Is it possible to go a week, month, or even a year without buying groceries from a grocery store? The answer is yes and you don’t necessarily have to be a farmer with a large amount of land and livestock either. Even if you live in the city you can feed yourself and your family without setting foot in a grocery store.
But why would you want to avoid food purchased from a grocery store? With chemicals and preservatives in processed/packaged food, pesticides on produce, growth hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products, finding natural healthy food at the store isn’t always an easy task. Plus, the price of food (like everything else) is always increasing so finances are also a reason to consider alternatives to store bought food.
Start a garden and grow your own fruits and vegetables, with a little effort and planning you can actually feed your family all year round. With a four season garden, you will have two crops, one for the cold season and one for the warm season. Cold season crops are easily grown in the spring/fall and include broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce, onions, and spinach. With a straw covering ,vegetables like spinach, kale and carrots can even grow into the winter. Warm season crops (killed by frost) include tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans. To extend the growing season you may want to consider a mini greenhouse or hoop tunnels and floating row covers. You will be somewhat limited to what grows in your region so look into this when planning your garden. Fruits and vegetable can easily be preserved by freezing, drying, or canning so they can be enjoyed even when not in season. Learn different recipes to add variety, making salsas and pasta sauces are a great way to use extra vegetables, as well as pie fillings and apple sauce with extra fruit. For sugar substitutes you can use honey (have your own by keeping bees) or maple syrup.
Raising chickens or ducks is fairly easy, and you have the benefit of both eggs and meat. Meat rabbits are also easy to care for and can be kept in the city without violating any by-laws. If you are fortunate enough to live in a rural area and have the space, larger livestock like goats, pigs, and cattle are ideal. Cattle and dairy breeds of goats are dual purpose being used for both meat and milk. You can render the lard from pigs for baking purposes and to make your own soap, so they also have an added value other than meat. The possibilities are endless, it is just a matter of how much time and effort you want to invest. If you don’t have the time or desire to raise and butcher your own animals or if living in the city makes it impossible you can still purchase locally grown, organic meat straight from the farmer. You can usually purchase a much larger amount of beef (¼ or an 1/8 of a cow) and spend far less per pound than purchasing from a grocery store. Not only is it cost effective but you also know where your food is coming from and how it was raised. If storage is an issue (you would obviously need a large freezer), then consider splitting with other family members or neighbours.
Going to the local farmer’s market is a great place to purchase produce, meat and natural handcrafted products like cheese, soap, etc. You can save money while buying higher quality products. It’s also a great place to sell or barter your own products and build relationships with other small family farmers.
In reality there are very few people who actually have the time and desire to completely forgo grocery store shopping altogether. However, if you’re looking to be a little more self reliant, eat a little healthier, or just save some money on groceries, then implementing even one of the ideas mentioned is a step in the right direction.