How to Build a Frugal Cold and Flu Survival Kit

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By the author of The Flat Broke Cookbook and The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living

‘Tis the season… to get sick. Every year around the holidays, there’s an uptick in cases of the common cold and flu, as well as other viruses that are easily communicable. It can cost a lot of extra money to be sick if you have to go and buy all the items you need at once just to get you through it.

That’s why it’s a great idea to have your cold and flu survival kit set up well before you need it.

I always keep my supplies for illness stashed away so that I don’t open a box of saltines only to find it empty when all I want is soup and crackers. (I’m looking at you, daughters.)

Some of these things can be purchased beforehand when you find them on sale, and others are things you can make yourself. Here are the things that I like to have on hand for battling a bout of cold and flu.

Cold and Flu Remedies

Everyone has their own well-loved remedies that they feel work the best, so I’m going fairly generic here with my recommendations. I like to have enough to cover at least two family members just in case more than one person is sick.

  • Ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen for body aches and fever
  • 2 boxes of cold medicine
  • Cough syrup with expectorant (to get the yuck out)
  • Cough suppressant (to be able to sleep)
  • Cough drops

Are you looking for home remedies? Here are a couple you might like.


When my daughters were little and got sick, there were some things I always kept on hand that were comforting and made the whole thing at least a little bit less unpleasant.

  • Vicks or the generic equivalent – if you slather the sick person’s chest with Vicks and put them in the hottest shower they can stand, it really helps to soothe the discomfort of coughs and congestion
  • Extra soft Kleenex or Puffs with Lotion
  • Heating pads or electric blanket to fight off chills
  • Cold packs
  • Thermometer
  • Chewable Vitamin C and Zinc

As well, I always keep antibacterial supplies stocked up for use when someone in the house is sick. (I don’t use these every day because of research that indicates it can actually lower your immune system.)

  • Antibacterial hand soap
  • Lysol spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lysol wipes

I regularly wipe down things like remotes and doorknobs when someone in the house is ill. It really does help prevent the illness from spreading throughout the house.


We all have something we turn to when we’re feeling under the weather. These are my family’s favorites.

  • Soup: Every year I make batches of Homemade Chicken Needs Noodles soup – this is a home-canned broth made with loads of herbs, garlic, and onion. All you have to do at serving time is bring it to a boil and throw in some noodles. I really dislike storebought canned soup but you can substitute that in if you don’t mind it and you’re not a canner.
  • Crackers: Saltines in particular are good to ease a queasy stomach and they go hand in hand with chicken noodles soup.
  • Jello: I usually make it from the little boxes but in the event that I’m the one who’s sick, I secretly hoard away the little cups that are sold to send in school lunches.
  • Pudding: A nice cold pudding can feel comforting if you have a sore throat.
  • Freezer meals: I always try and keep a few meals in the freezer so that I have something to turn to for the rest of the family if I’m not up to cooking.

Whatever your favorite sick food is, put some back just in case.


Drinks not only keep you hydrated but they can also help ease some of the symptoms of a cold and flu. Here are some of the things I always, always have in my cupboard.

  • Gingerale
  • Peppermint tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Ginger tea
  • Rum or whiskey (don’t judge me – hot toddies are amazing and I’ll share my recipe with you here in a second)
  • Water
  • Electrolyte powder

Hot toddies for cold and flu

Here’s how to make a hot toddy (for adults only and not recommended with cold medicine):

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 3 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 piece of raw ginger (if you don’t keep that in the house, add some ginger tea bags to your stash)
  • 3 tsp of honey
  • 1.5 ounces of whiskey or dark rum (spiced rum is great, too)

Pour your boiling water into a big mug. Let the ginger steep for 3 minutes then remove it from the mug. Stir in all the other ingredients until they’re well combined, then enjoy your drink. (Some people may want additional honey.)

I like to drink this at bedtime. It helps a bit with the congestion and sends me off into a nice, healing sleep.

Do you have a frugal cold and flu survival kit?

While we always hope to remain healthy, colds, flus, and other viruses are inevitable. We can make it a little bit easier on ourselves by keeping supplies on hand.

What foods, drinks, and remedies do you use when you’re sick? Do you keep a cold and flu survival kit? What’s in it? Let’s talk about managing sickness the Frugalite way in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

How to Build a Frugal Cold and Flu Survival Kit
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

4 thoughts on “How to Build a Frugal Cold and Flu Survival Kit”

  1. Thanks for this article n making me look to see what I have in there, it’s been awhile, lol.
    Mine is very much like yours. I have included Emegen-C, Imodium n Pepto.
    Love your Toddy recipe with using ginger tea bags since I would not have thought to use them.
    I keep lemons n limes for my daily water n will continue to purchase them as long as they are available, but thought that maybe some lemon tea bags might be a good addition; thanks to your ginger tea bag option.
    Since I live in my van, I do not keep any alcohol in it other than rubbing alcohol, so I m thinking that a rum flavoring n spices might work.
    Thank you so much for this helpful article n for getting me to check mine out n think outside the box.

  2. Hillbilly on a homestead

    Elderberry syrup! We use it as a preventative and when sick. We make our own as it is a lot cheaper and I feel more affective. There are quite a few recipes online. I recommend the ones calling for ginger, cinnamon and local honey.

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