It can be daunting to see whole lists of things to do, things to make, things to learn, and things to buy when you’re first begin to prepare your home and family. I’ll share some of my favorite finds at Dollar Tree to help you get started!
Dollar stores are definitely places to be aware of what you’re buying. Sure, it’s priced at a dollar, but an item might not be worth a dollar. Or it may be such poor quality that you’re wasting your dollar when you really need to use the item.
But, if you are of a keen eye, not particularly picky about ‘style’, and prepared with your lists, you can really stretch your budget and stock up!
Something else to keep in mind, I consider many things to fall under the umbrella of preparedness. Things that can help me organize my ‘stuff’, things that can be hacked from general everyday purposes to things like shelter, etc., food organization for the freezer and pantry to keep my food supplies high and organized, etc.
25 Preparedness Items to Buy at Dollar Tree
1. First Aid
Bandages, splints, wrappings, ice packs, knee braces, pain patches, medicines, ointments, and so much more. I have found that the first aid supplies are great buys, and I can stock our first aid kits quickly and inexpensively from Dollar Tree.
P.S. They even carry pregnancy kits which work great!
2. Home Organization
While I try to keep my actual food storage in items like glass, stainless steel, BPA free plastics, and non-lead containing found objects, using the inexpensive Dollar Tree storage containers is a great way to organize areas in my home that I don’t care quite as much. My closets and laundry room have benefited from Dollar Tree organization bins in a big way. It helps me keep track of what I have, rotate effectively, and keep clutter under control.
• Read more: An AMAZING way to store spaghetti
3. Paper Products
Generally, we do not use paper products regularly, other than toilet paper and a single roll of paper towels that last about a month.
However, I do stock paper products in my pantry for emergencies such as power outages or water outages from a natural disaster (or even the city turning off water to repair mains and we are without water for a day or two), to have for hospitality (taking care meals to families, having impromptu gatherings in our home), to stocking the car with a few things for emergency get aways. This is one area where you do have to be savvy about pricing and quantities, but as a one stop shop, a dollar store can get you a great supply started with very little investment.
• Read more: What Will You Do When the Toilet Paper Runs Out?
4. Reading Glasses
I need prescription glasses and wear bifocals. While my far vision needs a boost (and I have to have them to drive legally), my real need is for intermediate vision (my computer) and reading. I make sure to have an extra pair of reading glasses tucked in my emergency kits, my day bag, my desk, my bedside, and in my kitchen.
This way, if I don’t have my glasses with me, or if they break, I have a pair to help me read no matter where I am. I can get better quality glasses at places like Target, but with the way I lose them, break them, etc., I prefer to stock up on these which serve me well for emergency supplies. They also have chains and cases to use with your glasses if you need.
They also have sunglasses, but after talking to my opthamologist about my risk of macular degeneration, I prefer to invest a little more in sunglasses that will help protect my eyes, not just save me from some glare.
5. Shower Curtains
You have to be a little careful about the selection as some are not better than paper. But if you hit upon a supply that are thicker, grab them! They can be used as table covers, makeshift shelters, etc. (See my 101 uses for a shower curtain).
Glowsticks at Dollar Tree may be more decorative than useful, but when you have kids, glowsticks serve so many purposes! You can pack them in their emergency kits, use them for lights-out activities during power outages. They can be comfort objects when it’s dark or you’re camping, and for general lighting when you buy the bigger sticks or swords. We stockpile better glowsticks for our emergency bags and lights out kit, but also do these dollar store varieties for a playful addition, especially for kids.
We generally stay away from the thin bracelets and tiny tubes. We go for the bigger sticks and swords.
7. Plastic Totes Bags
You might get these from many places, but for a dollar, I love these plastic totes for freezer organization. I have a chest freezer and organizing categories by tote is a huge help. The handles help me lift things out easily, to get to the next layer, and the totes help keep things contained in the chest.
But they can also be used in the same fashion in a pantry. Instead of using plastic storage tubs, you can use the totes to store linens, large quantities of toilet paper, and make them easily movable.
