How to Start Prepping with $100

I have received quite a few emails recently from people that are concerned about the future of this country as well as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc. One of the things that I am confronted with is….”I do not make much money and want to prep – but I just cannot afford it. What am I to do?”

food stockpile canned food ramen noodles bottled water
A small food stockpile worth $100: canned food, canned Ragu, ramen noodles, bottled water, packs of salt, and a few more.

Easy to ask – tough to answer.

$100 might not seem like a lot of money, but when it comes to prepping, it can go a long way. In this blog post, we will discuss how to start prepping with just $100.

This amount can be spent on food, water, shelter, and other necessary supplies. By following our tips, you will be well on your way to being prepared for any emergency!

Prepping Can Sure Seem Expensive

To most folks who have not been involved in prepping for very long, it sure can seem expensive. We are constantly bombarded with lists of things to buy, some of them very expensive, training to get and resources to hoard.

I don’t blame you if it seems like there’s a cash register sound going off in your head every time you read an article on the subject!

This is all well and good if you have plenty of discretionary income or your family is sincerely and completely committed to the cause. But what about the rest of us who either just don’t have that much money to splash around? What about people who have a sharply limited budget for prepping?

It is easy to say make more money or spend what you need to to be prepared because your family will thank you later, but that just isn’t real life for most of us.

Whatever the reason, whatever the circumstances, there are plenty of folks who aren’t big ballers when it comes to prepping. Are we just supposed to tell them tough, and to take their chances?

No, not by a long shot. One of the core tenets of prepping is adapting to the hand you are dealt, and that definitely applies when it comes to your prepping budget.

Prepping is About More than Just Big Ticket Items

For any of you reading this who suffer from this minimal prepping budget or a lack of funds overall, I have good news.

Prepping is about far more than purchasing big ticket items. Sure, everybody wants a bug out vehicle, the secluded homestead and the mountain of guns and other supplies.

But I’ve got news for you friends; the people who can afford to buy all of that stuff are still likely no better off than you are.

This is because they are likely falling victim to a classic prepping fallacy. This fallacy is the idea that you can buy readiness.

You can’t, obviously, even though having the right supplies and tools can help you be ready. Being ready to face down disaster and crisis is more about intention, practice and effort then swiping that credit card one more time at the camping store.

Now, it is true that you will need some supplies in order to be better prepared to sustain yourself or tackle the problems that need solving. That much is true. But you’ll be much better off if you bring effort, grit and tenacity to the table with fewer supplies than vice versa.

The Golden Rule: Be More Prepared than You Were Yesterday

The point is, don’t worry if you only have a little bit of money to spend towards supplies and gear. Save wisely and spend shrewdly, and you’ll have more than enough so long as you can supply the necessary effort. As long as you are more prepared today then you were yesterday, you are doing well!

This could mean acquiring just a little bit more knowledge, just a few more supplies or one choice piece of gear. If the person you are today is a better survivor than the person you were yesterday, you can’t ask for more than that.

Entry-level Prepping on only $100 Dollars

Now, back to the premise of the article. Let us say you only have a $100 to spend when it comes to acquiring gear or supplies.

It sure doesn’t seem like much, and in the grand scheme of things $100 is definitely not a lot of money. However, it can still buy you a lot of extra capability if you spend it wisely.

How you spend it is up to you. Do you want to go all in on a certain sector of survival gear, or get just a little bit of capability in multiple sectors? You can make a case for both, but the best answer usually arises from assessing what you have already.

If you have plenty of food you probably don’t need more. If emergency water supplies are basically a non-issue for you you probably don’t need to spend on water gear. If you already have guns and ammo, you’re self-defense needs are probably met. And so forth.

The following entries represent a bite-sized but comprehensive investment of $100 in supplies in each category.

The Food Stash

$100 will buy you quite a lot of canned, pouched or otherwise ready to eat survival food. Tuna and chicken, chili, vegetables, fruit, it is all on the table.

If you have the water and don’t mind cooking it, you can go even farther by purchasing Staples like rice, dried beans, honey and so forth.

Peanut butter is another tried and true survival food that is a nutritionally very complete, filling, adaptable and affordable. None of the items listed above are particularly expensive, and $100 should easily get you a 3-day supply.

Note that you might not necessarily even be hitting your calorie requirements, but these rations will keep fuel in your tank and keep you alive.

