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29 Practical Tips to Become More Self-Sufficient

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What does self-sufficiency mean to you? For some homesteaders, self-sufficiency is growing and raising food. For others, it’s about getting their utilities off-grid or surviving without store-bought products.

In these times of hyperinflation, supply-chain uncertainty, and questionable quality of many consumer products, learning how to become more self-sufficient has never been more pressing.

Working in the garden with our kitty helper.

Whether living in the city or the countryside, you can limit your dependency on the mass-market economy. With your mind set on self-sufficiency and your DIY skills honed, you and your family can enjoy a healthier, more secure, and happier life!

We’ve assembled many tips to help you start your journey to self-sufficiency – affordably, creatively, and sustainably!

Let’s get liberated!

How to Become More Self-Sufficient

There are many ways to become self-sufficient, and some of these methods will suit urban homes, while others are more practical for rural homesteads.

Check out our self-sufficiency ideas and see which fit your needs and abilities in terms of:

  • Budget
  • Time
  • Space
  • Skills

You can implement these practices and systems immediately or gradually to harmonize with your unique circumstances and preferences.  

Right then! Let’s freewheel!

1. Start a Food Garden  

First Ever Tour of My New Garden

Nutritious vegetables and delicious fruit! You can grow organic produce around your backyard or balcony to meet your daily dietary needs! Get organic potting soil for planters or raised beds positioned in a sunny spot and cultivate your favorite staples:

    • TIP: If neighbors live close by, check if they’re okay with your bee idea!

    Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Salad greens
  • Herbs

Start your food garden using organic heirloom seeds or seedlings. Follow the planting guidelines on the seed pack. Water your crops accordingly, and don’t forget to talk to them gently!

Related – Best States for Homesteading In the USA – 2023 Off-Grid Locations!

2. Capture Rainwater In Barrels

How I Capture 5,750+ Gallons of Rainwater For My Garden

Why pay for water when you can get it for free from the clouds? Ensure your water security by harvesting rainwater from your rooftops! Get your gutters and downpipes to flow into large tanks or barrels

Fit the rainwater harvesting system with a series of filters 

  • Utilize as much available roof space as possible.
  • Drink rainwater using potable water filters and a purifying UV light.
  • Install a solar-powered pump.
  • Irrigate your garden with overflow from the water tanks.
  • Heat-harvested rainwater in the sun or on a stove for hot showers!

See how to set up a rainwater capture system here.

3. Preserve Your Food

Preserving delicious and nutritious garden veggies in glass jars.

Stock your pantry with canned, fermented, dried, and frozen foods you grew and cooked! Get dozens of mason jars and a quality home pressure canner. Dehydrate veggies and fruit! Make beef jerky! 

  • Learn how to ferment and pickle foods for a shelf-life exceeding 12 months.
  • Start canning your food.
  • Use an off-grid chest freezer to keep fresh and cooked foods for a year or more. 
  • Consider installing a DIY root cellar for old-school, off-grid food preservation.

Remember: A self-sufficient kitchen needs a pantry full of preserved foods for making it through lean times!

4. Brew Your Beverages

How To Make Hard Cider - Easy Beginner Cider Recipe

Say goodbye to bought liquor and sodas. Brew homemade beer and cider! Make wine, kombucha, and kimchi. Or keep it alcohol-free with lemonade and ginger beer.

And what about growing your tea and coffee (climate permitting)?

  • How about growing herbal teas like chamomile, dandelion, and ginger?
  • Grow and roast chicory for a caffeine-free coffee alternative.

Naturally, your homestead will need at least one beer-brewing book!

Related – 17 Off-Grid Communication Options [From High-Tech to Low-Tech!]

5. Keep Bees

Six wooden beehives directly adjacent to a large canola field.

Don’t be afraid of bees! They’re nature’s little magicians, helping plants propagate while they make ultra-healthy honey and multifunctional beeswax for your homemade, top-notch cosmetics, soaps, salves, and candles.

Start with a single beehive and grow your apiary over time. 

