Leslie Probert
Pictured are a handful of essential non-food items. Stocking up on them during the winter could be vital if an emergency occurs.

Good sales on a variety of storable foods are more difficult to find in winter. The winter months are a good time to focus on essential non-food items. While a list of non-food items can be dauntingly vast, start with a simple list of the most important ones to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Consider storing items in the following main categories:

Cleaning and paper supplies

Stock up on dish washing liquid. Laundry detergent, hand soap, bleach or other disinfectants are all essential for good sanitation. It’s important to plan for toilet paper, facial tissue and sanitary supplies.

Money budgeted for food storage during winter months can be used to purchase these items. Stretch your purchasing power by always looking for sales.

First aid supplies and medication

Look for sales on first aid supplies for emergency kits and especially medications most often used in winter. Cold and other medications often go on sale at the close of the season, making it a great time to stock up a small supply.

Clothing, blankets and sewing supplies

A lot of money can be saved on winter clothing and insulated underclothing for emergency kits on winter clearance sales. Check clearance racks and bins for fabulous finds. Simple track suits and heavy socks go easily into a backpack for winter preparedness. Blankets will also go on sale at the end of the season.

Now is a good time to check sewing supplies and to make a note of items needed. It is simple to look for sales on these items throughout the year because you have made a list.

Non-food items are a critical part of being prepared and using winter months to plan for these ensures that they are not forgotten. Even if all needed supplies cannot be purchased this winter, a good start can be made. Winter months next year will bring another opportunity to make serious headway against goals for storing non-food items.

Leslie Probert, a graduate in home economics from Brigham Young University, has been a popular speaker and is co-author of "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" with over 400 fast, creative recipes. Email: [email protected]