Prepping For Widespread Major Disaster With Little or No Budget

Prepping for major disaster on a tight budget

Prepping for a widespread and long lasting major disaster. This goes well beyond ordinary prepping and preparedness. Attempting to adequately prepare for such a thing is difficult enough for those who have resources. But what about those who do not?

This question was posed to me within the context of “what if” there were to be an attack on our homeland. Lets say by way of cyberattacks that have taken down large sections of the power grid (among other infrastructure). Maybe even coinciding with a new bioweapon virus. Worse yet, nuclear.. In other words, we’re talking about a life-altering event or series of events that put everyone in ‘survival mode’.

How in the world could someone prepare for something like this without much of any financial resources?

“…not sure what I can do (on no budget lol). I think, food, water, cash, but really, how long does that last? Depends what happens too. I want to prepare but not sure what to do, not knowing what’s really going to happen.”

“I know it depends what happens! I have had a Rubbermaid tub full of dried foods like rice and beans. But water, I buy and then use. And even if I filled my five jugs, how long would that last?”

“Should I buy a filter so we can use the lake water? Or make a plan to be able to get water from my water pump? It doesn’t work without electricity.”

“I don’t have anything solar and cant afford a generator, or anything else for that matter…”

“In an emergency would we be going to work, or staying home?”

“Would grocery stores be open, would cash be useless?”

“So many unknowns.”

~ genuinely concerned

Okay, let me try and tackle this dilemma. And I’m not sure if there really is a solution. Plus, given the near infinite number of unknowns (everyone in their own circumstances, for example), there is no way to simply suggest “do this” or “do that” to survive through your new life “after” the event..

However, in an attempt to keep it simple and practical, lets stick to the basics. To survive, you’re going to need water, food, shelter, and security. Those are your primary concerns, at least at first. So lets focus on that.


Clean drinking water. Without it, you’re simply not going to make it. You are in massive good fortune if there’s a water source on your property, or nearby. That’s a huge big deal. Can I emphasize that enough? What an asset!

If this is you, well, you’re almost there.. Unless your water source is a clean natural spring, chances are that organic ‘nasties’ are in there too. And when you drink it, well, you’re going to end up expelling more water than you take in, if you get my meaning.. and this will lead to your demise. Clean drinking water is critical.

Despite being low on financial resources, there’s got to be a way to purchase a good drinking water filter. Preferably a gravity countertop water filter. While focusing on lack of financial resources (the thrust of this article), which water filter might you afford? Well obviously, that depends on what you can manage to afford.

Gravity Countertop Water Filters

Unfortunately, the king of the hill, the Berkey, is expensive. The replacement filter elements are expensive too (although they do process ~ 3000 gallons of water per element). As of this post, the total approximate cost of the Big Berkey (holds 2.25 gallons) is just north of $360. If you can swing it, this is my recommendation. However if you cannot, lets look at alternatives..

Note: USABerkeyFilters is one of our sponsors, though even if not, I would still recommend the Berkey.

Cheaper alternatives to Berkey? With that said, the following choices are just my own opinion, and I have no affiliation with any. I have not done in-depth filter specification comparisons of these against the Black Berkey filter elements. Rather, just going by brands I’ve known about, but cost a little less.

Alexapure. It’s still quite expensive. NSF/ANSI 53 and standard 61 certified. Looking on their site, approx. $279 as of this post.

Waterdrop. Evidently NSF/ANSI 372 certified. Approx. $199.

Pitcher Water Filters

Okay, those gravity countertop filters are all costly. But lets look at another way around this. Pitcher type water filters. They cost a lot less! (search amzn) However they won’t process nearly as much water before the filters need replacement, and obviously the water reservoir is small.

You would have to compare one against another for how many gallons they filter. However you’re looking at only spending $20 – $50. You’ll also need to buy a number of extra filter replacements, depending on how much drinking water that you want to get yourself set up for (depends on your risk tolerance).

Sawyer Mini

Maybe I should have listed this one first, given the context of little to no financial resources. This little water filter is quite amazing. It does not hold a reservoir of water, ready to drink. It’s not convenient like that. However, remarkably, Sawyer says that it is rated up to 100,000 gallons. It’s intended as a portable drinking water filter. I have several. It is an excellent brand. And the Sawyer Mini will keep you alive. This is my minimum recommendation for those who are truly budget limited, looking for something at home to enable safe drinking water for survivability.

Best of all, we’re only looking at around $20 bucks..
(Sawyer storefront on amzn)

Cheap Food For Survival

Buying prepping and preparedness food on little to no budget. This pretty much means a do-it-yourself survival food plan on a tight budget. We need to look at cost versus calories. Getting the best ‘bang for the buck’ so to speak.. To list the foods that may fit in that category.

