21 Point Prepper's Checklist For Stocking Up at Walmart

21 Point Prepper’s Checklist For Stocking Up at Wal-Mart

Over the years I’ve consulted with many clients through my consulting business who know that they should stock up on food, water, and other needed gear but they’ve become so overwhelmed with all the “prepper foods” and “prepper gear” suggestions (check out this article for my favorite gear) that’s being promoted on nearly every survival blog and prepper website that they don’t know where to start – so they contact me for help.

I love seeing the look on their faces when I tell them that they don’t really need all of that stuff or need to order anything online because everything needed to prepare for a local disaster or even a total SHTF event can be found and purchased at their local Wal-Mart.

Prepping should be a simple and low-cost expenditure, unfortunately prepping has been made into a business where you’re intentionally led to think that you have to spend thousands of dollars on long-term storage foods, firearms, bug out vehicles and other related gear, when in reality everything that you really need can be purchased quickly and cheaply at your local Walmart Supercenter.

Below I’ve put together a 20 step prepper’s checklist that once completed will make you better prepared than probably 95% of the U.S. population – all at a fraction of the price of purchasing an equal amount of foods and gear from the prepper supply vendors that you see promoting their products everywhere online nowadays.

You can do all ten steps at once if you want or you can divide each step into separate days or weeks. But you need to get it done as soon as possible. Keep in mind that this is only a starting point and isn’t presented here as a completed end-all list. Prepping is a lifestyle and you’ll always be working and improving your skills and adding to and or altering your supplies.

Now let’s get started…

1. Head to the nearest Wal-Mart and pick-up 20 lbs. of white or brown rice (white rice stores longer but brown rice is more nutritious) and 20 lbs. of pinto beans. White rice has a better storage life while brown rice has more nutritional benefits – your choice.

2. While you’re there grab 5 lbs. mixed beans, 5 lbs. of white sugar, 5 lbs. of iodized salt, one gallon of olive oil (can be frozen to extend shelf-life), 5 lbs. oats, 10 lbs. each of white or wheat flour and cornmeal.

3. Now head over to the canned foods and pick-up 20 cans of canned fruits and 20 cans of canned vegetables. Be sure to buy only those brands and contents you normally eat and nothing exotic. No need to shock the senses.

4. Now over to the canned meats. Pick-up 20 cans of various meats, salmon, stews, spam, and tuna. Again buy only those brands with contents you normally eat and nothing exotic.

5. Okay. Now to the to the peanut butter shelf and toss two 40-ounce jars in the cart. The listed shelf life is just over two years and each jar has over 6,000 calories. Peanut butter is an excellent instant survival food.

6. Over to the powdered drink mix – go on I’ll wait…Okay, pick up two 72 Ounce Tang Orange drink canisters (provides 100% of the US RDA vitamin C requirement per 8 oz. glass). Also, grab six 19-Ounce Containers of Kool-Aid Drink Mix.

7. Off to the vitamin and supplement aisle, pick up 400 tablets “one a day” multivitamin and mineral supplements. I buy this brand at the local Wal-Mart – comes in 200 count bottle for $8 each.

8. Now to the department, we all love – sporting goods. Go to the camping aisle and pick up 4 five gallon water containers. Fill with tap water as soon as you get back home.

9. While you’re there buy 250 rounds of ammunition for your primary defensive weapon. More if you can, but this will be a good start. Also a good universal cleaning kit.

10. And while you’re in the sporting good department pick up the best flashlight you can afford, extra batteries and bulb. Also, grab two boxes of wooden matches and several multi-purpose lighters. Don’t forget to date, use and rotate – remember first in first out. Let’s get started. What would you add to the list?

11. Go to back the grocery department and pick up 5 lbs of powdered milk or the equivalent of canned, now go over to the next aisles and throw in 5 lbs of rolled oats and a case of Ramen noodles. Ramen noodles aren’t the most nutritional food but they are cheap, add bulk to the diet and store well –  just don’t rely on them to provide all your nutritional needs. And don’t forget a good manual can opener.

12. While you’re in the grocery department be sure to pick up an assortment of spices to taste, such as Basil, Chili powder, Cinnamon, Garlic, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and Black Pepper. Spices can go along way toward making unfamiliar foods palatable. Also, while you’re in that area add 5 or more lbs of salt to your shopping cart, as you know salt has 101 uses.

