17 Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient
Do you think you are as self-sufficient as you can be? Think about the things you rely on…do you use electricity in your home? Do you pay a gas bill? Do you pay a mortgage? Do you buy the majority of your food at the grocery store? This means you are not completely self-sufficient.
Often times living a self-sufficient lifestyle and doing all you can to improve your self-reliance skills is a challenge, especially if you live in an apartment or other type of small space living quarters.
Of course, most of us aren’t able to become completely self-sufficient by trying to operate our home off-grid, live on a true homestead, become totally debt-free, or even pay off all our credit cards in the short term.
But we can make a plan to begin the process of relying less on other people, agencies, and companies. Here are 17 ways to become more self-sufficient. In case you missed this post, 101 Homesteading Skills We Need To Teach
17 Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient
The more self-sufficient you become, the better it will be during and after a disaster! Here are some things you can do to become more self-sufficient over time!
1. Grow Your Own Food
Start a garden, even if it’s small at first. Think about all kinds of vegetables your family likes to eat, like tomatoes, potatoes, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, beans, and corn. Consider planting some apple trees or other fruit trees, if you have room. or anything you think your family would enjoy growing and eating. This is where I purchase my garden seeds, SeedsNow
You should also consider planting and harvesting some herbs. They tend to be easy to grow and you can eat them on salads or include them in your casseroles. They can also be dried and made in powders as part of your family’s preservation plan to increase your pantry inventory.
If you’re concerned about how much land you might need to grow your garden, many of us have limited resources, including ground space without acres to plant that garden. In some of my posts, I discuss how to grow plants in buckets on your deck or balcony.
You can design your garden around your own needs based on the size of your family, the types of foods you enjoy, and how much time and financial resources you’re willing to devote to the garden effort.
Remember, having a garden not only helps in your self-sufficiency efforts but based on the frugality factor of saving money, you can provide for your own family and save on food costs at the same time. For most of us, having a garden isn’t a new source of income, but a fun way to involve the family to maintain your desired sustainable lifestyle.
In our last home, we set up 4′ x 4′ raised planters all around the perimeter of our backyard. I needed them to be raised since I challenges kneeling down. We also had decorative “pots” made of ceramic material where I planted most of my herbs and even some potatoes.
Please Check Out What To Plant Each Month and How to Go About It:
- What To Plant In January
- What To Plant In February
- What To Plant In March
- What To Plant In April
- What To Plant In May
- What To Plant In June
- What To Plant In July
- What To Plant In August
- What To Plant In September
- What To Plant In October
2. Start Saving Seeds
When you first start out, you may need to buy seeds from the store, but that makes you reliant on the store. So, save your seeds so you don’t have to buy more from the store in the future. If you buy seeds that are heirlooms, you can harvest and save the seeds for next year’s plantings.
I like to remind my readers that having a garden also helps with our surroundings. A garden attracts bees, the bees help pollinate not only your plants but the plants in your whole neighborhood. As we do positive things for ourselves, we end up providing benefits for others.
3. Compost to Become More Self-Sufficient
This is a great way to use your kitchen food scraps without needing as much in your weekly trash pickup. It also eliminates the need for you to go to the store to buy as many chemicals as fertilizer for your garden. You can make your own fertilizer. A compost pile doesn’t have to be really big, even though that can help since there are so many things you can add to it to make it a success.
We just raked the leaves in the yard for the last time this season. Although we had already done some raking, we ended up with 14 large yard bags full of leaves. There’s no way we could incorporate all those leaves, let alone add the lawn clippings, egg shells from the fresh eggs we had for breakfast, or other food waste like the overripe bananas we bought last week.
All these items would add to the nutrient-rich compost we need, but there are limits. Do your best, and if you have limited room, consider joining forces with a neighbor to develop the compost pile you both need.
4. Preserve the Food You Grow
If you’re growing more food than you can eat in the short term, it is a blessing to be able to preserve it. This helps build your stockpile in case something happens where you can’t grow what you need for a season. There are 3-ways to preserve your food: freeze it, dehydrate it, or can it.
