26 steps to self sufficiency
(Taken from thehomesteadingboards.com)
1. Plant a garden : This is the basic building block for anyone looking to walk a simpler path in life in the modern world. Especially with rising fuel costs and resulting food costs increases it is imperative to minimize the impact on a families financial situation. More and more of the average families monthly income is slowly being eroded by the cost of just putting food on the table. I understand a lot of people do not have a lot of land to totally grow their own food but there are many options available to grow in small footprint and help at least offset the cost of groceries. Besides it also helps develop ones skills for any future plans.
2. Learn how to can your own food : This goes hand in hand with planting a garden, a garden will produce way to much food at one time for any family to consume it all before it goes to waste. Having the skills to be able to preserve what you produce is imperative for a families long term self sufficiency. If your garden is to small at the moment to produce enough food to put away in the pantry there are other options available. Search out and visit farmers markets, talk to the farmers about buying in bulk which can save you some money. Ask the farmers about gleaning the fields after harvest time. A lot of farmers will allow people to harvest produce that has been leftover and missed after the commercial harvesting is done. Look into a local produce supplier for restaurants. Most of them have a walk in window where people can go in and buy bulk produce. You can buy a 25 pound case of tomatoes for about 18 dollars right now which is a huge cost savings over the grocery store and that would make quite a few jars of spaghetti sauce.
3. Plant a herb garden : Have you seen how much both fresh and dried herbs are at the grocery store are? It’s insane. The amount of space needed to raise a small herb garden is minimal and there is nothing like fresh herbs.
4. Get a dehydrator : Dehydrating Food and Canning go hand in hand. The options you have with a dehydrator is only limited by your imagination. You can make jerky, fruit roll ups, dehydrate eggs, etc. Fruits make a tasty healthy snack for young and old. Most locations in the country have local orchards that are a great place to buy fruits cheaply and dehydrated apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon last a long time on the pantry shelf and are delicious.
5. Plant Perennials you can eat : Growing up as a child in a small city in western New York we did not have a very large yard, but we did have a garden space and perennials that supplied a food source each year with no work on our part. Asparagus, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Jerusalem Artichokes. etc.
6. Plant soft fruits : Along with strawberries also plant raspberries, blackberries, blueberries etc.. They do no take up a lot of space and will produce fresh and tasty fruits year after year
7. Plant a few fruit trees : with modern day dwarf varieties that are available on the market today you can plant a few fruit trees that with pruning and training will be bountiful in several years without taking up much room at all.
8. Learn to save seeds : Buy heirloom open-pollinated seeds and learn to save the seeds from this years produce to be able to plant next year. I know of families that have been passing their seed stock down through the family for over 100 years and haven’t had to buy a seed ever.
9. Raise a few small backyard animals : The amount of space required by a small flock of chickens or rabbit hutch is minimal and is a great source for nutrients for you and your backyard farm. There is nothing better than making breakfast or a cake with eggs fresh from the source. Plus they are a great asset with help keeping bugs and insects in check and will gladly take care of any extra vegetables or fruit from the garden for you.
10. Compost everything : People think compost is smelly and disgusting. If your compost is creating a nuisance smell, you are doing it wrong. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of food Americans buy ends up in the trash heap. Any waste from leftovers either goes into to the compost pile by either being fed to the chickens and after working its way through the chickens ends up in the compost bin or we will put it directly in the piles. All raked leaves, newspaper, cardboard, weeds, grass clippings etc goes directly into our compost pile.
11. Waste not want not : Touching on the estimate of amount of food thrown out, learn to cook only what someone is able to eat. Unless you are making a big pot of chili to can and put in the pantry, why use all the time, energy and money to make something that you will end up throwing away.
12. Cook from scratch : The average American has lost touch with what food actually is. Most people think that food comes out of a box and sadly it usually does for a large percentage of Americans in today’s world. Pick up several basic cookbooks and experiment with turning your backyard bounty into healthy, nutritious and tasty meals for your family.