8. 80 Hour Emergency Candles
These $1 emergency candles are great finds. They aren’t advertised as such in the store, but when you check the website, they are listed as such. I’ve never tested the full burning capacity of them, mind you, but they are good to have for a lights-out kit.
The good news is that if your Dollar Tree does not normally stock these, or if you’d rather have them in a storage box, you can order a 12-count box of their emergency candles and have it delivered to your local store for free. They are marketed as candles that are great for spiritual endeavors, but we know that they work great for preparedness, too! The only thing you’ll want are longer matches or lighters for when the wax is low.
9. Ice/Hot Packs for Food
These reusable ice/hot food packs are great for food preservation. When I’m having to clean out my chest freezer, the packs work to help keep things cold (especially those things that tend to thaw out quickly like frozen fruit). Then used hot, it helps keep dishes warm if we’re traveling.
They are also terrific if your freezer/fridge has died and you are without for a day or two. Along with ice, these cold packs can help keep your foods frozen in coolers until you can get a new unit. Great for power outages as well.
And in a pinch, the flexible packs can be used for pain relief – just a little bulky.
If you can find the packs that are smaller and for lunch bags, they are GREAT for pain relief.
10. Spray Bottles
Because I make most of my cleaners, and I like to have one in every zone in our home so we aren’t going back and forth across the house to get a cleaner, I love the dollar store bottles. You can get steel ones, big plastic ones and small plastic ones.
11. Cleaning Supplies
Microfiber dusters, brooms, buckets, clothespins, and more are available. Sometimes, it really isn’t worth even a dollar, but other times, the items are great and are well worth stocking up!
12. Microfiber Towels
We use these microfiber towels for so many things – for dusting, for cleaning, for quick spill cleanups. You can find large ones in the automotive sections, mesh backed ones in the kitchen section, and multi-packs around the store. These are great to use instead of paper towels, and we keep a big supply for all sorts of uses.
13. Office Supplies
Organizers, pens, pencils, mailers, etc. While this may look like an organizational issue and not preparedness, Things like pencil boxes can have a new life as a first aid kit. A bubble mailer can house seeds for the next season. Binders and dividers can be made into Family Emergency Binders.
Clipboards work great to keep wipe off inventory pages on the wall. File pockets can be good for keeping important papers together for your go bag. And those pencil sharpeners? They could actually save your life!
14. “Damp Rid”
I keep one of these in my storage closet to help keep general dampness out.
15. Puppy Pads
Now, hear me out on this, okay? If you have an emergency toilet that you use for camping, or maybe have in case of evacuation or disaster, using these disposable puppy pads at the bottom of your bag can absorb the waste, help keep it from smelling so bad so quickly, and allows for easier cleanup.
16. Bungee Cords
We use bungee cords to keep emergency kits in place in the car, to tie down things, etc.
17. Bags of Epsom Salts
Epsom salts have so many uses, we like to keep quite a few bags on hand, and the price can’t be beat.
18. Plastic Shoe Bins
The price point isn’t a bargain as you can get them for about the same price in Walmart, their use is not to be beat. We use them to organize preparedness items in our linen closet and categorize smaller things in larger totes in the garage.
Yes, socks. Here’s why. I keep extra pair of socks in our emergency box and bags for times when we need a change because our feet got wet outdoors. I’d rather not use up an everyday pair (I have teenage boys, we go through socks a lot), so use the less expensive ones to stock in the emergency bins just in case. I just make sure to pick the best pairs I can find.
20. Over the door storage hooks
You can use Command hooks that are really expensive, or you can take a look at the selection here and find ones that work really well. Alternative storage is king when you are trying to keep a house from being buried in preparedness supplies. Consider these to be a better hook than what comes the shower caddies or shoe organizers to hang on the back of a door to help support them better.
These fun flashlights are great for kids to have in emergency packs, by their bedside, or to have extras in bathrooms and other rooms. Don’t rely on the dollar store batteries to keep them lit, though. We keep these as extras around the house and to tuck in places, but use this flashlight as our go to emergency flashlight for packs, and this one for our cars.
