Homesteading is a topic that covers a HUGE variety of things, methods, ideas, and even lifestyles. It is defined as : “A lifestyle of self-sufficiency, characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.”
Regardless of the diversity, I firmly believe there are a few things that every beginning homesteader needs. My opinion on these things is because of years of my own experiences in seeing what has been the most beneficial, useful, and money saving investments. Not everyone will agree with me, but these are my personal favorites and I will tell you why.
If I had it to do all over again, these are the 5 things I would buy first …. no questions asked. Either because they have paid for themselves in record time, they have made my life way easier, or I simply can’t live without them.
So, if you are just starting out homesteading … or maybe you have been homesteading awhile but have been wondering what things are worth your money, I am telling you to quit wondering and get these things right now. You will not regret it!
- A good pair of gloves. There is no tool on this farm that I am more grateful to have than a good pair of gloves. Maybe it is because of the enormous amount of weeds that we have around here. Maybe it is because sticky sap on my hands makes me angry. And maybe it’s because slivers under my fingernails are one of the things I hate most. I don’t even garden with gloves on, and they are still my favorite tool! I love the texture and feeling of fresh dirt in my hands, so I leave them off when I am in “the good dirt”. But almost every other outdoor work activity, I am grateful for my gloves.
What you need to know is that there is a BIG difference between the gardening gloves you find at Walmart, and a pair of hard working sturdy gloves that will last. I would bet that I have used at least a dozen different kinds of gloves. Most of those were inexpensive ones that I found at the dollar store or Walmart. Then a few years ago I started looking for better gloves because the ones I was buying never made it through an entire season. Even after I started buying more expensive gloves, I kept finding issues with them that I didn’t like.
Finally, two years ago, I discovered the ultimate glove. This particular pair of gloves has lasted me two full seasons now, and I bet will make it through at least one more without a single hole. They are flexible, soft, and comfortable on my hands, so I don’t end up with callouses half way through the summer. I don’t feel the sticker weeds through the material. And best of all, they have elastic around the wrist instead of Velcro. Man, do I hate Velcro! It grabs dirt, clothes, and sticker weeds from 10 feet away. It pinches my skin when I bend my wrist two far. And it loses it’s benefits once you have sent it through the wash a few times.
Unless you have already purchased THESE GLOVES, you are wearing the wrong ones! Not only are these the best gloves I have found, they have a price tag that looks pretty darn close to the Walmart checkout rack. If you buy them through my link they are only $12.60. Try them out this season, your hands with thank me. Sorry boys, I don’t have a suggestions for an amazing pair of men’s gloves for ya. I will have to try some out I guess!
2. A dehydrator. I have talked about dehydrators with you guys before, so you know a little about how I feel on the topic. I LOVE my dehydrators. Yes, that is plural because I love them so much! But you really have to consider everything before you buy one. There are two popular types of dehydrators. The first type is the one I see most often, it looks like this:
For drying purposes, it works fine. It’s round which makes it a little awkward to fit things in sometimes. The only time I really dislike it though, is when making fruit leather because it is a giant circle with a big hole in the middle. There is no good way to cut it in my opinion.
With this type of dryer you can stack many rings on top of each other. It’s drying is a little uneven so it helps to rotate the rings two or three times during a cycle. But, the main reason everyone buys this type of dehydrator is the price. It is significantly cheaper than the second type I am going to talk about.
Type two is slightly less common, but I consider it the king of dehydrators. It looks like this:
This thing is called “The Excaliber” for a reason. Let me tell you a little about it this beauty …..
- The Excaliber has 9 removable trays so you can put big stuff in as well as small stuff. (Example: big bowl of bread dough needing to rise, extra thick jerky, large flowers, etc.)
- The Excaliber has the motor and fan in the back so it dries more evenly, and doesn’t get damaged when stuff drips on it while drying.
- The Excaliber has a timer. If you have ever dried food before you know how inconvenient it is to have to get up in the middle of the night to shut it off.
- The Excaliber has square trays instead of round ones! When drying fruit leather there is nothing more annoying then having to cut strips out of a circle with a hole in the middle.
- The Excaliber has a 5-10 year warranty depending on which one you buy.
- The Excaliber is way quieter then others that I have used.
This is one of those things that may seem a little expensive until you take a real close look at the numbers….
My dehydrator saves me more money per batch, than any other form of preserving.
Would you like some proof to back up that statement? Sure!
1 lb bag dried apple rings on Amazon ……………………………………………….. $10.99
1 lb homegrown apples, dried in your dehydrator ………………………………. $1.00 (electricity)
1 lb store bought apples, dried in your dehydrator ……………………………… $2.99 + $1.00 (electricity)
25 strips strawberry fruit leather on Amazon ……………………………………. $14.95
25 strips homegrown strawberries, leathered in your dehydrator ……….. $1.00 (electricity)
25 strips store bought strawberries, leathered in your dehydrator ………. $4.00 + $1.00 (electricity)
16 oz beef jerky on Amazon …………………………………………………………….. $12.98
16 oz homegrown beef, dried in your dehydrator ………………………………. $1.00 (electricity)
16 oz store bought beef, dried in your dehydrator ……………………………… $5.00 + $1.00 (electricity)
Now some of these numbers are hard to guess, like 16 oz, for example. So I erred on the high side just to be safe.
