18 Easy Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient

Lush vegetable garden in rows.

Have you ever dreamed of living on a farm, growing your own food, taking care of animals and overall living a more simple, self-sufficient life? If so, be sure to check out the tips in this post for ways to become more self-sufficient.

Old barn in the snow.

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18 Easy Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient

   Ever since we started our simple living journey a few years ago we’ve slowly been learning new skills and becoming more and more self-sufficient. Our garden and subsequently the amount of food that we preserve has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years.

  We also have chickens now and plan on getting more animals in the near future. Being 100% self-sufficient is not my goal, but I think it’s wise to be able to grow some (or a lot!) of your own food and know how to get by without the help of others if the need arises.

  If you’re just starting out on your journey to self-sufficiency I would tell you to focus on one thing and learn how to do it well, then as time goes on you can add another thing.

  It can be overwhelming to try to learn everything at once so take a look at the list below and see what sounds doable to you. I do most of these things, but still have room for improvement in a lot of areas!

What does it mean to be self-sufficient?

Self-sufficient is defined as being able to provide for oneself without the help of others; independent. This means that you can provide your basic needs (food, water, shelter, energy) without relying on anyone.

Is is possible to be fully self-sufficient?

Have you ever heard the phrase, no man is an island? It means that no man can or should live alone. As humans, we need each other to survive, weather it be for resources or relationships.

I don’t believe that it’s possible or even desirable to be 100% self-sufficient for your entire life, but becoming more or mostly self-sufficient is a great goal to strive for in life.

I think a better way of thinking is to do all that you can for yourself, but when a need arises look to your local community and economy to fulfill it. If you can’t grow your own meat, someone in your community can and does. In this way, you can create mostly self-sufficient communities.

The following is a list of ways that you can become more self-sufficient, but it’s not en exhaustive list. It’s only a starting point. Self-sufficiency is a mindset and a way of life that takes a lifetime to live out.

Grow Your Own Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

I think everyone should grow something. We all have to eat so we all should have at least some kind of hands on connection with our food.

There is something truly amazing about watching a tiny seed turn into an abundance of food for you and your family. Not only that, but food is a basic need and to rely 100% on others to provide it for you is, in my opinion, very unwise.

As we’ve seen in the past couple of years, our food system is very fragile and being able to grow some of your own is a liberating concept (in our modern culture).

If you don’t know where to start, check out my post 5 Tips for Beginner Gardeners and 10 Easy Vegetables to Grow for Beginner Gardeners.

Next, educate yourself by finding out about your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone which will tell you vital information about first and last frost dates in your area.

Additional Resources:

Preserve Your Own Food

If you’re striving to be self-sufficient then your probably producing more food than you can eat at once, which means you’ll need to learn how to preserve the excess. The most common methods of food preservation are freezing, canning, dehydrating and fermenting.

Learning to preserve your own food isn’t hard, but it does take time, knowledge and a little bit of practice. If you know someone who can teach you, that’s the best option, but if not be sure to check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Canning Website for all the information you will need to get started.

Additional Resources:

How to Dehydrate Peppers

Dehydrated Apple Rings

How to Dehydrate Tomatoes

How to Freeze Bell Peppers

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Cook from Scratch

The more you can cook from scratch the less you will be dependent on store-bought food aside from the basic staples. This will save you money while also being healthy and tasty. Also, if you’re growing your own food, you’re going to need a basic knowledge of how to prepare that food for yourself and your family for fresh meals.

Cooking from scratch isn’t hard, it just takes a little bit of knowledge and experience. Again, if you know someone that can give you a few lessons, then that is the ideal situation, if not you can find 100s of YouTube videos on the topic and check out a few basic cookbooks from your local library to get started.

You can also, check out the resources that I have on this site to get started.

Additional Resources:

Save Seeds

Seed saving is a great way to become more self-sufficient because it eliminates the need to buy seeds and plants each year. This is something that I’ve only dabbled in, but plan to do more of in the near future. Just remember that you can only save seeds from heirloom varieties and not from hybrids.

Seed saving isn’t as straightforward as it seems unless you’re dealing with something like beans or corn. It’s actually a little bit of a science with lots of nuance, so be sure to educate yourself on the topic before you start.


Composting is a great way to make use of kitchen scraps and eliminate the need for fertilizers. It’s an amazing thing to watch food scraps and yard clippings turn into rich black dirt.

It’s also a little bit of a science, but at the same time is very forgiving.

We “compost” by throwing food scraps, weeds, dead leaves, etc. into our chicken run so that it can decompose slowly along with the scratching and manure from the chicken. Every spring we dig it up and dump in on our garden. Boom. Composting has never been easier.

Of course, you can be more exact and create piles that you turn and check the temperature, etc., but we’ve never found that to be necessary. Either way, food scraps and lawn waste were made to decompose back into the ground, not to be thrown away in plastic bags, so why not give it a chance?

Choose Cloth

Reusable cloths can eliminate basically any commonly used disposable paper product such as napkins, paper towels, wipes, diapers, cotton rounds, etc. You can either buy store-bought cloths or make your own from old t-shirts.

