Dollar Store Do’s & Dont’s For Prepping

Listen, I’m a cheap person. Our ultimate goal is go be able to be debt free. That means I’m trying to save as much money as I possibly can while still making sure that we have everything we need. When you are someone that wants to prepare for the future and any potential emergencies it becomes some sort of delicate balance of spending and saving. Trying to find what takes priority, like water, and what can wait, like spices. One of the best ways that I’ve found to do this is by going to the dollar store for a lot of items. Sure, there are some things that we don’t want to buy from the dollar store, but there are plenty of items that are totally worth buying at the lower cost. Here’s my dollar store do’s and dont’s for prepping. 


These are the things that you want to purchase from the dollar store. They are items you will want to have on hand but they don’t need to be the highest quality. A lot of these will be disposable. No one wants to spend a ton of money on things that they are just going to throw away anyways! 

Paper Products (plates, cups, napkins, etc)

Plastic Silverware

Compactor Trash Bags (try to opt for a higher thickness for these)

Regular Trash Bags

First Aid Supplies (Gauze, BandAids, Antiseptics)

Hygiene Items (Soap, Shampoo, Deodorant)

Medicines (OTC tylenol, ibuprofen, allergy, etc) 

  • A quick note on medicines because some people get nervous to buy the “cheaper” version. I worked at a pharmaceutical company for years. The formula may be slightly different, but I assure you that the majority of these medicines are exactly the same and usually just have a different bottle or label than the expensive brands. 

Manual Kitchen Tools (mixer, can opener, bottle opener, etc)

Pregnancy Tests or Condoms


Cleaning Supplies (bleach, laundry soap, concentrates to make several batches)

Hand Soap or Hand Sanitizer

Ziploc Bags (all sizes)

Toilet Paper


Duct Tape

Rain Ponchos

Zip Ties

Twine or Fishing Line


Cotton Balls or Pads



Bungee Cords



Lighters & Matches

Toothpaste & Toothbrushes

Sewing Kit

Super Glue


Permanent Markers

Glow Sticks

Playing Cards

Safety Pins

Baby Wipes or Antiseptic Wipes (in case you can’t shower)

Razors and Razor Blades



Box Cutters or Utility Knives

Rubber Gloves


Hand Tools (screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, etc)

Gas Stabilizer



These are the items I would recommend that you spend a little bit extra on if you have the ability to. If you don’t have the money I still stand by the fact that it’s better to have them on hand than to not have any at all. They’re still vital prep items and we definitely have bought them from the dollar store and then replace them as our budget allows.

  • Vitamins- A lot of cheap vitamins are synthetic. That means your body won’t absorb them as well as it would natural ingredients. They would be fine in a pinch but, again, worth spending some extra to have good ones as you may really need the nutrients in an emergency.
  • Canned Food- A lot of canned food has BPA liners in them which I don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, we still have some of this food on hand though because food is better than no food. I just opt for the more expensive cans with non-BPA liners when I can splurge a little on them.
  • Pet Food- Animal food is a very underregulated industry and there are plenty of ways to stock up without buying your pet cheap food. Pets are also a choice so if you are choosing to have one they are worth spending some extra on.
  • Oven Mitts- The dollar store has these but if electricity is out I prefer to prep some higher temperature mitts to cook over a fire.
  • Coffee- No, I’m not just a bouje coffee drinker. A lot of your basic coffee brands actually have mold in them. In an emergency coffee is just coffee and it will be better than none. It’s also a great bartering item. However, if I’m shopping for us I prefer to spend a little extra to make sure our coffee comes from a quality source.

In Summary: Dollar Store Do’s and Dont’s for Prepping

The dollar store can be a super simple way to get a lot of prep done. Plus, there are so many coupons all the time. You can practically throw a stone anywhere you are anymore and hit a Dollar General anymore which also makes this even easier. I’m all for one stop shopping too because not a lot of us have a ton of extra time. In a world where inflation is continuously rising (to a point that concerns me) it’s important to save money wherever we can. This list would also be really easy to plug into Amazon too, though, if you don’t have the ability to get to the dollar store and you are just looking for a quick (but more expensive) way to get things stocked up.

What tips/tricks do you have for our dollar store shoppers? We’d love to know what your favorite dollar store prep item is!

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