Author of Be Ready for Anything and the online course Build a Better Pantry on a Budget
Editor’s Note: When I first wrote this article, in 2014, we lived in farm country in California, had our own garden and chickens, and we did it mostly as an experiment. Today, this experiment is actually of vital importance. It shows that in many parts of the country, it’s possible to get nearly all your food from nearby sources. And right now, in 2022, with massive supply chain issues, this is more important – and perhaps essential – than ever before. ~ Daisy
(Originally published August 7, 2014.) My family and I decided to embark on a revolution. We have banished the grocery store from our lives for the next 3 months. Our Grocery Store Rebellion began on August 1, and this is an update on our first week.
The week began with two major upheavals. Our SUV went into the shop, and the cow in which we have milk shares died.
Luckily, we had some extra milk on hand, frozen, while our dairy farmer works on getting a new cow. We have about a 2 week supply of milk left, so we’re either going to have to wait, find a new source, spend a whopping $18 per gallon at the local co-op, or go without.
The repair facility gave us a loaner so we were able to make the rounds to some farms in our area. All of the food we purchased this week is from within 5 miles of our home. When we pick up our milk, we go further afield – the dairy farmer we deal with lives about 10 miles away.
My garden this year is very small. We moved at the beginning of July so we were off to a late start. Still, we have some stuff for salads and lots of my favorite jalapeno peppers. This produce came in very handy over the week of being carless. We live in a very small village that only has a small corner store type of market, so even if we had wanted to buy food, there would have been little to purchase within walking distance. This situation really motivated me to get my fall garden going, and we are halfway to chickendom with the arrival of our new coop. We’ll finish fencing off the chicken area this weekend, grab some barley for fodder, and we’ll be well on our way to egg independence.
(Make sure you check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to setting up your 3-layer food storage plan.)
Here’s what we ate this week.
Local items, including stuff from my garden, are marked with a star *. Freezer items are marked with an (F). Pantry items are marked with a (P). We are using up the items lingering in our refrigerator, like cheese, because even though these things don’t fall within our “local” parameters, I refuse to waste food. Some items have more than one designation, like the fruit leather. It was made from Apple cinnamon pie filling I canned last fall, which I made from apples we picked at a local orchard. We went out to dinner one night, and some meals were repeated because we ate leftovers.
Homemade gluten-free biscuits (P) with blueberry jam*
Yogurt* with blueberries*
Omelettes with onion*, bell pepper*, cheddar*, and bacon (F)
Blueberry* cornbread (P) with butter
Eggs* with bacon (F), berries*
Bacon (F), lettuce*, and tomato* salad
Potato* soup with fresh cream*, onion* and garlic*, topped with bacon (F) and cheddar* (from the farmer’s market)
Creamy* tomato* soup with dill*
Salad with Nevada lettuce (a hardy heat-resistant green)*, tomato*, bell pepper* and chicken (F)
Zoodles* with alfredo sauce made from raw milk* and garlic* (recipe)
Steak (F) with potatoes*, bell peppers*, onions*, and garlic*, sliced tomato* with Feta cheese
Pancakes (P)with apple pie filling*(F)
Ground beef patty (F) with sauteed crookneck squash* and garlic*
Apple cinnamon fruit leather *(P)
Veggies (bell pepper*, zucchini*, cherry tomatoes8) with yogurt* dip seasoned with minced garlic* and dill*
Fruit: peaches*, blueberries*, apple sauce (P)*
Here’s what we bought this week.
Once I finally got something to drive, we took a drive yesterday to some local farms. One place has a farm stand that is run on the honor system. The lovely little farm has a garden shed with produce, a scale and a box. You are allowed to help yourself to change if needed, or you may leave a check. I got some seconds of peaches at a local orchard, and some seconds of jalapenos at another farm stand.
We spent $89 yesterday. Here’s what we bought.
- 3 lbs of apples
- 50 lbs of peaches (seconds for canning, but many of them are perfectly fine for eating fresh)
- 5 lbs of green beans
- 2 gallons of cider in an awesome reusable jug
- 7 lbs of potatoes – red and purple varieties
- 5 heirloom tomatoes, from which I will save seeds
- 6 ears of organic corn
- 3 lbs of cherries
- 10 lbs of jalapenos (seconds for canning)
- 3 purple bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- a bag of yellow cherry tomatoes that are so delicious you don’t even need dressing on your salad
This weekend we are heading to the farmer’s market to make the acquaintance of a man that sells meat, which he raises in the next town over. I’ve budgeted $60 to spend there, which will bring us up to $150 for the week.
