Budget Prepping: How to Start Prepping on a Budget

January 23, 2023 7 min read

prepping on a budget


One of the most considerable barriers for beginner preppers is the financial aspect. Prepping on a budget is hard. We know that it can be challenging to allocate additional funds for prepping emergency supplies amongst the other expenses we pay for daily, weekly, and monthly living.

We hate to worry that some individuals and families might feel like they’re not able to afford to prep. But everyone should be able to be ready for a rainy day. That’s why we’re excited to deliver the good news: Prepping on a budget is possible and affordable for almost everyone.

Prepping does not have to break the bank. Budget prepping is the process of making small and strategic financial decisions to push you and your family in the direction of being more adequately prepared for emergencies.

If you are interested in how to start prepping on a budget, keep reading. The first few steps don’t require any money at all.  


How To Start Prepping With No Money

It’s easy to watch Youtube videos and read articles about million-dollar emergency bunkers filled to the brim with prepper supplies and think, “I can’t afford that.”

The reality is that that type of prepping is unrealistic for most people. Of the millions of self-reliant preppers in our community, only a tiny percentage can afford the million-dollar bunker. The rest of us are prepping our emergency food supply and other equipment on a budget.


prepping on the cheap


To get started, we recommend devising a plan, creating a budget, and inventorying what you already have—all of which require no money whatsoever. You can also start reading up and watching some videos to learn a whole host of invaluable skills that also require no money to learn.


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Devise a Plan

Devising an emergency preparedness plan is where every budget prepper should begin. The plan you create will be unique to you and your family. To do so, it’s a good idea to consider the following questions:

  • What types of emergencies or natural disasters are most challenging for your geographic area?
  • In case of emergency, what does evacuation entail?
  • How can your home be better prepared for emergencies?
  • Where in your home do you have space for food and supply storage?
  • How might your plans change if you move homes? Or if your family grows?

Create a Prepping Budget

Creating a budget and allocating funds for prepping is the best way to remain fiscally responsible while prepping. When prepping on the cheap, you can determine which items are most essential and which items you might need to save for. If it’s within the budget, you can feel confident to invest. If it’s not, then move on and continue saving. 

  • What is the typical monthly income for your household? 
  • What are the typical monthly expenses of your household? 
  • Ideally, how long do you want your emergency food rations and other supplies to last?
  • How many people are in your family?
  • How many calories does each person require to remain healthy?

Inventory What You Already Have

Most of us have started prepping without even knowing it. Chances are, in your fridge or pantry right now is a selection of food you’ve been saving for at least a couple of weeks. These items are included in the short-term food storage category.

Short-term food storage consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, bread products, and dried goods that you prepare and eat on a routine basis. Short-term food storage keeps you from going to the grocery store daily and eating out or ordering delivery. These foods can function as your three-day emergency stockpile.

In your pantry right now, you also probably have a selection, perhaps small, of certain processed foods. Cans or boxes of soup, pasta, bags of rice or quinoa, oatmeal, and cereal are all perfect examples. These foods are part of your medium-term food storage.

Your medium-term food storage consists of frozen, canned, boxed, dried, or processed foods with a longer shelf-life than short-term foods. Typically, these foods are the convenient building blocks for your larger meals. Sometimes, they are the meal themselves, when all energy and creativity for cooking goes out the window. Thank you, frozen pizza!

Between the short- and medium-term foods you usually keep on hand, you’ve been prepping without knowing it. To continue prepping, we recommend doing three things that stay within the budget you created.

  1. Continue shopping for short-term foods to keep you and your family fed, but avoid going to the grocery store every day, and spending money on eating out or delivery.

  2. Slowly build up your medium-term food storage. For example, the next time you go to the store for your typical shopping trip, buy an extra box of pasta or take advantage of the buy-two-get-one-free deal for your favorite canned soup.

  3. Begin developing long-term food storage in a financially responsible way that agrees with your budget. This is easier than it sounds. We will explain two ways to build a long-term food storage stockpile and stay within your budget.  

