Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Homesteading and the Family Table

     As a homesteader, the challenge most faced is putting healthy meals on the table that are nutritious yet frugal. Figuring out how to budget standard expenses, the expanding of our homestead, and keep whole foods on the table- that's a challenge to make any person weary. Fortunately, I grew up in a frugal farm family- quite a blessing when it came to furnishing the family table.
A few of my personal strategies:
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.

     My children may have grown up without lunch meats and chips, but they grew up with good food and the understanding of where their food came from. Knowing all it entails to get a burger on a plate is grievously missing from our peers' mind set. Very few understand the value of a good egg or what real milk tastes like, the color of fresh cheese, and the utter joy of butter just churned. At whatever stage we start the key is that we are starting. Fanciful meals and too much variety are over rated. Being gathered together at the old wooden table sharing roast chicken, steamed carrots and fresh greens nourishes not only the body, but he soul as well.
     Tomorrow we will dig a little deeper into furnishing the family table with my standard meal layout, weekly prep, and stretch it tips.


Michelle said...

I so agree. My kids grew up with meals made at home. As for snacks most of them were made at home also. My girls never tasted a store cookie till they went to a friends house. I got a kick out of when they came home and said they had no flavor. Don't know if it was the cookie or I am a good cook. Hoping for the latter.

Leigh said...

Michele, your strategy is so simple yet so wise. Something we can all work on!

I also want to invite you to visit my blog and see what I'm excited about! Plus, perhaps entice you to enter my book giveaway. :)

Simply Scaife Family said...

Michelle, it's because you are an amazing cook! Believe me, kids can tell.

Simply Scaife Family said...

Hi Leigh, I visited your blog today- it's beautiful- and your book looks amazing! Thank you for inviting me.