Eating Like Pioneers & Learning to Make Do

by Charlotte Walker
A Homesteader's Well Stocked Pantry

I sit typing this while drinking a big mug of black coffee sprinkled with a bit of cocoa and sugar.

It’s a mocha latte ‘hold the latte,’ not terrible but not very good either.  I love coffee with cream and can’t stand drinking coffee black. I’ll try not to dwell on that too much as I sip my drink. I should be grateful that I am drinking coffee in any form. Coffee is an indulgence, and right now we are eating like pioneers.

We were not planning to eat like pioneers this month. We’ve been trying to limit our use of the grocery store for a while, relying more on our pantry than ever before but we still allowed ourselves indulgences. Once a week I would head to town to get some supplies.

The weekly drive to town stopped three weeks ago when the truck went in for some much-needed work. We only have one vehicle, so this meant we would be stranded until it was fixed. What was supposed to be a one week job is now trickling into three.  In this time we haven’t been able to go anywhere, and we’ve long since run out of some of the things we love to eat.

Sure we could call someone up and beg for a ride to town or borrow something but we like the challenge of making ourselves make do with what we have. It is good to put yourself into uncomfortable situations sometimes, you learn a lot about yourself and I think your skills and abilities expand as well. We are starting to see where we are weak in our food supplies. This will help us become better at stocking the pantry in future.

I feel like I understand pioneer living a bit more now. You quickly learn to make do with what you have when you’ve got no choice in the matter.

We live in this age of convenience where it is so easy to run to the store and get what’s comfortable rather than learning to work with the ingredients that you do have. I’ve surprised myself with the creativity that’s coming out of the kitchen in this time where my choices continue to dwindle.

When you are relying on what you’ve got, things you would never deem acceptable to eat regularly become a treasure. I’ve noticed that I look at the ingredients we have quite differently now.

Freshly baked bread and thick layers of sweet jam are not exactly health food at its finest, but when it’s that or sit and listen to your belly growl, soon compromise becomes quite acceptable. When there are four eggs left, and the chickens aren’t laying, those eggs become quite precious.

We are lucky because we’ve got a lot of food staples. Oats, beans, and lentils are highly nutritious and versatile. We’ve also got bags of frozen berries in the freezer, and there’s loads of jam and tomato sauce that we canned.

We could go on eating like this for three months at least. I think we might even be able to stretch it to six months if we had to. By then we’d have a lot more food because we’d be back to growing and foraging.  I’d rather not live this way all of the time, but I am glad to see that we would do alright.

Another thing I’ve learned is that we have too much of certain things that we don’t often use (like cucumber relish). I won’t grow so many cucumbers next summer. 40+ jars of relish are not quite so satisfying when you actually have to eat it.

I’ve got seeds sprouting on the counter for some fresh greens, and this is turning out to be quite a treat. We are in the depths of winter and having fresh food is what I miss most.

Honestly, this is an interesting experience, and we are better off for having done it. When the truck is back in our posession,  you can bet the first thing I’ll be doing is heading to town. For now, the empty glass jars keep piling up as we eat our homegrown preserves. The coffee although bitter, does it’s job and I am grateful that we won’t run out of it for a while yet.

We are warm, safe and well fed. Worst case we’ve got plenty of homeade wine to comfort the soul with.  It’s potent stuff and wams you to your toes.

How long could you go with the food you’ve got in the house? Have you ever tested this? I’d love to hear your story.

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2 comments

Elsi June 11, 2019 - 4:50 pm

Oh dear! Barter some of those jars of relish and other things you canned but didn’t get around to eating.

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Charlotte Walker June 27, 2019 - 11:34 am

We’ve given some to friends with the hopes that we get the jars back of course! 🙂

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