Dollar Store Survival Supplies

Dollar stores can be great places to pick up survival supplies, as long as you realize that in many cases, you get what you pay for.

Here are a few things I’ve seen at my local dollar store that might make for decent supplies:

Food: They typically have a variety of canned and boxed food, such as veggies, instant potatoes, and sweets. Be sure to look at the expiration dates on these things. At my local grocery store, I can usually pick up canned veggies on sale for $0.50 each so be sure to shop around and don’t overpay. Just because it is at the dollar store doesn’t always mean it is a great price.

Soda: Yeah, I know, soda is terrible for you. But, for a measly buck, I can get 3L bottles of it and refill ’em with water from the tap when the soda is gone.

Sunglasses: Something I recommend be in every bug out bag and other kits, yet often overlooked. Pick up several pair at the dollar store, that way if you lose or break a pair, you aren’t out a ton of dough.

OTC meds: Things like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. Again, watch the expiration dates as well as the number of doses in each package. I can pick up a bottle of 500ct ibuprofen for around $4 at other stores, so I’m not going to pay a buck just for ten or fifteen tablets.

Hand sanitizer: I like to have several bottles of this on hand as it helps in cutting down the spread of illnesses. I frequently see little travel size bottles sold in a three pack for a dollar.

Feminine hygiene supplies: I don’t use these myself so I can’t speak to the quality of them. But, having a few pads in your first aid kit to use as compression bandages isn’t a bad idea either way.

Sewing kits: I sometimes see little travel size sewing kits at the dollar store. Comes with a few needles as well as several bundles of thread of varying colors. Not a bad idea for expedient clothing repair but I do wonder about the quality of the thread.

Ice packs: These smallish instant ice packs work well on bruises and similar injuries.

Toilet paper: Probably not the softest brand around but it’ll still be better than leaves.

Aluminum foil: Check the square footage of the package and compare it to your other local stores to make sure you’re getting a decent price.

Glow sticks: Great additions to any survival kit, come in a wide range of colors and sizes.

Even though the price seems right, I’d never buy hand tools at a dollar store. Not unless you want to impress your friends by showing them you can bend a wrench with your bare hands.

Same goes with anything electronic. Even something as simple as a book light just falls apart the first or second time I’ve tried to use it.

Dollar stores can save you money, as long as you’re careful.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

3 thoughts on “Dollar Store Survival Supplies”

  1. You can find a lot of everyday things that you may need at decent prices at dollar stores. But, watch the prices. Some things are not really bargains like some tools. Remember that you get what you pay for.

  2. I've been through CERT training and have stocked up on ace bandages, instant ice packs, tape, etc to help treat disaster victims. I've also been stocking up on various other items that would be good to have if all hell breaks loose. Most dollar stores have some decent brand name large kitchen knives that would be good belt/sheath knives if nothing else could be had. Most also have pots and pans to boil water in. Medical supplies and personal hygiene items can be used in many different ways. A friend who was in Iraq simply said …."Tampons are good to plug bullet holes."

  3. Another thing that dollar stores have are chemical light sticks. These have a lot of uses. From emergency lighting where candles are too dangerous, back up light after the flashlight batteries have all died, and as a night light for a spooked kid. I used to hand them out to kids at a campground I was a guard at for just that purpose.

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