Years ago when I was living in my first apartment by myself, I would dream about homesteading and being more self-sufficient. Then, I bought a house that I lived in alone with my dog, and didn’t see the point of homesteading for myself.
Finally, my husband Scotty and I started living together and started making our homesteading plans. I always made excuses about not having enough land or room, but there are so many ways you can start homesteading right where you are right now.
For us, homesteading was a way out.
Out of debt, out of cold winter weather, out of a big mortgage payment.
We decided, with some inspiration from Little House Living, to sell our house and buy an RV. We opted to put it on my parent’s property and live in it while we paid off debt.
Paying off debt never actually happened when we were young, wanted to travel, and had way more disposable income from having no mortgage payment, but it did definitely help us to learn to be so much more self-sufficient and to develop some critical skills that we use today.
We even brought a baby into that crazy situation which only fueled our desire to homestead.
The first thing you need to do when deciding on a homesteading lifestyle is to throw out the excuses. The biggest one I hear is not having enough space.
If we could homestead in an RV, you can homestead wherever you are!
The first way to start homesteading is to build up a small stockpile.
I really can’t emphasize enough how important stockpiling is to frugal living – whether you have homesteading aspirations or not.
It is actually one of the main ways we adapted to living on one income when I became a stay at home mom.
Starting a stockpile enables you to get a great deal on things when you find them and to keep benefiting from that deal for weeks or months to come.
Even if you think you don’t have any storage space to be able to build a stockpile, I beg to differ. You would be amazed how crafty we got by stockpiling in our RV.
Extra space under the bed? Between the bed and the wall? Under the couch? Any nook or cranny can give you some much needed storage space to store valuable deals.
Make space where there doesn’t seem to be any.
Maybe you can’t find enough space for a huge bulk order, but if you can find a friend or family member to split the order with, you are left with a much more manageable amount of food to store.
We stockpile toilet paper when we find it on a good sale too. Why pay more later when you can pay less right now?
The key is to only stockpile when you find things that are an excellent deal.
Recently, our local Walmart was going out of business, so we stocked up on food and other necessities while they were between 50% and 75% off. I didn’t think I’d ever find deals like that again, so if I saw something we’d use, I picked it up!
Don’t buy things just to be able to say you have a stockpile, buy them when you can admire them hiding in a corner of your house and think “I totally stole those!”
Homesteading for Beginners
Please believe me when I tell you that if you are interested in the homesteading lifestyle, you do NOT have to wait until you have a few acres to your name to get started.
The best way to start homesteading is to make the mental changes now.
How will you make it yourself?
How can you reduce your own waste, live off of what you currently have without running to the store to find solutions?
How far can you push yourself?
When you feel like you can’t possibly homestead or practice simple living right now, remind yourself of all of the amazing skills you’re teaching your kids.
I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that our kids have developed skills through homesteading they wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.
I know you might think you can’t have a garden because you don’t have a big yard (or any yard at all!) but I assure you, it is possible if you just get creative.
If you have a window, you can have a garden.
They key is to grow things you’ll actually use.
Start some plants like zucchini or peppers in a pot on your front porch.
Even if you don’t plan to stay in your current home forever, or if you dream of moving onto your own homestead one day, you should absolutely start now.
You’re cultivating knowledge and skills that will save you a lot of time and money when you get to where you actually want to be.
Gardening with Kids
Even the littlest family members can get involved in gardening!
We use gardening when homeschooling our toddlers all the time.
Start out with simple gardening tools designed for little hands like these ones.
If you truly feel the need for a bigger garden, but don’t have the space at your own home to grow one, considering borrowing space from someone else.
Friends or family members will probably be willing to lend you a corner of their lot so you can grow to your hearts content – especially if you give them some of whatever you grow!
We’ve offered friends tons of zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and squash out of our garden.
Just make sure you live close enough to your borrowed plot so you’re able to keep up with weeding and tending to your garden.
It would be rude to let your garden become an eyesore when someone was nice enough to let you use their space.
Chickens for Beginners
More and more cities and neighborhoods are becoming more lenient about allowing chickens.
It isn’t uncommon anymore to drive through a very populated area and see chickens in someone’s backyard.
Chickens are an excellent intro to animals on a homestead.
While we don’t have any animals on our new homestead and don’t plan to get many, chickens are definitely at the top of our list.