I used to can a ton of different food items as we raised our four daughters. Now that it’s just Mark and me, we haven’t done as much canning and dehydrating over the past few years.
I miss going to the farmers’ markets as we used to when we needed to supplement what the garden produced. I loved supporting the local growers rather than going to the supermarkets for the fruits and veggies we wanted to preserve.
I’ve found that if you can buy in bulk, you usually can save money. The challenge I see when I check the isles at the store where they display their canning supplies is the limited inventory of canning jars and lids. If you can find good quality lids from Ball or Kerr, I’d suggest you buy them now for your future canning projects since they’ve been hard to find.
Make sure you plan ahead and have room to store what you preserve. That can be in a cellar storage area, a basement utility area that stays fairly cool, or your pantry, room permitting.
5. Cook From Scratch
Boxed foods like cookie mixes are easy and awesome, but who knows if they will always be there. The more you learn to cook from scratch, the less dependent you will be on buying things from the store. Here are some great recipes:
Cooking from scratch requires you to keep a fairly well-stocked pantry or another storage area. You don’t want to be running to the store all the time. I’ve written a number of posts in which I outline key items to store so you’re ready with the ingredients called for.
6. Start Using Cloth Instead of Paper Products
Unless you know how to make your own paper products, you may want to switch to cloth. Reusable cloths can eliminate things like napkins, paper towels, wipes, cotton balls, etc. You can also stock and store these items, but if you don’t want to be reliant on the stores, look into reusable clothes. In case you missed this post, How To Save Money On Your Paper Products
I know doing the dishes can be a pain, but buying lots of paper plates, cups, napkins, and other common kitchen items can prove to be expensive. If you have some clean water available, use it and stir away from the paper and plastic products.
7. Get Some Farm Animals to Become More Self-Sufficient
If you live in the typical suburban environment, you aren’t where you can have animals. Even some rural areas with large lots will limit the kind and number of birds and livestock you can keep on your property. If you do live in an area without many restrictions, and you feel you have the time and resources to raise them, consider the prospect of getting some animals.
I have a friend who always has chickens, 2 pigs, and 2 cows. They would sell one pig and one cow and butcher the other one. Having chicken hens gives you fresh eggs and chicken (meat).
Having a pig and cow gives you beef and pork. You could also consider other livestock like rabbits, sheep, and goats. This makes you less reliant on the store for your meat and eggs. A dairy animal such as a cow to milk would be good as well.
I know this sounds like a real stretch, but families have been raising animals throughout history. It’s not practical in the city, but if you have a rural home location it may be an option.
It’s also a great learning opportunity if you have children who could share doing the chores, and if you desire, you could expand the idea and actually have your own business with the additional income.
8. Learn to Hunt and Fish
Hunting and fishing are great skills to have. If something happens and you can’t buy food, you will know how to find your own food.
9. Forage for Food to Become More Self-Sufficient
This is basically just knowing how to find food in the wild. Our ancestors would have starved if they didn’t know how to do this. In fact, there are many weeds in your backyard or neighborhood that you can actually eat. Here’s a list:
10. Collect Rainwater
If you have city water, you are relying on that water to be there whenever you need it. If it’s not, you’ll be out of luck. You should always stock up on water, and if you can’t, you can always collect rainwater if your state allows it. (I could never understand the rationale for municipalities not allowing collecting the water, but whatever.)
If you do collect your own rainwater, you’ll need a way to treat it, either with some chemicals or through a water filtration system. I like the products from Big Berkey and PortaWell. My archives are full of posts with water-related information.
Related: How to Find Other Water Sources in an Emergency
11. Air Dry Your Clothes to Become More Self-Sufficient
Not only does this save you money, but it extends the life of your clothes. If you don’t have electricity, you will need to air dry your clothes. This unit is similar to the one I purchased years ago so I could hang up my wet cleaned clothes. Pennsylvania Woodworks Clothes Drying Rack
You should also consider making your own laundry soap. I’ve also written posts that include the recipe and instructions on soap-making. This is a skill we should all acquire at some point. If you make your own soap you not only know what’s in it and how it affects different fabrics, but you can make soap that is cheaper and works very well with our modern laundry appliances.
