By Anna Christensen, Contributing Writer
Recently we read Laura Ingall Wilder’s “Farmer Boy” aloud as a family. No matter how productive of a day I’d had, it seemed lazy in comparison. The Wilders made 90% of their food, clothing, and shelter from scratch. They regularly worked from before dawn till past dusk, with only a handful of holidays throughout the year. A day spent blueberry picking counted as “vacation.”
Their story paints a striking contrast to the typical modern lifestyle of consumerism and constant media distractions. Thankfully, a refreshing change is beginning to tackle our culture’s deep-seated consumerism. There is a growing trend toward a more homemade lifestyle.
Many reasons exist: homemade foods are usually tastier, healthier, and more affordable than their store-bought alternatives. Homemade products generally save money and are more healthy.
But even though we’re blessed with so many modern conveniences that Laura didn’t enjoy, her stories highlight an important point about the homemade lifestyle: making things from scratch takes a lot of time and effort.
Balancing a homemade lifestyle with our busy modern lives isn’t always easy, but by starting small, prioritizing, involving our kids, investing in useful tools, and capitalizing on freezer space, it is possible to enjoy many of the benefits… without working 80 hours a week!
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Balancing a Homemade Lifestyle
A quick scroll through Pinterest is all it takes to find recipes for hundreds of items you can make from scratch. There are recipes for everything from homemade mustard to all-natural shampoo, fresh bread to creamed soups. Many of the recipes look simply amazing and it’s tempting to try them all at once. But usually that’s just a recipe for burnout.
Start small. Pick just one or two new things to try at a time and find what works best for you.
Choose what matters to your family
About six years ago, I tasted my very first homemade tortillas. They were amazing. The flavor and freshness transformed the simple tacos into an unforgettable meal. My friend shared the recipe and I began making homemade tortillas too. It’s worth it to me because I (and my family) love them. As an added bonus, they’re much healthier and a bit cheaper than store-bought tortillas.
For many moms, making homemade tortillas would be ridiculous. It would not be worth it at all. It would turn a simple meal into a chore. That’s how I feel about homemade noodles. They’re just not worth the effort to me. Pasta dishes are my fall back on days when six o’clock rolls around and I think Oh no! Can it really be time to eat? We need food, fast! Making my own noodles would defeat the whole point.
Find the homemade things that are worthwhile to make for your family and enjoy the 21st century convenience of being able to buy the rest.
The “big” kids helping me pick, wash, and de-stem fresh strawberries— a perfect late spring activity!
Involve your kids
As all moms know, a toddler “helping” in the kitchen isn’t really helping at all. But involving the little ones is a wonderful way to spend quality time together while teaching them valuable life skills. It also demonstrates that food doesn’t magically appear on the shelves at the store and lets them delight in the taste of fresh herbs and get their hands dirty in a pile of bread dough.
Though involving little ones takes more effort upfront, as they grow up and become more capable, having their help is a huge blessing.
Invest in useful tools
It’s totally possible to lead a homemade life-style with just the bare basics. I naturally tend to minimalism, but investing in a few useful tools makes balancing a homemade lifestyle much more pleasant and efficient.
Capitalize on freezer space
Speaking of modern tools, the freezer has got to be one of the handiest. Not only can you freeze soups and casseroles (like these 36 awesome freezer meals!), you can even freeze things like sandwiches and homemade jam. If you are taking time to make something from scratch, make extra to store for later. It multiplies your efforts easily.
Balancing a homemade lifestyle
Few of us would choose to return to the hard-core homemade lifestyle Laura Ingalls Wilder recorded. But by starting small, prioritizing the things that matter most, involving our kids, investing in useful tools, and capitalizing on freezer space, we can each incorporate a bit of the charm of a homemade lifestyle into our busy modern lives.