How to Survive Without Grocery Stores

No. This isn’t an economic collapse type of post. Although, empty grocery store shelves could very well be in the near future for many of us.

Actually, this rant is about my growing disgust with the food industry and the poisons they insist on continuously lacing their products with, unbeknownst to us.

empty supermarket shelves
empty supermarket shelves

By now we all realize that processed foods are full of junk no living thing ought to consume. We know that High Fructose Corn Syrup, Aspartame, Artificial Dyes and Preservatives are wreaking all sorts of havoc on our bodies.

And so, we’ve begun seeking a more whole foods diet, incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into our daily meals. (You have started doing this, haven’t you?)

This is the case in our home, anyways. For a while now we’ve been avoiding those middle aisles at the grocery store, and sticking to the perimeter areas which typically offer produce, dairy, bread, meat… you know, stuff you shouldn’t have to worry about too much.

Unfortunately though, even if you can look at a product and know exactly what it is (as opposed to processed foods), you still don’t know what is in that food.

This is increasingly frustrating to me!

Yeah, we knew that unless we bought organic, we’d have to worry about pesticides on our produce. And we knew that growth hormones and antibiotics are often present in meat and dairy products.

But arsenic in chicken? And water. And fish. And beef (and probably milk) evidently, since they are feeding chicken waste to cows! (What the heck?!)

(All the more reason to buy locally, from a farmer or farmer’s market you can trust!)

And did you hear about the exploding watermelons in China? Isn’t it comforting to know that forchlorfenuron, the growth accelerator used on these watermelons, is also being sprayed on our produce here in the US?

Bet you didn’t read that on an ingredients list stuck to your container of “fresh” grapes.

Why aren’t they required to tell us about this stuff?? Why aren’t the chemicals that are used on and are present in the produce we buy not listed as an ingredient?

They are an ingredient, after all. I sure as heck would like to know if I’m about to ingest forchlorfenuron. Or worse, feed it to my child!

Do we really believe the government agencies we pay for with our tax dollars have done extensive research regarding the short and long term health effects of us consuming these chemicals before they allowed them to be used?

Uh-huh. Right.

And don’t even get me started on GMO’s. Oh, and how food producers are allowed to “zap” certain products with radiation to kill bacteria. Yummy.

What else are we gonna find out is in our food years after we’ve been consuming it?

*Deep breath*

Anyways… I could go on forever on this topic. What I really want to ponder with you though is what we could do about this… particularly, if it would be possible for us to live without purchasing any food from a grocery store. Could this be done nowadays?

I think it’s mostly possible. You know, with the exception of stuff like coffee, sugar and spices, things that even the pioneers had shipped in. Although, even these could be considered nothing more than a luxury.

However, I do realize that unless you have some amount of land it would be impossible to grow enough food to sustain yourself and your family. You would at least have to have resources for locally produced foods for a grocery store boycott to be feasible.

I wish I could say that we don’t use the grocery store very often, but in reality we are still shopping weekly just like almost everybody else. We simply aren’t there yet.

So I’ve been going down a mental checklist, trying to figure out what we could produce ourselves, what we could buy from local farmers, and what we could do without. Here’s how my brainstorming has gone so far…

meat hanging in biltong box


Well, I shared recently that we just bought a quarter of a cow from a local farmer. So although we do not have the room to raise our own beef, it’s nice to know somebody who does.

We could raise chickens for meat, enough to keep our family fed for the year. This is definitely a goal of ours. We eat a lot of chicken, and I hate buying it from the grocery store, especially not knowing what could be in it! I’d also like to raise turkeys eventually.

The great thing about chickens is that, borrowing you don’t have any city, county or HOA regulations, you can raise them in your own backyard.

They reproduce quickly, and even a modest flock can lay eggs in quantities great enough that you’ll never run out. I think this is the best benefit of chickens because you get two types of clean, wholesome protein assuming you slaughter your own.

Chickens are also generally easy to take care of, inexpensive and easy to handle. A cow can kill you, but I don’t think anybody’s ever been killed by a chicken!

Another great DIY source of meat is rabbits. Yeah, yeah I know, they are definitely in the pet part of the chart when it comes to animals, but rabbits also have a lot going for them.

They reproduce even more quickly than chickens, and one breeding pair can keep your freezer full of meat. Obviously you won’t get any eggs out of the bargain, but rabbit meat is wholesome and tasty.

If you have a family, this is something you might need to preflight with them in order to keep from traumatizing them but I think rabbits are the perfect option for easily keeping yourself in meat without the benefit of a grocery store.

And even though we aren’t big fish eaters, we do have the pond to fish in, if we needed to. Not to mention deer and wild turkey to hunt.

harvested corn zucchini tomatoes and peppers on table
harvested corn zucchini tomatoes and peppers on table


See, this seems like an easy one… just raise a garden, right?

