Self Sufficient Living: 10 Small Ways You Can Begin to Create A Self Sufficient Living Space

Building a self-sufficient lifestyle can be one of the best decisions you make for your future as well as your own peace of mind.

As you begin making changes to accommodate this new lifestyle – building new skills, shifting your mindset, paying off debt – you’ll also want to focus on how you can create a home that works for you, not against you.

Without realizing it, your living space can often play a big part in stopping you from achieving your goals.

Creating a self-sufficient home is a great way to support your new lifestyle and the best part is. As you begin this journey, it may be a bit overwhelming, especially if you are starting from square one and have no clue where to begin.

What Does Self Sufficient Living Mean To You

Before we go any further I want to dive into something far more important than growing or raising your own food. 

What is your true REASON for wanting to have a self-sufficient homestead and lifestyle? More and more people are jumping into this lifestyle because they are frustrated with the food supply chain or sick of politics.

But that won’t get you through a day’s worth of homestead chores on year three when the sun is blazing down on you AFTER you have come home from your job because you need a source of income. 

The government doesn’t accept “healthy food” as payment for your taxes.

canned tomato sauce on a bench.

Being truly self-sufficient means that you don’t need any external assistance. You are able to make your own parts, clothing, supplies, boots, equipment. Literally everything. 

I am not trying to dash your hopes of being self-sufficient. I want you to go into it with eyes wide open and a clear view of what is actually possible. 

Start slow with things like container gardens. Rather than jumping into something as difficult as fruit trees. 

It’s important to remember that small steps lead to big changes over time. Whether you want to turn your home into a well-oiled self-sufficient masterpiece or just make a few improvements here and there, you can easily do so without flipping your world or home upside down.

Here are 10 small, simple ways you can make your living space more self-sufficient in no time.

Build a Pantry

The most common thing people do who are just getting their feet wet do is try different methods of food preservation.  Things like canning and dehydrating are the number one ways to keep food stored for a long period of time. 

Buuuut there is just one question… 

…Where do you plan to keep all of that food? The average American eats… wait for it. 

Nearly one TON of food each year.

It is impossible to store that much food in your home for just one person. Let alone enough for family members. 

While you likely are not going to try to store THAT MUCH food for each person you are going to need LOTS of space to store even a fraction of that. 

If your goal is to be truly self-sufficient, you want to make sure that your living space includes a spot for all the supplies you need to feed your family for an extended period of time. You get to choose how long that timeframe is. 

But don’t make it so long that you could lose a kid in the supply closet and the mountains of supplies cause you to have heart palpitations any time you think about it. The goal is to live a simpler life, not a more complicated one.

set up a paintry

If you don’t already have a large pantry area, now would be the time to think about where you could place one. Any cool, dry area of the house would work, including an unused corner of your basement.

Setting up a pantry is fairly easy – you simply need to put up some shelving for storage and start stocking the necessary items for all those made from scratch meals you’ll be cooking. Before you just grab any old shelving unit or supply container make sure you get STRONG shelving units. Especially if you are canning. I have seen far too many shelves collapse under the weight.

Here is a unit on amazon that can handle over 250 pounds per shelf.

Here is another option that has wheels. However, this weight capacity is much less. 250 pounds for the ENTIRE UNIT. – See this on amazon

BUT before you just start gathering, preserving, and storing random food. 

You need to create a PLAN. Storing the right things is what will leave you with a well-rounded meal. 

If you happen to have your own garden or do any canning yourself, you have the perfect spot to store your excess produce until you need it. Having a pantry allows you to buy in bulk (groceries and other necessities) and lower your grocery costs in the long run as well.

You can use your pantry to stock your canned goods, pasta, rice, toilet paper, batteries, water, candles, flashlights, etc.

By making sure your home has a large pantry area, you will be better prepared in the event of an emergency, and what’s not to love about having a built-in grocery store at your fingertips? That’s a win-win for sure.

