How much does it cost to be completely prepped and ready?

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What is the cost of prepping?

The COVID-19 Pandemic has made us all rethink the way we live and how unprepared we are are for major catastrophes.

It has made many of us who had perhaps not previously considered it before, the importance of being prepared at a household level. We try very hard on this website to be an excellent resource for those researching how to be more prepared.

However, what has been missing so far has been an overall look at the potential cost of prepping. In this article, we are going to explore the cost of prepping in more detail.

how much is the cost of prepping

We have readers from around the world, although the majority are from the United States. Clearly costs will vary according to where you live and may change with inflation, but we can at least provide an approximate price guide for you (based on the USA). 

We are going to look at three scenarios that you might wish to prepare for and so have split the article into three main sections:

  1. Where the grid remains functional and you have to stay at home
  2. Where the grid is completely down and you have to ‘bug in’
  3. Where you have to flee your home (bug out)
  4. Infrastructure to prepare in advance

Of course the sooner you get going, the better (though please stay and finish the article!) It is a bit late to start organizing yourself once things have start to go South – as we saw at the start of lockdown in many locations around the world. But if anything, it maybe gives those who were previously hesitant about spending the money on prepping that they can now be completely justified to do so – that they won’t be viewed as ‘crazy prepper guy’!

Remember, this article is focussing on the costs of prepping. Advice on how to prepare is found elsewhere on this website.

The Grid is Functional

cost of prepping
– photo by Nasa on Unsplash

During the COVID-19 Pandemic to a greater extent, the grid has remained functional and this may be the case in some other emergency situations. In this first scenario, we will be looking at where you still have access to electricity and water.

Other potential grid up, bug in scenarios might be:

  • Civil unrest
  • Terrorist threat or attack
  • Extreme weather
  • War
  • Panic

In all of these events, it is usually safer to remain at home, unless perhaps you live very close to a potential target in the case of war. At home, you have your security infrastructure and more potential to have stored essential supplies and home comforts.

If you leave home you immediately are more vulnerable. So we need to look at what resources you will need to stay at home during one of these scenarios.


In all scenarios in this article, your number one concern should be security. You could have food, water and supplies for days….but if someone takes them from you it’s a tad pointless.

Some would say you need to make your home your castle – but this may be wishful thinking if you live in a tiny studio apartment on the East side. You get the idea though – you need to make your home your place of safety.

Making your home totally impregnable would be very expensive but there are some simple things like securing the doors and windows that will have a big impact on your security and although this will add to the cost of prepping it will make it likely that the intruder will choose another house.

Door & Window Security

Your doors and windows are the weak points in your home security. Obviously good locks are a must. We will assume that you have two doors with good locks already in all cases.

These devices are in addition to door locks and prevent doors and windows from being opened from the outside.

DeviceFunctionCost in $US
Doorricade Door BarBar stretches across inside of the door$180 (for 2x doors)
Door Security Lock Prevents door from being kicked in $30 (for 2xdoors)
BDF S8MC Window FilmApplied to the window and holds glass together if smashed$40 a roll
Maxdot 8 Sets Adjustable Sliding Window LocksImproves window door frames security$17

Food Reserves

In a SHTF type scenario shops may close or it might be unsafe to go outside. In cases like this, you will likely have problems securing food supplies. You should, therefore, build a stock of food to keep as en emergency reserve.

Note the use-by dates on all goods stored and if they have not been needed as they approach the use-by date, eat them and replace the item with a new pack in your store (noting the sell-by date of the new item).

If you store canned and dry staples you can replace individual items as they approach their use-by date and so nothing is wasted.

How long a supply of food you store is dependent on your budget and the storage space you have available. An ideal store would be for three months. You can cut costs down by using own brands and special deals.


Drinking water

If we’re saying that the grid is going to remain functional and water will continue to flow then there is no need to store a mountain of water.

A secure 55 Gallon Water Tank for Emergency Water Storage Costs $185


Essential Skills

Obviously you can pick up a lot of information for free from this and other websites, but should the internet or power go down that would not be available.

This selection of four books provides a library of essential information. Armed with these books you will have information on how to deal with most situations that you will meet.