13. Okay, counting what you bought during our first trip to the shopping center, that should do it for the grocery. Now go over to the area near the pharmacy and pick up 3 large tubes of toothpaste, 3 brushes, 100 double edge razor blades, (note: if you don’t have a razor you’ll probably have to order one from Amazon.com and don’t forget a brush and bowl), I’ve used this type of razor for years and think it is a cheaper long-term solution than disposable.

14. While you’re there, add the most comprehensive first-aid kit that you can find to your cart and don’t forget over the counter pain meds (Tylenol, aspirin etc.). If you’re a woman (or have one in your life) go over a few shelves and pick up enough “feminine” supplies to last three months or longer.

15. With all that food in your pantry its only a matter of time before you have to poop. I know, its shocking but we all do it.  If you have a water source such as a stream or lake nearby you can still use the toilet in your bathroom, all you have to do is manually fill the tank in back and flush as usual. If this isn’t an option, you’ll need to look for other alternatives such as the Portable Toilets sold in the sporting goods department or making a  sawdust toilet from a five-gallon bucket.

16. What’s next? You guessed it toilet paper. If you poop you need to wipe, if not you probably need to start. You could use a corncob, cloth, Roman sponge on a stick or paper from discarded books or newspapers but I would wager most of you prefer the softness of Angel Soft. Get enough to last at least a month, more if possible and remember women need more than men so plan accordingly.

17. While you are in that area of the store pick up a supply of disposable plates, bowls and plastic utensils. Don’t go overboard here but having a small stockpile of these items on hand can save a lot of water that would otherwise be used to wash dishes. Also add two or more gallons of regular, unscented bleach to your cart.

18. This is a biggie and can’t be done (legally) at the department store pharmacy without the signature of a doctor – that is stocking up on prescription meds.  Getting more than a 30 day supply, at least in the U.S., can be difficult if not impossible. But there are ways to get most of what you need for long-term survival.

19. Now push your cart (man this thing is getting heavy) over to the hardware department of the store and pick up a carpenters hammer, vise grips, adjustable wrench, screwdriver set, duct tape, electrical tape, ax, pry bar, crosscut saw, hacksaw and a large can of WD-40. This is your bare minimum survival toolkit.

20. After you get your toolkit, go over to sporting goods and in the camping supply aisle pick up a propane camp stove and 5 or more 1 pound propane cylinders or a bulk 20 lb tank and hose adaptor – yes the pressure in the small bottles is the same as a 20 lb cylinder or even 100 lb tank, just be sure to get the proper adapter and hose assembly. Another alternative and the one I prefer is the Volcano Stove because I can use propane, wood, and charcoal.

21. Okay, we are just about done  – only a few more steps you’ll be out the door and heading home. You’ll need a way to keep in touch with your group so go to the electronics department and pick up the best two-way radios that you can afford – I have these. Don’t forget a battery-powered radio and extra batteries for both. While not necessary, I prefer a radio capable of receiving AM/FM and shortwave broadcasts – I have this one.

This shopping list will have you better prepared than probably 90% of the U.S. but it should not signify the end of your preps only a good start. There’s always something to do and learn never become complacent – remember the quote “On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of those who on the very threshold of victory sat down to rest, and while resting died.”

What did I leave out? What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. I’ve been prepping for over 30 years and I can tell you a couple tips. If storing milk , powdered is better it lasts longer; if you store canned milk remember that it doesn’t store for very long and you should turn the cans over every week or two so they keep longer. I store both. If your powdered milk smells a little stale just add a teasp. of vanilla to a gal of the milk and it will perk it right up. Also make sure you have some powdered chocolate to make chocolate milk for those youngsters that are a little fussy won’t object to the powdered milk. Also I have found that dried beans don’t store for long either. If you plan on keeping them for over a year as I do, you should cook them up and can them. They will last almost indef. The dryer beans get the harder they get and it becomes impossible to get them soft in cooking. Been there and done that. However if you have invested in a wheat grinder you can grind the beans and make soup of them or even add the powder to other things like bread or meat loaf. Happy Prepping !

