here, just asked a neighbor if I could pick a few, she replied “Pick all you wish, I know you wont strip the trees like others would”.

        1. NH Michael;
          Yes they are, have a small bucket sitting on the counter as we speak. HAHAHA

  2. Make yourself of value for very little $. Become a Master Gardener or Master Food Preserver.Learn how to purify water. Learn what will be important in whatever future you invision and gain knowledge so you are your own barter item.

    1. Maybe you don’t understand “poor.” I do. The Master Gardener course is $175 now and not on payments.

      1. Why do you need a course when all the information to become a master gardener can be obtained free? Our local thrift has gardening guides for $1. Information is available free through the Internet. Experience is perhaps the greatest teacher, and it is also virtually cost free.

        How did people become master gardeners before the course you mention? We have minds so that we can learn. You can be a master of anything you put your mind to. It’s not the course that matters, it’s the mindset.

      2. just some borrowed library books can teach you how to be a “master gardner” you dont need some sort of certificate to prove it!

        1. When I become a master gardener, (Extension Master Gardener Program) I took classes which was given by the county extension office. Little did I know that I would be working my ass off on everybody else’s garden and landscape! There is more to it then taking time for the classes, you are required to continue your updated education, volunteer 30hrs a year just to maintain your certification.
          It didn’t take me long to figure out that I didn’t have time for my own goals and I made a change. Now I spend my time, in my garden, and in my kitchen.

      3. You don’t need to take a class to be a master gardener. Most master gardeners just have a title the know noting. Read, research and you can be a master gardener just no title.

      4. You can check that book out a library. I did. I didn’t care to take the course due to work, lack of money…

      5. Linda, a lot of the information the Master Gardeners get is available free at the county agent office and they are there to help you…I’ve gone through the Master Gardener class in 2 states and we relied on that information so much….try it out and see if that helps…..Oh and I totally agree with you on the cost…..very pricy and fast paced….no way you can hold all of the information so just try the county agent of the local USDA…they have information as well….their job is to help inform…..

      6. Linda, books are free at your local library. Grab a pack of seeds and try and to grow at home.

  3. Free Prep Ideas
    1. Fire-starters out of egg cartons, dryer lint, and wax.
    2. Save all plastic water, juice, pop bottles, etc and fill with water.
    3. Save plastic grocery bags & bread bags (multiple uses down the line).
    4. Amass a wood pile. Offer to clear groves for people. Lots of places give pallets away for free!
    5. Buy some of the vegetables you eat at a farmers market & save the seeds.
    6. Cut old towels into squares to use as emergency toilet paper. Can also make femanine pads that can be washed & reused. (Patterns online)
    7. Build a rocket stove (instructions online)
    8. Print “how-to” info from internet. Ex: natural medicine, drying food, water purification, etc.

    There are a few ideas to get you started :)

    1. Those are the types of ideas that poor people need to hear about! There is a huge difference between I can’t afford a generator poor and we are splurging by adding cheese to Raman noodles for dinner poor, and you seem to get it! I think too many people don’t start prepping at all because looking at the cost of recommended items can be intimidating. I think all of us can use more ideas like these, regardless of economic status. I would love if you would elaborate on this list!

      1. Hi Traci,

        I am not poor, but close to it. I know how hard it can be to prep. Besides the things I listed above, here are some other free things I include in my prepping:

        1. I get free 55 gallon plastic drums from car dealerships. They originally hold windshield washer fluid so they are not food grade. BUT I can use them to catch rain water if needed, and worse case drinking or wash water after properly purifying.

        2. I get free 5 gallon buckets from grocery stores. Many of these are food grade.

        3. I save all my jars/lids from spaghetti sauces, pickles, etc. Right now they are labeled & used to store such things as twist ties, safety pins, razor blades, rubber gloves, wax (from my scentsy wax burner after smell is used up), ANYTHING I could possibly use again. Later I could store dried food in them if need be (to protect from mice & insects)

        4. I stopped buying pop in cans and buy it in 2 liter bottles which I use for water storage, rice, sugar, and beans.

        5. I save all clothes! If they are in fairly good shape, I box them up to use later. If they are stained/ruined I cut them up for TP, rags, wash cloths, etc.

        6. I watch Facebook local rummage site posts for give away stuff.

        7. I can buy a 20lb bag of rice for $9. I try to buy a bag every couple of months.

        8. I save all newspapers & junk mail, package it flat & compacted. (Use to start fires/burn if I needed too)

        9. I save egg shells, dry them, crush them, and put in a jar I saved. Someday I might have chickens who need that for their own health & egg production.

        10. I save condiment packages from fast food (ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, mayo, taco sauce, etc)

        11. I sign up for all the free samples online. (Medicine, food, lotions, drink mixes, etc. There are lots online)

        12. Our town has an anual “junk day” where people can throw everything away. I drive around town and pick up anything I find useful. Lots of stuff is in great shape…from cooking pots to picnic tables and everything in between. If your town doesn’t have one, check neighboring towns

        I know there is more, but I’m drawing a blank now! Hope these help!


        1. well said and all great ideas.i too drive around pickingup items thati can reusesome have even taken it a step further and recycle metals for scrap and make cash money

        2. Honestly, every reply on here is golden.
          1. Pay yourself a fixed amount every month, perhaps 10%. If you can pay your bills, you can pay yourself. Discipline starts with this. Do not spend this money for 10 years at least. If you can be disciplined to do this, you are never poor. If you cannot do this, you are poor no matter how much money you make.
          2. Have food for next month. The foods I eat are also my prep foods. One month after SHTF, I will have the same meal I am having tonight. I eat oats, potatoes, beans, rice, vegetables, corn, bread, fruit, and some meat. Learning to cook is a great hobby. My milk is UHT, or liquid box milk, which I buy from Dollar Tree for the same price as regular milk. It can store without refrigeration. Today I bought 30 cans of vegetables at .39 cents a can because I sold an office desk. That’s what two MREs cost online. Which brings me to my next point
          3. Don’t buy anything advertised as prepper. Those things are designed to make money off preppers. Imagine what the AR 15 suppliers have made recently. One of those purification straws cost $20 bucks. Boiling and bleach work great. Really, a food dehydrator? Maybe when we can make prepping a hobby. Now, its simply preparing for a very real disaster: no check next month.
          4. Stay warm and dry. Otherwise you are sick. Have blankets. Think about winter with no heat. Get enough blankets. Plastic over draft areas in winter. Waste no heat.
          5. Have a gun and ammo. If just one, make it a 12 gauge shotgun.
          6. Learn to enjoy why you are alive. For me it is all about my wife and God. (even though I often disagree with both of them!)

        3. Don’t know why you would disparage a food dehydrator. I use mine constantly and have dried veggies, fruits, jerky, etc. stored away. Also will grind some of the dried veggies into powders, say mushrooms, which when ground into a powder, make a nutritious thickener for stews. Also have a vacuum sealer for the jars. Say what you will about it – to me it is very handy.

        4. Wow, where do you keep all these things??? We own a house, but i think we would need a warehouse to store all the staff you suggest people keep!

        5. WOW

          -under the bed (all the beds)
          -in the hall closet
          -behind the couch
          -moisture proof/gasket sealed buckets in garage or basement or attic
          -make a lovely behind the couch table, big / long one. fill underneath, either drape nice cloth over, or put doors on. Same with end tables.
          -sometimes it is worth thinking about giving up space for something not so essential, for a good supply of something in case SHTF….


          maybe, Ken, you could do a post on this kind of thing? suspect there are lots more creative ideas?

        6. Sounds like a great idea… thanks. Will add the subject to the list.

        7. 9. I save egg shells, dry them, crush them, and put in a jar I saved. Someday I might have chickens who need that for their own health & egg production.

          You can also use these as a source of calcium for growing tomatoes, keeps them from getting blossom end blight. Just use in your garden in general..Great for the soil, same with dried banana peels!

        8. Just make sure they’re covered by something. Birds love them too and will cut your plants off trying to get them.

      2. I am dirt poor and needed to hear about stuff I can make or save for close to free. I have ideas if you want some .

    2. you probably don’t want to know what us menfolk used for #6 when I was a kid but the ladies got to use old catalogues and newspapers. Towels as I remember–they lasted forever.

    3. As I wrote in another post forage for wild plants and berries and learn to dehydrate and make jams etc. But BARTER for stuff too….we do a lot of trading for labor where I live. I can’t do heavy stuff anymore because of an injury and age, but I trade home raised beef and preserves for work. Be creative and learn to think outside the box.