That sounds fine and dandy in theory, but realistically, could you learn to be satisfied eating only what is in season? For us this would mean going the entire winter, and most of Fall and Spring without fresh fruit.

You’d also be limited to eating only what grows in your region. Meaning, that if I were to refrain from shopping at the grocery store I would not be able to eat oranges or bananas anymore (not to mention a whole host of other stuff) since they don’t grow in this climate.

I don’t know about you, but this would be the greatest challenge for me. We are so accustomed to being able to simply pick up whatever fruit we are craving at the moment, it would be hard to force yourself to learn to do without. How would you combat food boredom?

Oils and Fats

I use a lot of oil, shortening, and butter when baking. How would I make my own or do without them?

We don’t have a cream separator for our goat’s milk, so I’d only be able to make butter if we bought raw cow’s milk from a local source. But even then I’d have to buy a lot of milk to make enough butter for our needs. Could I learn to bake without it?

I could also see if we could get the fat from cows taken to butcher, and render the lard from that for baking purposes.

I’d be without olive and vegetable oil though (or any other kind of oil), so I wouldn’t be able to make mayonnaise or salad dressings anymore. I think.

DIY waxed cheese
homemade DIY waxed cheese

Cheese and Other Dairy

If I order some starter cultures I could make most of our dairy needs. I wonder how the pioneers made cheese without the internet to purchase starter stuff? Something to research.

Milk can obviously be had from goats or cows, but both are an awful lot of work for the average person. Unlike chickens and rabbits, you can’t just start keeping cows or goats wherever you want and both need plenty of room and infrastructure to support them.

But any milk-producing animal can keep you in a lot more than just milk and cheese. Yogurt, butter, kefir, ice cream and more are all possibilities when you have the milk on tap so to speak.

Pasta and Grains

Homemade noodles wouldn’t be too hard to learn to make, just a bit time consuming.

We already buy our grains from the local mill or bulk foods store for grinding our own flour.

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough land to grow the amount of wheat we would need to keep us through the year. Perhaps we could find a local farmer to buy directly from?

I also bake almost all of our breads from scratch. Every now and then Jerry will buy a loaf of bread if he knows I won’t have time to make one, but I do try to keep us supplied.


I know I couldn’t live without sugar, but I could do with less of it. I’d love to learn to bake more using locally produced molasses and honey as a substitute.

I do know of several farmers we could buy a year’s supply from, although it would be a good amount of money up front. Learning to keep bees ourselves is definitely in future plans!

I’m also growing Stevia to sweeten our tea and coffee with.


We’ve got water and milk covered, but I’d love to have a tea plant we could dry leaves from. I love green tea; I’ll have to find out if it would grow in our region.

We aren’t big coffee drinkers, so that could easily be done without. I do love my orange juice first thing in the morning though, *sigh*.

I can grape juice from muscadines picked locally, and I could do the same with apple juice. It would be fun experimenting with canning different juice varieties, or learning how to freeze them as concentrates, just to break up the monotony.

Herbs, Baking Needs, and Condiments

Of course, most herbs can be grown at home. But the art of collecting, drying and processing them would have to be learned. How do you make mustard powder anyways?

And what about stuff like yeast, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, etc? Could I learn to bake without them? Again I wonder, what did the settlers use? Did they solely use fermentation for their leavening needs?

Condiments are easily made at home. This is something we are already doing, and don’t need a grocery store for.

canned beef vegetable
canned beef vegetable

Canned Goods

Canning your own foods is easy enough for anybody to learn to do. I just need to experiment with different recipes such as salsas and pasta sauce to find which are our favorites.

We’re already canning veggies, fruits (including pie fillings and apple sauce), and meats. More convenience foods recipes like soups, stews, and chili are things I plan on working on as well.

I think that pretty much covers grocery store basics. So what do you think? Doable?? I’m feeling pretty encouraged myself. Sure, it’ll take lots of time and learning, but I think it’s an achievable goal. Will we ever get there? I don’t know. But I plan on trying for as long as it takes!

Do you think you could live without the grocery store? What would you do differently?

52 thoughts on “How to Survive Without Grocery Stores”

  1. This may sound crazy, but some vegan substitutes help when replacing animal products that are hard to get to! Like mashed banana or apple sauce for eggs, nut milk (you can make yourself!) instead of milk, choosing an oil to substitute butter. Choosing olive oil that you can make yourself, it can change the taste of the recipe but that’s up to you. For cream, you can “cream” cashews.

    I’m not vegan-but I think sometimes they are onto something! If it was “impossible” for me to grow it or raise it, maybe I just go without. πŸ™‚

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  3. Try natural yeast! I just discovered this because I read store bought yeast can have MSG hidden in it and was looking for alternatives. I haven’t personally tried it yet but it seems to work for a lot of people! The only thing is that I haven’t really been able to find much for recipes using natural yeast; most people just wing it and add flour until it looks right, along with maybe a bit of sugar or salt. Here’s a helpful link describing a few ways to make natural yeast: You can also try sourdough, very simple!