    1. Add cases of water every time you go shopping. Consider stuff to bargain with when you have extra cash. Booze, sugar, first aid supplies. Buy books like ” what to do when there is no doctor” or any books like it. Board games and puzzles from thrift stores are cheap for the kids. Dollar stores are a good source of cheap supplies too.
      Don’t forget garbage bags! Good to put in toilet when you can’t flush. Just a few ideas! Good luck to all!

      1. Only thing you did not provide was the Hot Prepper Chick’s Phone number in the photo. I get that, and my list is complete. ha.

        1. I will also add, go on Amazon and buy 50 lighters for about $10 to $12. I bought 400 lighters for $80 a few years ago and they work great. They are Not Bics. but, you can also adjust the flame with the wheel under the metal protector to make for a torch for starting camp fires in windy conditions. I have also even used some of these lighters for barter for some work I needed done. I use lighters every day for lighting the propane stove, Skip the matches. Ever try lighting a match in windy conditions? Not happening.

  2. Forgot to say I love the idea of canning beans too. It saves ur scarce water supply. I think you can also can potatoes or dig a hole and bury them to preserve in ground. Love all the ideas!

  3. Canning potatoes and beans are old tricks of the family. Keep an assortment of jars, and stock up on canning lids. Whenever fresh food gets real cheap you can the extra.
    Kicked myself because we had no jelly jars when the strawberries came in early. They ran $1 a pound! I intend to stock up this year.

  4. Cooking oil. Coconut oil can be stored in a cool dark place and will not go rancid. The #1 bargaining item in Europe after WWII was cooking oil.

    Best sleeping bags you can afford.

    Several tarps and cord for tying. Even sheltering in place you may need to keep items dry and warm.

  5. The title of the article reminds me of a story:

    When I lived in SC, the company I worked for was moving from the New York City area. My boss, the VP of Manufacturing, had his family down for a house hunting trip. While touring with the realtor (who was a Paula Dean lookalike), his wife asked about shopping in the area. Without missing a beat, the realtor turned to her and said “Honey, if WalMart doesn’t have it, you don’t need it”.

    This was in 2005. She still lives in New York and he commutes once a month to visit.

  6. I keep some solar lights, candles, oil lamps & lamp oil on hand.

  7. If you have the time before beginning to shop, make a menu of things you normally eat, then convert to cans/dry equivalent. Make yourself a cookbook (mine is mostly recipes we like copied out of a cookbook, then changed to canned goods) of 7 or so recipes, and what it would take to make each one once. That way, when you do that first shopping trip and pick up those 20 cans of veggies, fruits, meats, you will know that you can make a meal that you already like. Add more recipes and the ingredients when you can. My cookbook is up to 23 recipes, working towards 30 and being able to make each one 12 times. When that’s in place, I will know I have a year’s worth of foods that we like, and all from the grocery store, and mostly on sale! Most canned items have AT LEAST a two year shelf life, if that concerns you.

  8. On the subject of batteries… I use rechargeable batteries because a handful of rechargeables last longer than a barrel of disposables. While some battery sets (rechargeable) come with a 110v charger, I backed my system up with solar battery chargers (2 are cell-phone size, and 1 recharges up to 8 simultaneously).

    1. Check youtube on how to make batteries from pennies. The new penny’s are copper coated zinc, which is perfect for batteries. Penny’s are not as convenient as rechargeable batteries, but they won’t expire and will work just as well in 100 years as today.

  9. Batteries… We bought an LED flashlight last year and the recommended cells were D-size lithium. I thought the batteries were an expensive outlay, but their shelf life has been amazing and the times we’ve used the flashlight the light has been bright and consistent. Highly recommended!

  10. Good list, M.D. I can recommend a good cookbook for people preparing for relatively short term emergencies who plan on canned goods for the basic food stocks. ‘Apocalypse Chow’ by Jon Robertson et al. Available used on Amazon quite cheaply. Upside: The recipes are extremely easy- mostly opening cans, adding some spices, and heating, for good eating under bad circumstances. While they are all vegetarian, it is easy to add canned chicken, turkey, or beef to many of the entrees. Downside: poorly bound. Pages tend to fall out. Big hairy deal. Since canned foods trend salty, so are the results. My wife and I use a number of the recipes both at home and while camping, which has the benefit that we know what we like, and eating them during an emergency is eating familiar food. That reduces stress in an already stressful situation. There are some similar books on Amazon, so it may be worth looking around, but we have been very happy with this one.