    4. Excellent ideas, Sherry! Having a positive , “can do” attitude would definitely be a plus !

    5. Begin with basics and upgrade. Before you throw anything away look at it and think.If the world had blown up one week ago and this is what I have, what could I do with it? Examples as above. i save my newspaper for toilet paper, junk mail for fire stating material tin cans of all sizes for many things as the following drinking cups, cups to sort junk drawer stuff into (screws bolts nails, etc) containers in which to dispense battery items in. We make homemade laundry soap and we have some we could barter. If they have nothing to carry out in we could barter it out in a can. We are making a rocket foundry to melt down aluminum and cast other needed items in aluminum. save pop cans and other aluminum pieces for this purpose rather than throwing them away. We have ten people in our house and if we did this always we would fill a can with the truly useless about one every never.Before you throw it away ask yourself if it is of value after the world blows up.

  4. Knowledge can be your best asset. Learn a trade. Libraries hold a wealth of information. Find a welder, carpenter, brewmaster, etc. Ask them to teach you, in trade you can clean their shop as you learn. With the economy being as bad as it is, most small business owners would love to be able to get some help that would cost them nothing except some of their time. If they say no, there are others who will say yes, be persistant. When TSHF and you have to bug out, the knowledge goes with you, no one can steal it from you. It is the most secure item you can have in your prepping arsenal. Then you can use your knowledge to trade for food or other things that you need. Volunteer at Habit for Humanity. Even if you have no skills they always need people to pick up and clean the area. There is no rule that you can’t ask questions while your work. Talk to the plumbers, carpenters, electricians. Like Ken said, scrounge. I have two people who live on my road who live by scrounging. They both are disabled and get NO GOVERNMENT assistance. They both own homes, but are fully independent. You don’t need money to survive. Third world tribes do it. Money just makes it easier.

  5. Most people who are really poor, do not know that they are poor! I have neighbors who say they are poor, draw food stamp money, child support, SSI check, free doctor, and has different agencies support them. They actually make more money than I and just piss it away. Tattoos, electronic gadgets, 24/7 gamer, microwavable foods & frozen dinners for a family of five? Never worked a day in 30 years. Being poor is in the mind of the beholder, don’t you think? The everyday working poor can’t get any help! So, I take articles about poor with a grain of salt. There is always something a person can do for them selves. Besides, when all those people scramble for that BOL in the hills, they will be discarding all sort of items. You might say “curb alert” on free goodies. I recommend those that can’t afford, to be patient, learn skills, be adaptable, and don’t go insane thinking about this endeavor. There are good people that will help/take in those that can contribute to a community or a village.

  6. Instead of resorting to such nutrient devoid products as ramen noodles, I forage. Wild edibles can be found wherever there is dirt and water. The Internet is abound with guides so you can find what nature gifts to you.

    Another option is gardening. With earth, water and sunshine, you can cut food costs way back even if you don’t have seed. Plant potato eyes instead of tossing them in the trash. The butt of a celery plant will grow, as will the butts of onions. Many plants can be grown from cuttings, especially herbs such as rosemary and basil. A few dollars in seed would add to the harvest, but gardening can be done even without cash.

    Gleaning is an option a lot of people neglect. Find out if your local food bank or church organization has a gleaners program. Gleaners programs usually involve a third for the person supplying the crop, a third for the food bank or related organization, and a third for the picker. That can amount to a lot of food very quickly. You need only be willing to work.

    If you cannot find an official outlet for gleaning opportunities, you might scout them yourself. Approach the local vegetable or fruit farms and suggest that you’ll help with their harvest in exchange for a percentage of what you pick. This is especially effective when money is most scarce, as businesses may have limited hiring budgets but still need pickers.

    A final option is to post on a local bulletin board at a senior’s center. Offer to plant and tend a garden for a senior home owner, in exchange for a shared harvest. They supply the water and land, you supply the seed and labor. This is a great option for those in apartments who would otherwise lack access to good soil.

  7. Good advice, I do have one comment. I’ve calculated that on a dollar vs calories standpoint, you are often better off buying regular noodles or rice instead of Ramen, and they are more flexible with recipes as well. Not that I am opposed to Ramen, but do the math before you buy and you might be surprised at what the best deal actually is.

    1. I have done both, I agree noodles are more versatile and better tasting. As one who is poor and has worked all my life, I can say you do learn to get by with what you have. I have learned that if you just buy 1 extra bag of beans or one extra box of oatmeal or rice a week it is amazing how fast your tote will fill without busting your budget. It can be overwhelming trying to get prepared, take it one day at a time. I also wash out containers and save them, and acquired my gardening skills through trial and error but I know now what works.And there are so many great idea’s out here and lots of info. I am by no means totally prepared yet but I keep adding essentials one day at a time. And many thanks to you for sharing some of your great idea’s.

    2. I’ve recently read that processed ramen noodles have some very unhealthy chemicals in them.
      I agree making rice or making fresh pasta (few basic ingredients) much cheaper and healthier.
      Note: We don’t need a fancy pasta machine for basic noodles. ..just cut with a knife into long strips.
      By the way I think there are a good many practical comments here. I have started with the very basics. Water (reusing gallon water bottles) we have awful tasting water … I buy the cheapest water I can find and fill some gallon bottles for washing, sanitation etc.. Food .. make as much as I can from scratch. .. go to local farms and buy vegetables and fruits then can or freeze. I also buy coffee (more for comfort), nf dry milk, soups on sale at stores like aldi or dollar stores. Be careful with dollar stores they sell smaller sizes .. check price by weight to ensure you are getting a bargain. This year I bought extra warm blankets on sale 60% off. I have a few sterno type cooking sets for e-cooking. Plan to get a new charcoal grill next summer … I do have an old grate and bricks to use if need be in the interim. It takes time … I have used up e-supplies when I go through downturns in work … good feeling to have supplies to utilize.
      I have LED flashlights and lantens. Matches and long burning home made candles with matches affixed.
      As others have said practice, practice, practice. Next time there is a tornado or flood warning, or electric failure, winter storm … first check out your supplies … what’s missing that could make life miserable. Make a meal w/o your stove. Do you have a e-can opener. Do you have a basic go bag with a NOA radio. Anyway I hope this helps someone.

    3. Ramen is glorified styrofoam! but I do prep some in my supply to trade with, if they didn’t prep anything, they are hungry they will eat just about anything!

  8. Pepperpah…..I agree! I have been a big fan of gardening all my life and know how much money one can save by just raising and canning vegetables. I am also a master gardener. I had a goal of starting a community garden. There is so much idle land located around assisted living facilities, factories, and municipal properties that could be properly maintained and feed a multitude of people. Residents, living in the incorporated village could draw for plots of 20×30 sq ft for a garden. All the record keeping and surrounding area and paths could be maintained by the Master Gardeners Organization to maintain order or similar group.
    But, I think society has changed to the extent that most are too lazy to do much of anything. As long as the sheep have free money, they don’t need to scratch in the dirt. As anonymous posted, I also don’t believe people are as “poor” as they let on.

  9. Find a good working order pressure cooker/canner. My mother used one for all of my adolescent years as well as my older siblings and for many years after that. Dad had a job all his life but the pay was lousy and the work was hard. They both worked 7 days a week and we were always “dirt poor”. Mom canned hundreds of quarts of garden grown fruit and veggies each year to get us through all those cold winters. We would also srcounge the countryside for wild berries, nuts and anything else that was edible. We didn’t have a local food pantry to get handouts from back then, it was just “root hog or die”. We wore hand-me-downs to school, even the shoes, of course they didn’t always fit but mom tried her best. By the time those hand-me-downs got to me mom would have sewn patches upon the patches. For Christmas each year mom would scrimp and save throughout the year so she could get us kids a toy of sorts. I remember one Chistmas I asked dad what kind of presents he got when he was a kid and he replied that he only got one toy for his whole childhood, guess I was lucky!

    1. RE: pressure canning
      This is a wonderful resource for putting up things that are not safe to water bath can (ie; anything NOT acid or having a bunch of sugar added such as green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.). However, let me add this warning. If you get a second-hand pressure canner or are given grandma’s canner, GET IT CHECKED to be sure the gauge is reading correctly and the seal is good. This can be done for FREE at your local Agricultural Extension Service office in your county. They also have a wealth of free literature on a wide variety of subjects preppers need to know. The Ag. Ex. Service is one of the best-kept secrets around–spread the word!

      1. I would like to go to exten. office but in the town i live in, i really don’t want my prepping all over town, what kind of information should i ask for?