TIP: If neighbors live close by, check if they’re okay with your bee idea!

6. Raise Poultry

DIY Backyard Chicken Coop

The current price of eggs probably has you wishlisting a flock of chickens, right? Go on – get a few hens! Build a coop and start enjoying fresh, free-range eggs every day! They’ll fertilize your garden, keep the bugs at bay, and boost your compost pile!

For more ‘free’ fresh eggs and meat, keep:

  • Quail
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Turkeys

Note: Check your local bylaws for rules on keeping backyard poultry.

7. Breed Edible Fish

Raising Tilapia from the first day through 3 months

Imagine landing a feisty trout in your backyard pond! Perhaps you prefer tilapia, or catfish, or perch? With some help from fish breeding experts, you can have a sustainable protein source in your backyard.

Watch how aquaponics and permaculture can cut your food bill by 90%!

8. Catch Wild Fish

How to Make Pickled Fish Minnesota Style "eh"

If you live near the ocean, a lake, or a fast-flowing river, go fishing for food (assuming you haven’t yet)! You don’t need to be a pro fisherman. Start small and learn about tackle, lures, and bait, and how to cast, catch, and gut fish.

  • You can freeze, dry, and pickle fish for long-term storage.
  • Here’s a quick primer on the best rods for freshwater fishing.

Get to know your local fishing community to discover what wild fish are biting near you!

Related – Living Off the Land 101 – Homesteading Tips, Off-Grid, and More!

9. Go Hunting

Primitive Bow Catch and Cook!) | Stone Arrow Point, Longbow, Wooden Arrow

If you’re a crack shot and licensed to hunt, you can get fresh meat in the wild backcountry! Bring home elk, deer, boar, and pheasant. Preserve and store the meat long-term via freezing, smoking, and drying.

  • You can hunt with a rifle, a crossbow, or a primitive bow and arrow.
  • Traps and snares can also be used to ‘hunt’ game (although we don’t encourage it).

When the SHTF, being able to hunt wild animals may prove a lifesaver!

10. Forage for Wild Edibles

36 Wild Edibles & Medicinal Plants In 15 Minutes

Expand your dietary and culinary horizons by foraging for wild edible plants. Acquaint your palette with the free indigenous plants in your area (and your backyard!). You may find elderberry flowers, berries, chanterelle mushrooms, and black-eyed Susan!

You can store wild edibles, too. And foraging is also lots of fun.

11. Prepare Natural Medicines

Herbalism- How to get Started?!?

Build your immune system and treat common ailments with naturopathic remedies (teas, tinctures, and salves) you can make at home. Discover the healing powers of lavender, St John’s-wort, and garlic! 

Homemade teas are also one of the best ways to relax!

12. Insulate Your House

Restores abandoned Pyrenees home by hand with regenerative system

Reduce the costs of heating and cooling your house by insulating it properly. You can use repurposed and recycled materials to save money on sealing up those breaches in home insulation.

FACT: An energy-efficient climate-control solution for your house can dramatically reduce energy costs and grid power dependence!

Related – Farm vs. Ranch vs. Homestead Comparison | Size, Products, Lodging, Food, and Pasture!

13. Make a Rocket Mass Heater

World's most efficient stove!!!!  Made of DIRT!!!

Imagine a wood-burning stove that uses just 10% of the wood a typical wood stove uses! How is this possible? Short answer – thermal mass

A rocket mass heater uses clay and straw (cob), or concrete, to build a solid mass around a pipe that channels heat from a fire throughout the mass and out a chimney super-efficiently.

  • The heat retained by the thermal mass lasts several hours after the fire goes out!
  • A rocket mass heater provides cost-effective heat for warmth, cooking, and hot water!

With basic building skills and inexpensive materials, you can make a rocket mass heater for your home.

Watch how to make a rocket mass heater for your living room or porch.

14. Start a Compost Pile

A wooden compost bin in the backyard for food recycling and helping amend garden soil.

The secret to an abundant garden is soil health. There’s no better way to build soil fertility than by regularly adding compost to replace the nutrients that go into the harvested produce.