12. Consider Alternate Energy Sources
Right now, most of us pay an electric bill, but what if you had electricity without paying a utility to provide it for you? Using solar energy is a huge step in becoming more self-sufficient. Over the past few years, solar panels have become more energy efficient and at a cheaper price. If you don’t want to go full solar, you should invest in some solar items like solar chargers, solar ovens, or solar flashlights.
13. Bring in Income
Even if you have a job, you are reliant on that business or company to stay in business. Think of ways you can make money if you don’t have that job anymore. Sell produce, honey, eggs, meat, or handmade goods like knitting for profit. Your vocational training could possibly qualify you to become a consultant who would support other companies or individuals in various industries.
14. Learn to Do it Yourself to Become More Self-Sufficient
Instead of calling a plumber, mechanic, or drywaller to do that repair, try to do it yourself. There are tons of Youtube videos for just about everything. I learned how to fix a leaky sink, cut the piping, and seal it. I got help just by asking my local hardware store. The more you can do on your own, the more self-reliant you are.
15. Get Out of Debt
When you are in debt, they own you. The best way to be self-sufficient is to not owe anyone anything, and that includes the mortgage you took out. Try to save some each month and set goals to pay down your debts. If you make an extra principal payment on your mortgage each month it’s surprising how many years can be reduced from that 30-year mortgage, particularly early on when smaller amounts are going towards principal from each payment.
Don’t think you have to pay a fee for making your mortgage payments every two weeks. Just divide your mortgage payment (without the taxes and insurance) by 12 as in 12 months. Make an extra principal payment every month based on that formula. When you set up your automatic payment add the additional principal payment. It will be the best decision you have ever done.
16. Be Content with What You Have
If a disaster or emergency comes your way, you could be without a lot of things you thought you needed. The truth is, we can live with a lot less. To become self-sufficient, live simpler, and want less. We all have needs that make like comfortable and safe, but it’s the wants that cause us financial challenges in the long run.
17. Make Your Own Clothes
If you don’t know how to sew or make a shirt, now is the time to start learning how. If you can make your own clothing, you won’t have to worry about buying them at the store. Another great place for clothing is your local thrift store where you often can find gently used clothing. I made my girls many of their clothes when they were young, and before they felt the need to be “trendy.” Early on I even made some of my own clothes, it was fun.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to purchase clothes on clearance over sewing them yourself, I learned that very quickly. I know how to sew so I’m grateful for that skill.
When it comes to being self-sufficient, you don’t want to rely on anyone except yourself for many of your needs. This means you have to learn to do things you may have someone else doing now. Check out my post “30 Pioneer Skills We Cannot Lose” to become even more self-sufficient. May God Bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Sewing Set Deposit photos_19188717_s-2019
27 thoughts on “17 Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient”
Extremely good post today! Thank you so much for posting this. We do most of these, but not all. We do have seeds, and are planning on gardening next year. I’d love for us to have a well.
Hi Deborah, thank you, my friend. The list is to remind us we can do some or all of the skills. We all have different situations. God bless our Country, Linda
Amen to this!
I do most of these things and I made sure I was debt free before retirement and that I continue to pay off any credit card bills each month. That’s made a huge difference! Unfortunately I live in a north facing apartment so growing my own food is a bit tougher. I am able to grow a fairly good amount of rhubarb in planter boxes as well as a small selection of herbs.
Hi Alice, you grew rhubarb??? Oh my gosh, my mom loved it!! She would make a pie with it! We all have different situations. I wish I had a good Farmer’s Market here, I don’t. I grow as much as I can. Being debt-free is a way of life we must live. Stay safe, Linda
I am learning some of these skills right now. I can not have a garden as I live in an apartment but I’m looking into other alternatives. I crochet dish cloths and blankets to sell. I do not make a lot of money doing this but every little bit helps. It would be interesting to learn how to make my own clothes! I will have to look into that.
Hi Audrey, I used to make my own clothes and my daughter’s clothes. Now, Target makes clothes cheaper than I can buy fabric to make them. Sewing is a great skill. I grew up sewing everything. I love crocheted dishcloths, that is a great skill!!!! We all bring different skills to the table so to speak. Linda
I love crocheted and knitted dish cloths. I have sewn clothes for myself and my children. I do love sewing. I make a lot of sewn gifts, now.