  4. One of the posters wrote that some days she doesnt get her baking..I think it was baking…done because of all her other chores and said maybe she is lazy. Her grandparents had a large family and grew and canned everything they ate. This reminded me of my precious grandma. She had a several acre garden and put up everything from crocks of pickles to hundreds of qts. of tomatoes each year. She died over 20 yrs ago when I was a young homeschooling mom with a few children. We were living in the country remodeling a log cabin and I was in wonder how she could get it all done. So I asked her just that..,,grandma how dud you do it all… she looked at me and with a sweet smirk said “Well, the first thing I did was put the children in school!” Seems she couldn’t believe how I got everything done πŸ™‚
    It does beg the question about living like true homesteaders and homeschooling. There might be a reason why most children in colonial time that were taught by their parents and not private tutors only had a very basic education. You can get your children reading and doing basic ciphering easily in time for them to hit the fields by 10 yo or so to help. . But to homeschool to the level most want to and to do it fir the length a large family takes…well often other things get put on the back burner. Another thing that is different is that most husbands are working long hours away from home to provide so often lots of the daily homesteading work falls to the mother. After years this can be overwhelming. I remember my grandma being shocked that with my first child I only stayed in the hospital 2 days. She stayed 10 days and recalled each child by the book she read. No wonder she had 7 children they enabled her to have a vacation πŸ™‚
    We have 10 children and are entering our 26 th year of homeschooling. Our youngest just turned 6 so I have a good many years ahead of me. We have 2 married, 3 in college, and 5 at home in school. I freely admit it isn’t always easy to keep up the flow. Keeping keeping on and doing it without giving your younger children the “dregs” and meeting all your older ones emotional needs is tougher than I thought because I am wanting to slow down and quiet down but my family life is still in high gear. Being in your 50’s and still being so immersed in child rearing and still being in high gear with homemaking …well I still am working at it πŸ™‚

    Well, I for one hope our country doesn’t fall…it’s stumbling has been difficult as it is. I have simplified and started up some homesteading type projects to give us some economic help. These are tight times to most of us who are self employed. But the Lord is King and gives strength to the weary. Life is good, exciting, busy , busy, busy and I am working on renewing the vision that I had when I started this all 30 yrs ago!
    Peggy…who isn’t going to take the time to read over this tome so I hope it makes sense LOL

  5. Yogurt is surprisingly easy. It can be started from any yogurt at the grocery store that has live active cultures in it(they have to label them). Oddly enough, you have better luck NOT using organic yogurt for this, as it usually sits on the shelf longer than the other stuff, and will likely not have very viable cultures in it. I’ve done this a number of times, and all you have to do is save some for a starter for the next batch, and make sure you make another batch within a week or two or the cultures will die out. You can also take an ice tray and freeze your starter in it for longer life. Then just drop a few of the cubes in your heated milk like you would regular starter.

    Rennet was originally discovered when someone tried using a cow’s stomach (removed) as a bag to store the milk. It is the lining in a particular chamber of a ruminant’s stomach.

    Yeast can be started with some flour, water, sugar, and time. Usually this kind of yeast is used for sourdough breads, but you can use it in regular breads as well. It can even be dried and vac-sealed to be used as either starter or yeast like you buy in the store.

    Taking the next step with the yeast, it’s even feasible to use that yeast to create vinegar. basically you make mash, drop the yeast in, and then just let it go. There are other sites out there on how to make vinegar from yeast, but you can make it from pretty much any type of alcohol.

    Coffee is one of my big sticking points as far as something I would have to get from the store. Although if prices keep rising, it’ll be just as cheap to buy green coffee beans in bulk and make the coffee myself. Then I can control the roast and grind on it. I do need to cut back on my intake though. I’ve gotten much better about it, but still ‘need it’ in the mornings.

  6. Just wanted to let you know, you can still make butter from your whole goat’s milk. Here’s how I made butter….

    Let the milk sit in the fridge for 1-2 days, undisturbed. Carefully pull the jar out, skim off the cream that has risen to the top. Do this for several days until you start to see that there is not much cream rising and your milk is getting much thinner. I give this milk to the chickens, as it’s usually at a week old or so by the time I’ve gotten all the cream off it (I only had quart jars).

    Each day when you pull the cream off, put it in a container in the freezer, and just keep adding to that container each day.