Start a compost pile in a sunny spot in your garden:

  • Add as much organic material as possible to the compost pile.
  • We’ve had excellent results covering our compost pile with a massive tarp.
  • Allow earthworms to make your compost pile their home!
  • Turn the compost at least once a week.

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Composting to get you started.

And a more detailed how-to compost article from the EPA with links to helpful resources.

YouTube has a wealth of ‘black gold’ (yep – that’s compost) video tutorials with tips and money-saving hacks!

15. Invest In a Biogas Digester

A Quick Lesson: How HomeBiogas Works

Technology can help process all your bio ‘waste’ in your backyard, making liquid fertilizer and biogas for cooking and home heating! It’s called a biogas digester. And it creates a closed-loop waste management system for your home!

home biogas digester produces cooking gas in the form of methane (no more propane!). And it saves water, lowers your utility bill, and reduces your gardening costs. 

You can safely process the following.

  • Pee and poop.
  • Kitchen scraps.
  • Garden cuttings.

Watch this to see how a biogas digester can benefit a homestead!

16. Use Solar Power

How to Size your Solar Power System

Solar power costs continue decreasing year-on-year, making it affordable for most households. You can start producing electricity with an all-in-one solar generator or a scalable solar system.

Conduct an energy audit on your appliances to determine how many Watt-hours (Wh) you need from a solar generator system.

  • portable solar generator will keep your essential electronics and lights running for several hours.  
  • scalable solar system comprising solar panels, an MPPT charge controller, a battery bank, and an inverter can potentially supply all your electricity needs.
  • Start small with an affordable solar setup – doubly so if you’ve never invested in solar power or know what to expect.
  • Buy a stand-alone solar water heater.

TIP: Get answers to your questions from various solar suppliers before you buy!

17. Use Wind Power

What makes Harmony Turbines so revolutionary?

Solar power is great, but what about nighttime and cloudy days? This limitation is where wind power comes in – with wind turbines! Harnessing wind power is now accessible to homeowners, and the tech keeps getting more efficient.

So, if windy days and nights are part of your life, consider putting that energy to good use!

18. Store Firewood

Gathering Firewood for the Winter at My Off Grid Cabin

Nothing beats wood for free energy. Go old-school and store and dry cords of firewood under a roof or a tarp.

  • Power your rocket mass heater or wood stove.
  • Fuel your fire pit.
  • Fire your water heater.

– A cordless electric chainsaw will give you the muscle to cut all the firewood you need.

– Your trusty truck will help you transport the timber from the forest to your yard.

– A splitting axe and splitting maul will size that firewood just right!

Stack it!

Related – 15 Fancy Chicken Breeds for Your Homestead or Backyard Flock

19. Sew Your Clothing

How to DARN a SOCK | Quick and easy sock mending technique | Last Minute Laura

Do you ever go to the store and find clothing that you want? Or clothing that fits you perfectly? Rarely, right? It’s time to mend and make your clothing! Get a sewing machine, an overlocker, and a cutting table.

DIY your clothing, get the cut that fits, and save money!

20. Self-Repair Your Machinery

Becoming more self-reliant by fixing our washing machine ourselves.

Whether it’s your truck, tractor, lawn mower, or washing machine, learn how to fix it yourself! 

  • Source spare parts online.
  • Watch machine-specific YouTube DIY repair videos.

TIP: Older machines that don’t have fancy electronics are more straightforward to repair!

Trade in that automatic cappuccino machine for a classic espresso Moka!

21. Get Small Electric Vehicles

My Chinese Electric Mini-Truck 18 Months Later: Did It RUST OUT?

Start weaning your mobility off fossil fuels! Save your truck for the heavy lifting and run your light loads in a mini e-truck. Keep its battery fully charged by fitting a solar panel!

  • Get an e-bike for running short distances to town and neighbors.

You can charge your e-bikes via solar and wind power systems!

22. Optimize Your Communication Tech

Aerial antenna on the wooden cabin roof for internet and satellite communication.