I’ve been looking for a simple, straightforward dishcloth crochet pattern! Can you help me? I know how to do a fair amount of stitches but still like to do simpler things. If it’s work, it’s not fun! Is there a special type of yarn needed? Thank you!!!
Hi Robbie, I sure hope someone can help you with this request. I love those dish cloths but have never made them. Linda
I do a standard granny square dish cloth. Nothing fancy. I chain 6, attach together with a slip stitch then chain 3 to start the granny square. Hope this helps. I’m happy to answer any more questions should you happen to have any. Good luck! Oh and for dish cloths I use cotton yarn.
Good Morning, Linda: As you know, I live tiny and debt free. Unfortunately, where I live I can’t raise a garden without it being in a greenhouse. I live in a 5th wheel and thought about building a small one, but just can’t afford it right now. I’ve been self-sufficient my entire life, but now that I’m older (74), I find that I do need help on something, which really angers me because I know I can do it myself. Oh well. I’m researching a rainwater catchment and wind generator as I’d like to eventually build both of them but until that day happens, I’ll do all the research I can so that maybe I’ll know what I’m doing when the time comes.
Have a great day!
Hi Pam, this is how I see it, my friend, we can only do what we can. I would love to live in a 5th wheel, my husband is not ready for that. I am. I would love a greenhouse, it’s not going to happen. I live in a crazy HOA that will not allow them. Oh well, I have raised garden beds in my very small yard. I love hearing you are researching rainwater catchment. I have been looking into this as well. I can’t afford the barrels yet, but maybe someday. We all have talents, you have been self-sufficient your whole life. I have to. That’s a BIG deal in my mind. Keep doing what you’re doing. I can’t do everything I would like to do but it’s okay. Life is good, stay well! Linda
I can’t picture you living with a crazy HOA. I thought I was the only one with one of those!! My husband wanted those black fake hinges for the garage door, so we got them and put them on……that brought 3 letters from the HOA threatening to hire a contractor and Bill us if they were not removed….At midnight on the last day we removed them…..they were magnets!!!….lol….. the next day the holier than thou board members were trying to figure how we fixed the screw holes….. Sometimes it helps to take them down a peg!!!!
Hi Chris, oh my gosh the HOA! Ours is over the top crazy. The letters……..wow! Mark and I have had a letter or two. We had to move our custom made shed. It cost us $1100.00 to have lifted and moved. It’s never been the same. Oh well. It’s so hard when they send out letters about weeds (not us-we spray them before they sprout) but several of our neighbors could have a brush fire in their yard. This is the best, you know those Mercedes Vans that you can convert to a Motorhome/traveling van? They are too pricey for me but our HOA will let you park one in your driveway IF it’s not a custom buildout. The buildout is inside. If you are going to “camp” you have to park somewhere off the subdivision. It makes no sense. The joys of an HOA. NEVER EVER AGAIN! And I was an HOA President up north. This group, there are no words. Stay safe! Linda
There is a lot of craziness going on right now, and I seriously think things will get worse. I know it is vitally important we continue to prepare, but I need your help, and that of your readers to find peace in all of this. I believe in prayer, but I also need to find joy and calm. Can you help?
Hi Chris, I think I understand your feelings because I feel the same way. This country is going to need a lot of prayers to get through the next few weeks if not months. My husband grabbed my hand yesterday after I said, I’m really worried about our country. He said things will be okay. I’m not so sure. Then he reminded me that we have to trust in God, he has the answers. I literally turned the TV off. I cannot watch any more news at least for now. I’m taking a lot of walks these days to feel the air blowing in my face. It sure beats the news. Have faith, we must, hugs from Utah! Linda
I agree with you. If I can’t find anything worth watching on TV I turn it to a Christian Radio Station has Gospel Music. I just can’t take the news anymore. They said for years Trump was not president but he won fair and square and now the Demon Rats are doing anything and everything they can to keep him from getting another 4 years. I think Biden is not a true president. Besides he won’t last 4 years in the job.
