Saturday, January 21, 2017

Frugal Living & Self-Sufficiency Skills ~ Free Printable Checklist

"Take stock of the skills and knowledge you may need in a crisis. A working knowledge in areas such as gardening, food preparation, first aid, sewing, home repair, and auto maintenance will never be wasted. Acquiring those skills will help you confront adversity without panic..."
by Kathy Harrison

Frugal living and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand in my eyes because a frugal lifestyle is one where you do most of the things in life yourself (which makes you quite self-sufficient)! And the more I contemplate these topics, I see that they are also entwined with preparedness!  Remember the post we shared this week where Melissa Norris wrote that "being prepared is a mixture of skills, knowledge, self-sufficiency, and good old-fashioned work"? Well...

With that being said, I think the common factor in all three of these prudent principles (frugal living, self-sufficiency and preparedness) is a knowledge of skills and not necessarily just a stockpile of stuff! While provisions are excellent and still quite necessary, they can be destroyed in different catastrophic events. However, old-fashioned skills remain with you and are an invaluable tool. They are the gift that keeps on giving so to speak.

In the practical preparedness book that I am currently gleaning (Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens), the author also states how skills are a blessing and shares a list of skills for independence. I would also consider them frugal living tools! I have included some of her ideas as well as some of my own in the following lists as something to aspire to. The printable version is shared at the bottom of the post should you like to add it to your preparedness binder.

Learn how to (and remember, if you can just learn HOW to do something, that is sometimes all that is necessary for a certain skill. It doesn't mean you are a slave to it for the rest of your life but the knowledge can be a blessing one day. It may be wise to document the procedures and place instructions that you will understand in your preparedness binder should a future need arise.):
  • purify water and store water properly
  • perform first aid and CPR
  • garden (both autumn and summer seasons if possible)
  • utilize cold storage techniques (root cellars and/or basement preservation knowledge)
  • heat with wood 
  • forage for wild food (learn to identify edible weeds and plants and make meals with them)
  • cook from scratch
  • cook meals outdoors (without propane)
  • dutch oven cooking (this is an art in itself and is useful over a campfire)
  • cook meals with solar energy (make or purchase solar cooker)
  • wash and dry clothes without electricity
  • can food (both water-bath canning and pressure canning)
  • dehydrate food and herbs
  • ferment foods (this is highly nutritious and a way to store food short-term without electricity)
  • make your own basic dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.)
  • bake bread (sourdough would be even more nutritious and self-sustaining)
  • cook from your pantry
  • prepare a pantry (store food properly for long-term)
  • live alternatively without appliances/electricity (aka back up appliance plans)
  • grow, make, store and learn to use herbal medicines
  • make your own cleaning products
  • sew (eliminate paper products and make re-usable cloth counterparts, mend clothing, etc.)
  • grow fruit trees
  • make candles (preferably from beeswax or tallow -- something you harvest yourself)
  • make soap
  • save seeds
  • propagate plants
  • make your own bath and body products
  • fish
  • properly use essential oils
  • hunt (large and small game)
  • survive in the wilderness (set up shelter, a campfire, etc.)
  • get out of debt/live within your means

If you have land, you can add these to your list:
  • raise chickens for meat (and learn to butcher yourselves)
  • raise laying hens
  • raise and milk dairy cow/goats
  • raise sheep for meat or wool
  • raise beef (and learn to butcher yourself and render your own tallow, etc.) 
  • tan hides 
  • beekeeping (oh to harvest your own beeswax and honey!)
  • harvest wood and keep stockpile
Extra credit crafts to learn:
  • spinning
  • weaving
  • hooked rugs
  • braided rugs
  • quilting 
  • crochet
  • knitting
  • embroidery
  • woodworking
  • flower drying/pressed flowers
  • basketry
  • distill herb and flower waters

I also included a peak into our pantry in this post as I consider pantry building a special skill as well! A pantry is a huge culmination of the old fashioned skills we are discussing! A pantry is more than canned goods in our home. It is a fermentation laboratory. It is full of dehydrated produce and herbs (both culinary and medicinal). It is our home apothecary filled with our handcrafted tinctures, tonics, herbal oils and salves. There are handmade cleaning products and sundries. It is full of homemade mixes and seasonings and even aging cheese. There are many skills that one can develop which increases the inventory of the pantry for pennies! In essence, the pantry is your own private grocery store of provisions making it a large part of self-sufficiency.

