How to Become a Homesteader Pt 1 - Starting with Food

How to Become a Homesteader – Part 1: Starting with Food

In what felt like the snap of my fingers I went from living a completely city-bound life to wanting to homestead and become self-sufficient. Being in the garden and making my own food filled me with such joy and helped me find my purpose in life. This change was all thanks to the 2020 pandemic and I’m so grateful for it. It helped me see what truly mattered and made me prioritize things in my life to become a homesteader.

Once I decided that the homestead life was for me, I wasn’t sure how to get to where I envisioned myself being. It seemed like an impossible journey. Moving to the country – how would we make money and work when our jobs were in the major city? Growing and making my own food – how could I do that when I barely knew how to cook or grow anything? 

If this sounds like you, then you’re in the right place. 

This mini-series will provide a simple road-map for how I was able to go from a city-slicker to a homesteader in a few short years. 

Pea planted in rows in a garden bed
Snap Peas

Preface: My Story

It started small in a tiny suburban backyard with an 8×8 garden bed and from there we focused on eating real whole foods. When we cut out restaurants and pre-made/pre-processed foods and opted for more delicious homemade food it literally changed our lives. We started canning and freezing our garden abundance to utilize throughout the winter. Then we started baking our own bread and (proudly) haven’t bought a loaf from the store since 2020! But we wanted to do more. We loved our time in the garden, learning, growing, eating real food and becoming more self-reliant in a time when food was becoming scarce.

We made big career changes that were really hard and tough so we could buy a new home with some land to keep building our dreams. In 2021 we built nine 4×12 garden beds, a greenhouse and got our first livestock animal – chickens.

2024 marks our fifth year gardening, eating whole foods, and cooking from scratch. Also our third year with chickens and gardening with a greenhouse. We’re planning and prioritizing our most eaten foods from the garden to make the most of our investment. All while also learning new things along the way and still planning for our big forever homestead property with acres of fruit tree fields, vegetable crops, farm animals, and medicinal gardens. We’ve come a long way and I truly hope to help others reading this with what I discovered to get us here. 

Basket of fruits and vegetables

Where to Start Your Homesteading Journey?

Make Your Own Food

Making your own food is simple, yet very important to the homesteading lifestyle. Of course sometimes it’s necessary to get take-out (think unexpected hospital visits, long day trips to see family, illnesses, etc). I still do this for some of those reasons listed above. However, once you’re growing your own food, you will probably want to cook with it most of the time!

Start out small. Especially if you’re used to getting take-out weekly or daily. Make all your coffee at home during the week if you used to buy one every single day. Plan all your meals and snacks for the week to encourage conscious grocery shopping. You are more likely to eat everything in your fridge and pantry that way. 

Starting here is a great first step. Making your own food will also save you a lot of money – which will help you save for your dream home. 

Pumpkin oatmeal bake

Make Your Food Using Whole Foods 

Now that you’ve started to make your own food at home and you’ve found some easy and delicious meal recipes. It’s time to get a little deeper. 

Buying whole foods is the next step. While this might sound the same as making your own food, it’s very different. 

To be clear, buying whole foods means buying the whole, real ingredient. Then using that with other whole foods and spices to make your meal. Whole foods don’t usually come pre-packaged. 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Unfortunately, eating boxed chicken fingers at home is processed, (I am very guilty of this). But it’s a good step in making your own food instead of eating out. Making it a whole food would be cutting a chicken breast into fingers, breading it yourself and baking it. 

There’s so much at the grocery store that you may consider whole foods or healthy. But when you really look into it – it’s really not. Hummus is a great example of this. 

Hummus is very healthy and a great item to have on hand for a snack with carrots or cucumbers. However when you look at the ingredients in the store-bought hummus you’ll be a little shocked. There’s a lot of extra ingredients in there that your body does not need. A lot of those are preservatives that help keep that container of hummus ‘fresh’ after months on the shelf. (As a former delicatessen an worker I promise you, the hummus expiration date is months from when we receive it and put it out on the shelf).

Instead of buying deli department hummus, make your own! Use canned or dried chickpeas (both are whole foods), tahini, salt, olive oil, garlic, cumin and lemon juice. Here you’re using whole foods and making your own hummus. You can spice it up however you want plus it’s cheaper, so much tastier and healthier than any store-bought hummus. 

Most homemade hummus recipes will equal out to 2 or 3 store sized containers. You can freeze the extra to use later or intentionally buy foods to use with it to consume while it’s still fresh. 

Eat Whole Foods From the Garden

When you garden, you’re eating whole, organic foods. You grew a zucchini – now what do you do with it? You will need to learn how to cook with whole real foods. Kale is a great example of a bountiful crop that is easy to grow, and starting to increase in price. You can easily and quickly dehydrate or bake small pieces of kale with oil and spices to make crispy delicious kale chips. A perfect garden-grown snack to eat instead of buying fried potato chips from the store. That’s why I encourage making your own food and buying whole foods as the first steps in this How to Become A Homesteader mini-series.

Kale ready to be harvested

It can be a tad intimidating – having a full garden with an abundance of whole foods. Learning how to utilize these ingredients is key to making the most money from your garden investment. Plus it encourages much healthier eating habits. 

So before you have an entire garden of kale, beets, and radishes. Start by buying whole foods and learn how to make them into delicious meals and snacks. 

Additionally, depending on where you live when you make this move to become more self-sufficient – it might be mid-winter and gardening isn’t possible yet. Starting off with these steps are the key to success.

Up next, is Part 2 – Starting Your Garden. Subscribe to our email list so you don’t miss any of the next installments of this How to Become a Homesteader series!

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