Increasing Your Food Supply

Growing Food

Growing Food

Increasing your food supply is not impossible. The very first thing to do is to make a list of the foods your family eats regularly. These are foods you will begin with. Since I grow a lot of vegetables, that is where I start. I grow only what we like to eat. If I try something new, I only grow one plant to see if we like it and if we eat it. Then the next year, I grow more. I like to eat many vegetables that my husband will not touch. It doesn’t seem fair to me that I can’t eat them because he won’t. So I grow enough for me. If I have enough stored the next year, I can skip growing them that year. 

Alternative Energy System

Our Alternative Energy System


Living with our own alternative energy system means I do not freeze foods. Right now we do not have a freezer But even when we do have one, I will not be doing that. I want to use it for certain foods that do not can well, like berries, steaks, roasts, ice cream, etc. We do not raise any animals for food. We have found that animals increase your expenses and work load. For us, this is the best choice. As I always says, “there are no rules to modern homesteading.” You can do as you please, whatever works for you. Increasing your food supply simply means you should have enough stored for the future, regardless of how you do it. Instead of freezing foods, I can them. I buy produce that I do not grow or that did not do well in my garden that year. I buy it locally and bring it home to can it immediately. As I have gotten older, I only buy enough to fill two pressure canners. It has become too much work for me to do more than that in one day. When I was younger, I canned nonstop, staying up quite late at night. Not now.

Home Canned Meat

My Canned Meat

Meat is easily bought locally from farmers. In recent years, organic meat has become quite easy to locate. Google “pasture raised organic meat in your city or county.” I still buy meat in the grocery stores if I can get a good deal on it. I can mine cooked, as I find it has a better flavor and texture that way. You can do it either way, raw or cooked. The recipes are in any canning book, I use the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I pour the leftover juice and fat from the pan it was cooked in, into the water that I am boiling the chunks of meat to can in. It gives it more flavor. After canning the meat, any leftover water that I did not use in the jars of meat, I now can as a rich broth. This broth can be used for gravy or soups. 

Food In Cupboard

Some of my food supply

I realize it sounds expensive to be increasing your food supply, but it really isn’t. I use some of the produce and some of the meat for two nights of meals and can the rest. By doing this weekly or monthly, or however often you can afford, it is a good way to stock up your home canned food. Future meals that are fast to prepare. After I have stocked my shelves with meats, broths, vegetables and fruits, I start canning soups, stews, chili and sauces. Those are easy to do and I make a big double batch and keep out enough for two nights of meals and can the rest. Fast food that is really good! 

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Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Stretching The Food Budget

Grocery Shopping

Grocery Shopping


Stretching the food budget is an essential skill today. People now have to pay for obamacare, when they couldn’t afford health insurance to begin with. Readers contact me all the time, asking what can they do? Where do they find that money, plus all the other bills that have gone up? Making cuts to the household budget when there is nothing left to cut, is a common dilemma today. What do most people cut? Their food budget, of course!  Groceries is always the first thing that is cut. Yet eating nutritional foods would improve their families’ health, so they wouldn’t get sick and/or run down to begin with. Build up your health in bad times, so you don’t have to spend money at the doctor’s office. 

Wendy's in Binghamton, NY

Fast food is quick & easy!


If you tend to grab food on the run, or go out to eat because it is less trouble, that is a very costly mistake. Not only money wise, but time wise too. I know the tendency to say, “what the heck, I can buy it already made for less.” That is not true though. It means that you get only one meal for that money. No leftovers unless you bring home a doggie bag unless you are buying Chinese food (I always get three meals out of my order. My husband only gets one, and he doesn’t like what I order). One package of meat can give you two or more different meals. One large package of hamburger can be chili, meatballs in gravy and hamburger patties.One chicken can be roast chicken, chicken salad and chicken soup. Making my food dollars go farther is always on my mind, even though there are only two of us here. Those fast food meals will always affect your food budget.

Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole

To make meals healthy, good and keeping to your food budget, these are some if the things I do:

1. Keep your meals simple.

2. Plan your menus before you shop. ALWAYS shop with a list!

3. Organize your kitchen so it is easy to cook in.

4. Plan what you are going to cook the day before.

5. If you need to thaw something out, do it the evening before.

6. While you are cleaning up the kitchen from supper, prepare some of the ingredients for the next day’s meal. Or at least, do it the next morning if you have more time. If you work, you might have to do it the evening before.