    Once you have a good amount of cream, thaw it out in the fridge, and whip it until it turns into butter! You can do this with a mason jar and some marbles and elbow grease, or can cheat and let a mixer do it for you. It takes a lot of whipping, so don’t give up, you will get creamy delicious butter!! Put a little salt in it to help it preserve better, or just store it in the freezer. It’s so much smoother than store bought cow butter, it’s more like sweet cream, sooo good! πŸ˜€

  7. I know this is an old thread, but I noticed many people talking about dairy products not being doable because of the vast amounts of raw milk necessary. If you have the right cow, you may not find that to be a problem. I eat a low carb diet for health reasons and so I consume a LOT of cream and butter. When I decided to get a milk cow, I researched and found that all cow’s milk is not the same. Some cows produce milk with a lot of cream and others do not. I wanted one that produces a lot of cream in order to make cream, butter, and cream cheese. I found that a Jersey cow produces the most cream, so I bought one. Nellie was the best homestead investment I have made so far. She produces at LEAST a gallon per day of milk. I could get 3 or more gallons from her if I wanted to milk more than once a day and feed her more grain. From that, I get at least a pint of cream each day. By the end of the week, I have enough cream to use in my coffee, make at least a pound of butter and a pound of cream cheese every week. I also am able to make a half to one gallon of yogurt each week. (I make mine in a crock pot using a starter from some I bought at Walmart a year ago. Now, I just set aside a 1/4 pint jar of starter every time I make yogurt.) AND, my family can drink all the milk they want at any time. I still have enough left over to tithe & provide milk for a needy family and a couple of widows in our church community.
    If you want to make your own dairy—BUY a JERSEY! They are also a very docile breed, which was very important to me.
    Hope that helps…even as late as it is.

  8. Kendra, I found this online and thought about you

    Canning Butter yield: 4 Servings
    Heat jelly jars in 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings
    or seals. While jars heat, melt butter slowly until it comes to a
    boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour melted
    butter carefully into heated jars, being careful not to get any
    butter on rim of jar. Add lid and ring and close securely. They
    will seal as they cool. Shake jars a few times during cooling to
    prevent separation, although this step is optional. Put into
    refrigerator or other cool place until butter hardens. After
    hardening, butter will store for 3 years.

    This way you wouldn’t have to go without πŸ™‚

  9. I wanted to second Hravenlandeye Kindred’s voice on pigs for lard.

    When Jesus died on the cross for us he made a new covenant. Among this covenant was the making of many foods previously denied “clean”. As long as we give thanks for our food their is no law abolishing it. In fact, to deny His covenant is insulting.
    So go ahead and eat pork!!! but make sure it is your own or really local….and Give Thanks!!Pig farms feed their animals nasty stuff like spoiled milk and other rotten stuff from grocery stores since pigs will eat anything.
    I saw it on Popular Mechanics for Kids and just about puked.

    Great article. I think about this often. The initial preparation for us is under way. What scares me is the long haul of it. Like in ‘One Second After” there was no end in sight. No cure.
    I have enough for maybe a couple of months. Then what. My seed starting this year was lousy. The weather has not cooperated where I live. I had to end up buying a number of plants.
    Only my basil is really starting to grow-grocery store seeds to boot. Everything else was from the Seed Savers Exchange-$$$

    Make no mistake this type of living won’t be for the faint of heart.
    Many will die. I don’t mean to sound down, I’m not. I’m humbled by our forefather’s existence.

  10. Your post got me thinking. I often find myself wondering about the grocery store all the time. My husband is a hunter but being the sole provider of the family he has a hard time finding time to go out and hunt. We do have a local butcher we get our meat from but still. As far as veggies and fruits- we can or freeze all veggies out of the garden and as far as fruits go, we have only ever bought what was in season. Over the summer we try to can as much as possible-like peaches and apples and cherries and the like. I didn’t read through all the posts but did anyone suggest a co-op? I know the co-ops in my area offer veggies and some offer meats all year round. We fortunately have local dairies around and one that actually still delivers fresh milk to your door! We also have a lot of Amish and Mennonite families around that I could potentially get fresh butter from if I had to. Not sure I could live without sugar and coffee though!

  11. Barbara Kingsolver wrote a book called, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” about her family of four’s goal of eating only local for one year. They grew their own produce, raised their own meat, and supplemented with the local farmers’ markets. I don’t believe they went to the grocery store for food at all. Even in winter they were able to eat a wide variety of food. Kingsolver is actually a novelist so this memoir of hers reads like a novel, – a very great read and quite motivational. They missed some things – like oranges and bananas which don’t grow in their area – but they ate healthier and felt better raising most of their own food. It can be done!!

  12. I think I’m going to try making my own sugar too… how fun! Kendra, if you do get sugar beets, make sure the seed is organic. I think the majority of sugar beets are now genetically modified.