A permanent connection to the Internet is a must-have for a self-sufficient home. Reliable communications technologies empower your operational efficiency, lifestyle, and security.

TIP: Cell signal strength is about height and line-of-sight with the nearest cell tower.

  • Boost your cell signal by installing an antenna mast and a signal booster.

In the event of total grid failure (no electricity and no cell communications), stay in the loop with family and neighbors using a set of walkie-talkies.

23. Homeschool Your Kids

Home office with bookcases stuffed with fascinating and vintage literature.

Total reliance on the public school system to educate your kids will compromise your move toward self-reliance, big time! You’ll have to live near the school or spend a fortune sending them off to a private boarding school. Homeschooling is the answer if you wish to save cash and get directly involved with your child’s education.

  • Learn about the benefits and disadvantages of homeschooling here.

Plus, you’ll have more time to teach them about homesteading, DIY, and self-reliance!

24. Practice Zero Waste

Tips for Zero Waste Living - How a Family of 5 Makes Almost No Waste! | Life With Less Waste

You can introduce a zero-waste philosophy into your home to enhance your family’s self-sufficiency. Adopting a mindset that sees nothing as trash nurtures mindfulness of the intrinsic value of everything we use.

  • Modern society is obsessed with disposability – a throw-away lifestyle. Hardly the way to sustainable living! 
  • Be the change, as they say – avoid disposable packaging and repurpose it as much as possible. 

Go zero waste like this family homestead!

25. Practice Permaculture Rather than Monoculture

Self-sufficiency is all about living in nature with harmony. Permaculture is a set of design principles that direct land and resource management towards a holistic emulation of natural ecosystems.

Self-Sufficiency Made Easier Using These 12 Principles!
  • Permaculture systems integrate soil, water, sun, plant, and animal resources.

Here’s a neat video introduction to permaculture.

And buy a good permaculture book to get you started!   

26. Adopt a Minimalist Mindset

A Day in the Life of Robin Greenfield - Living Simply and Sustainably

Living with less stuff will liberate you! In this age of accumulation and economic growth, stripping away the non-essential in your life is a defiant act and a firm step towards true self-sufficiency.

  • Watch how Rob Greenfield lives radical minimalism to enjoy next-level self-sufficiency on a shoestring budget!

For a self-sufficient family, minimalism may be a long shot, but a rule of thumb should be – Avoid buying unnecessary stuff!

Related – 15 Easy and Cheap Urban Homesteading Ideas You Can Use Anywhere

27. Collect Books On Self-Sufficiency

Several books stacked on a wooden table in the library.

The knowledge in books on self-sufficiency is massive. And you can get some of it FOR FREE online at www.archive.org

Like this classic:

Or go to Amazon for modern self-sufficiency classics like:

– And sign up for tons of free self-sufficiency material at permies.com.

Download the PDF files and print them for posterity!

28. Entertain at Home

Relaxing on the backyard hammock while enjoying an intriguing read.

Western society loves going out for entertainment, be it to movies, clubs, or restaurants. Cut ties with outsourced fun shops and party at home!

Here are a few tried and trusted methods:

  • Play board games. 
  • Archive your favorite movies and documentaries for family viewing.
  • Build outdoor play areas for sport and relaxation.
  • Build an outdoor bar with a pool table.
  • Host dinner and dance parties.
  • BBQ (often).

It’s simple – cut out the driving – and make your homestead a destination for your tribe!

29. Buy Rural Land 

Passive House = 90% Home Energy Reduction!

We’ve saved the big one for last. If you can master all the skills suggested above, you’ll be ready to buy a piece of land where you can spread your self-sufficient wings! With a modest rural acreage, you can:

  • Buy a dairy cow and goats for milk, butter, cream, yogurt, and cheese!
  • Raise lamb for wool and meat.
  • Build an energy-saving passive house.
  • Sink a well.
  • Build a revenue-generating off-grid guest cabin on a budget.
  • Sell your produce.
  • Market your skills via blogging, vlogging, consulting, and writing books.
  • Get out of debt
  • Create a like-minded community for skill sharing, crop bartering, and soul food!