Book TitleAuthorCost
Special Operations Forces Medical HandbookDepartment of Defense$17
The Popular Mechanics Essential Survival GuidePopular Mechanics$18
Prepper’s Long-Term Survival GuideJimm Cobb$15
How to Eat in the WoodsBradford Angier$16

Means of Communication

Keeping in contact is very important but batteries may be in short supply. This radio/flashlight can be powered by cranking it up or using a built-in solar charger. Charge your smartphone to access data if available.

Emergency Weather Radio, Flashlight, Phone Charger (Crank or Solar) – $40


Medical Supplies

A regular first aid kit is just not going to cut it in cases of non-availability of medical help. This kit is designed for disasters

Medical SupplyNumberCost
First Aid Kit Emergency Response Trauma Bag Complete1$80
Primacare HB-10 Emergency Foil Mylar Thermal Blanket10$9
Medical Grade N95 Masks (Normal price)4$15

Total Cost of Kit 1 for when the grid is still working – $2172

Gotta Get Outta Here

cost of prepping bugging out
– pic by Scott Goodwill on Unsplash

Some people will have a greater need for this kit than others. If you live on a fault line or an area prone to tsunamis, for example, you have a greater chance of having to flee from your home than others.

Generally speaking, in most disaster scenarios you are better staying at home, nevertheless, there are some occasions when you might be better heading for a safer location. Your go-bag should contain everything that will make your forced departure easier.

Remember, at the same time you are forced to leave, there may be thousands of other families in a similar situation, so you cannot just think that you will be able to go to a safer area and find hotels or places to stay.

When the recent volcanic eruption took place at Mount Taal in the Philippines, people were moved in large numbers to surrounding areas that were judged far enough away from the eruption. They were housed in sports halls, school gymnasiums and other large enclosed public areas.

Families divided from one another by low partitions that gave little privacy. These people had enjoyed a reasonable lifestyle before that fateful day, with houses and jobs, and then in just 24 hours, they found themselves as refugees with just what they had been able to carry.

Your Go Bag is going to be prepared and packed so that you can leave your home at a moments notice and feel that you have at least some things to help survival over the next few days.

Your Bug out Bag

Your bug out bag should include water (at least a few 1-liter bottles). This will not be enough for an extended period which is why you should also include a “Life Straw“, so you can filter more if no clean water is available. Try to keep these bottles as a reserve and if you can buy/obtain water on your journey using that without hitting your reserve.

You should have enough food for 72 hours by which time hopefully relief supplies will start to appear for a localized incident. The cheapest and most long-lasting sources of both carbs and proteins are rice, pasta, and dried pulses. To cook those all you need is a means to boil water (check out our guide on solar reflector oven). Also include some sauces, condiments, and sugar to make these items more palatable. Coffee, sugar and dried milk are also a useful addition.

You should also include a compass, wind-up radio/flashlight, and your survival library of paperbacks listed in the previous section. Include your survival medical kit and any prescription medications that you need. Do not forget to pack the pack of space blankets that was mentioned in the previous section.

Include toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. Keeping clean helps with moral. Your smartphone will also be a way of keeping in contact with the world (assuming the network is up). You can use the wind-up radio to charge it.

Of course, you will need practical clothes that are suitable for the climate you are in, but remember it can sometimes get very cold at night. Do not bring more than a couple of changes of clothes. 

Finally, bring cash and, important documents and IDs packed securely in an envelope. 

Many things like the radio, first aid kit, survival books, LifeStraw, and Space Blankets etc you will have purchased in the previous section. You will have clothes already. 

Our Estimated actual cost of the new items to make up your Go Bag that has not been included already is approximately $20

Go Bag Additional Cost – $20

The Grid is Down

price of prepping
– pic by Ev on Unsplash

In this scenario, we are facing a much more serious challenge. Whatever disaster has caused it, the power and water are no longer flowing and we cannot be sure if or when it will be restored. The grid is down and you are on your own.