      1. The last time I looked, most of the negative ratings -and there were quite a few- were from people who were bitterly angry about the book not being advertised as vegetarian. My response is that fresh meat won’t be available in most common short term emergencies after the electricity goes off, it is easy to add canned meat, and people so bent out of shape over good food not containing meat are unlikely to be flexible/resilient enough to do well in any kind of a disaster.

        As I said, there are other cookbooks for preppers, and they are well worth browsing. In this specific case, I’d look for books which specify they are for cooking with canned goods and other standard kitchen supplies, as there are a lot of prepper cookbooks geared toward more exotic recipes involving long term storage foods like wheat you have to grind first. Those are great, but they are more for people prepping for very long term disasters.

        If most households could get through two weeks comfortably, including without running water, it would be transformational for the country. A month would take care of almost any problem, because there are few disasters short of an EMP attack in which relative normalcy isn’t returned in a month AND one still cannot evacuate to a safer place.

        I also suggest using whatever new gear you get, like the camp stove, before you need it. Don’t use it indoors unless the place is well ventilated: they throw off carbon monoxide, which is neither a flavor enhancer nor a life prolonger.

        1. Penrod, thanks for the recommendation. I agree, it is quite easy to throw in some meat to any recipe. It is far more important to have the original meal tasty and easy to prepare if there is no meat handy. I just ordered a copy.

          1. Hi IDPam, I hope you find some recipes you enjoy. They are as easy as opening two or three cans, tossing in some spices, heating, and eating. I got a kick out of one of the Amazon critics who claimed he’d rather eat peanut butter.

    1. There is a newer version of Apocalypse Chow. It is called Vegan Unplugged (2010).

  11. There is a set of books called “foxfire” they can tell you alot of old school things about 15 books

  12. Since this list seems to be aimed at the starting prepper, I would suggest a good fixed blade knife and machete. I would also suggest that you fix the following in your mind. 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none. When it comes to items like personal knives, can openers, folding pocket tools and the like two of each is the absolute minimum, and they are not trade goods unless it is a life and death matter.

  13. I been reading survival web sites for years and watching videos. In the last 4 years I began prepping nobody and I mean nobody or no site has shown one prepping item every single one of them forgot in their supplies. And this after reading thousands of articles and viewing hundred of videos. So what does everybody forget? And I cannot give value to these site or blogs. The item(s) either both fingernail and/or toenail clippers. I dare someone to show me where somebody has this item in their supplies. I even downloaded 17 lists none of them have these items. Guess you can chew your finger and toenails!!!

    1. Hi Mike R, I think you’re right. They are also handy for clipping fishing line. As often as not though, I trim my fingernails with the scissors on a Swiss Army knife….

    2. I’ll take your dare, they are in my supplies in my GHB, and my home first aid gear. The lists that you are so harshly criticizing are developed based on what people think they might need, or on actual experience such as earthquake or hurricane evacuation.

      Fictional writing provides a vehicle to propose ways to deal with a variety SHTF situations. Even Alas Babylon back in the late 50’s provided insight into survival equipment. My dad bought a Coleman 2 burner stove and a Coleman single mantle lantern to start his preps. If you want I can provide a picture of both items with the original box and instructions. That being said, Jeff Motes wrote a fictional book where a man and a woman team up to get home after a SHTF situation. (get the revised edition of book 1). What is ingenious about his story is that there are two chapters where the characters go through their GHB’s and list everything they have. Sure enough finger nail clippers are carried by both. The list provides ideas on what to carry in a GHB.

      Instead of being so adamant about finger nail clippers not being mentioned in the lists you have you could just mention them and people will think you have a ton of insight and a great idea.

  14. I eat Ramen several days a week for breakfast, but am aware of the sodium content in the spice packages. Because of this, I use only half a package per meal, acquiring a spare package every three meals. These spice packages are foil sealed, lightweight and can be used for flavoring boiled rice meals later on. Even have used them in deer camp for a hot meal in warmed water.