IMAGINE: With your dedication to becoming self-sufficient, your land could supply all your shelter, food, water, electricity, income, and entertainment!

Self-Sufficiency Starting Tips

We’re also sharing a quick start guide to help you become more self-sufficient.

Self-Sufficiency MethodDescription and BenefitsStarting Tips
1. Start a Food GardenCultivating a food forest garden allows you to grow fresh produce – like sweet potatoesspaghetti squashsugar snap peaspineberriesavocadoeslemonsmangos, and more. Growing a garden reduces dependency on store-bought items and ensures a sustainable food source.Begin small with easy-to-grow crops. Our favorites include tomatoes, kale, pumpkins, zucchini, and celery. Research your local climate and soil conditions. Reference your plant hardiness zone map when selecting crops.
2. Capture Rainwater In BarrelsCollecting rainwater reduces water bills and provides an independent water source for gardening, cleaning, and emergencies.Start by installing a simple rain barrel system connected to your gutter downspouts. Ensure the barrels are covered to prevent debris and mosquito breeding. (Check out our downspout drainage guide for more water harvesting and management ideas.)
3. Preserve Your FoodPreserving food through canning, freezing, or dehydrating extends its shelf life, minimizing waste and ensuring food availability year-round.Start with small batches and simple methods like freezing fruits or pickling vegetables. Follow proper sanitation and storage guidelines. Read our food storage container guide for more tips.
4. Brew Your BeveragesMaking your beverages like beer, kombucha, or coffee reduces reliance on store-bought drinks and allows customization of flavors and ingredients.Begin with starter kits for brewing beer or kombucha. Experiment with different recipes and flavors.
5. Keep BeesBeekeeping provides a natural source of honey, supports pollination for your garden, and can even generate income through honey sales.Join local beekeeping associations or take beginner courses. Ensure you have adequate space and necessary equipment.
6. Raise PoultryRaising chickens or ducks offers a constant supply of fresh, delicious, nutritious eggs. It also aids in pest control and fertilization in gardens. (It’s true. Chickens eat ticks!)Start with a small flock and research local regulations. Invest in a coop, fencing, egg nesting boxes, and proper feed.
7. Breed Edible FishFish farming provides a protein source while minimizing environmental impact. It allows control over the fish’s diet and conditions.Begin with a small aquaponics setup or fish pond. But first – research suitable fish species for your region.
8. Catch Wild FishFishing offers a direct, sustainable source of protein and can be an enjoyable outdoor activity.Learn local fishing regulations and acquire the necessary gear. Consider joining local fishing clubs for guidance.
9. Go HuntingHunting can provide a sustainable meat source and help control wildlife populations in certain areas.Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Enroll in hunting safety courses and familiarize yourself with local hunting seasons and laws.
10 Forage for Wild EdiblesForaging for wild plants expands your food sources, providing access to diverse nutrients and flavors.Start foraging by identifying easily recognizable, safe wild edibles like berries or dandelion greens. Use reputable guides and take foraging classes to ensure safety.
11. Prepare Natural MedicinesCreating natural remedies from plants supports self-sufficiency in healthcare and reduces reliance on pharmaceuticals.Begin by learning about medicinal plants and their uses. Research recipes for herbal remedies and start with simple preparations like teas or salves.
12. Insulate Your HouseProper insulation reduces energy consumption, lowers utility bills, and ensures a more comfortable living environment.Start by identifying areas that need insulation, such as attics, walls, and windows. Consider professional energy audits for recommendations.
13. Make a Rocket Mass HeaterRocket mass heaters use less wood and provide efficient home heating, reducing reliance on traditional heating methods.Research and follow DIY plans available online. Ensure safety measures and compliance with local building codes.
14. Start a Compost Pile
Composting reduces waste, enriches soil for gardening, and decreases the need for chemical fertilizers.Begin with a simple compost bin or pile. Compost leftover vegetables from dinner, lawn clippings, used coffee grounds, wood ash, tea bags, and fallen leaves.
15. Invest In a Biogas DigesterBiogas digesters turn organic waste into usable methane gas for cooking and heating, reducing dependence on fossil fuels.Research different types of digesters and their installation requirements. Consider consulting experts for installation and maintenance.