In the first section of this article, we discussed

  • Security
  • Food Reserves
  • Drinking-Water
  • Essential Skills
  • Means of Communication
  • Medical Supplies

These were really just looking at a maximum period of three months and the solutions are really all based on the assumption that normality will be resumed and society will carry on. In this scenario, we cannot be sure that services or assistance will be coming so we will start to look at a longer-term situation and becoming totally independent.

We have to think about becoming self-sufficient in providing more permanent

  • Water
  • Power
  • Cooking/Hot water
  • Food


We have a supply of water that we had in the store when we prepared for disaster. It will not be long before that starts to run out so at an early stage we need to start collecting more water. This is best achieved through the following techniques.

  1. Homemade Solar Water Filter
  2. Collection of rainwater

Homemade Solar Water Filter

Using plastic bottles and a pipe it is possible to filter dirty water using solar power and produce sparkling clean distilled water that tastes great. It is possible to make this device in less than an hour and it will tirelessly collect water in a second plastic storage bottle.

Set up a bank of these and as long as there is some sunshine they will work all-day producing drinking water for you using dirty water from ponds and rivers.

Collecting Rainwater

Less than a half-inch of rain falling on a 1,000-sq-ft roof will generate 300 gallons of water. By draining this into a series of interconnected barrels, through a filter it is possible to save a lot of water for your needs. Setting up a rainwater harvesting system is very easy to do.

A complete filtered system should cost around $150

Solar Power

Solar power can be used to generate electricity. The amount of electricity generated will depend on the number and size of panels that you operate. It is possible to purchase a Solar Charger for as little as $48. It can charge a smartphone in just over an hour.

Wind Power

A simple wind power system will provide enough electricity for charging devices or lighting if you live in a location where it is consistently windy. The Dyna-Living Wind Turbine Generator 500W DC 12V Wind Turbine will cost around $180

Cooking and Hot Water

We have covered solar reflector ovens in a previous article. If you chose to build the advanced model then you should have a reliable way to cook your food passively. 

Of course you could choose a simple campfire but if you are going to burn combustible fuel you will achieve better results with a homemade rocket stove. There are various ways of making these yourself. Stoves can also be used for heating water.

You can make a rocket stove for less than $30


You will have packed food for up to three months but if that is not going to be long enough you will need to consider a long term source of food.

In your library, there is a book that covers foraging for food available in the wild and you can use this to supplement your food supply, but a permanent breakdown of society means that you have to look at a more long term and sustainable food supply. This is why you should have packed a wide variety of seeds in your storeroom so that you can start to grow your own food.

Infrastructure – Advanced Preparation

The final category of prepping I want to talk about is your home. There are several items you could construct that would make your home far more prepared and ready for whatever comes along. Some of them I have already mentioned.

Here are some of the things you may want to consider as structural alterations for the ultimate home prep.

  • Brick built “advanced” solar reflector oven – A properly built brick oven will be there waiting for when you need it and will survive constant daily use.
  • A well-designed rainwater filtering and collection system – It could take time to set this up and you may not have the time later. You need water and this will ensure that you have more water available.
  • Hidden room – I also believe that building a simple false wall across the end of one of your rooms with a hidden door is very worthwhile. You can use the hidden room to store the bulk of your supplies so that if intruders do break in, intent on taking your supplies, that they will not find them.

In times of great calamity, it is not long before law and order break down. I have not talked about weapons as I believe that your choice of weapon for self defence is extremely personal depending on your beliefs and also location.

What you definitely need are secure locks on doors and windows, together with security film on the glass which makes windows hard to break. Keep people out so that they decide another home is an easier target.

So my estimate of what it will cost to be completely prepped and ready is going to be a wide range of numbers. But we are looking at a figure that would be in the region of $3,500 – $4,500.

This article is about how much does it cost to be completely prepped and ready? The keyword here is “completely.” You really could go on adding more and more to your preparations. How far you take this is up to you. I have given you the costs of most of the essentials that you need and provided you with alternatives.

This is really going all in and buying many items that you could possibly build cheaper alternatives. Check out our earlier article on Prepping on a budget.

We’ll finish up here but obviously you can choose different suggestions and carry them out in a different way, sourcing items from different places. 

Does this estimate of the cost of prepping make sense to you? Have you a different budget in mind for the level of preparedness you are aiming for?

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