Frugal Family

34 Ways To Become More Self Sufficient Today

Many people are turning their backs on modern living, and working hard to live more self sufficiently.

Our ancestors had no choice but to be self sufficient, then as industrialisation took hold people found themselves loosing their ability to live self sufficient. During the two world wars, our country was forced back into self sufficiency for survival. Over a couple of generations, the art of self sufficiency was lost again. But now, people are once more realising the importance of self sufficiency. Our world is drowning in plastic, the Earth is on fire with Global Warming and humans are becoming increasingly overweight, lethargic and depressed. Growing your own food and turning your back on supermarket’s for reliance can solve all of those problems. It doesn’t cost anything, will get us healthier and repair our planet. We are all trying to move too quickly to keep up with the demands of modern day living. It’s time to slow down.

I genuinely believe that soon, we will have no choice but to live self sufficiently, as an only means to attempt to fix the mess we have made of our planet. So, before chaos ascends, get a head start and start to learn the craft of self sufficiency today. Surely we would all love to live a life that doesn’t cost us any money, gets us healthier and happier, slows the pace of life down and means we only have to answer to ourselves. I know I do, and with baby steps my family are on our journey to self sufficiency, something we have been practising for 4 years.


  1. Dig over the garden- Its nice to have an enjoyable outside space to relax, but even dedicating a small patch can produce a surprisingly large amount of food. Our kids have a play space, but the majority of our garden is for food production.
  2. Keep chickens- Keeping chickens isn’t time consuming or difficult. They don’t take up much space and just 2 or 3 hens will give you plenty of the best tasting, fresh eggs. I often swap eggs with friends, for other goods.
  3. Learn to cook- Cooking from scratch is cost affective and healthier. Use up scraps from previous meals in recipes to reduce waste.
  4. Ditch the disposable tampons and pads- Putting plastic inside of your vagina is unsurprisingly not good for you or the planet. Treat yourselves to some cloth sanitary protection or a menstrual cup. You’ll save money long run and improve your menstrual health.
  5. Reduce what you own all around the house- Less to clean, less to spend money on and a less cluttered home.
  6. Air dry your clothes- Even as a family of 6, we don’t own a tumble dryer. Dry your clothes outside and save money. Your clothes will smell amazing too!
  7. Get rid of the dishwasher- This is another appliance that we don’t own. I cook a lot but it takes just as long to wash bits by hand as it does to load and unload a dishwasher. I also don’t have to pay for expensive tablets, salt or maintenance.
  8. Make your own baby wipes- A pack of baby wipes don’t last long, and cost a lot of money. Just a £ or 2 a week, soon adds up. Buy cheap flannels and cut in half to use instead. Throw them in the wash with your normal load.
  9. Cancel pointless subscriptions- We’ve all taken out a subscription that we’ve not used. TV, film or magazines can remain unwatched or unread. Cancel any that are not used.
  10. Learn a useful craft- I crochet. I taught myself with YouTube videos. I now crochet dishcloths and washmitts that last for years and cost pennies to make.
  11. Collect rain water- You can collect a surprising amount of rain water in butts or buckets. Rainwater is better for your garden and house plants than chlorinated tap water and it will greatly reduce your water bill. You can even use it to flush the loo, by pouring straight down the bowl.
  12. Grow your own herbs- Fresh herbs are tastier than dried herbs. Grown in a windowsill, they can make your house smell amazing too.
  13. Don’t waste a drop of water- Use bath water to water house plants (be careful of strong additives you may have used) or washing up water for the garden. Old kettle water, left over cups of water etc will benefit plants if you don’t pour it down the sink.
  14. Don’t bother with make-up remover pads- A good old fashioned flannel and soap bar will clean your face just as well, and cuts out chemicals and the plastic wrapping wipes are sold in.
  15. Cut down on cleaning products- You do not live in an operating theatre, therefore your house doesn’t need to be sterile. The rise in skin complaints, headaches and allergies is linked to the over-use of household cleaning products.
  16. Brew your own alcohol- This one is great fun! Look for second hand brewing utensils and pick your own flavours to brew at home. We are currently making dandelion wine, that has cost us next to nothing for the equivalent of 6 bottles. I picked the dandelions from our garden… leaving enough for the bees too!
  17. Learn to forage- Hedgerows and woodlands can produce a lot of free food. Keep your eyes peeled for tasty blackberry bushes, apple trees and wild nuts. Make sure you know you have a positive ID before eating anything though.
  18. Make your own compost- Gardener’s use a lot of compost. Its easy to make your own at home. It will also reduce the amount of stuff you send to landfills or recycling centres.
  19. Research as much as possible- Read, read and read some more. Visit your library, join Facebook groups and watch YouTube videos to educate yourself on self sufficiency topics.
  20. Make use of the library- The library is a free place for everyone to borrow books. You’ll find nearly everything you need to know. You can also request books, if there’s something in particular that you’re after and isn’t in stock.
  21. Use left over food wisely- Learn how to store left over food properly, to use for future meals.
  22. Swap items between friends- Before throwing something in the bin, offer it to friends and family first. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. Encourage others to do the same.
  23. Sell excess produce- If you’re growing or making more than you need, offer it to others in exchange for things you need. Perhaps you’ve grown too many courgettes, swap them for some sugar!
  24. Install renewable energy methods- Explore your options for solar energy at home or choose an energy supplier that uses 100% renewable energy. Home solar panel kits will save you money in the long run. If your house is council owned, check with your council to see if they offer a solar panel scheme. You may get them for free!
  25. Make do and mend- Learn to sew and fix clothes and household items. Things will last you for years with proper care.
  26. Buy better quality items- For items that you cannot avoid buying, make sure you choose good quality products. You pay for what you get, and slightly more expensive items will last a lot longer than cheap versions.
  27. Use pallets to make garden ‘things’- Pallets can be picked up for free from lots of places, You can make excellent raised beds, furniture and decorations for pallets. Sites such as Pinterest has lots of inspiration.
  28. Utalise ‘freebie’ sites- There are lots of selling pages online. Many of them have a wonderful array of freebies. Remember to be honest with yourself and only take what you need. There will be others that need it too.
  29. Concentrate on clearing your debts- Once you start saving money, don’t just spend it on more pointless things. Instead, use your money to clear any debts so you’re financially free sooner.
  30. Flush the toilet with rain water- you plan on drinking water from your toilet bowl, it doesn’t need to be flushed with expensive chlorinated water. As long as your collected rainwater is free of leaves and debris, tip a bucket of rainwater straight into the bowl and it will force waste down the pipe, replacing the water for free.
  31. Ditch wrapping paper and gift cards- wrapping paper and gift cards are an awful waste of resources. Lots of gift wrap and cards can’t even be recycled or composted, due to glitter and other added ‘bits’. Try to wrap presents in newspaper or paintings created by your kids. Making your own cards can look amazing, and have a far more personal touch than a generic shop bought card.
  32.  Walk more- Leave the car at home. Save fuel and congestion and get healthier. Running a car is so expensive, but your legs can get to from A to B for free.
  33. Ditch dog poo bags- I no longer use plastic dog poo bags. Instead I pick up poops in the free composting bags handed out by our local council. Free and biodegradable, perfect for dog walks. At home I throw dog poos straight into a deep hole dug at the bottom of the garden. I sprinkle a little fresh earth on top.
  34. Don’t be afraid to get muddy!

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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