So let’s say, hypothetically, that you dried two batches of each of these things and they were all homegrown. You just saved $71.84 in food, in about 1 week.
Now try to tell me it’s not worth buying a dehydrator. Even if you get the king, it pays for itself in 1 month! Dried fruits are expensive! Now add jerky, dried herbs, dried flowers, powdered milk, onion chips, fruit leather, and a hundred other things to that list.
I don’t actually know how long that sale lasts, but I suggest buying it right now through THIS LINK so you can save an extra $115. Man, that makes me want to buy another Excaliber!
3. Canning jars. These would fall under the category of “1,000,000,000 uses.” Jars can be used for EVERYTHING. Just for fun, here is a list of things you can do with canning jars that have nothing to do with canning:
- Play dough holders
- Breakfast in a jar
- Water bottles (my personal favorite seriously)
- Cooking things in the microwave
- Pencil, Pen, Marker holders
- Painted for decoration
- Catching fruit flies
- Snow globes
- Mini greenhouses (you do have to be careful about this one)
- Freezer jam
- Flower Vases
Besides this giant list, there is the obvious use of canning things in them. They save money, they last forever (I have one from a friend that was made in 1915), they are in style at the moment, and they have more uses than you can count. Give me one good reason you shouldn’t start collecting canning jars right now ….. that’s what I thought. CLICK HERE to purchase a 12 pack right now. They are only $1 a jar!
4. Cold storage set up. Gardening is one of my favorite things in the world, and something I think everyone can benefit from. As a homesteader, you are going to want to grow a lot of your own food. You are also going to want to store a lot of your own food. Otherwise you will end up wasting precious garden produce. One of the easiest and simplest ways to store certain produce is with cold storage. Often times you don’t have to do hardly anything to it other than stick in a cold, dark, dry place and it will keep for months. Carrots, potatoes, onions, and a bunch of other yummy stuff can last all the way through winter if you have the proper set up.
Figure out a system and a place that works for you. A cold dark place in the basement works. A produce bin in the garage can be arranged. A simple hole in the ground will even suffice. Make it a ton priority for your homesteading endeavors this coming year.
5. A shovel. You might think it is silly that I would mention this one, but I don’t know how to homestead without a shovel. I suppose if you are homesteading in an apartment with no yard then this wouldn’t apply to you. But anyone who has a square of dirt, needs a sturdy shovel.
If you are going to grow anything, you need a shovel. If you are going to raise animals, you need a shovel. If you get snow, you need a shovel. If you have a compost pile, you need a shovel. Should I keep going, or do you get the picture?
We use shovels so much, that all four of my kids, ages 7, 5, 2, and 1 all have there own half size shovels (which rock my socks off by the way!).
As for full size shovels, they are actually cheaper to BUY HERE through amazon ($14.98), than they are at the store. Just saying …
You might think it is funny that I mentioned canning jars but not a water bath canner. Let me tell you why… I do think canners are super valuable. I think they pay for themselves really fast also. However, I think it a purchase that beginning homesteaders can put of for a little while if they need to.
You can still “can” things without an official water bath canner. Get creative with a big pot and you can make it happen. I also feel like it is an easier thing to borrow from someone than a dehydrator. You can borrow a canner for a week and get a whole bunch of canning done and then give it back to the owner. You can’t do that with a dehydrator and get very much done. For about three to five months out of the year, my dehydrator is going non stop. How do you borrow someone else’s dehydrator during the time of year they would be using it if you need to keep it for long periods of time? But a water bath canner you can absolutely do that.
That’s just my personal opinion, and that is why I did not include it on my list. I will say though, that it would probably be my #6,7, or 8 if I kept going with my list.
So let’s pretend for a minute that you are just starting out homesteading and you take my advice from this post. I only included one big purchase for a reason. It is absolutely the one big purchase I would make first if I went back and did it all over again.
So here are the four small items on my list.
A good pair of gloves: $12.60
One package of canning jars: $12.89
A cold storage set up: $0
A shovel: $14.98
If you add them all together, comes out to $40.47.
No problem right? That’s the type of money you keep in your pocket any day of the week!
Then your one big purchase for your first year of homesteading should be The Excaliber dehydrator, which is ON SALE FOR $234.21 right now if you buy it through THIS LINK. If you use it even a little bit, it will have paid for itself in the first year. I firmly believe it is something that every homesteader should invest in.
Look at the numbers again, see the proof, and buy this dehydrator today. And congratulations on becoming a homesteader! Woohoo!
What about all of your experienced homesteaders out there? What would be on your top 5 list?? Leave a comment down below.