Use Your Backyard Space

Making the most of the space you have is an important part of becoming more self-sufficient. This includes any backyard space, no matter how big or small it might be.

An obvious choice would be to use this area to cultivate a garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables. By growing your own food, you are not only providing the healthiest options for your family but saving a ton of money by not having to stock up on expensive produce at the grocery store. ONLY IF you go at it with a frugal living mindset. NOT spending hundreds of dollars on raised garden beds and fancy systems that promise higher yields. 

gardening tools for more self sufficient living

Plus, having your very own food supply is a huge step towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Although a garden takes time and effort to maintain if your mindset is right and you’re serious about sustainable living the benefits far outweigh the cost.

If you don’t have a ton of space, at least consider planting some of your favorite herbs or pick out a couple of veggies to plant that you always buy at the store. Small steps like this will get you so much closer to your goal of independence.

Here are some great options if you just want to get your feet wet.

If you have a small backyard and you don’t want to put a ground-level raised bed in these are great choices. They won’t mess up a large spot in the yard so if that is what is holding you back give these a try.

This first one is great because it’s on wheels. So you can have it on a patio or deck where it will still get lots of suns.

Best Choice Products Raised Garden Bed 48x24x32-inch Mobile Elevated Wood Planter w/Lockable Wheels, Storage Shelf, Protective Liner – See On Amazon

This is the one you want if you are going to put it on a dirt surface. The wheels on the other one will sink into the ground if you place it on the dirt. Another thing you could do would be to place either of them on cinder blocks to distribute the weight, even more, to help with sinking.

Best Choice Products 48x24x30in Raised Garden Bed, Elevated Wood Planter Box Stand for Backyard, Patio, Balcony w/Bed Liner, 200lb Capacity – See On Amazon

Use Food Scraps 

I don’t believe feeding dogs people food is the best idea. First, it will cause bad behavior and ill manners from the dog it will also cause them to get fat quickly. Especially if they are food-driven. 

If you do want to give your dogs food sometimes make sure to feed them AWAY from the table or well after you have finished eating. This will help keep them from begging while you eat your meal. Also, make sure to compensate and reduce the amount of actual dog food you give them. If you don’t and your dog is very food they will be overweight quicker than you blink an eye. It’s much easier to keep a dog trim than getting them to lose weight and dealing with a dog thinking you are starving it to death because you are not feeding it like you used to.

The best option is to use the abundance of food you have in a compost pile or feed it to chickens. This will give you free rich compost for gardening and help you save on animal food for the livestock.

Chickens will eat ANYTHING even inedible food scraps from the refrigerator.

Downsizing Will Help You Be More Self Sufficient Homeowner

This doesn’t necessarily mean tossing out everything you own and moving into a tiny home (unless, of course, that’s your thing).

However, there is something to be said about ridding your life of all the unnecessary items that clutter up the corners. I talked about easy ways to do that in this post.

If you want to create a more self-sufficient space, adopting the less is more mentality ranks high on the importance scale. Without realizing it, our own living space can be a major contributor to the stress and anxiety we feel. This is often why people will turn to this style of lifestyle thinking it will solve their problem. 

woman folding and downsizing her cloths

Often, we get weighed down by the material possessions and clutter that comes from living in a consumerist society. It’s so vital that your home is a place of comfort, healing, and joy that reflects your values and the things that are most important to you.

For this reason, downsizing from all the stuff is on the list of to-dos’ when you want to build a self-sufficient life and home. If you are ready to make some changes to the way you live and get rid of clutter. Make sure to read this post about clearing the clutter for a more peaceful country life.

Stock Up On Essentials

As you start to transition towards a more self-sufficient living way of life, there are certain essential items that you are going to want to stock up on to make life easier.

Depending on how far off the grid you want to go, this list may look different for everyone but there are some must-haves to get you started.

For example, gardening tools, mason jars, seeds, medical supplies, propane tanks (for cooking and heating), gloves, candles, oil lamps, flashlights, duct tape, lighters, matches, and batteries are a few necessary items at the top of the list.