It may seem like we’re spending a huge amount of money, especially considering that we haven’t yet purchased meat, but a great deal of this will be canned or dehydrated for use later in the year. I feel like we’re well within the normal range of what many people spend on groceries, and those groceries are only to last through the week. We could have gotten by on a whole let less money but much of this is earmarked for the canning pot and will be consumed later, so the money we spent this week will actually cover us for a longer period of time than just a week.
I tend to spend more money on food in the summer, when it’s fresh and ripe, and then preserve it for the winter, when everything is outrageously expensive. This evens out over the course of the year and I believe that by using this method we spend far less per person than many people do.
Here’s what we learned.
This week was, of course, the easiest week because we still have “grocery store” stuff left over. We’re still eating the items that are open, like some gluten-free crackers, organic peanut butter, some cheese, and some organic cereal because I have no intention of letting it go to waste. The crackers are gone now (which rules out my previous go-to breakfast of peanut butter and crackers with fruit). We’ll have to make some scratch items if we want any instant gratification snacks that aren’t fruit or veggies from this point on.
I found an orchard that I hadn’t seen before that had amazing prices on “seconds”. If you aren’t familiar with this, seconds are fruits that aren’t quite as uniform and pretty as what most people are looking for. They might be bruised or have a funky shape. Sometimes the skin has a dry patch that is unattractive. When you’re canning or making jam, “pretty” fruit is far less important than it is when it’s eaten fresh from a bowl on the counter. That being said, much of the fruit we purchased was perfectly fine for fresh snacking. The seconds were not out on display with the other fruits, so always be sure to ask farmers if they have “seconds” for canning. Some of the best bargains I’ve gotten have been when I ask this question of a vendor at a farmer’s market. Sometimes you have to set up a time to go to the farm and pick these items up. ALWAYS ASK!
Some good quality kitchen tools will make your life far easier when cooking farm-fresh goodies. It isn’t impossible to make these foods without the tools I’m recommending but when you have them, the work goes a lot faster. Here are the things I swear by:
Ensemble 3-Cup Glass Bowl Chopper – This is one of the less expensive food processors. I’ve had mine for quite some time and I really like the solid glass container. It makes fast work of chopping lots of veggies for canning projects.
Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard Blender, White – I have an older one exactly like this and it is 14 years old and still going strong. It makes a beautiful puree and can grind hard things like wheatberries using the dry canister.
Spiralizer Tri-Blade Vegetable Slicer, Strongest-and-Heaviest Guarantee, Lifetime Replacement Warranty, Best Veggie Pasta & Spaghetti Maker for Low Carb/Paleo Healthy Vegetable Meals – We just got this and my daughter is busy spiralizing everything in sight.
Granite Ware 0718-1 Enamel-on-Steel Canning Kit, 9-Piece – This is a must for canning low-acid foods like pickles, salsas, fruits, and jams. I don’t have all of these bells and whistle add-ons, but they’re nice perks.
We decided to use up the home-canned goods we have left over from last year. We pureed all of the fruit and made various types of fruit leather. This makes quick, yummy snacks, and frees up jars for this year’s harvest.
As we began to run out of open packets of things like cereal and crackers, we had to adjust to reaching for a different type of quickie in between meals. I love seeing my daughter and her friends walk around with a handful of cherries as a snack. At mealtimes, the food we’re eating is so fresh and flavorful that it really doesn’t need much to dress it up – just a quick steam and some butter. My daughter raves about everything put in front of her and I certainly don’t have to ask her twice to finish what’s on her plate.
How was your week?
Even if you aren’t jumping into the rebellion with both feet, did you use some things you harvested from your garden this week? If you ARE participating in the rebellion, how did it go? Share the details in the comments below!
Do you purchase locally and from producers? Tell us more about it in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceandSurvival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
Daisy, I am just reading your grocery store rebellion and agree with you in principle.I’m not as self-sufficent as you are but I am trying to get there. I do buy from farmer’s stands and will be going to a large farmer’s market this weekend.
I also moved this summer so my garden is not as big this year but I did have a bumper crop of summer squash and my tomatoes are ripening well. I have seedlings coming up for the fall planting, and my young pullets are just beginning to lay. I use dry powdered milk from my food storage, and I have previously canned fruits, vegetables, and meats/chicken. I have multi-grains but my bread making needs more practice!!
The cutting machine in the video looks neat, but I am going to try my apple peeler first and see if I can get something useful from it.
You didn’t mention about animal food– dog/cat/chicken feed. I am still buying them at a feed store. Do you make your own?