After that, the decision becomes how much of it to buy to survive a period of time that fits in with your personal risk tolerance threshold. If you can’t get more after it runs out, well, that’s it, you’re finished. There are too many hypotheticals and scenarios to debate what may or may not happen in this regard. Or how long it might take to re-establish any semblance of supply. It purely comes down to one’s own choices.

Rice and Beans

The very basics. Rice & Beans.

“The consumption of the two together provides ALL the essential amino acids, and it is no wonder that this combination is a staple of many diets throughout the world.”

~ Modern Survival Blog – Rice & Beans, A Survival Combination

And you will need a way to process it. Boiling the beans, and the rice. There are ways to conserve fuel during this process (linked below). Since we’re hypothesizing a major disaster, you need to ask yourself if you could cook at your home without electricity. If not, you will need to mitigate that as well (other methods or fuels such as a camping stove, propane, butane, over a fire, etc..).

[ Read: Cooking Rice in a Thermos to Save 80% Fuel ]

[ Read: Cooking Old Dry Beans with a Pressure Cooker ]

How many days of survival will rice & beans provide?

You can easily figure out how many ‘survival days’ it will last you. Here’s how..

Both rice, and beans, have about the same calories per pound (in their dry, uncooked state). That’s about 1,600 calories per pound. Here’s an example:

40 pounds of rice with 20 pounds of beans. That’s about 96,000 calories (60×1600). We humans need about 2,000 calories a day to survive (more or less depending on activity level). 96,000 divided by 2,000 equal 48 (survival days). See how that works? Now you can figure it out for anything. Just plug in the numbers.

Other Inexpensive Survival Foods

Again, given a very low budget, we need to keep it cheap. Calories versus cost. Here are some further examples. Remember, diversification. Try to avoid the potential of food fatigue.

Pasta. Spaghetti and Macaroni noodles. Similar to rice and beans, they have approximately 1,500 calories per pound. 40 one-pound boxes of spaghetti will provide 30 survival days. However, again, they need to be boiled. Plus, you might want sauce with that!

Spam. 24 cans of spam provide about 13 survival days.

Corned Beef Hash. 24 cans will put out 9 survival days.

DAK canned ham. Nearly identical with about 9 survival days for 24 cans.

Peanut butter. A 40 ounce (the big jar) of Jif has nearly 6,500 calories. 10 of those and you have about 32 survival days! Actually, peanut butter is an excellent survival food to keep around.

You can look into other possibilities on your own. It’s a matter of what you’re willing to spend, and how much space you have to store it. Note that some foods don’t store as well as others. But that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Shelter for Survival

The roof over your head. Your home. Where you live. Will you be able to stay there throughout the period? Depends where you live, right? Do you own your home outright? Even if you don’t, chances are that the bank will not have the ability to evict during our hypothetical disaster period. What about apartment dwellers? I would imagine the same thing.. god luck evicting..

Given what I just mentioned, your BIGGEST issue with ‘shelter’ for survival will be WHERE YOU LIVE. And this brings us right to the next category, SECURITY.

Security for Survival

Since we’re talking about a major widespread disaster whereby we may be without electricity and supply chains, those who have not prepared for it, WILL become a security threat. And WHERE you live will determine the extent of your security risk in this regard.

How can you prepare for security when you have little or no budget?

Gray. One of the best things may be to stay gray. Unnoticed. Blending in. Don’t let anyone know that you are somewhat prepared. Because word spreads. Quickly.

Your local region. If you live somewhat rural, you are in much better shape than others when it comes to security. You will not be immune from it, however your risks will likely be far less. Fewer people, fewer issues. But don’t let that put you completely at ease.

If you live in a population dense region (don’t think that you’re safe if you’re just outside by a few miles), then you are really in trouble in this hypothetical regard. It’s going to get ugly.

Firearm(s). In my opinion, the best thing that most can do, even on a tight budget, is to acquire a firearm for protection. You can get them pretty cheap, but still pretty decent. While the discussion of a ‘best’ firearm will never reveal ‘the’ answer (because there are so many things and preferences to consider), I’ll bet you can pick up a good used (or even new) firearm for a few hundred or thereabouts. Some on this blog may be able to help with advise if you ask in the comments below.

I really, really feel that one’s security will be so very important during a time of terrible collapse. You could have done everything right with prepping and preparedness for food, water, energy, shelter, etc.. and all it takes is someone (or some group) keen on taking your stuff. Mad Max. This is why it’s so important where you live. And your neighbors. There is power in numbers.

I don’t have any easy answers. But by thinking about it, you are way ahead of most everyone else who never does.