I mean what did people do before modern paper products were invented? They used cloth. Just imagine how much money you would save by swapping paper products for the more sustainable options of reusable napkins and kitchen towels. Try it for yourself and you may just fine that you never want to go back.

A close up view of a flock of chickens.

Raise Chickens

They say chickens are the gateway animal into farming/homesteading and I feel like it’s true. Chickens are one of the easiest (and smallest) animals that you can keep.

Keeping chickens takes a little time and commitment, but it’s really not too hard once you get into the swing of things.

Plus, they will supply you with fresh eggs and meat (if desired) all year-long and will happily eat your kitchen scraps, turning them into compost and fresh manure.

You can also use them in the garden to eat weeds and bugs which is an added bonus.

Keep Bees

Bees are good for pollinating your garden and providing fresh honey. While I’ve never personally kept bees, it’s definitely on my to do list at some point.

I believe beekeeping has a much steeper learning curve than chickens, but it will be 100% worth it when you harvest your first jar of fresh honey straight from your property, right?

Keep Livestock

Chickens are great, but why not keep a few goats for milk or pigs for meat? If you truly want to be more self-sufficient and you have the time, land and other resources required, then you’re probably going to want to think about producing your own dairy and meat which, of course, comes from livestock.

This is another thing that I haven’t done personally, but have read a lot about in case we decide to go for it in the future. I love the idea of having a daily animal, but it takes quite the time and energy commitment, which may or may not be worth it to you.


Knowing how to get your own meat or fish from the wild is a basic skill that everyone should know. Our ancestors would have starved if it wasn’t for the deer, moose, wild turkey, fish, etc. that a lot of people heavily relied on to supplement their diets.

Being able to supply your own meat is a great way to be less dependent on the grocery store. Be sure to check your local laws for any training, licensing or other knowledge that you need to know about before hunting or fishing.

Forage for Food

Foraging is basically just finding food in the wild. I would love to have more knowledge in this area and be able to identify common edible plants. Luckily, there is a lot of information online, in books and also classes that you can take to learn more on the topic, but we aware that there are a lot of poison plants out there and so learning from someone who has abundant knowledge on the topic is very important.

Collect Rainwater

Water is a basic necessity of life, so if you’re going to be self-sufficient you’ll need a safe and reliable water source for you and your family such as a solar powered well, but you can also make the most of another free source, rainwater.

Being able to collect and reuse rainwater is a great way to save money and become less dependent. You can use it to water the garden, bathe, wash dishes, etc., but if you want it for drinking water, you’ll have to filter and boil it before consuming.

Air Dry Clothes

Air drying your laundry on a line or rack is not only better for the environment and your wallet, but it also extends the life of your clothes. We don’t actually need a fancy electric powered machine to get our clothes dry when time will do the same thing. Drying your own clothes is a good way to become more self-sufficient.

Cut Your Families Hair

Learning to cut your families hair is a great way to save money and become more self-sufficient. We buzz my husband and son’s with clippers and I keep mine long and just trim it a couple of times per year. There are several YouTube tutorials that you can check out for more information. Seriously, why pay for haircuts when you can do them yourself?

DIY Everything

If you’re going to be self-sufficient then you’re going to have to have a can do spirit. Almost anything can be made at home if you take the time to learn how. Basic skills in things like sewing, mending, knitting, woodworking, carpentry, etc. are great assists for your self-sufficient journey. The more you can do for yourself with the resources and knowledge that you have available, the more self-sufficient you will be.

Before making a purchase, ask yourself: Can I make this at home? Can I do without this item? Can I borrow this item from a friend?

Think about Alternative Energy

Using solar energy is a huge step in becoming more self-sufficient. I haven’t looked into this much, but plan on doing so in the future. Also, using wood heat in the winter by chopping your own wood is a great way to become more self-sufficient in the wintertime. You can also use your heat source for cooking, which makes it a win/win in self-sufficiency.

Create Income

If your goal is to become more self-sufficient then you will probably need to think about ways to bring in income along the way. Some ideas would be to sell produce, honey, eggs, meat, handmade goods, etc. for profit. Check out this post from Life At Cobble Hill Farm for 25 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money on the Homestead.

Become Debt Free

The bible says that debt makes you a slave to the lender which is the complete opposite of being self-sufficient. If you’re in debt then you need a plan and goal in place to becoming and staying debt free.

I would suggest visiting Dave Ramsey for all the information you will ever need on how to become debt free.

BONUS TIP: Live Small and Need Less

The basic over arching theme of self-sufficiency is to live smaller (house, car, possessions, etc.) and need less. If you can learn to be content with very little then you will probably find it easier to be more self-sufficient.

After all, the sweetest things in life aren’t power, money and possessions, but relationships, experiences, memories and connections.

I recently read a quote from Wendell Berry that says, “Now the ideal must be the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption, which both defines and requires neighborly love.”

This really stuck with me because that’s what self-sufficiency is all about, the maximum well being with minimal consumption.

