Staying organized at the homestead and feeding your family is tough. Keeping track of everything you have and estimating when you might run out of something is a challenge for even the most experienced homesteaders.
With 10% of U.S. land given away under the Homestead Act from Lincoln to Reagan, there are plenty of opportunities whether you’re a suburban homesteader or a survival homesteader.
8 Homestead Farm Hacks That Everyone Should Know
Here’s how to organize your food supply for your homestead.
1. Fresh vs. Canned Food
Firstly, any good homesteader knows the importance of housing fresh and canned food. Fresh fruit and vegetables will always be tastier, but it rarely lasts more than a few days. So ensure you already have the equipment, such as refrigerators, to store your fresh food.
Canned food is ideal if you’re farming and have a bad harvest or a natural disaster that makes the roads impassable. According to the USDA, canned foods kept in good condition can last indefinitely. However, this implies edibility rather than how good it tastes.
Build up some study shelves in your pantry to handle the weight of your goods and organize them by category. Don’t rely on store-bought labels to stay attached and legible over long periods.
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2. Setup Your Storage Areas
Your storage space depends mainly on the size and layout of your homestead farm. Unfortunately, not everyone has a giant pantry to take advantage of.
Modern homesteading means getting creative with organizing your food supply. Here are some of the places you can use to store your food supply:
- Traditional pantry
- Root cellar
- Extra refrigerator
- Dedicated outbuildings
Larger storage areas can be broken down into separate sections using containers or temporary dividing walls. However, many homesteaders find it helpful to create obvious divisions to make it easier to find what they need.
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3. Keep an Inventory
Homesteaders often lose track of what they have because they rely on remembering everything. Even in smaller homesteads, it becomes increasingly difficult to pinpoint what you have as time passes.
Keep a ledger recording the inventory of everything you have. Get into the habit of writing everything down the moment something comes in. It should include the name, location, type of good, and expiry date.
Some homesteaders rely on good old pen and paper, but if you’re a spreadsheet whizz, you can quickly create spreadsheets with alerts to remind you when something is about to expire.
4. Map Out Your Farmable Food
If you’ve got the acreage, you may be growing some of your own food, either in the form of crops or animals.
Raising your own meals is satisfying and allows you to eat the freshest food that may not always be available in stores. Disasters happen constantly, and current supply chain issues have shown how quickly goods can disappear from supermarket shelves.
Invest in the equipment and keep a ledger of your expected harvest. Be as agile as possible with equipment like a portable chicken coop to manage your egg and meat production. These chicken coops can also serve as a defense against any predators that may be looking to chow down on your chickens in the night.
You should also designate the crops you’re growing in your garden or the fields. Create a rough top-down map of what goes where including any fields you’re leaving out to follow for the season.
Some basic fences and flags you can stick into the ground can make it easy for you to track where everything is instantly.
5. Use Transparent Containers
Homesteading is all about self-reliance and creating a near-total environment of self-sufficiency. Regardless of your reasons for doing so, you can save considerable time by purchasing transparent containers in bulk.
Applying labels is one thing, but opaque bins, baskets, and cans can quickly derail even the most detailed inventory.
Most of these containers can be purchased in bulk from any thrift store.
6. Categorize Your Food
Trying to build up a year’s worth of food in a weekend isn’t an intelligent way of setting up your homestead. Goods expire, and you’ll be expected to replace them on a rolling basis.
Set up areas of your homestead farm for different food categories. It’s usually best to base this on expiry dates, with fresh produce going first and canned goods going last.
Categorization can also dictate what you eat to avoid wasting anything. There’s nothing worse than investing hundreds of dollars in food only to realize it expired three days ago.
7. Changing Tastes
Maintaining such an ample food supply maximizes your resources and avoids food wastage.
Take into account your family’s changing tastes. Don’t just buy as many non-perishables as possible because you may find that it expires because nobody wanted to eat them. Consult with your family on the foods they like and don’t like.
Some of the staples designed for long-term storage include:
- Dry beans
- Dried fruits
- Canned vegetables
- Picked goods
- Frozen meat
You’ll note from this list that many of these goods are staples that practically everybody eats, but if you don’t take into account personal likes and dislikes, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of food wastage.
8. Choose the Right Amount
All food storage on the homestead must be customized according to your family. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you.
Thankfully, there are plenty of food storage calculators online that you can use to get a basic idea of how much you might need for your household at any one time.
Some of the factors that go into deciding the right amounts include:
- Age – Teenagers tend to eat more than retirees, so consider the ages of your household.
- Size – The size of your family will be the single most significant defining factor in your food storage needs.
- Health – Health is another determining factor in how much each family member is likely to eat.
- Seasons – Don’t overlook the impact of seasons. People tend to eat more in wintertime when there’s less to do and more during the harvest season.
Organizing your food supply is the biggest challenge of homesteading. You don’t just have to create a system but manage the system on an ongoing basis. Start small and gradually increase your capacity until you have the perfect food storage system for your homestead farm.
What are your top tips for organizing your homestead’s food supply?
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