Is Homemade Worth It?

At what point does your time become more valuable than your dollar? When does the satisfaction of a job well done become less important than the money saved?

The motivation for homemade is fueled by the satisfaction of your own work, saving money, a healthier life, a simpler way of living, a love of learning. The list could go on. It is these answers, that makes the question have more than a yes or no answer.

Is homemade worth it

In short, yes- homemade is worth it– I also LOVE homemade, DIY work. But the answer isn’t that simple.

I’ve heard people say make the bread, buy the butter. And this is exactly the general concept we use on our Ranch. We make when it is cost effective, mostly enjoyable, and fits into our schedule. We buy when we’re tired and short on time. The hard part, is finding the balance that fits your life and your goals.

To answer whether homemade is worth it, I’m sharing just a few thoughts on homemade/DIY v. the convenience of store-bought.

FOODS

This is the most obvious place for many to start their homemade revolution. It provides rewards that you can smell and taste and can change the nature of dinner conversations. So what’s worth it?

BreadTake the time. Not sure how to master the art of homemade bread during busy times? Bake in bulk. Bake enough carbs for the month, cool, wrap in freezer paper, and freeze together in a clean pillow case. Allow to thaw overnight or bake for a warm, fresh loaf.

Pastries– When you have time, homemade is always best. But when you’re in a pinch, support local and spend time with the people you love.

ProduceIf you have the time and space, grow the veggies you buy most often. If your short on time and space, keep it simple. Potted herbs on a window sill can liven any dish and bring life to any room.

Dinner– It doesn’t matter what you make, a homemade meal is better than dinner from a box any day. To make it happen, make a menu and cook ahead.

These are just a few of our favorite food resources: bread, pizza, and meal plans.

CLEANING

Laundry Detergent– I’ll admit, this is something I hate making, but love using. Homemade is more gentle, maintains colors better, and produces a cleaner finished product. Make your own. This is my favorite recipe.

Glass CleanerDon’t waste your money. Make your own streak free cleaner with this recipe.  This also doubles as a great all-purpose cleaner throughout the house.

General CleanersKeep it simple. Borax, washing soda, vinegar, and the occasional splash of bleach are all you need to keep your house clean.

General House– Not quite DIY, but helpful none-the-less, a good vacuum goes a long way. It can be used to dust just about every inch of your house and prevent you from needing to purchase general household cleaners. We use a bag less upright that doesn’t have any operating expenses after the initial purchase.

HOME DÉCOR

Generally– This is an area where it’s quicker to buy than make, but if you check out some of your favorite decorations, they could be easily replicated with unused items at home. If this is something you enjoy doing, it’s absolutely worth the time!

Furniture– This is something most people overlook, but when you take a closer look at what can be made and what needs to be bought, you realize there is a lot more you can do than you may have thought. Start here for some great ideas.

GENERAL REPAIRS

Home– Given the accessibility of how-to videos and step-by-step tutorials. Home repairs are worth giving a try. For the most part, we try our hand at repairs, but call the experts for the bigger jobs. When we do call for a professional, we make sure to ask lots of questions to help us tackle similar work in the future.

Car– Surprisingly, a lot of car work can be learned online. For basic repairs and maintenance, we recommend trying the work yourself, but for larger more difficult tasks, leave it to the pros.

What’s your experience with homemade. What DIYs have proved to be worth your time?

Posted in Self-sustaining | Comments Off on Is Homemade Worth It?

Clean Eating Saturday Biscuits

Easy Homemade Biscuits

These are our Saturday Biscuits. We make every time we get a lazy weekend morning. I can’t quite remember when I started experimenting with homemade biscuits. I think it was probably about the time I started making homemade breakfast gravy and sausage. (I actually followed the instructions in an Epicurious.com tutorial video.)

The journey to these homemade treats was not a short one. In fact, I’ve tried dozens of recipes and methods over the years. For the past year or so, I had a recipe I was happy with, but it was missing something. It didn’t have the flaky layers that compliment breakfast gravy so well, and they weren’t as effortless as a Saturday morning demands.

Eventually, I found myself in a rural hotel for a day watching the cable television that at first I wished we had and that by the time I left was thankful we didn’t have. I spent all day watching cooking shows, and travel shows and house shows, and more cooking shows. Eventually I was watching some type of city tour of restaurants type show and realized what my biscuits were missing- the speed of a food processor and the layers of a croissant.

And that’s how we end up here: with one-bowl, 30 minute, flaky biscuits that require so little work that any self-respecting person relishing a lazy weekend morning can still enjoy. I can’t say they are terribly healthy, but they are clean and simple and the perfect weekend treat.

Butter Biscuits

 

Rolling Weekend Biscuits

Clean Eating Homemade Biscuits
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick frozen, unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 c. flour
  • ¾ c. sour milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the butter chunks into the bowl of a food processor fixed with a metal blade (not a dough blade). Process until the butter breaks into small balls.
  3. Add the dry ingredients. Pulse several times to combine all the ingredients.
  4. Slowly add the milk while running the food processor. Allow it to run until the dough forms a large ball.
  5. Remove the dough from the food processor. Roll into a uniform ball and roll out into a large rectangle (roughly 9 x 13 in. sized).
  6. Fold the rectangle in half along the long side. Roll it out into another rectangle and fold in half again along the long side.
  7. Roll the dough into a square (roughly 9 x9 in. sized). Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut out biscuit rounds.
  8. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10- 15 minutes (baking time will vary based on biscuit thickness).
  9. If freezing for later use: Do not bake. Place baking sheet in freezer until biscuits are frozen, and then place frozen biscuits into freezer bag. Frozen biscuits can be baked as suggested above.