• Additional Reading: My Favorite Personal Flashlight
22. Zip Ties
Great for closing things that don’t stay closed, creating projects like this organizer from Dollar Tree objects, and keeping electronic cords organized. They’re handy little tools to have.
23. Party Supply Tablecloths
Like shower curtains, these table cloths are great for covering things from the rain. While you certainly can use trash bags, table cloths are just easier to store and use for larger projects. They can be paper thin, so I don’t use them for making shelter, but they’re good to toss over a dirty area to eat on, or throw over a pile of things to keep safe from a sudden storm.
They can also be good for lining a surface before storing items on it. I don’t store cardboard boxes on the floor of our garage, but I will use a plastic table cloth or shower curtain to put a barrier down first. Or we’ve used them to store oil on shelves and line the shelf with the plastic table cloth first, to stop staining.
24. Large Vacuum Storage Bags
I’ve not always had the best of luck with them, but when it’s good, it’s great! Storing extra towels and linens or out of season clothes in flat packs on a shelf and save a ton of storage room? Awesome! They also have zippered storage items for keeping clothes clean – which would be great for winter items when not in use.
25. Dental care
We use some fancy toothbrushes in our home, but I do snag extra tooth brushes in those 3 and 4 packs. Not only are they good for backups, they are good for cleaning, and for donating for personal care product collections for our mission teams at church and Operation Christmas Child, etc. We buy the picks because they’re easier than floss to clean our teeth with, but we do stock up on floss, as well. And name brand toothpaste is a great buy if you’re not a couponer.
• Read more: Dental Emergency Kit
26. Hand Sanitizer / Wipes
We don’t use hand sanitizer on daily basis. We DO use it when someone in our household has come down with a stomach virus, because puking is just not okay. So I make sure to double clean for that. We will use the wipes as well, especially if we are traveling in public spaces during cold/flu season or if a roto/noro virus is on the rampage in our area. I keep them stocked in our emergency bags and car, too.
27. Generic medications
I admit to purchasing generic medications from Dollar Tree. I do try to make sure I know the source, I am careful to be sure I’m purchasing something that is worth the value (5 tylenol-like pills for a dollar isn’t a good deal), and I stock up on what we might need in an emergency, and I rotate them through our regular medicines to keep them current.
28. Nuts/Sunflower Seeds
While I do not generally purchase food from dollar stores, I will purchase nuts and seeds for protein snacks for the kids, and to toss into smoothies. While nuts CAN be stored for food storage, we usually rotate through it fairly quickly.
What I Don’t Buy at Dollar Tree
It’s not to say that if I were on a tighter budget I wouldn’t buy some of these items to see us through. I would. But if I can help it, I go elsewhere for these.
- Food – for the most part, I don’t buy the off brand packaged foods. We have purchased some name brand meats there – the tuna in a pouch, and some nuts. But we tend to stay away. I haven’t researched their frozen foods section – but I know frozen fruit is a great deal when you get it on sale. I just haven’t looked. Just make sure you know where it is sourced from.
- Shelf Liner – while I want to love a roll for a dollar, the rolls generally only have enough product to line 1-2 small drawers.
- Kid toys – unless they are for joke purposes, most of it is junk and not worth having, anyway.
- Toiletries – I prefer to shop for deals at my grocery store if I don’t make it myself.
- Dust masks – for general purpose housework, maybe. For keeping in my emergency kits, no, go ahead and invest in these.
- Foil, zip top bags, trash bags, etc. I tend to get better deals on better quality items at the grocery store.
- Tools and duct tape.
- Electronics – while I will stock up on ear bugs for travel (because we ALWAYS break or lose them), there’s pretty much nothing else there that I would buy.
- Cleaners – for the most part, no.
All dollar stores carry revolving stock, so check back often to yours to see if you can find items that are useful to you!
What are your favorite preparedness items you get at the dollar store?
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