We hear about people raiding dumpsters to be able to eat during extended power outages and disasters. It makes me think that many people do not shop anymore or only buy enough for a few meals and eat out the rest of the time. Could you do all your grocery shopping once a month, while never getting takeout or going out to eat? Could you do it without a refrigerator and freezer? This is what I’m trying to do. When I lived in an electric house in the city, I did my grocery shopping every two weeks. I thought this was a long time! When we moved off grid, I started to realize that grocery shopping is pretty inconvenient. Not only are stores far away, but shopping takes away from my work on the homestead. It’s usually an all day activity! This picture is of my boys taking a break while Grandma and I pack up the groceries at Aldi.
We try to live as simply and be as self-sufficient as possible. For us, this means no electricity in our home. Stocking up on groceries once a month is one thing, but is that possible without a fridge or freezer? Will the food I buy last without refrigeration? My ideal would be to grow and produce most of our food on our homestead. We are working toward that. So, one of the ways that I am trying to “wean” myself off the store is to go less and less often. I don’t feel like I can accomplish my goal of learning to live more simply if I am constantly running to the store for every little thing. It takes some planning, but I’m learning that I can stock up on the things I need once a month and have more time for responsibilities at home.
I feel like I have a long way to go before I get the store “habit” out of my system. It’s so easy to just buy what we want rather than make it ourselves. My family loves crackers and tortilla chips! But here’s a few things that I’ve been trying to do in order to lengthen the time between shopping trips.
- We are learning how to re-purpose and/or repair things. Often something goes on my list for the next shopping trip. A week later I might find something that will work instead. I can cross that item off my list. Last week, my oldest son broke one of his sandals. My mom got out a needle and some heavy thread. She fixed it as good as new! In my previous life in the city, I would have thrown them away and gone to the store the next day for new ones.
- We grow our own fruits and vegetables on our homestead. Canning season is beginning. We have already harvested cabbage and made sauerkraut, as well as picked wild blackberries that we made into jam. We’ve also enjoyed pie and cobbler that my mom has made. Next we plan to can green beans and summer squash using our new pressure canner on top of a fire pit.
- We make all our own bread and baked goods. My mom is a wonderful baker and she loves doing it. She often splits her baking with my family. In return, I mill all of our flour from wheat berries bought in bulk, as well as do my own baking about once a week.
- I keep a good stock of things in my pantry and I know exactly what I have and what I need to replenish. When it’s time for the monthly shopping trip, I go through my pantry and write done how many items I need of each thing.
- We often get eggs from our neighbor. Our flock is not old enough to lay, but we look forward to the day when we will collect our own eggs.
- We don’t buy meat. We kill and butcher our own chickens, lamb, and deer. Yes, we do all that ourselves. The men do the skinning and butchering. I killed the first guinea hen we ate! My dad stretched it’s neck and I chopped it with a handaxe. We either prepare meat right away for dinner (small animal) or my mom and I package up the meat to put in a freezer at our friends’ house about 30 minutes away. Now we plan to start canning a lot of our meat, so that we can store it without refrigeration.
- We don’t use a lot of things that need refrigeration. (See “10 Ways to Live without Refrigeration“) We rarely buy things like yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, and sandwich meat. These things need to be kept at a constant refrigerator temperature. The conventional versions of these products are not healthy anyway. And the natural/organic versions are expensive. Once in a while, we get raw milk from friends who have a cow. We hope to one day have our own dairy cow and be able to make all our own natural dairy products.
- We eat simply with good healthy ingredients. We enjoy food and a variety of flavors, so we will have a more complicated meal about once a week. But it’s important to us to limit our trips to the store, so we eat simply as much as possible. For dinner tonight, I fixed rice with spicy black beans, topped with cilantro and our first ripe garden tomato. It was a pretty simple meal, but still delicious. Breakfast in our house is often eggs over easy and toast, or a bowl of oatmeal. A piece of sourdough bread with cream cheese, tomato and cucumber is one of my favorite things! This could be dinner or lunch and I would be happy!