I like using old milk for this recipe. Often times, if I have milk left in the refrigerator after its expiration date, I will freeze it in small jars. I later use the milk for baked goods, like these biscuits.

Clean Eating Saturday Biscuits

Posted in Bread, Breakfast, Clean Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Clean Eating Saturday Biscuits

January: Sustainability Checklist

Each month I share our homesteading to-do list in the hopes that it will help you prepare for the coming month and season. Our to-do list is filled with our latest projects and repairs that keep us on track with a more simplistic [and skilled] life.

This month, it is still bitterly cold outside, and we are working indoors. We’re focusing on securing meat for the summer through fall, building items for spring, and finishing up some indoor chores so we’re ready for the windy Spring as soon as the snow melts!

January Sustainability Checklist

Here’s what we’ll be working on this January:

  • Preserving meat– We are aggressively working toward food sufficiency this year. That means hunting and preserving as much as possible before the hunting season ends.
  • Reassessing savings– Part of being self-sufficient is being financially sound. When you own your own land, that includes having the money set aside for unexpected repairs. We’re using this advice as a guide. We didn’t do this last year and it almost created some problems for us, so make a plan you are comfortable with and avoid getting caught off guard.
  • Soap making– I love having homemade soap, and I hate making it. I can’t explain it: the process is quick and simple. This year I’m going to triple the batch and hopefully make enough for the year!
  • Building outdoor chairs– Last fall; we installed a great fire pit that sits at the edge of our garden. We hope to get some good use of it after some long days in the garden and we’re building chairs so it’s ready to use as soon as spring rolls around.
  • Sewing curtains– I draped fabric over curtain rods nearly a year ago after painting our living room. It’s time I actually get around to sewing them together.
  • Car repairs– We own a 15 year old Toyota that we LOVE. We love it so much, we’re going to try and drive it for another 15 years, but it needs some TLC. In January, we’ll be tackling some of the less costly repairs such as electrical work, fender repair, and general maintenance.

What’s on your project list this month?

Posted in Monthly Checklist, Self-sustaining | Comments Off on January: Sustainability Checklist

Our Favorites for a New Year!

2013 Favorites

Happy New Year from the Ranchette! We’re wishing you a happy New Year filled with the finest of homespun things.

Take a minute to look back and remember all of your fantastic things you accomplished over the last 365 days because you deserve it.

And while you’re at it, take another minute to check out some of our favorite work from the last year:

Bringing Chicks to the Ranch

Building Garden Beds

…and Adding a Hoop Cover

This Tomato Jam– I’m growing extra tomatoes, just so I can make more of this!

Our First Giveaway– Buy your own copy here

Crossing this off my Bucket List

This Roasted Garlic

What were some of your favorite accomplishments in 2013?

Posted in Self-sustaining | Comments Off on Our Favorites for a New Year!

Modern Homesteaders

I keep struggling with how to get started with this post. We’ve had an incredibly busy year. We’re nearing the end of 2013 and we’re miles away from where we want to be. But our dreams of self-sufficiency are lifelong goals, so that’s okay, right?

In all honesty, the New Year is always a time of rejuvenation. It’s a time to look back, look forward, and start on your comeback with a bigger and better plan. And for the last month, we have done just that.

I’ve looked back and I feel like we’re in a rut– I don’t write as often as I’d like, I’m not growing the site as I had dreamed, and [most importantly] we aren’t learning new things the way we used to.

…but then I look forward, and I see so much adventure. I see ways to grow and improve. I start dreaming of new projects- the most exciting of which are our plans for food sufficiency in the future.

Truth be told, right now, we are wishful homesteaders with full time jobs in a consumer’s world. When we get busy we can rely on the conveniences of pre-made meals and pre-made materials. We can get by doing less and buying more.

Modern Homesteading

So how do you avoid the trap of convenience and enjoy a life of homespun living?

  1. Plan. I’ve talked about the importance of planning here, here, and here.
  2. Work together. Talk about your common goals with friends and family to keep one another on track. What are they trying out and what can you experiment with together?
  3. Take drastic measures. [which is what I had to do] Remove access to easy money, stop carrying debit/credit cards, and force yourself to plan a trip to the bank to spend money.
  4. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re working and trying to transition to a sufficient homestead, you’re going to have busy days and you’re going to have moments where you may need to rely on a more convenient approach than you prefer. That’s okay. Just remember where you’re trying to go and keep moving forward. It happens.

In 2014, we’re moving forward. We’re going to be sharing new building projects, exciting renewable energy experiments, and some of our greatest backyard adventures yet.

Don’t miss any of the fun! Sign-up to receive weekly updates and join the homespun community. You’ll get regular project updates delivered right to your inbox. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for some of our more frequent updates.

It’s almost 2014, what will you do with your 2014?!

Posted in Self-sustaining | Comments Off on Modern Homesteaders