        1. debbie, I found a group on my local facebook page that do prepping, and working with canning, dehydrating, pressure cooking, gardening etc.. If you can join one of them, they sometimes get together and teach each other skills.. Its a great resource locally, and they don’t even have to be prepper groups, just local canning or gardening groups, so your secret will be safe! (your smart keeping it close to the vest..who needs people knocking on your door in an emergency!)

        2. What is the difference between canning and pressure cooking? I am very new hereand want to learn! Thank you!

  10. Learn to identify wild foods, many flowers, leaves, nuts, roots and berries are edible. Talk to the older generation that lived through hard times and learn from them. Read how our forefathers/mothers lived of the land and crossed this great country on the wagon trains. Start learning the skills you’ll need. Join groups and share knowledge and information.

  11. My wife and I save between $4000 and $5000 a year on our food bill because we plant a big garden, baby it along all summer, and then preserve everything we can in the fall. Nothing goes to waste; we either can it, freeze it, dehydrate it, store it in the cellar or eat it fresh. We have pumpkin pie every week–made from squash–that’s tasty, filling and surprisingly nutritious. A modest number of banana squash plants will provide hundreds of pounds of squash, which along with potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables make for pretty fine eating in my book. We live now like the Great Depression is on us as an experiment to see if we’ve got the same type of fortitude as our grandparents did. As a teacher, I don’t have much extra money to spend on prepping, so I’ve mostly put my effort into determining how to make the best use of our garden. My wife experiments all the time with our garden produce, turning it into dishes that are tasty and nutritious. We’ve had our failures, but better now than when it might mean going hungry later. For those with limited funds, a garden is a great way to prep while freeing up a little money for other expenses.

    1. Mom used to make squash pie using the gooseneck squash variety, they were darn good too!

  12. Very good advice, my wife and I don’t have a large garden, but we scavenge food all the time. We get free fruit and vegetables as well as wild foods, during the spring and summer and can them. It saves us a considerable amount of money.

  13. 1.Use your library. Ask around and for free coupons from people who get the paper and don’t use them,(teachers get free papers at schools)use the free internet at the library to search coupon websites and read ads to get supplies for free or close to free. Check craigslist “free” section while you are there. Check out books on gardening, frugal tips,food preservation.
    2.Try to reduce as many monthly bills as you can, gives you more cash flow/flexibility (you may have already done that)
    3.Borrow gardening tools and food prep items,computer printer from friends/family, repay with labor or some other favor. around and look for fruit trees loaded with fruit. Ask if you can pick the tree, give them half, keep half.
    5.check with local comm. college, career center to see if you are eligible for free classes first aid, some skill to barter with
    6.make a deal with an elderly neighbor who has food but no family support that in an emergency you would provide support and protection in exchange for food. Help them now to earn their trust.
    7.Try to barter for food and supplies with a skill you have, ie haircutting,cleaning,doing taxes,baby sitting,car work, home repair etc.
    8.join a church or organize your neighborhood so you a community for support

  14. Very good article. I’m ‘poor’. On disability due to an auto accident years ago. I’ve always just put one foot in front of the other and got by. I’ve ‘splurged’ on some supplies when I get some ‘found money’. Not much, but I feel better just having those few things. I’m frugal. Hoping to be able to grow some things in containers…I live in an apt and have very limited space. I have a list of needs that I hope to check off as I go along. But, honestly, I always laugh when people complain when the cable goes off…oh what a horror. Or when the power is down for awhile. I don’t have cable and I do have an oil lamp and oodles of books to occupy my time. And lots of blankets for when it’s cold. Just the basics and I’m content. My next splurge will be some type of water purifier….even if it’s just charcoal and some cotton batting for filtering. Simple is good. Plus I have some “Buddy Burners” for emergency cooking. Those tuna and coffee cans come in handy.

    1. if you splurge on a full spectrum fluorescent light bulb or two you can grow things indoors in a closet or under a counter. Potatoes in a hamper, beans in a flower pot, tomatoes in a waste basket. You don’t need floor space, even if your windowsills are small, water and light and imagination will provide more than you think.

    2. Im disabled as well. My crock pot has saved me so much money. I can make 4 or 5 meals at a time from scratch and its cheaper than canned. I have a heart condition so high fat foods like ramen are off the list but other pastas with tomatoe sauce are o.k. Thats the other thing thats tricky about prepping…special needs for folks with diabetes or other conditions.

  15. At several points in our life we were poor & once were overjoyed by a box of donated clothes. 2 pr. of winter boots for our daughter. 1 red pr. & 1 white pr. Before the winter was over 1 boot of each pr. had disintegrated & we had to let her wear 1 red & 1 white boot to church. While I may have thought I might die of embassment I’m still here so I guess I didn’t& she got through the winter without going bare foot or having to stay home. I’m thankful she hadn’t started school yet….teasing. We learned to garden, mend clothes, gather wild fruit & edible weeds. Mostly we lived rural. I have a sister with several disabilities & she has always lived in cities & has scavenged for much of her needs from furniture that may need a screw or 2, to books, clothing,etc. She has even made gifts like a tray that she got for 25 cent then sanded, painted & added a few decals and she created something beautiful that the recipient loves. Dumpsters & sidewake pickup days have some real finds. She has learned to cook very frugally & get by on on a small food budget. My biggest tip will be to “have hope” that you can do it because without hope you won’t even try. By your letter asking how, I can see you have that hope so with the suggestions of many people on this site just start & try a few things that you think you can succeed at & those successes will give you confidence to try others. I know that from my own life. Of course I’ve had some failures too but look at them as a learning experience & try again. Good luck & thank-you for trying!!!

  16. It is hard prepping while poor, it still nags in the back of my mind daily. I have started buying 2 extra things of rice and or beans, some times I get an extra thing of flour and yeast. Things that dont cost a lot extra, put them in storage. I’ve made awesome fire starters by covering cotton balls with Vaseline. They burn a good long time. Just bought seeds and am trying a garden this year. Potatoes, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, egg plant, and lettuce are all good in containers. I even have a 3yr old blue berry bush in a pot (there are 2 as they must cross pollinate). We also have a few hens and there pens were made from used pallets. If your just starting out go to a feed store and spend $15 on a hen. You will save on feed that way, something I wish I would have known before. You can do it best way to learn is to just do it. Sure you will make mistakes alone the way but when it cost you money you dont have you learn from it VERY quickly!

    1. Can you help me understand what ya can make with flour and yeast with having no power? Thank you very much!

      1. Shane
        I make bread with just about that,,,,
        You can use a big dutch oven to bake bread outside on a fire or in your fireplace if you have one,
        Google baking bread in a dutch oven, should get you results,
        My recipe i use is 3 cups warm water, 1.5 tbs salt, 1.5 tbs yeast, 6,5 cups flour, mix well, let rise in warmish place, about 1.5 hrs-2hrs, then split in half or 3, or make one big freehand loaf, can bake in oven, 400 for 30-40 mins, dutch oven about an hourish,
        You can split it and bake only part too, the balance will become a nice Sour dough on day 2

      2. Shane
        On the side bar look for ‘Food & Kitchen, then go through the titles until you come to ‘whole wheat homemade bread recipes & tips’. Should get you started on how to do something, and you will gather up a lot of knowledge from all the posters who are great bread makers.

  17. Free 5 gallon buckets with lids can be obtained at local bakeries, deli’s, donut shop, etc. I got a bunch from local deli and used Mylar bags to hold the rice and beans…don’t have the wheat but should and a good hand mill to grind the wheat.

  18. I’m what our government considers below poverty level.

    I have no cable, I do have a cell phone (phone itself was a gift) which is how I access the Internet.

    I have 4 kids and I am married. Hubs and I did not want day are raising our kids so we made the choice for him to work and me to be a SAHM.

    I suck at gardening… If you need a plant killed I am your girl. However this year we finally live where we are allowed a garden (we rent) so I am doing all the research I can so that we can grow some of our own food.

    I rarely buy name brand foods, I never buy junk food. I make desserts if someone wants a sweet treat. I shop sales, track sale rotations and buy as much as I can afford to of an item when it is at its lowest price. We eat cheap (no ramen though) I try to keep our per meal cost as low as possible. Granted there are 6 of us but anywhere I can cut back I do.

    I also sign up for freebies and call companies to request coupons and ask about samples.

    My cheap/ free prep advice is much the same as above. Educate yourself as much as possible, start bartering now. Stop wasting your time on TV and useless hobbies. Learn new skills or invest in yourself by getting another job or looking for a better one.

    Eat meatless meals half the week, will save you a ton and you can use that money to get some food stores. Cook double and save the 2nd half for another meal, it will save you time and money because you wont be wasting leftover.