We had a flock of chickens before we moved south, and were absolutely inundated with eggs.
Fresh chicken eggs will make you never want to taste store bought eggs again!
Plus, chickens serve so many purposes.
They’ll eat fleas and ticks out of your backyard. They can help you with your compost heap. They are usually really friendly and are actually a lot of fun to watch.
We loved having chickens and can’t wait to get more!
Now that we have young kids, chickens are a perfect opportunity to practice counting and early animal-rearing skills.
It’s fun for kids to go into the chicken coop and find eggs each morning!
Check your city ordinances and then definitely consider getting a small flock of hens if you’re allowed.
I would say to steer clear of roosters and just get two or three hens to start. Just a small flock is all you’ll need to keep your fridge full of yummy eggs.
Plus, if you do end up with more than you’ll use, you can always sell them for a small profit!
How to Waste Less
I learned from my now 94 year old grandfather the importance of repurposing everything.
He is definitely not a pack rat by any stretch, but if he sees something that has a use, he’ll absolutely go for it every time.
There is no Tupperware necessary in his life.
Any plastic or glass container he has is something that has been used again and again from a product he bought years ago.
You can apply these principles in your life wherever you are.
I’m so freaking grateful for this knowledge from my Pappap.
His great grandkids are growing up appreciating the things they already have thanks to lessons he taught me.
Before buying food storage or other containers, look around your house at what is almost empty in your fridge and cabinets and try to use that.
Before you throw anything out, think about whether it can serve a purpose in your home without causing unnecessary clutter.
In the age of Pinterest, there is really no excuse to waste anything.
You can make decorations out of cereal boxes, organizers out of toilet paper rolls…the possibilities are endless!
Instead of replacing plastic tupperware with more plastic, buy glass replacements that will last!
We use these glass containers all the time! We save every last bit of leftovers to make the most of all of our food.
The next meal or the next day at the latest, those leftovers are on the table.
This one change has saved us so much money in food waste!
In every way possible, make your own instead of buying from the store.
Bread is a great example. My husband and I love homemade bread from this cheap bread maker.
When we bought ours, I really thought it was going to be a waste of money. Now, I can honestly say this thing has paid for itself and then some!
I bought these bread pans and they’ve held up through tons of abuse.
Now, I just use our bread maker to kneed the dough and use my own pans to bake it.
How to Make Soap and Candles
The best way to get started making your own soap is to start with a DIY kit like this one.
Then, when you start to run out of supplies, you can replenish them and start to develop your own preferences.
Interested in goat milk soap? This DIY kit has everything you need to get started!
Lots of people make their own candles too.
This is the perfect starter kit for anyone who wants to make their own candles.
Make your own cleaners instead of buying store bought chemicals. There are very few things that vinegar and baking soda can’t clean.
How to Make Butter
Have you ever made your own butter?
We still tend to buy our own, but store bought butter doesn’t even compare to homemade.
Just buy a container of heavy cream, pour it into a glass jar, add a sprinkle of salt, and start shaking.
That’s seriously all there is to it. When you open the lid and see creamy yellow butter inside, pour off the liquid (that’s buttermilk – save it for baking!) rinse off the extra liquid from your butter, and store it in your fridge.
I’m not sure that we ever actually had to store the butter we made because we ate it up immediately, but it should keep in your fridge for up to a week.
How to Store Food
When you’ve planted your veggies in pots on your porch or are getting a good harvest from your herbs but can’t use it all, put up some of your food for later.
Get creative and think of ways to store your goods.
This is also great to do when you find a great deal on fruits or vegetables. We found an awesome deal on strawberries at Aldi the other day and picked up a bunch to freeze for smoothies.
Buy clearance veggies that are about to go bad and freeze or can them.
A mason jar doesn’t take up much more room in your cabinet than a store bought can does, but it gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you saved money and saved something yourself.
Plus, you can use that jar over and over and over again for years to come.
You’re also minimizing your impact on the environment. What an awesome side effect of homesteading!
We always have frozen onions, carrots, and celery on hand and I go crazy without them.
What are the staples in your house that you might be able to freeze instead of running to the store when you need them? Plan ahead and keep a stash in your freezer.
Do you feel like you don’t have enough space to start your homestead? What defeating thoughts are holding you back? If you’ve been able to homestead in a small area, be sure to share what worked for you (and what didn’t) in the comments!