As you get further into your journey, this list will probably get longer but as a beginner, stick with the basics and work your way up from there. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything you need is within arm’s reach in the event of an emergency.

Seed Saving

Saving seeds is not as complicated as it seems. Quite simply it’s just drying out seeds and storing them away in a system that doesn’t get them mixed up. 

It might be tempting to save a huge amount of seeds but I highly recommend you only save enough for two growing seasons. That’s it.

seed packets

You will have some for backup if something happens and you want to start again but that’s all you need. If you get too crazy your seeds will go bad and not sprout after so long. 

Here is a cool way to save seeds. Get a photo box like this one. Create labels for the top of each box. You can even add labels to the outside of the box so you don’t have to take each one out to see what’s on the label.

Extra Large 4 x 6 Photo Storage Boxes, Barhon 18 Inner Acid-free Photo Cases – See on Amazon

Raising Chickens

Raising chickens is a great way to start working towards self-sufficiency because they produce eggs that can be eaten in all sorts of ways, used in baking, cooked and fed to your dogs, or even fed back to your chickens. Then the chickens themselves can be eaten when they are no longer serving their purpose.

Here are the top dual-purpose breeds I would recommend. They have good temperaments and do well in the winter months. I have linked up to the breed bio of my favorite hatchery.

Here are a few blog posts you might find helpful.

Save Money

Learning to evaluate if you REALLY need something and if it’s not truly a need saving the money will help you move towards your self-sufficient goals. It’s not always about using natural resources but making the most of the resources you do have. 

Whether you are just starting out or you are years into this journey give yourself a set amount of money to spend on something each month. 

a wad of money on a table

Advanced Self Sufficient Lifestyle Skills

These next few things are for the person who is ready to go all in. Personally, this is not for me. You have to be very committed to be willing to live this kind of lifestyle.

Ready? Here we go.

Collect Rainwater

One of the most important things to have on hand in the event of an emergency is plenty of water. The majority of people do not keep nearly enough water on hand to survive long periods of time but it’s a problem that can be easily fixed.

While going to the store and stocking up on water bottles or jugs is one solution (and also something that everyone else is likely doing and you will likely find the shelves picked over), you can also take matters into your own hands and use what good ol mother nature gives you – rainwater.

Now, before you wrinkle up your nose, there are several benefits to doing this. According to the EPA, harvesting rainwater through the use of rain barrels is a great way to conserve how much water you use each month which is not only great for the environment, but also for your water bill. Instead of breaking out the hose, you can use rainwater directly on your garden or landscaping.

You can also opt to run the rainwater through a water filtration system and use it for a variety of things like watering livestock, laundry, cleaning, and even showering.

By purchasing a rain barrel at one of your local hardware stores, you can easily begin taking advantage of the rainfall in your area today.

water splashing in storage.

Here are some water storage options you might find handy.

  • Upgrade 50 Gallon Rain Barrel Collapsible Rainwater Collection System,Portable Water Storage Tank,Garden Water Catcher (50 Gallon) – See On Amazon
  • FCMP Outdoor RC45 Rain Barrel, Black (This one is way more visually appealing if you don’t want something big and ugly sitting on your property. – See On Amazon
  • Emergency Water Storage 5 Gallon Water Tank – 6 Tanks (30 Gallons) – 5 Gallons Each w/Lids + Spigot & Water Treatment – Food Grade, Portable, Stackable, Easy Fill – See On Amazon
  • Blue 55 Gallon Water Storage Tank by WaterPrepared – Emergency Water Barrel Container with Spigot for Emergency Disaster Preparedness – Stackable, Space Saving – BPA Free – See On Amazon

Solar Panels

A great way to make your home self-sufficient is to find alternative energy sources that you can use. One of the most popular examples of this is solar power – using the abundance of sunlight to harness the energy that will produce heat and electricity for your living space.

