8 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Self-Sufficient
In today's uncertain times, it's understandable that "self-sufficiency" is a trending search term. With picked over store shelves, delayed mail services, and more time at home, it makes sense to take advantage of this moment to make your home as self-sufficient as possible.
Although to some self-sufficiency involves purchasing a homestead and raising chickens, for the average person this isn't a feasible goal. Instead, we've rounded up eight ways to make your current kitchen a little more self-sufficient without totally changing your lifestyle.
Vegetable and fruit scraps can be repurposed a few ways:
Vegetable ends and skins like onions, celery, carrots, and garlic can be boiled with water, a few fresh herbs, and some spices to create a delicious veggie stock. The easiest way to do this is having a dedicated plastic bag for vegetable scraps in your freezer. Add bits and pieces as you cook throughout the week and make a batch of stock or broth once the bag is full.
Composting at home is an easy way to prevent waste and help your backyard garden. Keep a lidded container on your countertop and place any produce scraps (including cores) inside. You can also compost other food waste like old flour products (pasta, bread, etc.), coffee grounds and loose tea, grains, and eggs. Simply fill up your bucket regularly, then take it outside and mix it into your outdoor compost pile. To learn how to start a compost with this helpful guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Bake Your Own Bread
Bread baking, especially sourdough varieties, exploded in popularity at the beginning of the pandemic. And with good reason, making bread isn't just a rewarding process, it's also much more delicious than store-bought varieties and infinitely cheaper. Get a big bag of flour from your local bulk store or restaurant supply store (some of which are open to the public), grab a few packets of yeast, and get to baking. By making your own bread you'll avoid regular trips to the grocery store for replacing stale store-bought bread and make your wallet a little happier in the process.
Learn How to Can Fruits and Vegetables
Having a stock of canned foods on hand is a good idea for any situation, especially if you're hoping to avoid going out as often as possible. Currently many grocery stores are restricting the amount of canned goods that can be purchased, so now is the opportune time to try your hand at canning them yourself. Go seasonal when canning, that way you can preserve fruits and veggies at their peak flavors and also save money by buying in-season produce. To can you'll need a few glass jars with lids, an extra large pot, and a jar grabber utensils, all of which are outlined in this handy guide to canning.
Utilize Your Windowsill
Brighten up your kitchen by utilizing any windowsills you have available. Plant a few small pots of herbs or even easy-to-grow greens like lettuce and spinach. All you'll need to do is give them a little water and sunlight, then snip away what you need from each pot with kitchen scissors. Not only will this fresh-off-the-vine produce taste even better, it will help you avoid grocery store trips for short-lived ingredients like greens and herbs.
Stock Up On Dried Beans and Grains
If you're cooking for a family with canned beans or boxed rice, you'll run through those products fairly quickly if you just have a few on-hand at a time. Instead, look into buying bulk for legumes and grains to keep your pantry well stocked. They both last a very long time when properly stored and it will also save you a pretty penny when compared to buying canned or boxed varieties. Of course you can purchase your goods from a big box store like Costco, but international grocery stores often offer a wide range of grains and legumes at rock-bottom prices.
Make Your Own Dairy Products
No matter how "Little House on the Prairie" it may seem, being able to churn your own butter or whip up a batch of yogurt at home is a valuable skill. Thankfully today we have technology on hand, like food processors and Instant Pots, that make the process infinitely easier. Just make sure to buy some extra milk and heavy cream next time you grocery shop, then try your hand at making butter, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.
Certain veggie scraps can be regrown with a little effort and sunlight from your windowsill. Kitchen staples like celery, green onions, and even lettuce can yield new produce by having their roots tended, yielding an almost endless supply of produce.
A dehydrator can be a bulky appliance, but it's worth the investment of money and space if you're wanting a more self-sufficient kitchen. Dehydrators can easily transform fresh meats and produce into shelf-stable snacks and seasonings. Beef, pork, or venison can be turned into jerky, fruit can be dehydrated into fruit leather, and veggies like tomatoes and onions can avoid spoilage by being dehydrated and ground into powdered seasonings.