1. Canning jars and lids. These could prove to be quite valuable both for home use and for trade. The jars, of course, are reusable as long as there are no chips in the lids. Manufacturers recommend that the lids be used only once. I have a friend, an experienced canner, who reuses these lids two to three times. The trick is not to nick the lid when you remove it from the jar. If you use a can opener to pry it off you will make a small nick that will keep the jar from sealing. Try pulling the lid up using four fingernails to break the seal. There is the risk of having an unsealed jar. Better to buy lots and lots of lids which are $2-3 a dozen. Yeagers normally has a good supply. The Co-op and Walmart are other locations that seem to stock jars and lids. Jars are normally $10-12 a case (dozen).
I discovered the hard way that I use more pint and half pint jars than quarts. But it depends on what you are putting by. I’ve found also that it’s a good idea to have different sized canning pots—a big one and a small one. It takes a lot less energy to heat up water in a small pot to can pints and half pints.
Another canning item to stockpile is Pomona pectin. This kind of pectin keeps indefinitely and is pretty much foolproof when it comes to making jams, jellies and chutneys.
2. Bleach. Lots of applications such as water purification and as a cleaning agent.
3. Vinegar (white and cider). A virtual necessity for preserving food. White vinegar is also useful as a cleaning agent with a myriad of applications. Apple cider vinegar is a classic folk remedy, almost a panacea for some home-remedies.html. If you are using it as a tonic a high quality organic like Bragg is a good choice. Read some of the 111 customer reviews on Amazon.com if you have doubts about apple cider vinegar. If 25% of the claims are valid, Bragg apple cider vinegar is a cheap medicine to have in the pantry.
4. Zip lock bags in various sizes. A variety of uses including freezing of food and storing leftovers.
5. Rope, twine, string. I find I’m using twine in the garden all the time. I save baling twine and hang it from the fence and use it to tie up or stake up plants that want to topple or blow over. My collection of rebar and cedar stakes also comes in handy. Harbor Freight has lots of cheap rope. Made in China, of course.
6. Toilet paper. No discussion necessary.
There’s more we can add to future lists. All the above are relatively inexpensive. What else should we have on hand in good supply?