    Ask around at different business if they have containers they throw away and I you can have them. Liquor store usually have great boxes you can use to make emergency tin can stoves and fire starters.

    Save your dryer lint, get others to save theirs for you (ignore the crazy looks) ask others for empty soda bottles, glass jars etc.

    Pay attention to the containers you buy your food in, Aldis has sauces, fruit and a few other things sold in glass jars that are canning jars, now I have a stash of canning jars and I just need the right size lids.

    Take a drive on trash night, seriously people waste so much by throwing it out! Learn what’s worth what and see if you can get paid to scrap anything. Be the person who will pick up your broken appliances for free… Costs you gas money and some labor yes but you get the payday for scrapping the metal.

    Save your change. Make yourself stop using change (except parking meters ugh) save it in a jar and when it is full, roll it yourself (do not use a coin machine in a store) and turn it in at a bank, take your new cash and either hide it at home for emergencies, use it to get out of debt or use it to buy preps.

    Get a prepping partner. Share knowledge and skills.

    Craigslist is a huge resource for free items but make sure you are careful and don’t go alone especially if you are female. Also sell you unneeded stuff on there.

    Pallets can be broken down into firewood or reused for many things.

    Can you clean well? No seriously learn how to clean like the pros and make some money on the side.

    Look up ways to save on your bills too. Put a small milk jug full of water in the back of your toilet tank and cut down on your water bill. Use those solar lights now an cut back on electricity. Find non electric ways to get your daily tasks done period and you will be better off when SHTF. Durn down your heat as low as you can stand to, put on more clothes if needed.

    Pay cash, too many hidden fees in debit and credit cards and what you buy can be tracked. Use cash as much as possible and you will find it much harder to let go of your money when you can actually see it dwindling.

    If you have any indulgent expenses like energy drinks, coffees (not home brewed), smoking, alcohol or other tobacco try to either quit them all to get her or find a considerably cheaper alternative. Even buying a case of energy drinks in a grocery store is cheaper then picking up one everyday at a gas station, same with coffee make it yourself at home, if its cappuccino that you like buy the powdered mix at the store and make your own. If you smoke try rolling them instead of buying packs, if you drink buy a cheaper brand at a store and drink at home or save it for a splurge item once in a while. You could also learn to make your own. Homemade alcohol that’s tastes good would be a fantastic barter item.

    My brother used to pay $60 to get his hair cut every 6 weeks at a salon ( just a nice faded buzz cut) they messed up half the time and he never takes his hat off! Now I cut his hair in my bathroom with the same clippers I use on hubs and our 2 boys and he cleans up the mess. That’s a savings of about $520 a year for him. I also cut my girls’ hair and when mine annoys me enough I cut my own. Imagine what hair cuts at a salon would cost for a family of 6! And I get it all done with a pair of nicely sharpened scissors from the dollar tree and a $20 pair of clippers both of which we have had for over 6 years.

    Buy reusable and multi functional items as much as possible. Look at what you already own and see if those items would serve a SHTF purpose or even another purpose now.

    Know someone who has something you want that they are not using? See if they’d be willing to trade, sell or even give it away. That’s how we got our last chest freezer. It was free because someone had it sitting in there basement with a flat of Jell-O shots forgotten for over a year. We got some of our camping gear the same way.

    I always ask for used back packs. Especially ones older kids and teens use that are sturdier. Many people buy their kids a new one every year and end up just donating the old ones. I used those back packs to pack my kids BOBs and for my car kit, when they sleep over places, camping etc.

    Collect used candles too many people just throw them away. You can collect the wax and remedy them to make emergency candles, firestarters or to seal bottles and cans against oxidation and to create a better seal. Reuse the extra jars for storing small items or to clean out and repurpose for homemade gifts.

    I hunt thrift stores like a champ. I do not pay more than $5 at most for an outfit for me and the kids. (Hubs I can usually find his sizes in good shape) I also buy Tupperware there, candles, many non electric kitchen items, canning jars, camp supplies occasionally, once in a while a cast iron skillet, furniture (if we need it or if I can redo it easily and sell for a large enough profit) games, toys, gifts (I find a lot of brand new still have tags items) books are cheap there too. I also buy towels and blankets there and any good fabric or yarn I can find. I got an entire set of crochet hooks and a few knitting needles for $0.50 the other day!

    I sell books to a used books store, ones I have read and do not want any longer or ones my kids did not enjoy, I use the money to buy more books at the used book store usually in the clearance section.

    There are free taekwondo classes available through a lot of churches depending on your area, se Jong I believe it what its called. Google se Jong taekwondo free classes and see what you find. They have requirements but its a free martial arts class so don’t complain in fact be helpful and make some friends.

    Make your own firestarters, make an alcohol paint can heater, learn some bush craft techniques,

    Figure out where the weaknesses in your home are. Learn to cook more meals, figure out what fresh items can be swapped for food storage items or shelf stable items at least. Write the recipes down and make meal plans.

    Make an emergency binder there are tons of tutorials and you don’t need much to do it.

  19. Been poor and been so called rich,(enough and then some). Both ways, I saved and bought to store or use when I have non. I was taught from very small to turn off the lights when not needed, turn off water, not letting it run when brushing teeth, showering or washing dishes, till needed, lower temp. on hot water heater.

    Garden even if it is only in a window, something always helps, herbs are every expensive, grow them yourself and also dry, put into bottles or bags.

    Keep heat down to 65 deg.- 70 deg., dressing in layers when cold, can take off layers as you get warmer.

    When COLD cover windows, close off rooms not in use, find drafts and cover, take care of them as weather and money permits. Open curtains and let in light and heat when sun is out. If you have pets let them sleep on the bed keeping you and them warmer, I put an extra sheet over comforter to keep it clean, sheet easier and wash than the blanket cover. Hot water bottles work well here too, make sure lid is secure, heat a blanket near fireplace, add to bed over sheet and under another blanket and it will stay warm longer.

    When HOT open some windows and let it draft, will keep you cool, I have lived in Anchorage Ak and Phoenix, Az some houses just don’t have a way to draft, occasional use of fans help. Keep temp as high as you can 70 or 80 deg.

    Drive the speed limit and gradual take off and stop, don’t rev up engine, helps to save gas, taking care of your car when needed, learn to checking/changing oil, transmission fluid, tires, washing, cleaning out, all we can do ourselves, and car will last longer.

    Clothing, look for wear and tear and fix as things happen, learn to knit, crochet, sew, can do work for others and barter for things needed. Make blankets and others things to sell at flea markets, they happen even in the smallest of towns. Save everything, never know what and or when you will need it.

    If you can build a fireplace, you can run hot water piping through back to fill hot water heater with hot water, to cut power and heat the house at the same time, and cook. Learn how to cook over an open fire, PLEASE do so safely.

    Thinking today will save you grief when you need something. You know your area and home so you can come up with ideas best for you.

  20. I take advantage of the Freecycle organization to help me prep for free. There are local groups all over the country so they’re easy to find.

    I’ve gotten chain link fencing, for when I needed to expand my chicken pen, camping equipment, including a couple of new Coleman stoves, cases and cases of canning jars, furniture, pots n pans, you name it, you can get it for free from someone. My husband even got a laptop for his movies and books. There’s a lady nearby who takes everyone’s freezer burned meats, pressure cooks it and feeds her dogs for free.

    I also ask at grocery stores for fresh fruits and veggies past their prime “for my chickens”, my chickens don’t get all of what I collect because a lot of it is still perfectly good food and we eat it or can it.

    We glean the vineyards and orchards after they’ve been picked. Always ask, you don’t want to get shot.

    Recycle EVERYTHING. Don’t throw out that perfectly good bread bag, and then turn around and buy a box of bags to store food, use the bread bags again!

    There are hundreds of ways to get what you need for free or very little money. Some require a small amount of assertiveness, you have to ASK or you won’t know if that person would give you that item they no longer need.

    I’ve made some good friends this way too: the cashier, when I was buying some canning jars, asked me about canning, told me she had a very old canning book from her grandma, I asked if she would be willing to part with it, no, but she did invite me to her house to see it, and we scanned large parts of it and printed it for me. I’m now teaching her what I know about canning and eventually she will give me that book.