Water Preparedness

Water is another survival necessity that can be easily furnished in abundance for $100.

You can spend it 50 bucks on jugged or bottled water and have a huge supply for even the hottest conditions, with water to spare for cooking and even a little bit for hygiene if you desire.

If you have the water on hand and you know it is safe to drink, that is 90% of the battle right there.

But more than this, you can spend some of your $100 Budget on contingency items like a bathtub basin bag and a portable or countertop water filter that can make collected Water supplies much safer to drink in the event that you run out. 

Self-Defense Selection

When it comes to self-defense, most people naturally think of firearms but there are basically no firearms worth owning that cost $100 or less. Instead, you could choose to equip yourself with an extra large riot canister of OC spray with plenty of money left over.

Other good options include a sturdy, high quality knife, an ax or hatchet which can also serve as a useful tool. If you really wanted to get plenty of self-defense bang for your buck, you might invest in a high quality, battlefield worthy replica of an ancient weapon like a war hammer or a spear.

Shelter and More

Shelter is another crucial survival necessity, and one that you might think you have covered already so long as you have a roof over your head. Don’t be complacent, as any home can be severely damaged by any disaster worth the name.

Investing your hundred bucks into a decent sleeping bag, emergency blankets, tarps and cordage will ensure that you may stay warm and shaded in any conditions no matter what happens to your house.

Communications Contingency

Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones not to mention authorities and relief agencies will be important during any disaster. Communications gear is quite expensive, at least the good stuff is, but you don’t have to fret over that because you only have $100.

Smart investments can help you make the most of the gear you have right now, particularly your cell phone. An inexpensive power bank will allow you to keep your phone up and running much longer after the electricity goes out.

An add-on antenna will help you reach nearby towers when the network is clogged with activity. A portable solar charger will allow you to recharge at all using nothing but the sun.

Lastly, an inexpensive NOAA weather emergency radio will help you tune in to government broadcasts to stay apprised of the developing situation, particularly hazards and evacuation points.

$100 Milestones will Take You Far!

Now that you know what you can get with just $100, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how quickly you can get prepared if you can just save $100 for your next investment.

In fact, setting $100 survival gear milestones might be just the ticket to help you budget when you are on a limited income.

If you did nothing else but acquire each of the five $100 entry level purchases listed above you would have a pretty good three day or one week survival stash.

If you are starting from scratch or starting over, consider that your survival purchase benchmark!

My Own Experience

I have long believed that when it comes to deciding what supplies to get first – food is the number one priority. Many households contain only days of food. In a disaster situation – food and water will become essential items to have. Often – these items become very scarce.

In an effort to show an example of what a small (not too small) amount of money can provide – I went to my local grocery store and spent $100.

I know $100 is not a small amount of money – but for someone who really wants to get started in preparedness – it is a reasonable amount to come up with.

If one does not have the money – the funds can be raised by selling a few things (yard sale, pawn shop) or possibly doing some odd jobs (mowing a lawn, fix a fence, etc.)  to raise the cash.

Most stuff was on sale. I think for $100 there is a decent amount of food there.

I was able to pick up (see photo above):

  • cans of fruit
  • cans of vegetables
  • cans of Beef Stew
  • couple of jars of peanut butter
  • Ramen noodles
  • boxes of potato flakes
  • Mac & Cheese
  • spaghetti sauce
  • spaghetti noodles
  • 3 35-bottle cases of water
  • couple of bags of rice
  • cans of beans

Not too shabby.

You Can Start Prepping For Less

It’s easy to feel discouraged when you don’t have lots of money to throw at the prepping problem. But you don’t need to feel less than capable or less than compared to Preppers who are spending big.

On even the smallest budget, a few choice purchases combined with daily improvement is all that is necessary to get well and truly prepared. Use this list to help guide your purchases and you’ll have a robust survival stash in no time.

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updated 03/09/2022

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16 thoughts on “How to Start Prepping with $100”

  1. Great list!! I would add canned soups (variety), spices, and chicken broth.
    Also, toliet paper, female sanitary products, bar/liquid soap, shampoo, & toothpaste.

  2. Rourke,

    Good article… $100 is not that hard to come up with for most people, and as you’ve demonstrated, it can set aside a nice supply of food that will not only store well, but is perfectly suitable for rotation and day-to-day eating (of course the key is to restock what gets eaten).