16. Use Solar PowerSolar panels provide renewable energy, reducing electricity bills and reliance on the grid.Start with small solar-powered devices or consider installing solar panels for specific purposes like heating water or charging electronics. Evaluate your home’s solar potential.
17. Use Wind PowerWind turbines harness wind energy for electricity, offering an alternative renewable energy source.Assess local wind patterns and study the regulations. Consider smaller-scale turbines for personal use or research community wind projects.
18. Store FirewoodStoring firewood ensures a reliable heat source, especially in colder climates, reducing dependency on other heating methods.Begin by sourcing quality firewood and constructing a proper storage area to keep it dry and accessible. Rotate the supply regularly. We also recommend a quality firewood axe.
19. Sew Your ClothingSewing your clothes reduces reliance on mass-produced garments and allows customization and repair.Start with simple sewing projects and gradually progress to more complex garments. Invest in a rudimentary sewing machine and quality fabrics.
20. Self-Repair Your MachineryLearning to repair machinery and tools extends their lifespan and reduces the need for replacements.Enroll in repair workshops or watch tutorials online for restoration tips. Invest in quality tools and learn maintenance routines.
21. Get Small Electric VehiclesUsing somewhat tiny electric vehicles reduces reliance on fossil fuels and offers cost-efficient transportation for short distances.Research and invest in electric bikes, scooters, or small electric cars suitable for commuting.
22. Optimize Your Communication TechOptimizing communication tech ensures connectivity even in remote areas, aiding in self-reliance and information access.Invest in satellite phones or explore alternative off-grid communication options for reliable connectivity.
23. Homeschool Your KidsHomeschooling helps foster self-reliance, critical thinking, and personalized learning.Research local homeschooling regulations and curricula. Connect with homeschooling communities for support and resources.
24. Practice Zero WasteMinimizing waste production through recycling, composting, and conscious consumption reduces your cost of living and promotes self-sufficiency.Recycle as much as you can. Embrace a minimalist lifestyle and prioritize reusable items.
25. Practice Permaculture Rather than MonoculturePermaculture promotes sustainable, diverse ecosystems, increasing resilience and productivity while reducing reliance on external inputs.Learn permaculture principles and techniques. Start small by implementing companion planting in your garden.
26. Adopt a Minimalist MindsetEmbracing minimalism reduces reliance on material possessions and fosters contentment with low-stress, purposeful living.Declutter your yard and homestead. Prioritize experiences and relationships over material goods.
27. Collect Books On Self-SufficiencyBuilding a library of self-sufficiency books provides knowledge and is one of the most effective ways to learn about homesteading.Start by collecting books on homesteading topics that interest you, ranging from gardening and DIY projects to renewable energy and food preservation.
28. Entertain at HomeThe cost of going out to restaurants or shows seems to skyrocket higher every year now! Entertaining at home is one of the easiest ways your homestead can save cash.Plant a garden, bake homemade cookies, read a good book, play cards with friends, or check in on one of your farmyard animals. The fun never ends around the homestead! 🙂
29. Live a Rural LifestyleA rural lifestyle offers space for self-sufficiency projects, agricultural pursuits, and greater autonomy over your living environment.Research and evaluate rural areas based on climate, resources, and zoning regulations. Consider factors like accessibility and proximity to essential services.
29 Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient

The table above is an overview of our favorite self-sufficiency methods and our best starting tips.

29 ways to become more self-sufficient.

Freedom Unbound

Change may be the only constant, but you don’t have to live with the dreadful uncertainty ‘society’ throws at all of us these days. You can bring a degree of predictability into your life by working steadily towards becoming more self-sufficient!  

We trust our tips helped to inspire you!

Good luck on your journey!

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How to Become More Self-Sufficient | Resources, References, And Works Cited

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