Hi Jackie, I’m still in shock over the election. There are no words. Linda
Linda, yesterday, I found a good article on building an underground cistern. I believe it is really close to what my grandfather had when I was a kid. The article was on the Mother Earth News website. Good read. I may not be able to have one where I now live, but I do have that info now for when the opportunity presents itself and I can find land to live on that doesn’t have restrictions on what you can live in or how small it can be. I sit during our winter and think up projects to do in the summer. Last year, I almost bit off more than I could chew, but I got them done, lol. If I can afford it, this summer I’m thinking about putting insulation under the floor of my slide hoping that will help with keeping the floor warmer in the winter. I just don’t know if I’ve got the will-power to crawl under my trailer to do the job or not. Gotta think on that one a little more, lol. Have a Great weekend. Later…..
Hi Pam, oh the crawling under the trailer, whoa. I would have to think for a very long time about that one. LOL! Happy Saturday! Linda
Even in the city folks can raise chickens (usually not roosters which aren’t needed anyway), rabbits and garden.
And no you can’t be self reliant and live in a HOA. That is in fact the opposite as you are paying someone to tell you how to live.
Hi Matt, this is exactly why we sold our HOA home. I’m so done with HOAs!! The control factor was too much for me. I was an HOA President back in Farmington, Utah years ago. I think we had 3 or 4 attorneys on the board with me and every lawyer interpreted the CCCR’s differently. LOL! Linda
Linda, In the past, we have worked to accomplished many of these. Our declining health has changed that. We do gift fruit trees and vegetables plants for our children’s gardens. We remain debt free and financially independent. As much as I am not crazy about our HOA, they handle the landscaping and snow removal services, so my husband stays safe. I have now followed you now for over two years. I have become more prepared for whatever the future holds. Not just food storage, although that is important, but medical needs, extra clothing, a wide range of batteries, basic needs, and extra chocolate of course. You and your followers have blessed us in ways you don’t even know. Thank you.
Hi Chris, thank you for your kind words, my sweet friend. I feel very blessed to have this “forum” of wonderful, sincere people wanting to help one another. An HOA can work if the leaders are following the rules. I totally understand the need to have an HOA for your life right now. We moved closer to our kids in the event we may need their “physical” help. Our son-in-law shovels the snow and mows the lawn. My husband still thinks he’s 35 and can shovel snow. LOL! He turned 76 this year. We’re in a different cycle of life as well. Keep up the good work with the chocolate, and of course, the food and water are a bonus! Linda
There are so many things in this post that I have done, am currently doing, but cannot do! Health issues preclude several things, as does where we live (without HOA’s, thankfully!) Unfortunately, I did not inherit my dad’s green thumb. I have several fruit trees and can what the birds leave for us! I cook/bake from scratch (my husband thanks you again for the bread I baked him the other day!) as much as possible. No more hunting for me and I hate fishing (in fact, I don’t eat fish at all, yuck). I used to be able to tolerate it but I don’t want to kill animals anymore (and yes, all you out there, I know where the meat comes from!) At least I don’t have to look at it when it dies. Do you have a good article on rainwater catchment? That’s something I would like to do but Northern Nevada typically doesn’t get alot of rain. Still, it would be nice for watering the yard and not having to rely on the water company. I do sew, make clothes, repair them, and I quilt. We don’t own a single blanket; only quilts. I feel like we’ve done fairly well but there is always room for improvement. That’s why this site is so good! It reminds us to reinforce our efforts and helps teach us what we don’t know. I’m always learning new things, especially from the comments. Matt and Ray are two of the best with information…great work, guys! Linda, you’re the best. Love, love, love your site!
Hi Robbie, oh you made my day my friend. Thank you for your very kind words!! I don’t like meat, fish, or chicken. One disclaimer, I love a good filet mignon steak or prime rib slice once a year and that’s about it. WAIT, I love tacos. LOL! I have not done a rainwater catchment but hope to do it in my new house whenever that may be. Oh my gosh, I remember you sent me pictures of your first loaves of bread!!! Of course your quilts as well!! Oh, life is good! Love you my friend, Linda