Wondering where to start?
When I decided to get serious about making my home and my life more self-sufficient...more like my grandmother's...I went, as my dad would say, "whole hog". I spent a lot of money all at once buying equipment for canning and stocking up on cast iron cookware. I buried myself in herbal healing and natural remedy books, I about threw my kids into shock as I threw packets of chemical-laden drink mixes and snack foods into the garbage. I made a lot of changes very quickly and it caused some upheaval in my home. Everything I did was necessary and I'm very glad to have it now, but if I had it all to do again, I would make more gradual changes and try to get more buy-in from my family. I wish I could say we were all joyfully involved, but a lot of the time, there was a distinct grumbling about "budget cuts" that I made to purchase items and a lot of "why is there nothing to eat?" complaints from teenagers peering into a freezer devoid of Hot Pockets or Pizza Rolls.
I'm sure you want your family to be excited and supportive of any changes you decide to make, so here's a plan that will help you do that...and it's fun to boot! If you follow this plan, at the end of a year, your home and family will be a marvel of preparedness and you'll have accomplished it relatively painlessly...or at least without experiencing a PopTart riot.
Break it down: Focus AreasFirst off, it helps to narrow the view. Looking at the big picture, or the 30,000 foot view, preparedness is an enormous undertaking, that affects everything in your life. It helps to zoom in and look at it as a series of focus areas. You can make enormous progress simply by accomplishing a few small tasks in each focus area each month.
With this in mind, every month we will do one thing in each area of focus and we'll have a giveaway for something wonderful to help you. Our areas of focus are:
- The Pantry -this about food storage and preservation
- The Kitchen -handy tools that will make your life easier
- The Medicine Cabinet -items to stock and keep on hand
- Sewing Room -things to have on hand for mending, sewing, crafts or DIY projects
- Just in Case -this is a disaster preparedness item to make or purchase and keep on hand
- Grab & Go- this focus area helps you prepare for being away from your home in an emergency
- Try It Project -one homemade replacement to something you usually buy...if you like it, fine, if you don't, at least you tried it
- Upcycle Project -one DIY project to re-use something you usually throw away
- Grow This- one helpful plant you can grow indoors. Plant a seed or buy a nursery plant, whichever you prefer
- Color This - a grown-up coloring page for your artistic side. This is crazy-fun and relaxing. We'll have a contest every month and the twelve winners will become the artwork for next year's calendar!
- GIVEAWAY-who doesn't love a giveaway?? Each month we'll giveaway something wonderful (and we're not talking about a $5 Starbucks card...it's a really awesome prize!)
Thrifty Meals and the Rainy Day Fund
One of the most important traits Mama's Mama had was thrift. She planned for expenses and she found ways to make or save small amounts of money for things she wanted. Mama's Mama didn't like debt! In keeping with that, we're instituting a monthly Thrifty Meal and a Rainy Day Fund.
Mama always had a few dollars in a coffee can in the cupboard. If you're like me, you have a budget that won't budge, so even a moderate expense needs a funding source. The Thrifty Meal will be something you can make for your family for less than $3 per serving, you can put the money you saved into your Rainy Day Fund and use that for any tools or supplies you want to buy.
It may not sound like much, but I did a little research and I found that the average family eats out 18 times per month (that includes ording delivery) at an average cost of $12.75 per person. I have to agree, because Pizza Night around here runs about $30 plus a tip. Accourding to the experts, the average home-cooked meal runs about $4.75 per person so if you cut back on even a few pizza nights or dinners out, you can set aside a decent amount of money each month. To help you even more, Thrifty Meals are meals you can make for less than $3 per serving. They aren't fancy, but they're wholesome and sensible. All in all, you should be able to put $100 or so into your rainy day fund each month. Depending on what kind of equipment you need, it should be enough to cover all of it and then some. After 12 months of saving like this, you will have established a habit that will serve you well.