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Hello I agree with you completely . We have been stoking up for some time adding about $20-30 a week . Some time back I ran across this book and it tells pretty much the same things you are telling except that it expands on it . It can be bought off e-bay for under $10 and is well worth the money . Good luck to all .

    Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton.

    Publisher’s Note Always Be Prepared
    What if your life was disrupted by a natural disaster, food or water supply contamination, or any other type of emergency? Do you have the essentials for you and your family? Do you have a plan in the event that your power, telephone, water and food supply are cut off for an extended amount of time? What if there were no medical or pharmaceutical services available for days, weeks, or months? How prepared are you?
    With this guide by your side, you and your family will learn how to plan, purchase, and store a three-month supply of all the necessities—food, water, fuel, first-aid supplies, clothing, bedding, and more—simply and economically. In other words, this book may be a lifesaver.
    Inside you’ll find 10 steps to an affordable food storage program plus how to:
    ·Prepare a home “grocery store” and “pharmacy”
    ·Use what you store and store what you use
    ·Store water safely and provide for sanitation needs
    ·Create a first-aid kit, car kit, and 72-hour emergency kit for the whole family
    ·And many more invaluable hints and tips
    “This clear, concise, step-by-step program is not only affordable and doable, it’s essential in these uncertain times. Now, everyone from apartment dwellers to basement owners can store a three-month supply of the essentials, including peace of mind!” — Joni Hilton, author of Once-a-Week Cooking Plan and Cooking Secrets My Mother Never Taught Me
    Outlines a practical six-step plan for storing a three-month reserve of food, water, and survival supplies, from securing a location for a home grocery and pharmacy to collecting the best basic survival products and equipment. Original. 15,000 first printing.

  4. hey rourke
    now that are newbie preppers spent their $100 bucks , maybe you could help them with ways to cook their food

  5. Remember our good friend – RAMEN NOODLES. I paid $1.98 (USD at Wal-Mart) for 12 packs. There is even a wbsite on making good food with Ramen Noodles.

  6. Don’t be afraid to go to stores like ALDI or Save-A-Lot. These stores offer store brand food at discount prices, and most of the food is just as good as the brand name stuff you can get from the major stores.


  7. Anything you can do in the name of prepping, no matter how much or how little, only serves to put you that much further ahead of the majority of folks. Some weeks I do absolutely nothing to prep; other weeks I probably go a bit overboard. Bottom line: remain consistent, and in less time than what you think possible you will have a fairly sizable inventory of necessities.

  8. While it is easy to prep foods for as little as $10 a week, you have to watch out that many of those low cost items are full of empty calories and little to NO protein – Ramen noodles is the best example. By adding a cut up slim jim or beef jerky, it raises the calorie intake also gives you some protein.

    Many camping food recipes are fantastic for preppers & their stored foods, especially check out lightweight camping websites where they give great ideas for high energy lightweight meals. Also, don’t forget instant breakfast items – oatmeal, grits, pancake mix even white rice with some sugar.

  9. A small investment in a vacuum sealer with mylar bags, a Fagor pressure cooker, and some mason jars with lids will allow you to significantly reduce the per serving cost of your food storage. Add in a dehydrator and all that left over venison becomes jerky treats for poker night.

    Of course, there is the issue of actually having to process the food and put it in the bags or jars. I see that as another opportunity to sample my latest home brew.

  10. My research has shown that you can buy between 10-30 % more food for the money when you buy the store brands . But on the flip side sometimes the store brands are not as good a tasting . For one thing the food lion macaroni and cheese is not as good and my 6 year old wont eat it .
    Just a thought

  11. Excellent post. It’s important to remember that it’s not all or nothing. Every little step a person makes towards stocking his coffers is a step in the right direction, whether it’s $100 or $10.

    Buying sale items and items that you have coupons for help a lot too. My wife has written about how we got started over on our blog site.

    She uses a site called and likes it. It’s a subscription site, but I think she more than makes up for the monthly cost.


  12. I like the idea of prepping on a budget. One thing to keep in mind. If you want your canned foods to last virtually forever you should buy “shelf stable” foods. Hormel cans all of their foods in that manner. Shelf stable canning methods have been tested and have been found to last as long as 80 years if the cans are not damaged. The texture and taste suffers, but the nutrient content does not diminish much.

    Spam, Dinty Moore etc, are Hormel products.

    No need to rotate as often if you don’t want to or maybe need to stock your remote hideaway.

    Hope this information was useful.


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