  21. By any definition you care to use I’m poor, but my preparedness level is quite high. I shop at thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets. But I do something else that many people don’t think they can do, and it really makes a big difference in my ability to buy supplies. I made a very determined effort to learn new construction skills that people were always asking me to do. I do light home construction mostly wood working and electrical work. I always got asked about plumbing, drywall work, ceramic tile work and other home repairs needed. I was turning down work on a weekly bases because I did not do that work. I decided to buy the tools (mostly from pawn shops to save money on them.) to do those jobs and started to research on-line and in books to learn how to do the jobs. I also practiced on my own home. I now have a bathroom that is tiled with ceramic on the floor and in the shower area. It looks like it cost thousands of dollars, but I only spent $200 doing it as I bought all the tiles at a discount clearance at a Menard’s store. I got them 70% off. I also did my kitchen backsplash and it also looks great. I bought plumbing tools (already had most of them) to do a new kind of plumbing called PEX, I’m ahead of the curve on plumbing. And $160.00 worth of specialized tools for PEX has already paid me close to 7 times the cost of the tools and I have only had them for 5-months. I always hated doing plumbing work, but this new PEX stuff makes it so easy and it doesn’t leak and is good for mobile homes as it does not break if it freezes. Mobile homes give me a whole new area to get work from. And there are a LOT of mobile homes in my area, so I expect it to work out well. I just started going to parks and handing out flyers to get work, so far it’s got me a few jobs.

    We all need to learn new skills that can be applied to making more money and use this money for preps or silver or whatever you need.

    I’m still poor by most people’s standard, but I honestly don’t feel poor. I have lots of food and supplies that I see other people posting that they wish they had. I have 3 grain grinders, most people have none. I also know that with my skills and tools I will always be able to produce some income to live on.

    I know it can seem hard (I hate pluming work) but I wanted to improve my life and while I did not want to do these things (still don’t really want to do them) I wanted to buy silver, more food, canning supplies and a lot of the other things we preppers need or want. One advantage I had over most of you here is that I already was working in an area (home repairs) where I was in contact with people that liked the work I was doing for them in their home and all it took to get more work (money) was to say “I can do that” when asked to do some other repair. And so far I have been able to make it work quite well. I make money from picking up furniture that has been set out on trash day. I pick it up and repair it and list it on Craig’s list. I only pick up stuff that is in good looking shape so it will sell. I also pick up furniture that is in bad shape and bust it up and use it to help heat my home. This is free BTUs. I heat mostly with wood, and I have never had to buy wood for home heat. I get it all for free other then a little labor on my part.

    I know many will say that they can’t do what I have done, and that may be true as far as ceramic tile or plumbing work. But most of us have some kind of skill we do or can learn to do to make extra money. Maybe you can do craft work to sell at flea markets or on e-bay or through Craig’s List. I see junk bicycles and lawn mowers being thrown away every trash day, do you know how to fix them? Maybe you know how to rebuild computers, I know someone that can take 2 or 3 junk laptop computers and build one computer with wireless internet Wi-fi to get people that can’t afford a net connection connected to the net. There are lots of wireless points to get on the net. I’m using one right now as one of my neighbors has (for the last several years) an open connection. Do you know how to can food, you could teach others as canning is coming back and people need hands-on experience. Are you the world’s best gardener? You could teach gardening. Maybe you can make wood furniture that is not made from sawdust and contact paper as most things are made of today. There is a small but definite market for quality wood items. I make fold-up tables that are great for around a camp fire, every year I sell 30 of them that I talked two local campground owners to allow me to put them in the camp store. I make $15.00; they make $7.00 for every table sold. We both come out on this deal. 30 tables may not sound like many, but it comes out to $450.00 extra income every summer. Do you reload ammo to shoot your guns? There is a growing interest in reloading with all the new gun owners out there. Offer a class on reloading. I have been a reloader for 30+ years and every few months I get questions about reloading. I’m sure there is a market for teaching it.

    My point is that it’s better to come up with extra money then to try to get by on a low income level. I have at least numerous different income streams that I live off of. If one of them dries up I still have the others there for me. I am also learning new skills all the time so I can improve my income. Truth be told, we all can do this, the biggest hurdle is ourselves. We tell ourselves “I can’t do that or that I don’t know anything other will pay to learn or buy from me” but most times we can do much more then we think we can.

    1. Manny,
      I like how you think! As a low-income, semi-retired person, and a woman to boot, I think THE most invaluable survival tool is the willingness to LEARN. I also agree that those of us who automatically slow down when passing an interesting pile by the side of the road will do better when TSHTF than those who would never “lower themselves” to pick up something interesting or useful that someone else is throwing away. Just by trying and learning, I was able to fence in my backyard by myself–yep, just me. I can so a lot of repairs, etc. on my own and am building up a tool collection. People think I’m so “smart” but what I am is ON MY OWN, so doing it myself is a given.
      Anyone can poke a hole in the ground and put a seed in it. Anyone can learn waterbath canning and pressure canning is not that difficult either if you can read directions. My next project is to obtain a treadle sewing machine (or convert a modern machine to a treadle) since I am a skilled seamstress and can’t imagine life without being able to create. I guess it all comes down to being willing to try. Don’t panic–just start in small ways….but DO START.

  22. just occurred to me today, a very easy/cheap way to start prepping a little.

    Make a garden/garden boxes.

    Every year plant something which will re seed itself .( you will need to buy the non GMO type seeds, which are pricey, but pay for themselves).

    Each year only eat up part of what is grown, and always leave some to Re Seed.

    So far I have been successful with the following…( I thought about this as I have been lamenting, I am not much of a gardner, then I realised, this is a good start).

    These have all re seeded for me.

    Some Kale

    With this in mind, I am going to plan along these lines for next spring, and do some research. It seems that it will all be good addition to a frugal diet.

    Also, re gardening, what I have started doing, as I am out and about, if I see someone out in their garden/flower bed,and things look good, I try to engage them/admire their work/ask questions, and get a few tips.

    Wondering what else might easily re seed? Any suggestions? I am likely more north than most here, but ..

    1. you can also re-grow onions, celery, potatoes, bok choy, and green onions from the scraps that are left over after you use them for the potatoes just use the eye’s (the parts that grow the roots when you don’t use them fast enough) cut out those parts and use the rest of the potato as you normally would for the rest of them leave about an inch from the bottom that’s all you need to regrow them the rest of them can be used there are TONS of places online you can look that will give you video or text help and if you can get the amazon app for your phone or computer or if you have a kindle there are hundreds of books you can get for free that will help with all of this and SOOOO much more.

      1. Tanya,
        I grew two bushels of yummy sweet potatoes by growing my own starts from two sweet potatoes I bought at my local grocery store…and this was my first ever try at such a thing! Slice the sweet potato in half long ways, place cut side down in dampened potting soil in a pan or plastic container, cover with more damp soil, put the whole shebang in a plastic garbage bag, tie it shut, and place that whole mess in a dark area for a couple of weeks. When you check it, there will be a bunch of sprouts. Carefully cut the potato into chunks with sprouts attached and re-pot in separate containers–place in the sun and when you they get nice, green leaves (and if the weather’s nice), let them sit outside and get some sun. When they really get out of control, plant them in a garden spot. Do this early in the season ’cause sweet’taters need a good 3 months to mature. When the leaves of the plants begin to brown, use a garden fork to dig them up. I have pureed them and put bags of sweet potatoes in my deep freeze for pies (yum!) and pressure canned quarts of them. SO GOOD!

        1. Beth, thank you so much for this info, you’re an inspiration and now I can hardly wait to get to the store to buy my sweet potato!

  23. I have been looking at your posts and was hoping you could advise on the buckets for food storage. Do you add anything else or is it simply the bucket filled with the food? I am also in the process of buying heirloom seeds and hoping to learn to garden or store the seeds for later. I live in an apt so have no space to garden. Any advice will be so much appreciated. Thank you. Be well.

    1. research container gardening you can grow food in an apartment. where there is a will there is a way.

    2. Do research on sprouting seeds also. It’s one of the fastest ways to have the most nutritious food.

    3. Lei,
      Re: buckets for food storage
      You will need to use “food-grade” buckets that will have the triangular symbol on the bottom with a #2 in the middle of the triangle. These can be purchased, but are FREE if you bug the folks at your local grocery store bakery or deli (frosting and pickles come in these buckets). Start now to find a place that will give them to you as lots of places have stopped giving them away. I get 5- and 2- gallon sizes at a local store when they have them. Wash thoroughly and then fill with hot water with a little bleach and let sit to help remove the frosting or pickle odor. Good luck!

      1. Great idea Beth,
        We have 60 or so ice cream buckets we go though at work each summer and I never considered using them for anything other than storing dog food or bird feed. I bet a place that solely does ice cream has many more and are often very happy to get rid of them. They are not the strongest but hold up to cold temps without cracking easily.

  24. I think that long term prepping is a waste..of the world goes to hell it does not matter how many bullets you have hungry people with hungry kids are going to find your food when you cook…unless you live in a very remote area with no neighbors.