As solar panels have become much more affordable, it’s a viable option that should be taken into consideration if you truly want to live in a more self-sufficient space.

Depending on your needs and your situation there are different types of solar panels to consider – Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Thin-film.

Each of these comes at a different price point and efficiency level. Solar panels are great for your budget because they can save you a ton of money on annual energy costs each year.

Not only that but they can also improve the resale value of your home if you ever decide to sell. The best part is, using the natural energy of the sun is a great way to help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. This provides a better future for yourself and the planet at the same time.

Conserve Energy

One of the first steps in creating a more self-sufficient home is to conserve the amount of energy that it takes to make it run – which will reduce your dependence on it too!

Conserving energy not only benefits you by reducing your monthly electric bill, but it also promotes a healthier, safer environment for us and our animal friends.

Start small and make little changes to your daily routine. Turn down the thermostat in your home or dry your clothing on the line outside instead of in the dryer (weather permitting of course).

Wash your clothing in cold water or try having a no power night where you shut off all the lights and the tv, fire up some candles and cook up a meal outside over the fire pit or BBQ grill.

You will start to notice a big difference in how your home functions as you begin to make some of these changes. By reducing your dependence on machines, technology and the power it takes to run them, you are creating a home that will strongly support the self-sufficient lifestyle you desire.

Use a Woodburning Stove

A great alternative to keep you warm on those chilly winter nights would be to install a wood-burning stove into your living space.

A few added benefits would be that they require very little maintenance and help to reduce your energy bills each month. If you’ve never used one before it may take a little trial and error getting used to it, however, don’t let that sway you from trying one out.

wood burning stove

Just remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you choose the right kind of fuel – a dry, seasoned wood like ash, oak and maple are the best. Having an alternative heating source like this may be a little pricey to install at first but the money you save will more than makeup for the upfront cost.

Plus, the ability to come in out of the freezing cold to feel the warmth of a real fire on your feet is more than enough reason to opt for this type of heat source for your home.

Install a Composting Toilet

If you’re like the majority of people, you may assume that composting toilets are similar to porta-potties or an outhouse toilet. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A composting toilet is a great practical solution that will help you reduce your water usage, lower your monthly expenses and benefit the environment as well.

In short, a composting toilet turns solid waste into compost that can then be used to improve your current soil structure. Compost helps the soil retain important nutrients and protects current and future plants from common diseases. Plus, it also helps to feed any of your resident earthworms so there is that.

Aside from being somewhat pricey, one of the biggest cons is just the added manual upkeep and maintenance. However, if you’re looking for a great way to help the planet, keep your costs down in the long run and be more self-reliant when it comes to how your home functions, keep a composting toilet or two in the back of your mind.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Over 200 million tons of waste reach landfills every single year. It’s hard to fathom a number this staggering, however, not all hope is lost. There are several simple ways you can create an (almost) waste-free residence by adopting the reduce, reuse recycle method in every room of your home.

For example, instead of stocking your kitchen with disposable items like paper towels, garbage bags, plastic baggies or aluminum foil, opt for reusable dishrags (you can even make these out of old t-shirts), glass containers (for storage), and even a composting bin for all your wet waste.

Ditch the store-bought cleaners for all-natural products like baking soda and vinegar and open a window instead of plugging in a toxic air freshener.

During mealtime, opt for dishes that are made of ceramic or glass instead of all those paper plates.

Being intentional when you shop will change your life. It not only reduces the amount of “stuff/waste” you bring into your home, but it creates a healthier, happier living space for you and your family.

Creating a home that supports your self-sufficient lifestyle, is one of the best ways to ensure your future success. Your living space can truly affect your mood, your mindset and your motivation to achieve your goals.

Supplies Mentioned In Post

It’s important to make sure you do everything possible to create a space that aligns with your vision and your values. By trying one or more of these ideas, you are taking the next step towards reaching a lifestyle that is built around freedom, independence, and living each day on your own terms. 

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