I am not suggesting to learn all these skills or to learn them overnight (but perhaps a yearly goal for some of the important ones). I have included a printable checklist for you to place in your preparedness binder as a record. I think it would be satisfying to check off the skills that would be valuable to your lifestyle and circumstances as you learn them. I also think it would be fun to see what you already know how to do right now and check them off! Do you have any to add?

I think it is also important to mention that you needn't learn all these skills yourself! Show the family your checklist and see who would be interested in learning each skill themselves. Then, take a trip to the library or your Back to Basics Living Bundle and begin learning! For instance, in our home, I am in charge of food preservation (pickling, canning, fermenting, drying, kefir-making, kombucha making and so forth). My daughter is involved with the animal husbandry, sourdough and cheese-making. My husband plants the fields and vegetable garden. The butchering of meat is a family affair and we all pitch in. Your family can be one team unit of self-sufficiency/frugal living experts as well! In fact, the larger your family, the larger your expertise can be!

"Although you can't purchase skills in things like first aid as easily as you can purchase a box of bandages, you can purchase or borrow books and take classes. In fact, I would consider a reference library an invaluable preparedness tool."
by Kathy Harrison

With all this being said, here are some of our favorite resources in these areas of frugal living, preparedness, self-sufficiency and pantry-building that I would like to share:

The Self Sufficient Life by John Seymour

Do you have any more great resources to add to this list?

For your free printable SKILLS checklist, click the image link below!

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). 


  1. Oh, my wonderful, cherished friend, how precious you are to me !!!

    Your pantry is so inviting and all the advices and suggestions you share are all to be treasured, thank you !

    Trusting you had the best of weeks,
    I'm sending blessings on your weekend,
    with so much, sincere gratitude

    Xx Dany

    1. Thank you Dany! I would love to see a peak into your Italian style pantry! What a treat it would be to me! :)

  2. Thanks for such an inclusive list. I'm pleased to be able to check several skills off and be working on others, but I'll admit I have a long way to go in some, too!
    Blessings, Leigh

  3. Jes this is some very interesting goods here.. I like this I want to re read through it and get the list. Thank you so much for sharing it all.. Happy New Year dear, with love Janice

    1. Thanks Janice! I hope your new year is off to a beautiful start! :)

  4. Jes, that's a lot of books. Wow! They look great. If I were younger I would probably buy them all. LOL! I am a bit behind with catching up with everyone's blogs due to a death and sickness in the family but I hope you had a lovely break with your family recently. Good to see you back.

    1. I am sorry to hear about your loss! And thank you for taking the time to visit during all your business!

  5. Looks great Jes. I had to laugh at what you said about a pantry being a laboratory. I had a friend visiting who saw some jars of oil I was infusing & said "What are you a mad scientist?" (We are good enough friend, she can say this:) I just laughed and explained what she was looking at.

    1. Isn't that the truth! Thanks for sharing! My husband is often the one who looks at my stuff weirdly too :)

  6. Hi Jes! This is such an excellent post & thank you for sharing the printable checklist. Very helpful! We would love to have you share this over at this week's Dishing It and Digging It party! Please feel free to join -

  7. What a great post and good information! Thanks for sharing it and the printable

  8. Such a beautiful pantry! And thank you for the free printable!

    I'm here from the Simple Homestead Hop!

  9. Your pantry is wonderful! Thanks for the book recommendations. Several of those are on my shelf, but I'll have to check out some of the others!


  10. You photo gave me the idea to create a medicinal area in my closet/pantry! I have a few things scattered here and there and it would be good to put them all together. I was wondering if you have any long term food storage? Freeze dried, etc.? I have a little but do more normal stored foods...

    1. Hi there! I am working on long term storage right now... just starting up a series to hold myself accountable! You can read about where I am heading here:

      I love peaking into other people's pantries to get ideas too! Glad you found some here! :)

    2. Love ❤️ your DIY ebook! Beautifully written and lovely photography! 📷📸

    3. Why thank you!! :) I appreciate the feedback very much!


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