We live in a society that promotes materialism and consumption, but I say, don’t listen to them. Instead, let’s strive to produce and use our hands more with the idea that we can live a beautiful life filled with hard-work and strong relationships.

Check out these additional resources on being self-sufficient:

Are you on a journey towards simple living and self-sufficiency? If so, what ideas would you add to this list? I’d love to know!

*This post was originally published in January of 2015, but has been updated with more photos, resources and information for your convenience.

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  1. Some of these I feel pretty comfortable with and am doing. Others I want to try so am learning what I can. This year our big emphasis is to get out of debt. That makes such a big difference with everything. Best wishes!
  2. Great list! My fiance and I are working on a few of these this year. Our garden is going to be our major project during the warmer months...so excited!
  3. These are some amazing tips! We live in an apartment in the city so growing food is a little problematic. I do, however have some potted herbs! I do a lot of the other things and in regards to reusable kitchen cloths/ teatowels I couldn't agree more. that's a very good saving and great for the planet too! and diy, awesome idea too! Last xmas I diyed almost all of the xmas presents. Mostly in a form of very nicely wrapped preserves. Thank you for this article!
  4. This is a really extensive and well-put together list! Great work! We have been on this road of self-sufficiency for awhile and it's an interesting one, for sure.
  5. This summer I'm going to try to start composting and expand my garden. I've also been researching rainbarrels lately. We just moved into our first home, so now that I own it I'm so excited to have a big garden! I'd love for you to stop by and link up with me at Talented Tuesday, 1 party 5 blogs, every Tuesday at 9am central!
  6. Such a fabulous and informative post! I am also hoping to forage more food this summer with the kids, things like blackberries, lavender and the such. The plan is to then make ice cream with the foraged items. I am excited to get them involved in the food process!
  7. I love this post so much! Your last tip really rang true with me. I've been focusing since January on decluttering (it helps so much with your mood and overall energy) and living your life in a "live small and need less" state of mind really aids that process.
  8. I love this post so much! Your last tip really rang true with me. I've been focusing since January on decluttering (it helps so much with your mood and overall energy) and living your life in a "live small and need less" state of mind really aids that process.
  9. Thank you dear lady for your efforts to help others . I greatly appreciate your Bible verses . My best advice for the younger folks is to read Proverbs in the Living Bible , frequently . Wake up and grow up , is my personal advise (at age 75.) The times , they are changing --fast ! The day will come when the only water, food and shelter , etc., must provided by the family unit . The sooner you get started , the better . Break the modern day lifestyle and learn to be self sufficient ASAP ! ! ! There is so much priceless information available at this time . That will not always be so . Pray for GODS wisdom and guidance and get ready for hard times -they will come . I hope to write more specific advice soon . I have built and live on a 98% self sufficient homestead called The SonArose Farm . GOD bless you and yours , Will .
  10. I make my own breakfast bars they are great! I Use whatever I have on head a cup of oatmeal a Cup flour a Banana maybe some chopped nuts some yogurt or applesauce a egg just anything I Like I might put a spoon of peanut butter mix it Up put in a 8x8 pan on 350 oven bake about oh 20 minute cool cut I have wonderful bars for breakfast Snacks a lot cheaper than at the store
  11. Thanks for providing us this kind of information in simple steps. In recent year self-sufficient homesteading is more popular and people want to start there own business. If you planning and maintaining your homestead whatever where you live. Follow this link http://www.homestead.org and learn more about self-sufficient lifestyle.
  12. Hi I'm Tanya I have a land block 1 acre I have hens they are broody at present and we I am starting the summer garden planted so far potatoes maze popcorn tomatoes beans Schick peas am about to do a crop of lentils ? First time and wheat for my own bread so hears hoping had 100 per cent strike on beans and peas needless to say am organic don't have power and cart my water in. I see the potential of being self sufficient love your little hone bees
  13. Just loved reading your page, we are looking in France, for a new home, to which we would love nothing more than being very self sufficient in years to come, your tips give me ideas i simply had not thought of, warm regards Nigel
  14. Hi thank you for this advice, I have been lost for a long time. I didn't know how to go about it, now I think I can. when I came across the word self sufficient, I wanted to know what it ment, so hopefully I can get started, I am 70 years old, so I am anxious, you mentioned one think at a time. Thanks again. Regards Tom I am in debit, you mentioned that as well, I am looking for a woman on dating line. So it will be a challenge for me, in actual fact it was a word a woman used on dating line self-sufficient, so I have a enough.
  15. Wow. This is very comprehensive! And with just enough ideas I can try to incorporate into my life too! Another resource I've found interesting is The Sustainabilitist Hub, which tackles personal sustainability from the angles of character development, goal fulfillment, health and diet.
  16. It is a beautiful way of life, to reject the systems of this world and live a simpler life and make your own things. Learning little by little will give you confidence and make you a stronger person in that you don't have to rely on others for your common needs, but you can produce many things yourself. For example, cooking your own food means you know what is in it, it is less expensive, and it is healthier. By learning new skills you can make things that you cannot find anywhere else, making your items unique. Our God, YHWH, has given us everything we need. We just need to learn how to use those things for our benefit.

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