Crock Pot

Crock Pot

7. If you have a crock pot…….USE IT! Especially if you work or are busy during the day. With a crock pot, you can prepare the food and have it already in the crock and just take it out of the refrigerator and plug it in the next morning. They are great!

8. Clean the kitchen as you prepare and cook. Keep it as uncluttered as possible. Clear counters make cooking easier.

9. Collect recipes for making your salad dressings, condiments and soups (especially cream soups which are used as an ingredient in so many recipes.). Just those few items can save you a bundle!

10. Stock your pantry with items you use on regular basis. Make a stock up list and buy something on that list every single time you go to the store. Even if it is only 1 of something. Keep adding to it little by little.

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Being Frugal Where You Live

City apartment houses

City apartment houses


Being frugal is part of our homesteading life. There are many expenses that other people have that we do not. I wonder how they manage? Is there some secret that I have never been told? As I struggle to pay my son’s electric and gas bill these last few months, I remember one of the reasons why I did not want to be connected to the grid. It is a bill that he doesn’t make enough money to cover. So I take from his extra food budget to cover it. Only it doesn’t cover it. It’s just that he REALLY does need to buy food too!  I know there are some ways to conserve how much power you use. How do you teach a disabled grown-up, who doesn’t really comprehend that concept? This blog post, I have written as if I was living in that tiny apartment, and how I would live there, being frugal.

Homesteading On The Internet

Raised bed that I built!

The first thing I would have done, was to put in raised beds, or at least dug up the ground along the fence in the backyard. He lives in an apartment house with two other apartments. The couples that live there are pretty open to innovative ideas. In fact, one of the young men there, built an impressive backyard patio type area with mostly pallets and stone for the floor. I would have got him to build raised beds with pallets. Then acquired some compost from a nearby farmer to plant in. By now they’d have some food coming up. Most of the frugal people I know, live from their gardens all summer and fall.

The next thing, seeing as this building has two couples and one single man, they could combine their buying power. Frugal shoppers would purchase locally raised meat, or buy meat in bulk from a local restaurant supplier. My local restaurant supplier, Maines Food & Party Warehouse, sells special deals as “Group Buys” often. I pick up ten pound bags of chicken breasts or chicken thighs there, and can them. But they could easily freeze them. I buy a number of bulk products there besides meat and produce, such as bags of shredded cheese, which can be frozen (I can mine).  Since I have had trouble growing tomatoes in the last few years, I also buy #10 cans of tomato products (tomato sauce, tomato puree, whole tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste), mushrooms, asparagus and anything else I haven’t grown myself or bought from a local farmer. Maines Food & Party Warehouse is a big part of my frugal shopping plan.

Driving

Driving to the store again!


Only one of these young couples have a car, and they go to work daily, so transportation to the local big discount stores is always a hassle. If it was me, I’d order my household supplies from Amazon using their Subscribe & Save option on many of the products. It is cheaper that way and you wouldn’t run out. You just set the dates of when you need the various products to suit your budget, so the money is there when needed. Amazon lets you know ahead of time when its time to pay for it. That way you can cancel it, if you don’t have the money, but that defeats the idea. Saves on gas and time by purchasing this way. Even if you have to pay a little bit more. I think in the long run, it is better. In fact, I am doing this myself already. I may not get the cheapest price on some products, but it is a help to me since I have trouble walking in the stores due to my bad knees.

Power Grid

Power Grid


Next I would call the electric company and have them come out and do an energy audit of his apartment. Maybe the other renters would want that also. In our state, NY, they will spend an hour or more and show you what needs updating or repairing, to lower your electric and natural gas charges. This is a old house that was converted to three apartments and it is not in good condition. For a tiny three room apartment the rent is high, $500. bucks a month, without utilities. Not very frugal. If they find a refrigerator is an energy hog, or needs to be repaired, they will give you (as in no cost to you or the landlord) a new energy star one. That is because the refrigerator is one of the biggest draws on your electric system. Spending money on a good efficient one, is always a frugal purchase in the long run.

9 Degrees Blow 0

Cold!

Think about winter, and what to do to ensure you won’t freeze trying to keep your heating cost down. If the windows are not efficient, I would buy a roll of plastic and tape it over each window. Then I would buy a storm door for the exterior door if possible. That would be a good way to keep the cold out when winter is here. Now is the time to work on winterizing your home! Our local county has a winterizing program that will come in and do some various things to your home, to make it more energy efficient. Take advantage of that program if you can. Keep those winter heating bills down! Now is the time to take a look at your frugal budget and get it under control!

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I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.

Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole