And since opinions are like...um...well, I'm here to tell you mine!
Last shopping trip, I made a point of picking up a few things just in case our very own Big Brother manages to get us into a war sooner rather than later. I had only a couple of dollars to spare (Thank you, cars. Grrr.) What did I buy, you may ask?
Baking soda. Pickling salt. Bleach. Water in gallon jugs.
Let me explain my thinking.
Baking soda: You can use this to brush your teeth, scrub a pot, raise bread, or boil dried corn to nixtamalize it and turn it into hominy, masa, etc. It puts out fires, neutralizes acids, and is also good for upset tummies. Costs about 50 cents for the name brand, 25 cents if you're cheap.
Pickling salt: This is salt with no additives. A 20% brine (2/3 cup salt per gallon of water, boiled together, in a glass or enamel pot: NOT metal) will preserve pork or beef (or venison). Fish can be layered in dry salt to preserve it. Use it to make sauerkraut or pickles. Salt can be also be used as a scrub to sterilize wooden implements. Costs about $1.50 for a 4# box.
Bleach: This can be used to disinfect water for drinking, clean dishes after scrubbing them, diluted to wash down wounds, used to clean floors...and it will keep your white clothes looking good! $2.50 for a gallon of the store brand.
Water in jugs: Most people don't realize that one of the first things to go if there is an extended power outage/EMP is the water supply (and the sewers; more on that another time). Without water, you can't cook, wash, flush the toilet, get a drink...you get the idea. People die from lack of water. Think Hurricane Katrina. Even if water is still coming from the taps if things go bad, are you sure that it has been properly disinfected? We are lucky that in most of America there are sources of water everywhere (swimming pools, decorative fountains, golf courses, lakes, rivers, even springs and wells). Most of them have this in common: you wouldn't want to just drink the water the way you find it! That is where the water in jugs comes in handy.
Purified water in jugs gives you 1: Water to keep you going (if the water goes off) until you can get more, and 2: a container to either transport water to a new container, hold it while you disinfect it (see:Bleach, above,) or store it once it is usable. No, the plastic jugs aren't perfect and certainly won't last forever, but they're good for getting you started. Cost: 60 cents for store brand spring water.
(I'm still hoping the adults will take over the asylum before things get to the point of war, but it's better to be safe than sorry.)