    Short term prepping makes sense to me as there can easily be some kind is disaster…earthquake or whatever and you may need to get by for at least a few days or weeks.

    Anyone who feeds their kids ramen every day should be shot. Check the clearance isles or the one where they have bent cans etc you can get good real food there really cheap.

    We have dollar stores here….that is where I get a lot of my prepping supplies..I try to have a canned meat, veg, and fruit for two meals a day…some of the cans are two fors. The liquid in the cans also counts for drinking. Some dollar stores also sell produce but be careful avoid food from china and make sure the prices are actually lower than the discount grocery…99c only stores are wonderful. They also sell seeds packs in the spring.

    Cat litter buckets are easily found and wasteful…if you have a friend who has a cat they will be happy to give you the old ones just check the kind of plastic label on the bottom or wrap your food.

    Save a few dollars here and there and buy in bulk it is MUCH cheaper and unwrapped bulk can be even cheaper than packaged.

  25. Suggestion to folks who want to learn to garden well, especially in “their” area..

    go for walks. look for elderly folks who have gardens. these folks have garden skills, and are usually happy to discuss them.

    you could even offer to weed in exchange for more in depth info

    they likely have suggestions/info on how they put up for storage (these older folks are frugal and going to be saving their harvest)

    you just might get lucky and be offered some of their harvest

  26. All good suggestions, I thought of a couple more. Take your list of stuff you need/want and see what you can substitute. We’d all like a Gerber, SOG, Leatherman, etc. but any knife/tool is better than none at all. Get the best quality you can afford but again anything is better than nothing. If you can’t afford $20 for a filter straw learn to purify water.

    Good ideas to raise money especially checking dumpsters and curbside. People throw away a lot and even if you con’t need or can’t use something you might be able to sell it or give to someone who can use.

    Recycle metals, watch where you walk, as much to avoid stepping in dog doo as looking for change, jewelry, etc. I pick up about $25/year in change.

    Finally, check with banks about trashing out repossessed/abandoned houses and apartment complexes for the same. I work at a complex and get a lot of my things abandoned or forgotten.

    1. HAUNT college areas at the end of the semester/quarter/year. when the kids move out an amazing amount of stuff gets left behind and trashed… and slightly before that gets put out for Freecycle on the curb.

      thats also a good time to start haunting the thrift stores that are near college areas

  27. having been fairly well off, and pretty drn poor….

    i know a lot of people have no clue how to COOK “poor meals” its not very obvious how to really cook dried beans if you never tried before. i know a lot of my rich friends had no idea how to cook brown rice so it wasnt “crunchy” or that you could add “more water” to make rice softer…
    or that you should soak beans
    or how to use a crock pot (or a dutch over, or cast iron cookware)

    the FACT that i knew this stuff as a lark and hobby saved my beans when i needed to cook beans.

    many of the really poor have no clue how to cook. i volunteer at a veterans service center teaching veterans transitioning from homelessness (so not used to having a kitchen) how to read labels and cook. they dont KNOW!
    seriously they have no idea how to cook real rice, or dry beans.
    most of them have been only able to open a can and eat stuff cold (or buy junk food because it can be eaten from the package)

    and about half of them, for one reason or another, have never learned even the simplest part of reading a recipe
    whats a table spoon?

    i have said for years now that if all food stamp recipients got a free crock pot and a free cooking class, there would be far better nutrition….

    1. Thank you for this post. I think a simple education on simple cooking would enable many.

  28. I’d just like to say quickly in case the author checks new comments that I really appreciated this post. I’m fortunate enough to be in graduate school currently, but I have almost no disposable income to buy “prepping” items with. Thanks for reminding me that knowledge can be as good or better than the stuff you can buy.

  29. dont laugh but at our local super market they throw stuff out on the exp date and they throw lots of still eatable produce away that we dehydrate and bag

    1. Hi Theresa,
      Do the supermarkets give you the meat they’re throwing out or do you have to find out where they dump it? Great idea!
      Thanks :)

    2. Teresa.. Be careful with dumpster meat. A lot of times, the meat is sitting out inside the store without refrigeration, then put back in the fridge until they dump it. it can be deceiving. Dumpster foods can be fine..I get mostly produce, but I do avoid the meat.. most friends of mine will take meat. They just test it well..

  30. I used to work for a few produce companies. I cried at the food they threw away. Truck loads every week and there was a homeless shelter not 100 yards away and they didn’t give them nothing! We wasn’t allowed to “go through it” and get what we wanted either, but I did on many occasions get food and gave it away or took it home. I grew up not having a lot of food. We never wasted nothing. My Mom would save a spoonful of food and at the end of the week put everything from our dinners in a pot and call it soup! Stores like Wal-Mart wont give away NOTHING but will break it and toss it in the compactor. But yet let someone get caught trying to steal a pack of hotdogs because they are hungry! It is a crying shame that there are hungry people here in America and yet we send millions to feed others. Beverly Hills California over looks one of the most pathetic slums imaginable. How can people live like that? Have millions and drive right past a family living on the streets with no regard to if they ate in the last few days or where they “live”? Our very society needs a “make over”. We pay millions for an actor to make a movie and a Doctor goes bankrupt because he cannot afford the insurance! What a country we live in.

      1. I also agree 100%.

        seen it often. Food/products/garden plants. All tossed in dumpster.

        Had experience with garden shrubs/plants. There is one particular outlet of a big store, a couple of times now, got there just as last day sales ended. They were loading it up to toss in Dumpster. I offered even to pay for items I wanted. Flatly was refused. Staff insisted NO, they MUSTT throw it in Dumpster. Honestly, I circled around dumpster later in day, figured if shrubs (which were in good shape) were sticking out of dumpster I would pull them out, but not. Either they were at bottom of a very high dumpster, or staff took them home (in which case at least they would go to waste).

        all in all, I find it criminally irrisponsable. Even those shrubs I wanted to purchase would have fed folks, planted in a public area. They were berry producing.

  31. Wildbill, I understand your concern, however, there are laws in place that make it difficult for companies to be able to donate food to shelters. It is these laws that allow food to go to waste. In addition, people are so afraid of getting sued over everything they would rather throw food away than face a lawsuit.

    Imagine you are a company donating food to a shelter and one of the people “claims” he got sick from the donated food. He sues you for millions and wins, would you still donate food?

    1. Good point….. BUT laws CAN be changed… a friend worked at a dry food plant. when something was miss mixed they would load the batch into a trailer to haul to the dump for that very concern. We are talking about an 18 wheeler type trailer. The food was still good, just not mixed to specs …. My friend had connections at a local food pantry and discussed it with them. They pointed her to the state laws which stated that any food donated in good faith that the food company was immune to ANY repercussions. She wrote all that up along with a plan on how it could benefit the food company— tax write off of the FULL retail price of the food instead of having to PAY the dump to get rid of it. Increased good will in the community and some of the suffering abated. The company also saved as the food bank would send a tractor to pick up the loaded trailer instead of the food company paying for it. WIN – WIN – WIN.!!! PS get a group together and lobby to reform the rules/laws,,, YOU can make a difference! Not just on this topic but many others too…

  32. Growing up in the SOUTH,,we all learned several thing’s,,own your on land,,always have seed’s for planning,,good gun’s and extra ammo,,food for a year,,keep your family close,,NEVER trust anyone,,don’t trust a bank OR anyone from the GOVERMENT,,NO paper money;;only coin{silver,,gold,,copper }always have extra fuel {gas,,wood,,coal,,kerosene},,a safe place you can control,,free water {well preferred}a good OUT HOUSE,,1st.aid,,and like it or not BOOZE {great for trade}NEVER TRADE food,,gun’s,,ammo,,they WILL COME BACK and take it from you…

    1. Rayake I would agree with most things you said except I will not trade for booze. I don’t want to have to deal with a desperate drunk. I would be extremely cautious letting anyone outside of our group know I had enough extra of anything to trade. Now is the time to find like minded individuals that you can trade with.

  33. We are a litigious society, and because of that and government laws, those corporations cannot donate that food. A whole movement called the Freegans is built around the outrage of that fact.

    Would that things would change, for especially right now with such unemployment and homelessness, alterations in these policies would assist many.

    The insistance of all of us for fresh strawberries, an unheard of idea in history for all but the extremely wealthy, results in the discarding of lots of produce. If we mostly bought locally, it would radically affect the economy and unemployment. But greed took over.

    When poor, learn skills. The library is full of information about ancestral skills, it’s just that most people want something exciting and novel, not something practical and mundane. All of those ancestral skills will be what saves us.