    Here’s a quote from the article: “According to Michael Hansen, PhD, chief scientist at Consumer Union, 54 percent of U.S. sugar comes from sugar beets, and the rest from sugar cane. He says that 90 percent of the sugar beets out there are already GE, and the new approval, if not held back by litigation, will greatly increase GE sugar in the American food chain. ”

    Our family started changing our diets to more traditional foods 3 1/2 years ago. We purchase as much as possible locally from farms. Grass fed beef, pastured chickens and eggs, veggies, etc. I don’t really shop at the grocery store anymore. Most things are purchased from farms, our small health food store or online. There just isn’t anything I want to eat from the grocery store anymore!

    We would like to be more self sufficient though. This is our 2nd year with raised beds for gardening, and we’re trying to learn as much as possible. We have 3 – 4’x10′ beds. Right now we’re keeping it simple to learn how to best grow the things we want to eat. Next year, we plan to scale up as much as possible. We’re on a small plot though, so space is limited. My husband and I talk about homesteading all the time, but there’s no way we can sell our house in this market. So we’re doing all we can to build up skills now, where we are.

    I also wanted to ask if you have read “Square Foot Gardening”? I know you have raised beds, but I didn’t notice in the pics I’ve seen that you’re using the planting guidelines from the book. You can grow A LOT in raised beds! For example, you can plant 9 green bean plants in one sqare foot, 16 carrots, 16 radishes, 1 tomato plant, etc. Each in one sqare foot. I highly recommend reading the book if you haven’t already. Great post and discussion!

  13. Save the Canning Jars,

    That sounds similar to the other book, going to message my dh and see if he has heard of it and have him order it. I find any books like that to be very educational to me. It makes me think in ways I normally wouldn’t.

    I am trying to learn new tips and tricks for being self reliant and teach my young children. My oldest boy loves listening to Survival PodCast on our phones and he at 6yrs old wanted to start carring a BOB everywhere he went. He wanted to make sure he always had food and water with him.

    We have solar set up and are in the process of installing a solar jack pump for our well. We are planning on adding wind this fall if my husbands work keeps up. That and a greenhouse will make me a bit more secure.

  14. Sorry if this was in another comment…too many to read πŸ™‚

    Check out ghee from butter for oil. It fries things really well and I think can be used instead of oil for baking.

  15. I think one thing no one has mentioned is that without the grocery store we would also be eating much less (quantity). That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Have you read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? It’s a wonderful book about their year of eating local and from your own garden/farm.

  16. For Cris:

    I have not read the book Lights Out, so I can not tell you how it compares.

    You said you are concerned about the loss of refrigeration and that you are off grid now? Are you currently running a fridge on propane? Unless someone took drastic measures to secure a fridge in a Faraday cage, I’m guessing that post EMP refrigeration would not be around…which is a critical issue for anyone who needs refrigerated insulin to stay alive…a small part of the plot in the book One Second After.

    Some might read the book and become afraid, because it depicts the breakdown of society after such an event and the struggles people will face without electricity. For me, I read the book and asked myself, “What would I do in this situation? What can I do NOW so this will not be an issue?” I became in-powered to make changes where I could (securing a safe source of drinking water, getting a concealed carry license, etc.)

    Again: Warning, strong language (in fact, I purchased my own copy of the book and marked out the offensive words and wrote “Bless the Lord!” instead. I used it as a text and made notes and hi-lighted. That book was so marked up when I was done, but I learned as much as if I had taken a college course AND I took ACTION to change what I could to make my family a bit more secure).

  17. First off… the rennet used for making cheese is something from cow stomach… at least originally. You’d have to figure out how to do that yourself, but with the cows… totally doable!

    And… have you ever read the Little House Series? I’ve been reading it to my 4 and 3 year old (though the 3 year old could take it or leave it most days) and I’ve been learning a ton!

    Baking without baking powder, etc? Sourdough. Though it seems when they are near a town they can get the leavening they need.

    And for sugar (at least near the woods) they made their own maple sugar from maple sap. I’m totally going to try this if we can get some trees tapped this year.

    So many more things I’ve been learning from these books! πŸ™‚ And it’s read aloud time with the kids at the same time!

    Now if only we could go west in a covered wagon and get a homestead!

  18. And practice making bread from starter. It is easy enough to “start” with some yeast, and I have even read blogs where people did it catching “wild yeast” as well. That sounds a project right up your alley.;) Personally I don’t like starter breads quite as much, but I do know how to raise and maintain one if needed. The old freindship bread recipe that gets passed around churches is a good place to learn.

  19. I just love homesteading! like…how cool is this life really? pinch me! I finally handed my brother a bar of my just finished homemade soap and he was so pleased ahh! i love it! I love teaching my daughter this stuff!