Keep up the good work; I aspire to be grocery store independent like you!
Hi! At this point, I’m still getting animal food from the feed store. I’m planning to sprout barley to grow fodder for my chickens, which will be a very interesting experiment!
I bet the apple peeler will work fine. Before I got the spiralizer, I used a carrot peeler to make long strips. 🙂
If you don’t have to many chickens for the available forage They will find enough to eat on their own, and provide you with free eggs, and meat.
I don’t keep feed in front of my chickens. I keep 35 laying hens, and 3 roosters on 11 acres. I let them out in the morning to forage. In the evening I feed them oats, or any other food waste that I have. Giving them a little something to eat in the evening gets them in your chicken enclosure. You can then close the door, and keep them safe from predators.
Also chickens will do a lot of damage to an unfenced garden.
Thanks for the chicken info; I am still learning. Since there are lots of predators where I live,I just finished fencing a large foraging area. It has only been two days, but they seem to be staying foraging area or the yard. We are tying to train them to come at a bell ringing. We feed them canning scraps when we ring the bell.
I’ve noticed several other bloggers have taken up a food challenge of some sort lately. I think the real challenge would be to have a grocery store rebellion in the winter or spring. I know when I look at our stores in the early spring I’m thankful for what I can buy off our farm. Though I’m constantly working toward a better year round storage system, we’d surely starve it I couldn’t fill in the huge holes at the grocery store.
You’re absolutely right about that, Elizabeth. That’s the reason I’m stocking up on things like I am. I have committed to three months but I’d like to try and continue this after the official challenge is over, so I’m canning and dehydrating to preserve goodies for later in the year. Also coming is a greenhouse for the yard in order to have at least some fresh greens in the winter. Wish me luck! 🙂
Daisy you are doing well. We are not as fortunate as you with dairy supplies as we must buy them at the store as there are no local milk producers. Today was the 1st trip to town this week & we bought milk & 3 pk of cheese (on sale) Also bought things for daughters diet as she is arriving from out of province this weekend. Also bought 66lb sugar for canning as it was on a good sale…1/3 off reg. Also on sale was marg. so stocked up & 1 lb butter. But eating from garden is most of what is on our plate…for veg. peas,carrots, potatoes, cauliflower,lettuce,cucumbers, radishes, etc. Fruits on now are raspberries, saskatoons, & rhubarb. Meat mostly beef & pork from local farmers but getting close to end of those. Am canning & freezing for winter all the extra. Some things will be short this year due to heavy rains in spring & early summer therefore some of garden is poor like peas, broccoli, peppers. Only 1 squash plant came up. Since I had hip surgery this spring we didn’t plant as much as usual. Luckily last year was a bumper crop so we have left overs. Beans & beets ready this weekend & corn in a few weeks. Tomatoes by early Sept. Ripe or not they will be picked or else Jack Frost will get them. Yesterday made 3 1/2 doz buns with half flour freshly ground from local wheat. Hopefully someone will have some crabapples to trade soon. Also the local U-Pick will have sour cherries in another week. Hence the need for the sugar I purchased today. Have a great 2nd week Daisy & keep on picking & canning.
That sounds like a wonderful harvest!!!! My poor little garden does not even compare!
To prep is to be wise in this time of uncertainty if there is a War the danger is fallout and radation
What foods can help, but first thing first we all know that the potassium iodide will block the thyroid gland and that’s it don’t be fooled to think it’s a cure all pill, the heart lungs Even the Liver will be unprotected,
So how do we fix it (remember Dr. Akizuki fed his staff and patients a strict diet of brown rice, miso and tamari soy soup, wakame, kombu and other seaweed, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets As a result, he saved everyone in his hospital, while many other survivors perished from radiation sickness
Fermented Foods like sauerkraut help to counteract the toxins from radioactive fallout as well as Kombucha
Also beets (Beetroots) can help aid the body in rebuilding damaged haemoglobin
Turn off the electricity and lets see what you eat next week?
I am blessed with a great garden this year. With an ongoing bumper crop of cucumbers, I have a cellar full of pickles now and sharing with neighbors any extra’s , the Tomatoes are just starting and that means lots of sauce and salsa. We do a lot of juicing this time of year to help use up any veggies and helps maintain our weight. I have no problem doing without certain things in our diet but my husband not so much. We do have dry food storage that will last almost 2 years. Have learned to make my own soap from scratch and bottle our own wine. Just made an agreement with a local farmer for milk and plan on making yogurt and butter. We live in town and chickens are not allowed but I bet bunnies would be okay if we named them and called them pets (loop hole). I feel good about our progress, but in times of need there always seems to be something you forget.
