1. Whole foods.
When faced with a tight budget it is easy to cave into the propaganda of cheap convenience foods, but those packages are not nourishing, filling, or truly frugal. My budget was kept with basic whole poultry, roast, and sale items (such as fish). Whole items/bone in meats are not only better price, they offer better nourishment and the opportunity to make bone broths for extending meals. To further complement the meats, whole vegetables fresh or frozen, real fruits in season, and staples such as flour, honey, and yeast. Properly nourishing the body yields stronger immunity and less medical visits.
2. As fresh as possible.
The garden/home grown produce is ideal but not always practical due to budget, experience, or season. When there isn't a garden, many people feel the need to visit farmer's markets- my budget just didn't cover that and there were very few in my area. Instead, we visited U Pick farms- we quickly discovered they often offer great sales at season end. Another tip we discovered was that frozen produce was often better quality than fresh- after all, those peas were picked and frozen where the fresh ones were transported and sitting. My last note on purchased produce- bulk is better. A bag of apples/oranges and a bundle of bananas is healthful and cost effective.
3. Get growing.
As soon as the soil was available and ready, we set simple seeds to get us going. Leafy greens, basic roots, and some herbs are a perfect starter plot with quick results and little effort. Those early attempts encouraged us to hit the library and read every thing they had on gardens, herbs, and crop rotation. When planning our growing, we took into consideration what we were already buying and the amount of space we had to work with. Our garden came first, but the chickens soon followed as a source of home grown goodness.
4. Keep learning.
Homesteading, for us, has been a continual journey through learning. Gardening, animal husbandry, natural health practices and herbalism are all areas in which we continually strive to educate ourselves further. Being willing to learn and grow/experiment and try keep us evolving as individuals, as a family, and as a homestead.
Tomorrow we will dig a little deeper into furnishing the family table with my standard meal layout, weekly prep, and stretch it tips.