Do you dream of being more self-sufficient? So many people want to be able to be self-sustaining and not reliant on the grocery store or the government, but it can be pretty overwhelming. It is especially overwhelming if you have never done the “from scratch” work. It’s ok. You can easily learn a couple things to become more self-sustaining. Master these or similar skills and then expand to other skills. Start small, succeed, expand!
1.Start cooking (more) from scratch
You don’t have to worry about becoming a master chef, but learn how to cook some basic meals so you are self-sufficient instead of the premade versions from the store and restaurants. Bonus: it’s (usually) cheaper, too! When you are ready to expand you may be canning your own ketchups, jalapeno pickles, and canned stew, but don’t worry about starting there.
Take this in baby steps. First, choose a simplistic meal and see about making it yourself. Start really basic if you need to and learn to cook pasta from a box and heat sauce from a jar. Add in chopping your own veggies for a salad with bottled pre-made dressing, and heating frozen garlic bread on your own. Cool!
Second, learn how to make a portion of that meal from scratch. The sauce for example: compare a bunch of recipes, they all use about the same amount of basil, oregano, etc. You can’t really screw it up. Buy a can of chopped tomatoes or a can of pureed tomatoes, then play with seasonings. Eventually you may buy your own fresh tomatoes to use. Honestly, we eat our tomatoes fresh and I buy canned tomatoes to make sauce.
Third, baking bread is pretty easy, so you can make your own garlic bread. Of course once you know how to make bread you’ve got that for all sorts of meals – french toast to sandwiches. Making the pasta isn’t hard either, although it has a little trial and error so you don’t overwork the dough.
Use these same steps with your favorite breakfast, and then another meal and another. You got this!
2.Grow your own herbs
Well now that you have gotten that cooking from scratch thing started you know fresh herbs taste way better than dried. Time to find a window to grow some herbs in – any kind of herbs you want. It’s surprisingly easy. Most herbs want a decent amount of light, warm temperatures, and damp soil (not wet, not dry, just damp). Easy-peasey self-sustaining!
There are tons of cute kits you can buy, but honestly it makes a lot of sense to buy your own pieces. My own fresh herbs would include more basil and cilantro than thyme and sage, for example. Go ahead and buy the seed packet for $.99 or $4.99, if stored properly (cool, dark, and dry) most seeds will last for YEARS. Buy your seeds, buy some general potting soil, and buy some cute pots. ”Pots” is a loose term, as long as you can fill the bottom with some pebbles or drill holes for drainage, you can plant in anything from a fancy teacup to a heavy planter box. Use what speaks to you and what fits.
3. Learn a couple mending tricks.
Self-sustaining may include repairing an item rather than just going out to buy new. Learn to sew on a button (actually super easy) and to do a running stitch to secure a patch. These are the two basic sewing skills you need. Again, start simple, succeed, then expand. There are tons of fancy sewing styles and the “rules” are different for sheer fabrics versus denim. There are all sorts of needles and thread… Start out with a pack of needles for about a buck and some all-purpose cotton thread in a few colors (at least black and white, beige or gray are good too, then red and blue). At one point my husband had some welding shirts that had more patches than they had original fabric.
4. Find who you can barter with
Wait what? Sure, bartering is a part of being self sufficient. Let’s say you have a mechanical issue but absolutely no idea about even troubleshooting mechanics. Find someone willing to fix your equipment and trade their services for a service of your own or something you made. I have a mechanic that I pay to fix my vehicle. There isn’t any bartering there. But, I sometimes bring him a dozen fresh eggs. When we have a bad storm he’ll swing by my house and plow my driveway or sand it. At the end of winter the scales are usually tipped out of favor so my husband brings him a bottle of appreciation that they visit over and enjoy. It seems to work out.
Some people trade honey for maple syrup. Both require special skills to harvest and preserve. Both are quite expensive at the store. Both are sweet to receive (ha! Terrible pun!).
5.Keep Learning to be More Self-Sufficient
These are easy ways to start your self sufficiency journey. After mastering these basic skills, you probably want some more advanced skills. Maybe you should take a course in electrical work, or learn to can your food. Maybe your Aunt Jan will teach you to knit in exchange for some of your delicious cinnamon raisin bread. Be creative and expand your knowledge.
What simple skill do you think is most key to being self-sufficient? What skill do you want to learn?