Great post. I am trying to go more local and become more self-sufficient, but the nearest farmer’s market is an hour away. I put in a garden this year for the Spring and am getting ready for the fall garden. Even though I live in a rural agricultural community, there is not a lot of organic vegetables. Considering my health issues have been caused by the typical American Diet, I am trying to clean up what we eat. I have entered the canning world by starting to can. I found it wasn’t as complicated as I feared. I am also finding that foraging is fun. I found that my family has some land they raise cattle on and have found discovered there are unsprayed edibles there like dewberries. I doubt I ever become completely self-sufficient but I want to get away from the rat race.
How bout we all use cash and stop giving the 5 biggest banks 4% of all our transactions to them and letting the Economy absorb it.
Think about it, The entire country using Plastic and the banks get 4%??? Thats a sh1t load of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Every time you use a debit or credit card the banks charge 4% to the seller. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? They are stealing from you and the sellers are charging you 4% as a TAX to give to them……
The stores charge us 4-6% more because of the plastic card. Mom and pop stores will give you 5% off if you pay cash; but you have to ask.
Eight days and not a single thing from the grocery. The only thing I plan on getting from the grocery is milk. Raw milk is illegal in my state, and herd sharing is too far away to be an option. I too am blessed with an awesome garden this year. I am currently burned out on salad, but luckily my green beans and potatoes are coming on strong. I have been succession planting and my husband just built us a 10×12 green house which I am going to get my winter garden going in over the weekend. My biggest ahha moment was I am good at building a pantry but not using it. This challenge is forcing me to re-evaluate that….I need to use and rotate. It’s like I feel guilty or I am scared to deplete my stock pile. When in reality it needs to go before it expires. Great challenge! I had been eating mainly from my garden and eggs from my chickens about 6 weeks prior to this and a side benefit is I have lost 12 pounds. Really makes me believe the over fed under nurished theory about store bought food!
I can’t believe you spent only $89 for all that food. It cost me 2-3 times that amount at the whole foods store here on Kauai. Ahh, I miss the mainland. Just getting my garden going as well as a 320 hole hydroponics unit so that should give me lots of food if it all works out 🙂
$150 is great for the week!
In the beginning of the year we had enough supplies to make it into March with what we had in the house with few exceptions. We did, however, purchase feed for the sheep, chickens, and rabbits. The winter was “something else.” We lost over half of all our lambs. Our apple orchard is spending all summer recovering.
The garden was very delayed with a rather cold spring. We could not get or put up the fruits that we did last year. The “local” farmers took a big hit as well.
There are other complications to our self-reliant lifestyle, but the bottom line is that we will purchase items from the grocery store from time to time. We will put another steer into the freezer, can/freeze what we can this late in the season, and get weekly milk from a farm run by Old Order Mennonites. The meat chicks seem to be growing well. The layers are laying. They laid through the entire horrible winter, and with the Grace of God, they will again, this year. (We purchase late fall pullets and give them warm water, and sometimes warm food.) We’ll limp through the winter.
Glad things are going well for you even with your financial glitches!
I am keeping up with what you are doing. It’s not too hard to eat cheap during the summer but I live in a place that snows like crazy during the winter. I am trying to get up the courage to keep chickens in the winter because they can be a lot of work to feed early on a cold morning with a ton of snow to wade through to get to the “girls”. I know, I used to have chickens and a cow that I had to milk every morning at six AM. Funny though, I would drag myself out of bed, put on a coat, go out to the barn and milk her and pretty soon I would get so hot from her body heat that I had to take my coat off. Hard part is getting up so early on a cold morning. Rewarding though. I now plan to build a greenhouse and heat it with a rocket stove. Anyone that doesn’t know what that is should research it. It’s a good way to heat with a tiny bit of wood. I am going to try my hand at growing stuff like lemons which I absolutely love but hate paying so much for. Anyway, Keep up the great effort. You are inspiring me to get more off the grid!
Shay, just read your response to Daisy. I live in South Carolina. This winter was relatively mild, ie no snow (except for one day), but more destructive storms than I like. We keep chickens and get about a dozen eggs/day. My chicks live in a greenhouse and two small coops. I hang a heat lamp for each coops if it gets too cold and water starts to freeze. Keeps the chicks warm and the water unfrozen. My baby chicks love the heat lamp and all my birds are cold and heat tolerant. Try heat lamps with your chicks. I’ve lost no chicks due to cold since who-knows-when
I have just found your site and may I tell you how brilliant and impressive it is. It has become a fast favourite, thank you so much.