  20. You can buy bulk bottles now of the things needed now to make assorted dairy products, but I had a cow and still never got enough cream for all the things I would need it for if I made everything from scratch. One of my goals is not to waste anything if you can figure a use. So I started making “chicken butter” if you don’t season the broth with anything but salt, the fat has little flavor, a nice yellow color and can be used in many baked goods. I have used it to brush on foods like you would spray oil as well. If you remove ALL of the water, it seems to keep forever in the fridge or you could can it as well. Cow fat is better used for soap making- it is just so hard when cold, but I have used almost any animal fat in breads instead of bought fat. You can’t really taste it, and so why waste your money?
    I don’t think you can get maple sugar from just any old maple, I have never heard of it done in VA and we have plenty of maples. Bee honey is easy to harvest, but it can be very hard to sustain hives. (They die easily and are expensive to rehive.) Another little problem is Africanized bees are going to take over the south, if not the entire US bee population. They are good honey producers, but you need to handle them VERY carefully. I think the biggest problem overall is going to be SUSTAINING any of you projects. Saving seeds, hatching enough chicks, etc.

  21. It is doable! (We are simply spoiled.)
    We just watched a good movie Urban Danger free online for those interested. (We too do not have a television.) It was very encouraging in becoming self sufficient.
    I like to soak mint, large sections of a honeydew and a sliced cucumber in water. This is super refreshing. I made it once years ago for a bridal shower and I still get requests for the recipe.
    Overall I think we just need a little mindset change. Our family is not yet completely free from the “box store”. However, YHVH keeps pushing us to get there faster and faster. Personally we take this as a sign.

  22. My husband have asked ourselves this many times and the answer is still no I can’t give up the store.

    We too are fruit freaks, my kids can go thru 5-6lbs each of bananas, oranges, and apples in just a week if I let them and thats not with me baking or juicing them. I am starting to learn how to dehydrate and reuse that in place of the fresh but its not the same and I don’t know if I could ever actually store enough.

    We do have a friend about 10lbs from us with fresh milk (my goats aren’t milking so we are done with them for right now) but eventually once my property is finished being fence we will have pastures for a new herd. We also have grass fed beef about 20 miles from us and have already traded with them since I have a bigger garden and make soap.

    I think if my greenhouses ever get built we will beable to have produce alot of the year.

    Things that we would be in trouble with is garden seeds–I am still learning how to pinch of sqaush, melons and cukes to save seeds from– so not there yet!!! Sugar, wheat berries, salts, cocoa and my tea!!!

    Our plan is to be able to grow it ourself or learn to do without but its a slow going process— 2 months ago I was a soda addict, now I occasionally make my own if I want.

    Save the Canning Jars– is the book you recommended anything like Lights Out by David Crawford??? An EMP is the one thing that scares me most after reading that book, I live is AZ with no creek or river anywhere near me so having no power for a refridgerator is a big deal. We are looking to make a “cool fridge” it won’t be cold enough for meats or milk but would be fine for keeping veggies from spoiling and for cheeses to age. Living off grid for the last few years has taught me to do with out alot of power but I am glued to having a fridge!!! (I don’t have ac or swamp though LOL)

  23. Kendra,
    Just saw this on It goes beautifully with your blog post.

    Reader V.T.P. mention a new documentary coming up on the National Geographic cable television channel: Doomsday Preppers. It first airs tonight. (Monday, June 27 at 8 p.m. in the U.S.) Judging from the preview clip, it looks great. I would be very surprised to hear that the folks profiled aren’t SurvivalBlog readers.

    Watch how these families are trying to run a self sufficient farm (water, cows, chickens, wood stove, baking bread, growing grain, even a truck that runs on wood!) I think you would enjoy the video clip AND watching this program tomorrow night (Monday…check time in your area).

  24. I rarely go to the grocery store anymore. The only things I buy regularly are organic chicken, water, and few produce items. Everything else we either raise or I purchase from a organic co-op and a local farm. We are raising meat chickens, ducks and turkeys and I am looking into raising a dual purpose mini cow (Dexter)for meat and milk. I will probably keep one goat in milk even if I get a cow but I want cow milk for the cream.
    I know what you mean about produce that’s not in season or local. I don’t know what I would do without my bananas :o(

  25. Oh and I wanted to tell you Kendra that even as an adult I love the “LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE” books to see how they did it. Our library even has a little house cookbook that covers making bread without yeast and how to get your own rennet and things like that.

  26. Kendra-great topic! I would like to get away from the grocery too, but feel that it would be almost impossible. This was my first attempt at having a garden and failed so miserably. We had a week of straight rain and by the time it was done I couldn’t tell the weeds from the plants. I had no clue what to do so I just let it get overgrown….so frustrating. I do make most of our food from scratch. I TRY to make all of our bake goods, but sometimees life gets in the way, like kids, school, church, yardwork, etc. Maybe I’m just making a big excuse for myself. But then I think “quit being lazy and think what you would do if there are no stores”. It’s funny cuz today we went to a family reunion. My grandmother had 12 children and grandpa had polio. They raised EVERYTHING they ate or they didn’t eat. I think how did she do it? In so many ways I wish we could go back to times like that. If things get as bad as some people think they could get, we may be forced to go back to times like that.

