This will be a running list of some of my favorite products, websites, stores, etc. and why I use them. I'll try to be smart enough to add to the TOP of the list so it will be easy to track new items. These are not in any priority order.
BIG LOTS: If you haven't gone there, you are missing some good deals that can help in your preparedness. They carry a lot of name-brands including non-perishable or longer shelf-life foods at about 50% of the grocery store retail price -- Especially cereals, coffee and canned beverages. Many retailers and wholesalers send their off-season, discontinued, market trial extras and soon-to-expire (6 months) products here. This is about the only place I ever buy Gatorade powder -- usually after Labor day thru November. Was your favorite toothpaste discontinued? Look for it at BIG LOTS for at least a year after it disappears from the stores but buy a bunch when you see it, as it will be gone soon. They often have Hanes underclothes and pajamas too. Great place to stock up on inexpensive generics like aspirin for your preparedness stash.
TARGET BAGS: Yes, just the ones you get your 'stuff' packed in when you shop there. These are the highest quality of the big box store bags. I save them and reuse them for lots of things. I take them to Kroger/Fry's and get my 5 cents off per bag used. I use them as trashcan liners. I cut the tops off and line my flower boxes with them -- then add peat pots and start my seeds. Helps keep the peat pots from evaporating all the plants' water when the humidity drops below 30%. I also use them to wrap breakables when I move them around -- like taking mugs to the office.
SHOUT COLOR CATCHERS: These are like dryer sheets, except the go in the wash. They allow you to mix colors rather than run separate loads in the washer. The little cloths scavenge the excess dye so your clothes don't end up odd colors. End result is they can help reduce your utility bills to free-up a little cash. I use them to mix my reds and pinks with my yellows and white -- on COLD WATER wash with ALL Free and Clear liquid detergent. Sometimes I just use them because I don't feel like doing more laundry. Find a coupon -- there is usually a $1 off coupon at one of the coupon websites or try http://www.shoutitout.com/ .
WRIGHT'S BACON ENDS AND PIECES: Cheap source of smokes slaty bacony goodness. This runs about $1.75 a pound, versus $4 or more per lb for the pretty sliced bacon. The pieces are a wierd shape, but you are probably smart enough to figure out how to put it to good use.
BACK TO BASICS GRAIN MILL: This is a small hand-crank grain mill that can hold about 2 cups of grain and makes about half to 3/4 cup of flour a minute. The point her eis that it makes flour, not grits like so many other grain mills. It costs about $60 (even on eBay) these days, but mine's been going strong for more than a year and I love it.
HOME GROWN by Denys de Saulles: This is a great book for the novice to mid-level home gardener. It has a lot of info on 130 basic fruits and vegetable that a home grower would want, along with cultivation and pruning information on one or two pages per variety. Several pages on pest management, too. There are also wonderful illustrations so if you inherit something and you're not quite sure what it is, you can identify by sight. It is one of the best one-volume gardening books I've seen. I've had mine for over a decade and still use it as a basic reference. I recently bought a second copy from Amazon, and they are available for about $7 including shipping.
MY CHOICE: These are small cans of the most useful or popular long-term food storage items from Emergency Essentials. If you decide to keep dehydrated or freeze dried food as part of your preparedness supplies, these are your 'training wheels.' The #2.5 cans are generous enough to use for multiple recipes and make a decision re: whether the products are right for your needs. I found that opening a #10 can became wasteful if I couldn't use it all quickly -- or I had to store the excess in the freezer because I used it so slowly. Not sowith these products. The prices and the shipping are very reasonable, but I would buy several at a time to optimize the shipping costs ($12 max, but you can get several cans for $6 shipping).
SIERRA TRADING POST: I wrote a blog on this in June. Here is the Reader's Digest version:
I've had consistently good experiences with this company for over a decade. They carry many 'name brands' at good discounts. Stock rotates, but they usually have something in their major product styles or lines. They have frequent 'coupons' for 20% off Internet orders, and occasionally better discounts via e-mail. I recently ordered a Swiss Army knife 'tool card' for $12.02 on sale at STP. I saw the same model on display in a locally for $32. I almost choked when I realized it was the same one!
Here is the weblink. Sign up for their e-mails. They will send special discounts that can be as much as another 35% off. Recent examples of the 'extra' discount included women's Smartwool socks for $4.15 (if you don't mind green), packs of 4 Mylar emergency blankets for $3.90 and the tiny-but-powerful Princeton Tec LED key chain flashlights for $3.15. All these were made in the USA.
For under $20 I built a 'purse emergency kit' of 2 Mylar blankets, the Swiss Army 'tool card' and a flashlight. The whole thing is only slightly larger than a deck of cards. Even a guy might be willing to add that to his other back pocket in an uncertain situation, like traveling in tornado or earthquake country!
They have other items too - normal clothing for office, work or play, sporting goods, home furnishings. About half my work wardrobe came from there, especially shoes. Why pay $30 for a black skirt when you can buy a nice one at STP for under $10? For $49, I bought office-work shoes that were in the local Dillards for $120.
Each description overview also includes the country of origin, so you can 'Buy American.' Their return policy is excellent. No 30-days and it's yours, no 'return authorizations', etc. Just fill out a short form, slap on the return label and drop it at UPS, the UPS store or however you send UPS packages. Provide your e-mail address and they keep you informed until the credit or check is sent.