How to Spend Your Money Wisely on Long-Term Food Storage


how to start prepping on a budget


You don’t have to buy a year’s worth of emergency food in one transaction! Very few of us have the extra cash to make that possible. Instead, you can wisely spend your money over time to build up a long-term emergency food supply without burning a hole in your wallet.

The third category for food prepping is long-term food storage. Long-term food storage consists of professionally prepared and packaged freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency food. Long-term foods can last over 25 years and provide the valuable nutrients that any sized family may require throughout an emergency.

Think of it this way—long-term food storage is equivalent to food insurance. By beginning to invest in long-term emergency food now, you are preparing for the inevitable unexpected worst-case scenario. You hope you never have to use your food insurance, but when you do, you will be glad you began investing all those years ago.

The 30-Day, Build Over Time Stockpile

This product allows you to start prepping over time and helps you avoid lump sums. Investing in long-term emergency food with three incremental payments spread out over three months allows you to continue with your monthly income and expenses without much change. 

After three manageable payments, you will have 30 days of emergency food for one person, also perfect for feeding your family during grocery store food shortages or natural disasters.  

Food Storage Subscriptions

Similar to the 30-day build-over-time stockpile are food storage subscriptions that you simply plug into your regular monthly budget. Food storage subscriptions allow you to build up your emergency food stockpile over time until you meet your food storage goals.

Plus, by subscribing ahead of time to purchase emergency foods like freeze-dried fruits and entrees, you can save money with monthly discounts, as opposed to manually purchasing the items yourself each month.

All the food included in the 30-day stockpile and food subscription is non-GMO, easy to prepare, and comes with a 25-year shelf life. Plus, both of the products come with simple and recognizable ingredients; there is no added junk or ingredients that you cannot pronounce.    


Tips for Prepping on a Budget

budget prepping


  • Buy in bulk. Buying food in the bulk aisle of your grocery store is one of the best ways to save money. It may seem counterintuitive because you’re spending more up front, but usually larger quantities offer better value. For example, a two-pound bag of flour may only cost $1.16, but at 3.6¢/oz, you’re better off spending a couple more dollars to get the 10-pound bag at 2.5¢/oz.
  • Refrain from spending too much money on water. Instead of buying expensive bottled water, we recommend investing in refillable water jugs and barrels you can fill with your tap water source.
  • Spoiled food is lost money. To ensure that the emergency food storage you are stockpiling doesn’t spoil prematurely, it’s critical to store it in an ideal area and take precautions against insects and rodents.

  • Buy with friends: Relying on your prepper community is a good way to save money. For example, if you and some friends or family want to boost your medium-term food storage, you can split the cost of a large bag of rice instead of trying to pay for the whole thing yourself or buying smaller bags individually. Just make sure you know how to store rice long term.

  • Focus on rewards. Loyalty programs and cash-back rewards are passive ways to save money and reinvest it in more food prepping.
  • Set your goals and stick with them. Prepping on a budget is an ongoing endeavor. To keep your spending on track, set both financial and prepping goals. For example, if your goal is to spend $5 dollars extra each week on killer deals, don’t overspend, no matter how enticing it may be.


  • Speak with an expert. If you are new to prepping, a lot can be gained from speaking with an expert. You can get your questions answered and receive advice on how to successfully prep without spending a fortune. 

Final Thoughts: Budget Prepping is Possible for Everyone   

Prepping for an emergency or natural disaster does not need to put you or your family into debt. On the contrary, you can begin prepping on the cheap without spending any money.

Preparing a plan, building a budget, and taking inventory are the ideal steps for prepping on a budget. From there, with a better understanding of what supplies you already have in short- and medium-term food storage, what you need, and how much money you have budgeted, you can begin incrementally investing in long-term food storage.

We hope you found this article helpful and that it dispelled the myth that you need to be a millionaire to start prepping. For more helpful articles like this, visit our Practical Prepper Blog, or join our prepper community. Or, if you are ready to start your budget-prepping journey, visit our website to make your first purchase.