    Cuba is a rotten communist country, and the way the people survive is because they all grow their own food because they are completely impoverished.

    Getting an EBT card that provides a pittance won’t save you; it truly enslaves you. One can buy seeds with that EBT card. I sure would do so.

    Learn how to prepare your soil for Spring. Now the garden is finishing save the cold frames. The days are shorter and frost a concern. One could though read about how to test your soil, and then send it in for analysis. If one can’t afford to do so, I bet there’s a gardener with a soil test kit in your neighborhood who would help you.

    One should carefully pick the best sunny location for your garden, else that will be an eternal issue later. There are great books on how to do that, and easily found in the library.

    If one covers the sod in their soil with black plastic overwinter, then you can kill much of the grass, and then this makes it easier come Spring to till it up.

    You could likely afford to buy a shovel at a rummage sale, and learn how to double dig up the ground.

    One could partner with a neighbor who has land and commit to sweat equity to work that land for them, and thus have vegetable, fruits, and herb coming in.

    There are lots of articles in the prepper community on how to start. Nothing beats finding a mentor to guide you. Honestly there are lots of older Americans who do this. See if there’s a master gardener program in your city. There are volunteers who feel passionately about passing down ancestral agricultural skills.

    I honestly believe that if you have minimal supplies like some hand tools and dehydrated inexpensive food, then those who have more wealth might die in a collapse, and at that point, their wealth will have no meaning anyway. We will then reform communities based upon practical skills and working together with our hearts, minds, hands, and souls.

    Take heart and find the courage to start prepping. All people throughout history had these skills. They were not educated for the most part. They were not rich for the most part. They were all very different in their beliefs and skin color.

    1. I love what you said. It will be people with practical skills who come out ahead in disasters. People who cantboil water on a campfire or bait a hook. Those are the ones who need to worry. My family fished and camped in tents. Dad was an army ranger so we sometimes used sterno to heat k rations left over from a drill. I am using my snap funds to buy canning supplies. The Boise River is a great source for berries, rosehips, as well as fish. Get the skills you need.

    2. I love what you said. It will be people with practical skills who come out ahead in disasters. People who cant boil water on a campfire or bait a hook. Those are the ones who need to worry. My family fished and camped in tents. Dad was an army ranger so we sometimes used sterno to heat k rations left over from a drill. I am using my snap funds to buy canning supplies. The Boise River is a great source for berries, rosehips, as well as fish. Get the skills you need.

  34. There is another thing you can do if you are short of funds. There are people that have the space and the seeds but not the time to devote to gardening. This would be shared or community gardening. It could be someone’s backyard or extra piece of land. You come up with a list of stuff both families want to have, one family agrees to get the seeds and space and the other family agrees to caring for the plants. Of course, the person who owns the land in their backyard would have to pay the water bill, but there could some type of agreement for that. In Cincinnati, these shared gardens are huge! Both sides of the families enjoy the fruits of labor, and friendships are formed.

  35. Google ‘eat the weeds’ and you will find a lot of info. Dandelions and purslane grow readily in my back yard, and both are excellent food. Dandelions were actually brought to the new world on purpose by Europeans because they had helped people survive famine.

    1. And Mullein ! OMG I have maybe 25 of these plants growing in the yard that I dehydrate leaves every month or so. I will dehydrate the flowers one they bloom again. Good for chest congestion. Happy Prepping!

  36. one thing I have noticed is that there is very little information (at least that I could find) about harvesting and saving seeds from the plants you grow in your garden such as corn or bell peppers or even carrots if anyone could point me in the right direction for this information I would be eternally grateful

    1. Tanya
      try googling

      “seed savers”

      There are a lot of organisations/info around North America. Quite often saved seed can be traded.

  37. For people who live pay check to pay check spend in your budget twenty dollars a week extra on food. Put this aside as your preps you will need a large Area to store it by the end of one year. Also when buying fruits and veg can goods buy the generic or store brand most are just in water and natural juices no preservatives or coloring plus cheaper and healthier for you

  38. My fellow preppers. Your information is a wealth of knowledge and makes my head spin just reading every reply. What I failed to see is, we need to practice cooking what we have stored. You can stored back all the rice & beans, but if we don’t know how to cook it on a rocket stove/ wood burning, then its pointless to be a prepper. Practice by having a 2/3 day “camping experiment” over a weekend in your home, use what you have prepped, nothing can be done by electricity. Toilets, cooking, lighting, leisure, etc. Practice now to learn lots. Happy Prepping! !! :-)

  39. There are SO many comments, mine might be a repeat, but here goes anyway. As a low-income person who has, at one time (not now)been a food stamp recipient, I want to share that seeds and seedlings can be purchased with food stamps!!! Many folks do not know this. Also, you’d be surprised what you can find in the way of garden tools by the side of the road. I live near a thrift store/ministry that will GIVE basic garden tools (if she has any) to anyone who needs them to work at growing food. Finally, think about winter gardening. Yes, really! A small protected patch on the south side of any building covered over with some scrap fencing bent to make a half-circle and draped with some plastic sheeting (mine came from someone’s bed purchase) can keep you in swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, kale, mustard greens, and some hardy lettuces all winter. I rarely buy fresh vegies at the store–I get my salads from my garden year-round. Try it!

  40. i save my coke plastic bottles and juice bottles, even bottles I have drank water out of. Wash them out and let dry. I put dry goods in them with moisture absorbers. Screw on top tightly. Then I melt wax and dip tech of bottle in wax making sure the whole top is covered. Usually dip them about 3 times each. Then I cut directions off of there container and tape to the bottle.

  41. I grew up in a country where many church members were dirt poor. I remember how challenging it was to obey the commandment to be prepared for emergency and to have food storage. But with sacrifice and right attitude, few of us started food storage literally by spoonfuls. I told the sisters in my branch that if we save a spoonful of rice every time we cook rice, we would have cups of rice by the end of the month, and we would have started our food storage. We used the same approach to everything- from oil, salt, flour, and other grains. Poverty is no hindrance to obedience. The Lord will help us if we have the desire to obey. Start small, even by spoonfuls.

  42. We store.. buy on sale.. i bought small pint jars and put together easy bean or noodle soups, enough for 2 people (just my hubby and I). Was able to put together 8 of those out of 2 or 3 bags of beans and noodles and some flavorings. I buy fresh fruit and vegetables when I shop, but when it starts looking like they are getting ready to turn, I slice them up, chop them up, etc and put them in the dehydrator and put them away.

    when I was younger, single and raising my kids, I received food stamps, and I supplemented them with coupons. I scavenged coupons everywhere, family members would save them for me, neighbors saved them, I would find them in the laundromat. I could sometimes add $30 to $40 to my food budget by using coupons.

    I would save cans and plastic containers, and in the spring and summer, I would grow greens, lettuce, herbs, green onions, etc. for salads, side dishes and that would save me few more dollars. there is always a way,

    I have become really aware of serving size per person, and I plan meals that way, usually I can make on jar of soup for prep, (dried ingredients) and 2 to 4 meals for regular consumption out of the same bag of noodles, etc.

    the only out of the ordinary purchase I have made food wise, is I did purchase some dehydrated chicken to help out make my soups.

    Use the library, one of my favorite books, that really started me on my road to prep, was a book called Eat the Weeds, had pictures of plants for ident, recipes, etc.. I was able to finally to purchase a copy for myself…

    there all kinds of info available.. Heck, you are online, make notes, etc, if you are using from the library, it will help you out.

  43. We use Quart & gallon jars & fill them with beans, rice, flour, anything dry & put oven on 200 degrees for 1 hour & quickly take out & put on flats & rings & put back in oven for 40 minutes & then take out & let cool they will seal just like if it was canned, it is supposed to be good for 20 years. I don’t know for sure but that’s what we did, it kills any bugs or germs Good Luck

  44. Wow, what a lot of good ideas. I saw only a small mention about the use of medicinal herbs; the mullein for chest congestion. Mullein with or without chopped garlic, both soaked in olive oil, makes a great earache remedy.

    If you are prepping for long term survival you might give a thought to what’s going to happen when you can’t trot down to the pharmacy. You can make your own (for pennies) “sore muscle” pain salve–I’m old and my husband and I use this on our many aches and pains; antibiotic salve that doesn’t have any nasty stuff in it and that I would put up against Neosporin any day. These are both so easy and cheap to make and you don’t get all the “bad stuff” in them that you get with store bought.

    The Internet has opened up all sorts of medicaments that you can make for yourself and to barter. You might want to give some of them a try.

