As promised, here are some personal notes about this as well as some alternative ideas. I encourage you to think about your habits and needs (as well as your loved ones) as you determine what would be best for you.
Now, I have to admit, I am behind in all my storage needs because we did consume quite a bit over the winter. Between the holidays and the snowstorms, I didn't get out as much and so it was nice to be able to "shop" from my own pantry. Another benefit to being prepared--makes financial sense. That said, I am now rebuilding my pantry, with water being all the way down (my kids will sneak my water bottles if I'm not careful, lol).
Typically, I prefer to use empty 2ltrs for storing "cleaning" and "cooking" water. And yes, to even flush those toilets. Honestly, that's been what they've been used for most often when our subdivision has had water issues.
I do purchase some bottled water as well for drinking. It may not be "pc" but when the kids are whining for something to drink and the water has been shut off, and the juice and tea have run out, it's nice to grab one and not have to worry if it's safe to drink. We do try to limit our useage of those bottles and try to recycle as much as possible.
When it is time to rotate out the stock, I try to check at the beginning of each month. Purchased water gets drank then the bottle goes in for the process of being used for "cleaning" (if larger). 2ltrs get emptied...I use those to water trees and plants out doors or to clean the deck, porch, etc.
Again, I cannot stress to watch what type of container you purchase/use. The flimsy milk-carton style plastic jugs will break down. Let's just say I've had to toss more than the bottles and wasn't happy about it. Lesson learned and now shared with you!
NOTE: I strongly suggest that if you use any of these methods that you look into sales to save yourself $$. If you buy when they are less expensive, you can often purchase 2 for the cost of one. Save the extra for your stock. For example, hand sanitizers--I was able to use register rewards and coupons to get these for pennies on the dollar rather than pay full price. If you keep an eye out, you can save money and prepare at the same time. It takes patience and organization, but it is doable to keep your budget!
Some alternatives to keep water consumption at minimum during low/no water periods could be:
When pre-made drinks (like teas or juices/juice boxes) go on sale purchase two--one for immediate use and one for your stock.
Use paper products (plates, cups, etc.) for a meal or two. Again, may not be "pc" but when you have kids running around wanting dinner and you don't have clean dishes these could be a sanity saver. Keep a small supply on hand.
Use hand sanitizers, wet wipes, or diaper wipes. I still use diaper wipes for all kinds of things (great on picnics) and my youngest will be 12 soon!
If you have preteens who "sweat" a lot and get stinky underarms and they can't get to a shower, use hand sanitizer before reapplying deodorant. The alcohol in it breaks down the bacteria that cause the odor.
Look into other alternatives for cooking, such as broths for cooking rices, potatoes, etc. If you have a few in your pantry, they will come in handy if the water is out. You might even like them enough to use them every day instead of your tap water (if you don't already).
What about no-poo shampoos? There are "recipes" all over the internet for these. Maybe have a fun experiment night (especially if you have little ones--make it a party) and whip up a batch or two and try them out.
Basically, try to think outside the box as you evaluate your family's needs and decide what you can do to help make your life easier when things like this crop up. :)
Planning and preparing to store even just a few gallons of water will help you save $$ in situations like these--you won't have to take the kids to the store or even to McDonald's. (If you want to do that, then by all means go ahead, lol).
The Time For Saddling Your Camel Is Now
1 month ago