    Ramen can be added for a more filling meal. Left over meats from last night’s supper make this more better. You can also use less noodles if you want to lighten it up.

    Ramen is extremely lightweight. Like you said above, not the healthiest meal but when calories count – its not bad.

    Thanks for the post M.D.

    1. Hi Dare, it really would depend on how many people you are shopping for.

      However, while there is an obvious expenditure upfront to build a food inventory, the long term cost above one’s normal food budget should be close to zero because you should be buying only foods you normally eat. Just keep eating the oldest first and putting the replacements at the back of the line so you never have to toss any out.

      Same thing with batteries and such: modern batteries should store for ten years, so as you replace your stock, put the new ones on the bottom of the pile.

      A good Coleman camp stove…I think Amazon has them around $50, and single burner versions less than half that. If you camp now and then, even in full service campgrounds with toilets and hot showers, you’ll be happy to have a camp stove, so you can write off that cost as recreation. Ditto some water jugs and camp lanterns. They do cost some money, but if you have fun with them in good times the cost hurts a lot less.

      Being prepared for a week to ten weeks off grid does not have to be terribly expensive. Some people do want to prep for a lot longer than that, but there are precious few disasters which are not resolved in a month AND you cannot relocate.

      I hope you have some fun with it!

      1. @Penrod,
        Are you saying that I should have told my spouse that I was buying camping supplies and that we should take up camping as a family activity??????? That would have been better received than “survival supplies”. Plus, the camping would have given us confidence in our gear and the time to become familiar with it before the SHTF event. You are a clever person.

  15. TRASH BAGS, cat litter, THICK ones. you will have loads of it…know also where and how to store and or re-cycle it, AT HOME. Gardening supplies, water hoses, make sure your cooking utensils can be use over open flames. Clorox, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Stacks of newspaper for cleaning without all the chemicals we normally do. My Mother made it a habit of using tide laundry soap (original) powder, to bathe us the dogs, and clean most everything in the house. You may be surprised what a little TIDE can do. Things can be bought over time, just adding a few items at a time won’t enhance you bill that much. Start NOW, the sooner you start the cheaper it will be. When you need it, IT WILL BE GONE. Don’t rely on others, YOU want it done, DO IT YOURSELF. Thank You.

  16. One of the things that people seem to forget after they get a good flashlight is the need for additional lighting. I have been collection oil lamps for a few years now; so I have some to barter with. Also I have a good supply of lamp oil and when I see it on sale at WalMart I purchase a couple of bottles. I also have laid in a supply of wicks of all sizes. Again barter items.
    I keep a couple of the lamp filled with oil on the top shelf to they are handy incase of an EMP and we are plunged into darkness. If you are hand and can build a metal frame to go around the base of the lamp with a grill type top you can use the lamp base for heating up water and/or soup.
    Good luck to everyone with their prepping and God Bless each and everyone of us. P

  17. As gardening season draws to a close each year most seeds are discounted drastically. I’ve actually purchased them for as little as $.02 each! I know they are not “guaranteed” past the year they’re packaged but I’ve never had a failure. Just keep them in a cool, dry place where pests can’t get them. Good for bartering too. Loved the article!

  18. Clothing Dept (male, female & kids):
    – Good thick 100% wool (or wool-blend) socks in addition to cotton socks
    – Spare underwear
    – Jeans
    – WalMart sells decent cheap tennis shoes, having a few extra pairs in the closet can’t hurt
    – Work boots
    – If it’s fall/winter, WalMart will have cold-weather clothes out. Take advantage
    – The Sporting Goods Dept has camo and hunting-specific clothing
    – Gloves
    – Belts/suspenders

    Automotive Dept:
    – Oil
    – Spare battery for the car/boat/motorcycle
    – Antifreeze
    – Oil & air filters

    Now we need to make a Home Depot run!

  19. I know someone mentioned tarps, and I apologize ahead if this was already mentioned and I missed it. You should have on hand plastic sheeting and tape to seal windows. We also have a stainless hand pump on our existing well if unable to get water with power. I personally also like solar light that are relatively cheap at Amazon. Although dangerous, you can also purchase emergency candles at Dollar Tree. If you have growing kids, think about purchasing clothes in the next sizes up and keeping them. Thrift stores and yard sales this time of year are great sources! Good luck everyone and stay safe.

