Things I Learned Homesteading that Are Helpful Now

We were starting the homesteading lifestyle. Over the course of the past year or so, those plans have been temporarily derailed. More on that as we catch up in another post, but for now let’s get straight to the information on my mind today.

While pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle, I learned so many little tips & tricks that should not be new to any of us. They are, though, in ways that surprise me.  Not throwing judgement – I’m talking about myself really! But, for a little infusion of practicality in this season, here is my attempt to share some of them in hopes that the reminders are helpful.

  1. Almost everything freezes. If you don’t think your family will eat all of it before it goes bad, freeze the remaining portions for lunches later. You don’t like leftovers? This might be a good time to learn how to reinvent them into new meals then. Either way, wasting food has never been cool. At least for how my family is treating life now, I would say it’s vital now to “waste not, want not.”                                                  ***An extra tip that I have discovered about freezing pasta. If you only cook it for half the recommended time, it doesn’t turn to mush when you reheat the meal at a later date. (Word to the wise from the voice of experience!) This obviously works only if you are making a freezer meal in a separate batch from your evening’s meal.
  2. If you are cooking anything with bones it, save them for making broth later! Bone broth is so good for you, and it adds SO MUCH flavor to anything in place of plain water. I always cook rice, pasta, or anything else of that sort in bone broth for extra health and flavor.  I love making mine in the crockpot.  Simply toss in the bones, onion peels, carrot ends, or whatever other goodies I have in my freezer jar of veggie scraps, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, healthy dash of garlic powder, salt, and set the crockpot to low for 24-48 hours.  Pour through a mesh strainer, to remove any bones and veggie bits, and you have delicious broth.
  3. When prepping fresh vegetables, save things like onion peels, the carrot ends, or any other “discards” in a jar and keep it in the freezer.  Then, if you ever need a vegetable broth, make it like the bone broth, except it takes more like 12-24 hours to reach perfection for that.  Pour it through the mesh strainer when completed also.
  4. Our family chooses to eat meat, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the centerpiece of every meal. In my area, grocery stores are shortening hours, have limited stock, and are restocking frequently with what they get.   Shelves aren’t full like they were a month ago, though. Making things last as long as possible is advantageous for all of us right now, especially with luxuries like meat.
  5. SO MANY veggies are easy to grow! If you don’t have room for corn, squash, or beefsteak tomatoes, maybe you can have a small patio salad garden. Lettuces, radishes, & herbs are just a few examples of things that grow quickly and will add fresh and delicious elements to everyday meals.
  6. Recipes do not have to be followed exactly. Unless it’s a cheesecake. I guess that’s why I make less and less sweets, because the flexibility of savory cooking is so much simpler. But seriously, if you don’t like an ingredient, don’t feel stuck with it. If you don’t have an ingredient, improvise! If the store doesn’t have the vegetable that the recipe needs, switch it with another that has a similar cooking time. The Google is my BFF with substitutes like that.
  7. Adding a little bit of cornstarch and water mixture to thicken a thin sauce makes it easier to convince your naysayers to eat the rice with the meat. (In our house, the Papa Bear and the Buddy sometimes need extra convincing on some of our veggies and rice, so that’s what I’ve started doing.) There are the Southern Mamas that have making gravy down to a perfect science, but that is not me! If it’s not MeeMaw’s tomato gravy as taught to me by my mom, it ain’t happening for this girl. Even that took more times of trial and error to get right than I could count. Don’t even GET me started on how long it took me to get my biscuits perfect – I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was more than 10 years on that one! (I will post my recipe one of these rainy days while safely hiding inside from all of the outside world; I finally got that one right!)
  8. Snack foods for sanity days won’t be the end of the world!
  9. That bread machine collecting dust in the farthest back reaches of your pantry? Now is the time to use that baby! Guys, bread is NOT hard. Perfect bread? Admittedly, that does take more effort, but this is a great chance to learn a new skill. And, flatbreads, pizza doughs, pie crusts, they are all simple. They use the same basic ingredients, and we do NOT have to have the bread already baked and bagged. Convenient? Yes! Necessary? No.
  10. Cloth napkins obliterate the obsessive need for paper towels. It’s one of those simple switches that’s better for the environment, our wallets, and the aesthetic of our dining room tables. Save the paper towels for the jobs where they are truly needed.
  11. Making a huge batch of something time consuming makes other days easier. What I’m thinking about specifically is waffles, pancakes, biscuits, etc. When I make waffles, I use a from-scratch recipe adapted to our preferences, and I make a HUGE mess. So, I hate doing it.  But my kids LOVE them. So, I make a huge batch and freeze what doesn’t get eaten. They reheat in the toaster in minutes, and there’s a filling breakfast ready so that I can finish my coffee in peace and become human enough to conquer our mornings.  I do the same thing with pancakes. For biscuits: we like them, but none of my family eats them leftover. So, I make the entire dough, roll them out, and only cook 4 at a time. The others I freeze just like the ones you can buy in the freezer section of the grocery store. Makes life easier on other mornings, or I use the frozen biscuit dough for chicken & dumplings (another family favorite).

The climate of our world has instantly changed. I am definitely among the masses curious to see how the face of our society has evolved once we have overcome the current phenomenon facing our world. At the same time, I have hope and confidence in God. And, in some small way, I feel born for this season. Even in the midst of uncertainty – I feel such a resurgence of hope. Our Creator knew that this would face us – the specific individuals that we are – before we did. While I will in no way ever call a pandemic a positive thing, I have complete trust that God will walk with us throughout the valleys all the way through to the victory.

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