With growing inflation, possible food shortages, and the many uncertainties of the coming years, now is the time to start making your family and your home more self-sufficient. Here are 5 practical ways that you can make your home more sustainable and provide for your family’s needs.
Why we need to make our homes more self-sufficient
Life before the Industrial Revolution
Years ago, before the Industrial Revolution (approximately 1760-1840), goods and services were mostly produced by family-owned, home businesses. Families generally worked together day in and day out to provide for the basic needs of the family and to run the family business.
Because they couldn’t just run to Walmart every time they needed something, people had to develop a broad skillset in order to produce much of what they required to live.
The problem with specialized knowledge
Today, most people are on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s common to spend 4+ years in college, specializing in one specific skill. Of course, having a skill can be very valuable if it allows you to provide for yourself and your family.
The problem comes when focusing on our one, single area of expertise causes us to lack basic knowledge in other important areas of life.
Today, there are a lot of people who are very good at providing a high-dollar income by working their 9-5 in a specialized field. However, when it comes to preparing food, changing the oil, or doing basic home repairs, it’s easiest to just pick up the phone and hire someone else to do it.
We can’t always rely on someone else
It’s easy to become comfortable with having every good or service at our fingertips with the click of a button. With Amazon Prime, you can get almost anything shipped right to your doorstep within a day.
However, the last few years have begun to teach us that we might not always be able to rely on the supply chains as much as we think (or want to). Since Covid-19 began, we’ve seen shortages on everything from food to labor. Whether the problem gets worse or not, it’s starting to become obvious that people might want to be a little bit more prepared.
Should we fear the future?
Though the future is uncertain, Christians know that we do not need to (and should not) fear the future. God ordains and sustains all things.
Psalm 119:89-91 – Forever, O Lord, Your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You have established the earth, and it stands fast. By Your appointment they stand this day, for all things are Your servants.
Psalm 125:1-2 – Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 135:5-7 – For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from His storehouses.
The Heidelberg Catechism question and answer #1 are also a great comfort for the future.
Question 1: What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
How to make your home more self-sufficient
While we don’t fear the future, we also don’t stand by idly and do nothing. Instead, we should be good stewards by using the time, energy, and resources that the Lord has given us to provide for our families and be generous to others.
With that in mind, here are 5 ways that you can make your home more self-sufficient.
1. Stock up on food
If more shortages occur, we want to be prepared. Stock up now little by little so that you don’t have to go scrambling to the grocery store if foods are scarce.
One way to do this is to start buying a few extra items each time you go to the store. Canned goods, rice, dry beans, frozen vegetables, and frozen meats are good choices and easy to store.
We’re currently creating a food storage pantry to store large amounts of dry beans and rice.
Canning and freezing fresh produce is another excellent (and healthy) way to stock up. Take advantage of farmers or homesteaders near you who are selling produce this summer. Can, freeze, or dehydrate it.
If you don’t have a lot of space for storing extra food, get creative. Is there an extra corner of your house where you could tuck a small bookshelf full of cans? How about extra space under your couch or bed? Can you build a shelf up top in your closet?
Store what you can little by little. You don’t have to buy out Aldi in one trip (please don’t!)!
2. Grow some of your own food
You can grow some of your own food whether you live on plenty of acreage, a city lot, or even in an apartment.
If you haven’t done much gardening before, start small. Pick a handful of plant types your first year, and add a few more each year.
It’s easy to get too excited and overcommit to a large garden and then not be able to keep up. It’s better to start small, learn as you go, and be able to stay on top of watering, weeding, harvesting, and preserving your crop.
Growing your own food is a lot of work, and sometimes it seems easier (and maybe even cheaper) to just go to the grocery store and forget about your garden. Honestly, sometimes going to the store actually is cheaper and easier.
However, the benefit of producing your own food is greater than simply having food. You also reap the benefit of knowledge. Growing food isn’t always as easy as just sticking some seeds in the dirt. There’s so much to learn (we’re learning more all the time!).
There may come a time when produce is scarce at the grocery store, and having the skills to produce your own food will be invaluable.
3. Learn basic skills
With the current labor shortages, we’ve already seen that it’s not always easy to pick up the phone and hire someone to do any job. Right now, many jobs in the trades are booked out for weeks and months. Learning some basic skills will greatly reduce your need to depend on other businesses.
Cooking and bread-making is a great place to start. Learn to cook from scratch using whole foods. Teach yourself to follow a recipe and add your own touches to make healthy, nourishing foods for your family. Cooking from scratch will give you a major leg-up if a food shortage occurs.
Sewing is another skill that is super helpful. We get SO much more life out of our clothes simply because we can sew small rips and make otherwise perfectly good clothes last much longer.
Start learning basic handyman skills. Take it one job at a time. Figure out how to change your own oil. Next time something breaks on your house or car, use YouTube to try to fix it yourself before calling a professional. Even if you don’t save money the first time, it’s important to know these basic skills.
4. Build multiple income streams
Start working on figuring out how to have more than one source of revenue for your family. This way, if you suddenly lose your job or have some sort of emergency, you don’t automatically lose your entire income.
Start a family business. Sell some of your extra produce. Get into consulting. Flip items on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace. Start producing a product that you can sell. Offer a service. These are just a few ideas. What are you good at? Consider how you could turn it into a small business that generates a little extra income for your family.
5. Get rid of debt
One of the best ways to make your home and family more self-sufficient is by getting rid of debt. As long as you owe someone else money, you’ll be a slave to them at some level.
We love Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. He starts with building an emergency fund and then using the snowball method to pay off all debt except for your house.
Staying out of debt and making purchases with cash (spending less than you make) has been one of the most vital factors that’s allowed our family to have more financial freedom, even on a modest income.
How are you making your home more self-sufficient?
Moving toward self-sufficiency for your family can feel overwhelming. There’s so much to learn! Try to see it as a fun challenge rather than an overwhelming goal. Learn one new skill each week or month. Focus on what you’re doing today rather than feeling overwhelmed by all that you want to do in the next 5 years (though having a 5-year overview is wise, too!).
What would you know now if you had started two years ago by learning one new skill a month? What new skills are you most excited to learn?
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