Homestead Where You Are: 10 Things You Can Do NOW To Increase Your Self-Sufficiency

While being fully self-sufficient would be quite a difficult task, many of us strive to become much more self-sufficient than we currently are.  Some are on this journey for environmental reasons, others to prepare in case of emergencies, and others as part of their process in simplifying their lives.  Whatever your motivation, there are many benefits, including health and monetary, to increasing your family's ability to be more self-sufficient.

Whether you are currently on a homesteading journey or still dream of doing so one day, there are many things that can be implemented in your life right now in order to work toward this goal.   As with anything, it takes effort to not become complacent with where you are and what you do and instead continue to challenge yourself.  At the same time, it takes effort to not go all in and expect that you'll be able to do everything in the first year or two.  That, my friends, is a recipe for burnout and frustration.

Here are 10 ideas to set as goals for yourself this year.  I'm using this as my own personal outline in an attempt to increase our own efforts.

What can you do to increase your self-sufficiency?

1. Grow Something!
     If you are currently on your homesteading journey, then you've already crossed this one off the list.  But if so, what about trying to grow something you've never grown before?  Mushrooms, loofah, kohlrabi, sunchoke, ginger, turmeric are all things that can be grown in any zone that you may not have thought about.  We've grown mushrooms once before and I want to add them to our homestead again this year.  We eat mushrooms pretty much every day, so this goal makes sense.  
    If you are new to your journey, it depends on where you live.  If you live in an apartment, why not try potted herbs and sprouts?  Both are delicious, nutritious, and pretty easy to grow.  If you live in a condo or house with a small yard, in addition to potted herbs and sprouts, why not try to grow 3 veggies that you and your family eat regularly?  My personal list of 3 would be: tomatoes, cucumbers, and green leafy veg.  The tomatoes and cukes because we love them and they are SO much tastier when homegrown, and green leafy veg because I try to include them in pretty much every meal.
    One thing we've learned in the past 4 years is that our food system is fragile.  The more we can provide for ourselves the better, not only because of the quality and connection we have to our own food production, but also, we don't have to worry about product recalls or empty shelves at the grocery store.  Let's not even get into the increasing price of everything this past few years (and, of course, ongoing)....

2. Learn Or Implement A New Preservation Method
     Part of being more self-sufficient is ensuring you have food to eat when it's not the growing season.  If you grow your own, it's a great way to enjoy your spring through fall hard work in the cold winter months.  If you don't grow your own fruit or veg, it's a great way to take advantage of lower pricing on in-season fresh fruit and veg.  
     Water Bath Canning, Pressure Canning, Dehydrating, Freeze Drying, Salt Curing, Freezing, Fermenting, and Cold Storage are all great ways to put food away for later.  Each has its purpose on the homestead, and in some cases, it may come down to your personal preference on which method to use.
     I tend to forget about dehydrating, except for herbs, so I'm going to concentrate on utilizing this method more this year.  Including mushrooms.  Have you seen the prices of dehydrated mushrooms?  They add so much flavor to dishes, so it's something I like to try and have on hand.

3. Eliminate More Ultra Processed Foods From Your Diet This Year
     Ultra processed (or highly processed) foods are not good for any of us, so the more you can eliminate or minimize them, the better.  If you're not familiar with the term, ultra processed foods differ from processed foods in that to make a food "processed", according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, there is a change to the fundamental nature of the agricultural product, i.e. freezing, canning, juicing, dicing, etc.  So, essentially, "processed" foods can be very healthy.  These are our canned tomato products, canned or frozen fruit and veg, etc. as long as they have only 1 or minimal ingredients.  "Ultra Processed" foods are also canned/frozen/dehydrated, etc. but have additional added ingredients, usually sugar, fat, and salt, but also likely preservatives, artificial colors, etc.
     In order to eliminate these foods, this means you'll need to make more items from scratch.  Think of things like condiments, snacks, salad dressings, bread products, ice cream, gravy, frozen snacks and pizza, etc.  Take a look at your grocery list and try to make 1 or 2 items from scratch instead of purchasing it canned/jarred/frozen/etc.

4. Learn To Forage
  Wild edibles and medicinal plants are available in all areas, it's just a matter of finding a spot to forage and properly identifying what you are picking.  Thankfully, there are many good guides available.  In many communities there are also people who offer workshops or classes where they will take you out and help identify not only what you are looking at but also good areas to find them.  These harvests are free and many are highly nutritious!