  27. “Why aren’t they required to tell us about this stuff?? Why aren’t the chemicals that are used on and are present in the produce we buy not listed as an ingredient? They are an ingredient, after all. I sure as heck would like to know if I’m about to ingest forchlorfenuron. Or worse, feed it to my child!”

    If they were to actually tell people about this stuff the pharmacuetical & Insurance companies would not be able to make money on our illnesses! They would also quit giving money to the politicians and government agencies, that is why. Don’t get me started on this subject…*grrrr*

    GREAT post! This country really needs to wake up and do something about all of this and quickly.

  28. Just a thought before my mind runs off without me….there is a plant called New Jersey Tea that WILL grow in our climate. It’s not a ‘real’ tea plant, but what the Revolutionaries substituted during the war. It supposedly looks and tastes just like black tea…and it’s on my list for next year.

    Also take your kids foraging for pineapple weed….it’s a cousin to chamomile and grows wild in areas like along roads. Just dry it and use it like you would domestic chamomile.

  29. Hi kendra,
    Meat and produce can be limiting but don’t forget hunting is an option and sprouts and lettuce can be grown year round in the right conditions. As for fats and oils I’d personally miss olive oil. If you keep or hunt larger game learn to render the fat. Pigs of heritage breeds were the largest source of Lard and grease before oil came around. Vegan friends of mine also use potatoes to grease up their pan.(not sure if this will work for cast iron.
    Dairy: my sisters mother in law is a homesteaded in TN. She has a breed of milk goat that has cream rise and separate on it’s own. Before starters everyone used rennet from a stomach of a ruminating animal that is not weaned yet ie. Lambs, the stomach is dried and cut into thumbnail sized pieces. Yogurt and most cheeses were not widely available without starters. The different
    types of cheese were partially affected by local bacteria in a region. I’ve made yogurt from live culture yogurt bought at a grocery store.
    Sweeteners: honey is by far my fav substitute. Use 3/4
    cup honey and deduct 1/4 cup of a liquid in the recipie for each cup of sugar
    Tea: tea only grows in certain climates. If I remember
    correctly in north america it can grow in some parts of California and a few islands of the Carolinas and they are prettymuch owned by Lipton. Herbal tea ingrediants can be grown almost anywhere and for a picke up tea look into mormon tea.
    As for baking mustard seed grows almost anywhere. my survival group in Tn we grew it then used pestle and mortar to grind it into mustard powder. You can have many variations depending in what you do with your mustard seed then.
    I believe the pioneers had cream of tartar and baking soda brought brought in baking soda is a mineral and I know it is harvested in some part of Africa and I’m unsure of where else. Baking powder is baking soda cream of tartar and a drying agent(like cornstarches) mixed in.
    Here in Montana the natives are usually only a generation or 2 separated from people who had to make do. Even today in remote spots like mine(15 miles from a town of 400 and 40 miles from a town with more than a bar and apost office) we prep because we have to. I think it can be done to a ponit like our ancestors did but there is no one area in the worldvthat has it alll. That is why trade developed as it did and brought forth the explorers and empires.
    Hope this helps,
    TJ, Gothi of Hravenlandeye kindred

  30. ~~Mint Iced Tea~~ (yummy!)

    Collect mint sprigs from your garden (any amount)
    In a large bowl steep:
    4-cups of hot water
    -4 small tea bags or 2 large tea bags
    -and your mint after you have washed it.

    Set aside to steep for 15-20 min.

    In a 3 quart pitcher add:

    – 1 cup of orange juice
    – 3 drops of fresh lemon
    -1 cup of sugar or stevia plant

    After timer goes off
    remove your mint and tea bags from large bowl
    add tea mixture to your 3 quart pitcher stir well.
    Add water to 3 quart mark . Enjoy! I garnish each glass with mint leaves and serve over Ice. Wonderful summer drink! refreshing! Make sure you keep in the fridge to get nice and cold!

  31. We only hit the grocery store about once a month so yes…I could live without it but we still shop at Trader Joes for misc items and dairy. We still buy a few condiments and canned beans. Other than that, it’s the farmer’s market and meat for us. This year we were given lots of backyard fruit too…my favorite.
    xo jana

  32. Funny that this is the topic – I sat down this week and wrote out all the things we consume in the house. Then I’ve gone back beside each entry and thought “how can I be responisble for this item.” Granted bananas, oranges and pineapples might not be in our diet if I had to be self-sufficient but we could possibly make it.

    I have sources for grass fed beef, pork and chicken and I also have a huge garden. I’m canning more than ever this year.

    It’s amazing when you sit down and think it out…….we have strayed so far.