We are at the point of going to the grocer once a month. We buy our grain for bread at a local Mennonite market and we grind that and make it from scratch. We have our own livestock, chickens, harvest deer in the winter, and grow fish in the aquaponics. We are canning like crazy these past couple weeks with produce from the garden.
Being disconnected from the processed chemically laden foods is not something that can happen overnight but it can happen. Great to see articles like this. Will share on our facebook!
I cannot stress it enough, and at the risk of sending grass fed beef bones up in price, the miracle protein stretcher BONE BROTH should be in every healthy diet…homemade of course from grass fed beef bones and Free Range chickens, pork, lamb. Not only do the enzymes help you double the protein you intake naturally, the nutrient rich broth is an immune system supercharger. I drink two cups a day, and at 56 I feel like a 30 year old. It does require time to slow cook the nutrients out of the bones in a crock pot, but the natural healing medicine is well worth it. Forget coffee,replace it with bone broth. It is what the peasants and serfs survived on, and why many outlived their noble masters during earlier hard times.
Went to town on business, not groc. but stopped in at the hardware store to find out when the sour cherries would be ready @ their U-Pick to sadly find out that there are none this year. The wet spring & some wind was devistating on the blossoms. Well it is lucky I have some left from last year. Sounded like their crab apples are not good either. I have some sauce left but only 2 qt. of crab apple juice left. Since I have some frozen raspberries left I may try to make more raspberry juice than last year but our crop isn’t as good as last year either. Hopefully the tomato crop will be bountiful. So thankful that we had an aboundant harvest last year. This year is one that tells us that we can’t expent an abundance every year so don’t waste what you have. We may have to buy fruit at the store to can. We will see but maybe we will just use up what we have & start afresh next year. Hate to use down to the bare bones in case we get 2 bad years in a row.
The week for my Wife & I.
Homemade oat/blueberry muffins (P&F). Bag o frozen blueberries.
Pork Loin Taco – homemade flour tortilla/flatbread(P).
Salad, Baked Potato, Roasted Pork Loin (F). The Salad and Potato from the garden. Pork Loin gets also used for lunches.
Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies (2/day). This is tough. Limiting only 2 of my wife’s cookies per day. It could easily be 22 cookies and I would be a human blob.
We cook something big on Sunday and it usually lasts all week including leftovers for lunches.
Sourcing food locally can be done in the urban environment as well, especially in 2022 when there are so many urban agricultural initiatives going. Luckily I live in farm country, so even my CSA farmer is <10 miles away. I shop the farmer's markets and small neighborhood stores, keeping away from the big box stores like Walmart. I also buy more in summer and preserve it for winter, and I preserve whatever I don't eat fresh from my garden and CSA. I've also been working on barter networks, trading my excess for theirs to the benefit of both. There are lots of ways to adapt! Grow what you can; even if you're living in an apartment or condo you can grow a few things. Use your local resources and shop small businesses in your neighborhood. Thinking "I can" rather than "I can't" will go a very long way.
I’m not so much interested in rebelling against grocery stores, as in still having fresh fruit and veg if/when they start to be scarce. I grew my own tomatoes for a couple of years with good results, I stopped just because I had temporary health issues and during that time I neglected them. I’ve also grown strawberries and I still have them. I attempted to grow melons but the seeds never sprouted for some reason. I’m now thinking of building a greenhouse and growing a few more things this coming year.
“I attempted to grow melons but the seeds never sprouted for some reason”
sometimes fruit is stabilized with radiation, which kills the seeds too.
few buy from local producers so they’re geared to small markets. if things get tight and lots of people start buying from them there won’t be enough to go around.
What’s with I ate the last of my crackers… these are so easy to make…healthier than commercial…. flatbreads… every country has one… Delicious stuff. Can be made on a castiron “comal”…. even better if you grind your own grain.
We are prepared to convert a grain mill to bicycle power should the electricity go out for some awful reason…Still learning, but so far a good ride… pun intended
It´s much more enjoyable. I find that whenever I prepare anything with my kid. The look on his face, when I opened the oven the day I baked my very first bread loaf for him was something I will never forget.
Great article, Daisy. I just found that local merchants have brown beans (a native variety) ON SALE when we were in trouble back there in 2017 to find them. 33$ a 50kg bag (100 pounds). Oh, and they´re not even accepting USDs. They prefer the LOCAL CURRENCY, the Bolivar. Not bad.