    1. Mary
      how do you make sore muscle and antibiotic salve? what do you put in it?


      1. Hi, Anon. I don’t know where on the Internet I picked this recipe up, so I can’t give credit where credit is due. Here’s the pain salve:

        1/2 cup olive oil
        2 heaping teaspoons cayenne powder (or 15 grams)
        1/2 ounce of beeswax

        Begin by infusing the cayenne into the olive oil in a double boiler.

        I heat the oil and cayenne until it is warm, turn off the heat and let it sit for about 20 minutes, then turn the heat on again. Do this at least for one hour to a couple hours, you could do it for 24 hours if desired.

        Once the cayenne and olive oil have been infused, strain off the powder through cheesecloth (make sure to squeeze as much oil out of the residue as possible). Reserve the infused oil.

        Heat the beeswax until it is melted. Stir in the infused oil and continue to heat until the beeswax and oil have been thoroughly melted together and combined.

        Immediately pour this mixture into jars or tins. (Makes roughly 4 ounces).
        Let cool and then label.

        This salve is great for sore muscles, joints, bruises, nerve pain (like neuropathy), and shingles. Don’t use it on open wounds and DON’T get it in your eyes or mucosal membranes. I’ve never had a problem with this salve, but everyone is different, so before you spread it over a large area of skin, I would try it on a small patch to make sure it won’t burn you. Also, wear old clothes as this can stain.

        The Antibiotic Salve is something I put together.

        I use:
        St John’s Wort

        in equal proportions in a pint jar to about the half-way mark and then pour in olive oil until about an inch to a half inch from the top. Put on a lid. Shake. Place in dark place like a kitchen cabinet for 6 weeks, shaking once a day. The good stuff in these herbs can be destroyed by heat so they have to infuse more slowly. After 6 weeks strain the herbs out through a cheesecloth (squeeze it tight to get all the goody out)and throw away the herbs. Place infused oil in double boiler. Add about 1 ounce (this is something you will have to play around with. I like my salves to be very firm. My husband likes them to be soft. I’d start with half an ounce and then add more if I wanted it firmer. To check for salve consistency you can (once the oil and beeswax are melted, dip a spoon in the mixture and then place in a bowl of cold water. Check the mixture on the spoon to see if it’s the right consistency for you. When you are satisfied with the salve, pour into containers.

        You can check the Internet for different versions of these salves. When I first started making them I bought the herbs and beeswax from Mountain Rose Herb. No, I’m not pushing them. lol They just happen to be the closest herb sellers near me and I’m all about cheaper postage. They have a site on the Internet and they have a bunch of recipes on their site as well as on Utub where they show you how to make different things . . . in fact that’s how I became interested in making the pain salve. It might even be their recipe.

        If you make either of these salves, I hope you’ll let me know how you like them. Good luck.

        1. Hi Mary, Thanks.

          so, re the antibiotic salve, do you buy “packets” of these herbs, or bottles, or how does that work? I have several likely places where I live, which I could look for them, but would like to know just what to look for.


          (I won’t make the cayenne one, as I am somewhat allergic to it, but thanks for that too. Might help someone else.)

  45. I’m not sure about “other” places, but at Mountain Rose the smallest amount you can buy are 4 oz. packages. If you can buy smaller, go for it. Each herb has different benefits and some herbs overlap. So you could make your salve out of only one of the herbs. Or if you research other herbs, you might decide to go with one of them over what I have listed below.

    Chickweed: Soothing, helps with skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema minor burns, rashes, and other skin irritations.

    St. John’s wort: Anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Beneficial for wounds, cuts, bruises, swelling, varicose veins, insect bites and stings, nerve damage, scrapes, rashes, burns, and pain.

    Lavender: Has healing properties beneficial for wounds and numerous skin conditions.

    Heal-all: All around wound, scrape, cut and bug bite herb.

    Yarrow: For bruises, sprains, wounds, cuts, rashes, eczema, scrapes and areas with swelling and bleeding. Warning: if you are allergic to rag weed you might want to give this one a pass. :-)

    These are only a partial list. You might also consider dandelion, plantain, and comfrey.

    If you can’t use cayenne salve for pain, you might make a dandelion or juniper berry ointment. I have recipes for them to, but haven’t tried them. Check out what’s on the Internet. There are people out there who are much more knowledgeable than I am. Good luck.

  46. Found this site thruugh Pinterest. Liked it and will come back. I have browsed through the comments here. I like and agree with most. I am not poor but very debt ridden (single mom). I learned to solar cook in summer. Solar cookers are easy and cheap to build. Seeds can be purchased for .25 a packet at most dollar stores. $ stores also have cheap tools (under $10). I try to upcycle everything I can. (Once made a window box solar heater-got 104 degree heat from it. Bubble wrap over windows really can help with heating/cooling.) Any thing can be learned if one wants to badly enough. The library is free and most now offer free internet. Ask neighbors for advice on things they do you are interested in. The problem I keep seeing is most folks just want things handed to them.

  47. I like your thinking, BayouLady. I’m going to search for a pattern for a solar cooker and give it a try. Thanks for the idea.

  48. I am a senior on a small budget after paying necessary bills it does not leave much. Its never to late to start. I went first with the cheapest meals you can get Ramine. Then i bought flour in large bags and rice in the large bags. You can store this it 2 litter bottles if need be. Another thing if you are that low income is go to your food pantries. You could save that food or eat it and buy the things you want. I can so i put away chicken. I got it when it was 3.90 for 10lbs at save a lot. You have to watch. If you know someone who cans or you have a pressure cooker then can chicken. You can make noodles with flour, dumplings, you can do chicken and rice. all of these are filling and cheep. You can buy beans at dollar store for a dollar store them up. I have got to the point over 3 months my shelves are full. No not a years worth but enough to get past a crisis.

  49. I am a disabled ssi recipient. I am prepping by teaching muself how to cook using dehydrated beans and peas, using the dollar store, (just bought a paracord bracelet there) and I also practice doing without.
    I have a crazy first aid kit, and a light back pack to use for my bob. I live in an apartment with no deck so my next project is to learn how to grow food indoors.
    Best wishes my friend. You are not alone.

  50. I’ve looked at the dollar stores and their canned meats are $1 or $2 and every one I looked at had a shelf life of 2 to 5 years.same with most of their canned goods. Beans and rice are good food but will get tiring after awhile.

  51. 1.Lint from clothes dryer stuffed into empty toilet paper cardboard make great fire starters.
    2.All coin change goes into a bucket and every 3 months gets used to buy supplies.
    3.My job’s insurance provides a savings’ card. Any money left after purchasing my meds goes to purchasing first aid supplies online.
    4.A subscription to Seeds of the Month Club is extremely cheap and you get 4-5 non GMO seed packets a month for fruits, veggies, herbs and medicinal plants.
    5.Make gloves and hats out of old sweaters.(Get instructions online) Easy and definitely cheap.
    6.Online free prep books can be downloaded and printed.The more skills you learn, the least money you need.

  52. You don’t have to be poor to be frugal and learn. My 14 year old asked me if we were “poor” I told her no we have a roof over our head, running water, heat, clean clothes and food to eat… “We’re not poor .. We’re broke”. According to government standards we are poor, but who listens to the government anyway? We live on Social Security, I refuse to apply for food stamps.. just goes against my upbringing. Live I n a 40+ year old trailor… but hey there are those that are a lot worse off than we are!
    I grow my garden in children’s plastic wading pools, buckets, pots, old dresser drawers.. anything that will hold soil and feed us. I can, Dehydrate the excess that’s harvested.. save dryer lint for fire starters,
    I’m not afraid to “dumpster dive”, got myself 2 cast iron skillets for free. I save all our old clothes to re-purpose into something else, ie: wash clothes, quilt tops, cloth feminine hygene products.. I’ve shopped thrift stores to buy sweaters, took them apart to salvage the yarn and knitted or crocheted items we need. My food storage buckets and lids are free at the bakery department of my local grocery store.

    I have a survival library of things I’ve printed off the internet and books that I’ve picked up at yard and garage sales. I know how to change my own oil and spark plugs.. wash clothes by hand if need be ( good old 5-gallon bucket and a toilet plunger).
    My Daddy raised us kids that “poor” was in your mind. So long as you can feed yourself, clothe yourself and provide for your family You are not poor, you’re Blessed.

    1. You have a good attitude. Very important! Thanks for your perspective.

  53. Shane
    Canning is water bath canning, used for pickles, jams, jells.

    Pressure canning is for low acid foods, as in meat, vegetables. Pressure canning you use a pressure canner, and not a pressure cooker.

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