  20. I would recommend against getting the can opener at wally world. Shop the thrift stores for old made in the USA Ecko can openers. The won’t break like the Chinese ones. Shelby GI issue P-38 openers are available on eBay.

    1. I agree with you there the Wally World can openers made in China, basically stop working when the spiked cam that grabs the can, wears down the it becomes useless. I have burned though 2 in one year. Its worth spending more for a top quality can opener. Get 2 heavy duty can openers. And also skip the small P-38 steel can openers, go with the military P-51 Can Openers which are bigger than the P-38. They are bigger and wont rust like the P-38’s. I think the P-51’s are stainless steel.

  21. Prepped for a year’s worth, a little at a time. After a job loss and age, it lasted three years. I still have buckets of rice, beans and red and white wheat. I bagged in mylar bags a ton of sugar and a great amount of honey. We have to start over since our supplies are gone. But wtshtf it may not be the end of the world as we know it, it could be a suddenly homeless disaster.

    also a big bag of BBQ coals will cook a meal a day for a year.

    An EMP is a world ending disaster, so don’t count on anyone getting the nuclear power plants cooled off, look at a map of just how many are in the US. ‘Spent rods’ are not spent, and we’d be living in bunkers for 50,000 yrs once the cooling systems quit. A nuclear bomb is not much better, but more or less livable after a third of the population is wiped out.

    Have tons of camping gear, but didn’t get that Montana tent, rats. Stuff a go bag too. Might need it. Gather tinder, pitch, fatwood and a few pcs of small dry wood. Bow and arrows. Ammo eventually runs out. Knives. Arrows eventually break. Raise chickens and rabbits now. Learn how to eat meat two or three times a week and grow veggies, fruits now.

    The list is great. But buying all will break ya. That’s why I spent so much time gathering stuff. Found great deals at Costco, and also, jerky saved (Hard for me to do!) much has a shelf life til 2033. Not bad.

    Just hope it’s not caused by an EMP solar flare or nuke, or just plain lights go out. Won’t save us. Oh, so I suggest packing a Bible. Not for starting fires, but for instilling hope.


  22. I speak from actual bug-out/survival experience……

    Band-aids….. Lots of them, all sizes. All the walking you do in shtf (global, local or personal) causes many blisters.

    Solar showers(s)

    Folding army style shovel (the walmart ozark trail brand is really solid)

    a good brand of multi-tool (leatherman or gerber)

    get a few live straw water filters… Water goes quick and boiling it takes LOTS of time and energy.

  23. Didn’t see much discussion on food dehydrators, or canning supplies, as these are great ways of storing extra garden spoils, as well as vacuum sealers, not only store food, waterproof supplies.

  24. I think it is prudent to learn how to do whatever one needs to in order to survive any crisis or emergency or a doomsday scenario. But time and money are obstacles many of us have to deal with, so to that problem my solution is to find what works best for yourself. For example, if canning seems difficult then buy just the basic equipment, but just enough to store some of what you can grow. If you still find it difficult or costly then you might concentrate your efforts on dehydrating foods or maybe you find yourself adept at the art of smoking and drying meats. When you find what works for you or you can become good at, then master that method and acquire the gear and supplies necessary.

    I’d also focus on the best method possible such as distillation of water by burning wood or solar energy. Using fuels means more to buy and stock or you’d have to buy a lifetime’s worth of filters or chemicals. That would be quite an undertaking.

    If you only know 2 ways to make bread at least you won’t go without. Learning 3 ways to sharpen a knife beats not having a clue how to do it. If you can’t handle sewing in a zipper then learn how to use snaps or buttons.
    One person can’t expect to learn everything or have all the gear needed to perform every task or function. There is more than one way to get it done.

  25. Thank you all for educating us. I would add betadine 10 % solution to medical supplies. It is a serious wound cleaner and disinfects after few minutes on skin. Small side cutters are great for cutting finger nails and toenails. Hemostats are essential for lots of things medical and other wise besides fishing. dwc

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