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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 are 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!
Grow Your Own Food
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. If your new to gardening check out my 5 Tips for the Beginner Gardener to get started. And don’t stop at just growing vegetables, get creative and think about planting fruit (blueberries work well in landscaping), nuts, grains, etc. if you have the space. Check out my Farming & Self-Sufficiency board for more information.
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.
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.
If you’re producing more food than you can eat at once then you will need to learn how to preserve the excess. The most common methods are freezing, canning and dehydrating. Check out my Canning & Preserving board for more information.
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.
Reusable cloths can eliminate basically any commonly used disposable paper product such as napkins, paper towels, wipes, cotton rounds, etc. You can either buy store-bought cloths or make your own from old t-shirts.
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 all year-long and will happily eat your kitchen scraps.
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.
Knowing how to get your own meat from the wild is a basic skill that everyone should know. Our ancestors would have starved if it wasn’t for deer, wild turkey, fish, etc. Being able to supply your own meat is a great way to be less dependent on the grocery store.
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. The only two that I would be 100% comfortable in identifying and eating at this point would be blackberries and dandelions.
Being able to collect and reuse rainwater is a great way to save money and become less dependent. There are several DIY rain barrel tutorials on Pinterest.
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.
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.
If you’re going to be self-sufficient then you’re going to have to have a DIY 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. If you need help in any of these areas then you should consider enrolling in one of Craftsy’s 30+ Free Online Craft Classes.
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.
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 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 are in debt then you need a plan and goal in place to becoming and staying debt free. I would suggest visiting DaveRamsey.com or read some of these frugal living posts for more information: 6 Tips for Living (well) on One Income, Money Saving Tips from a Frugal Stay at Home Mom, 15 Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill, 10 Forgotten Money Saving Skills
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.
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!