    There again though….we’d have to either have tattler lids or find a source for those if push came to shove.

  33. I’ve pondered this often as I’ve stocked up our emergency supplies, and I think we would have to retrain our palettes to live on a much more limited diet. I could not continue our current diet with what we can locally obtain. (We live an hour or so from the Canadian border)
    My goal is to get my garden producing year round, which is surprisingly easy (“Four Season Gardening”, etc.) and not terribly expensive.
    Most of the other items require a good bit of planning and the willingness to work straight out for a few days or weeks at a time.

  34. Great post!
    By the way mustard is easy to grow and you harvest the seed, dry it and then grind it to make a powder. I lacto ferment mine with honey to make an amazing Honey Mustard. I also use whole seed in the recipe for a crunch and pop like mustard caviar.
    Salt, baking powder, baking soda, ingredients to make soap like lye are some of the things that may have to be purchased or bartered for.
    Carbohydrates are the harder things to grow on a small homestead. But beans, potatoes and dried corn can fill that need. Processing the corn to make hominy (nixtamal) would be a good skill to have to gain the nutrition from corn.
    Great idea on the sugar beets, sorghum is another possible sweetener but takes a lot of the crop to get a supply.
    Keep up the thought provoking posts. Thanks!

  35. From what I remember way back when they made rennett at home from drying out calfs intestines…. then used it to make cheese or something like that. I believe in the back to basics or country living encylopidia it has instructions on how to make rennett.

  36. Have you read the books Homemade Living by Ashley English? There are several of them but the one you might find most interesting is the dairy series. We don’t have cows or goats for milk but after reading the book, it’s not as difficult to make things like yogurt (you can use store yogurt as a starter).

    I think it is doable to rely upon a grocery store for a relatively small amount of your grocery needs. It does take time but once you’re there you can use a health food store or organic coop to purchase your staples for baking, etc.

    What amazes me is the amount people spend on food to feed there family. I was reading a blog the other day where the lady was boosting how she feeds her family of 8 for around $40 a day. I thought to myself, I feed a family of 5 for around $40 a week!!

    • Lisa,

      I’ll have to see if our local library carries that book. I was shocked to read what you said about the family spending $40/day on food!! Wow!! I had the same thought as you, that could last us a week!! Now that I am doing more cooking from scratch, and saving money on groceries in every way possible, I just can’t fathom that other people are not doing the same thing. $40 a day… that’s crazy!

  37. Great post I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I remember a few years ago there was a show on some channel. They took an challange to not consume anything that was not grown within a 100 miles of their town. I only watched it occasionally but 1 episode they realized they could not buy salt, so they figured out a way to make it:).
    There is not much in the way of produce and grains grown in my area (unless we start eating hay lol). There is a man that grows wheat but it is gmo and then sprayed with herbicides then after thrashing it is sprayed with meleth……something that I can spell but sounds bad. So I can get meat but thats about all, I can get raw milk but it is expensive and although we can make butter we could not afford to buy enough to make the amount of butter we consume. I am trying to answer some of the questions you asked, for our family…. what could we do instead.
    There is a great book out called backyard homesteading, its about how to raise enough food products for your family for a year on less than an acre.
    I have started a garden this year but it is not doing so well between the major drought, really hot temps and fire ants we have going on this year. But I am still trying, and will do what I can.


  38. I’ll just touch on a few things because your post is so thought-provoking that I could go on forever. πŸ™‚

    One of the best things that we can do to be more self-sufficient is build a greenhouse. You can heat it with solar or a wood stove. I have even seen greenhouses with large black barrels full of water that heat up with sun exposure and keep the room fairly warm for plants.

    There are miniature citrus fruit trees available that you can grow in a greenhouse during the winter as well as other tropical plants. Given the right climate you can even grow cocoa plants (with shade and high humidity).

    We are now growing sugar beets in our garden for the processing of sugar and syrup. It takes quite a few, and you get more of a brown sugar but it’s sweet! I am even growing my own Stevia this year. I have also started labeling my maple trees on our property (We just moved here.) for maple syrup next spring.

    I ordered two tea plants (camellia senensis) just this spring, and I am growing them now. I have to bring them indoors during the winter or put them in the greenhouse (still building ours) during winter months. You can make all sorts of tea with them if you just know the processes. I have yet to do that, but it looks pretty simple once tried.

    Also, ground dandelion root makes and herbal coffee without the caffeine. I haven’t tried that yet, but it is on my to-do list.

    Great article! What a way to make one think! I really enjoy reading your blog posts. πŸ™‚

  39. I think about this a lot, too. My solutions are pretty much similar to yours. I’ve always desired to move so far out that the grocery store ISN’T really an option and we’d HAVE to rely on what we can do ourselves (or stock up on the things we can’t). But yeah, shopping is extremely frustrating.


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