5.  Plant Perennial Vegetables
     Reaping the benefit without the work (and cost) of planting every year is a fabulous way to add variety to your homestead.  Depending on your zone, some herbs will be perennial as well as things like asparagus, artichokes, and rhubarb (technically a vegetable).  The only caution I will add is to think about where you want them before you actually plant because the idea is that they will be there for a very long time.

6.  Plant Fruit Trees/Bushes and Nut Trees
     Why not add fruit and nut trees if you're looking to add trees to your property?  Although I wish we'd begun adding them when we first moved to our homestead, in some ways it worked out since it took us a few years to determine exactly where we wanted everything to be long-term including trees, the garden, and outbuildings.  

     If you're limited on space, consider grafted trees.  You'll receive many varieties of the fruit all grafted onto one tree.  Our pear tree, as an example, is 5 varieties grafted onto one tree.  It's fantastic!  Especially since it's just 2 of us.  Another idea is to go with semi-dwarf trees if you have a smaller property.  That's what we've added when we've been able to and are very happy with them.  It's easier to reach the crop because they don't grow quite as tall.

7.  Learn To Make Your Own Soap & Skincare
      This was on my "to do" list when we first thought about this lifestyle and within a few years it ended up becoming our homestead business!  Although it certainly doesn't need to become a business for you, once you get a few good recipes under your belt, you'll find that you can make these products 2 or 3 times a year and your needs will be covered.  It will save you money and you'll have control over the ingredients you use.

8. Collect Rainwater
     Whether you're doing this for a primary source of water or a back-up source, collecting water during the rainy weather helps increase water security.  We use ours for the purposes of watering our garden during the hottest months.  Using rain barrels, we collect water through gutters on our home and outbuildings.  Our primary water source is a well, so this free water helps alleviate excess usage during the drier months allowing us to feel more secure even during a drier than average summer.

9. Learn The Medicinal Properties Of Herbs
    Learning what herbs to use for basic needs and how to make some of your own salves, tinctures, and other remedies will allow you to not only be more self-sufficient, but like everything else you make from scratch, it allows you to have control over the ingredients you are using.  A win-win!

10. Learn Handyman Skills
     The magic of youtube helps tremendously with this, but anytime you can acquire knowledge on how to fix things yourself you are saving money but also adding to your own skillset.

I encourage you to add to your homestead skills/goals this year, whether it's your temporary homestead or the property of your dreams.  All of these ideas are meant to empower you and teach valuable skills to use the rest of your life, no matter where you live.  Two extra things to add to your journey if you haven't already:

1. If you are not yet debt free, I encourage you to include this in your list of items to work toward as this alone will become a huge benefit both emotionally and financially.

2. Learn to be content.  Each of our "simpler" lives will be unique, but the one thing that is universal in simple living is contentedness.  Desiring less things allows you to be rich in relationships, memories and connections.


  1. Great points, all. I would agree that getting out of debt is one of the most important steps a body cand take to live a life of freedom. Live small so that you can "live large", meaning that you can live your dreams. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
    I think contentedness is underrated. It's a marvelous space in which to reside. I'd also suggest for folks to find others who share their vision of simplicity. It's important to live interdependently, and not try to do everything yourself. Sharing skills, bartering and knowing others who embrace a similar lifestyle can add quality to one's life. Thank you for the reminders, Staci.

    1. Thanks Daisy. Great points that you make! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Those are terrific ideas – whether someone’s just starting out as well as me! I’d love to have a rain barrel, and I need to learn about foraging – I haven’t had a morel mushroom in years, always love them -. I heard they were going for $40 a pound here😬 my handyman skills need refined-Jill of all trades, mistress of none is more how I roll. I’ll try, but it certainly won’t be perfect! And so glad YOU are making soap, I put your cranberry and fig in my homemade laundry soap - It smells so nice. Thanks for the tips and reminders – so so glad you’re back blogging 😊

    1. Thanks Mary. My handyman skills need some refinement as well. lol I "phone a friend" which means I ask my husband to fix whatever needs fixing. He's fantastic with figuring it out. I wouldn't doubt it about the mushrooms. They can be VERY expensive!


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