Do you have a garden? Maybe this would be a good year to try your hand at gardening. If you already have a garden, then maybe you could expand yours. You can grow a lot of food in a pretty small space if you have to. You can even have pots on a patio if you are in an apartment or condo. Gardening does not have to be hard or even expensive. It all depends on what you do. Don't think of a garden full of every kind of veggie out there. I am often tempted when I see a seed display to look and see what I don't have. I then have to ask myself, do I really ever eat this, or do I eat a lot of it? With our new eating plan, we are consuming a lot of broccoli and cauliflower. We eat it both raw and cooked. I am going to put some of both in my garden plan this year. We eat a lot of green beans. They are so easy to grow and all beans are open pollinated, so you can save some as seeds for the next year. If your space for a garden is small, think vertical. We have been putting our cucumbers and beans on a trellis. I saw where someone grew cantaloupe on a trellis. It kept the worms from getting into the fruit before it was ripe. Go to the library and check out some books and get some ideas on the different types of garden styles. The square food gardens put a whole lot in a small space. There is a book written by Ruth Stout telling how to have minimal weeding in your garden by mulching heavily. One year we put down thick newspaper all around our squash plants and then put a thick layer of straw over that. It worked great and kept the weeds away. One of the wonderful benefits of that was the next year when the rest of the garden was having weeds come up (before time to plant), that patch was weed free. Get your family involved. Children can enjoy helping with planting and growing things. Make it a family affair.
Canning is not hard. It can take some time and effort, but you can eat your own wholesomely, organically grown fruits and veggies all winter. I can tomatoes whole. Then as I need sauce or paste, I cook some down. One woman I know puts a 5 gallon bucket in her freezer. She puts whole clean tomatoes down in it and deals with them in the winter when she has more time. Keep good notes on your canning and it will help you in future years. I keep an excel file that tells me how much of a fruit or veggie I started with and how much I ended up putting up. Also, think about how often you eat something. Lets say you eat your first fresh beans at the end of June. You can keep eating them from your garden all summer if you have a pole type that keeps producing or you have several different planning times with bush beans. Then along comes the Autumn, then Winter, then Spring. Lets say you eat green beans once a week and you cook a quart for your family (you will have to figure out your own family's needs). So, we have from October through June. That is 9 months and at an average of 4 weeks a month, that is 36 quarts of green beans you would need. Some people think that canning is really expensive. It doesn't have to be. Put the word out that you want canning equipment and jars. Put an ad in the paper, watch garage sales, tell your friends. You will be surprised how much you can get for cheap or even nothing.
Another thing to think about is planting trees and berries and grapes. The sooner you get them in the ground, the sooner you have a crop. We planted apple trees one year. The next year we planted plums, then pears, then peaches, then cherries. We have several kinds of grapes planted. We have strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. The birds planted the blackberries. :) We did a little something each year. This gives us fresh fruit to eat and also some to put up for the winter.
Shop in bulk on items that store well. People make comments (not always nice ones) about how much coffee we have stored. When it goes on sale and we have coupons, we might buy up to 10 cans depending on how many we have. We don't have to buy coffee that is not on sale very often. If you buy your rice or flour or beans in bulk, they are cheaper per pound.
Another thing to think about is water. If the power is out do you have a way to get water? We do not. We would love to install a pump, but that is not happening any time soon. We do have a non-electric water filter that we could even put our pond water through if it came to that. :)
What are some things you are doing to be prepared for hard times? Even if the times are just a small blip, it is nice to be prepared.