So, you want to homestead or live off-grid but you’re not sure what you’ll need? Here I am to help you discover the necessities of homemaking the homesteaders’ way. You will notice after reading this list that nothing on here requires electricity, that’s not by accident.
Because this post is talking about homemaking, these items are focused on what you need for the kitchen:
- Wood Cook Stove – You simply can’t live without one! In the winter, it becomes your homes only source of heat. Doubling as cook top and an oven, you can make literally anything on it! I love my wood cook stove more than anything else we own. It’s a timeless classic and knowing I can have heat and cook meals for my family without having to depend on a utility bill is amazing.
We currently own a Pioneer Maid. It was left in a field for years exposed to the harsh Alaskan elements. The cook top was covered in rust and the inside looked like it hadn’t been cleaned out if 10 years. Ash that had gotten wet combined with charcoal from the last fire made for a mess. However, now it shines like new and is one of a kind! Find out how we did it in an upcoming post.
- Pressure Cooker/Canner – You can find great deals like this one here on Amazon for pressure cookers/canners. If you’ve never canned before, let me assure you it’s not hard to do at all. The one thing you’ll need is patience because it is definitely a process and time-consuming. While canning can be done on a wood cook stove, I along with many others recommend doing it over a propane camping stove like this one. Wood cook stoves can be hard to regulate depending on the time of year and canning requires you to maintain a consistent pressure for an extended period of time. Propane is an inexpensive way to get the job done.
Learn about canning meat here and how delicious it really is. More than just meat, you can and most likely will can most everything from your garden. It’s the best way to preserve your food without a refrigerator.
Speaking of preserving food without a refrigerator, you’ll notice there isn’t one on this list. While some people opt for a propane refrigerator, we don’t believe you really need one at all. Sure, propane is inexpensive, but it does add up over time, not to mention the initial cost of the specialty refrigerator! We’ve been living without one for a year now and there isn’t anything that we can’t have that requires one. We’ll discuss this further in another upcoming post. (make sure you subscribe to be notified of new posts so you don’t miss this one!)
- Canning supplies – You will need basic supplies that are affordable to preserve your food. Most local big-box stores carry canning jars, pick up a pack in each size. These aren’t just used for preserving but are also used for grain storage in the house, as well as holding a variety of other items. If you’re like me and you don’t want to go to the store, check out this great deal on Ball Canning Jars from Amazon. You’ll also need to have a utensil set like this one. You don’t have to buy expensive utensil sets, just take care of them after each use. With no automatic dishwasher, you don’t have to worry about the plastic parts becoming brittle and cracked from the high heat settings!
The great thing about mason jars is that the lids and rings are reusable if you’re careful when you remove them. This makes these an investment worth making! Of course, there is bound to be the occasional lid that doesn’t want to cooperate, but in that case, replacement lids aren’t expensive at all. You can find those here.
- Cast iron – Start now by buying pieces anytime you can find them at yard sales, thrift stores and junkyards alike! I can’t emphasize enough how much you will love cast iron cooking once you get the hang of it.
If you don’t like the idea of working to restore neglected cast iron, you can always purchase new ones at an affordable price. These on Amazon are a great deal.
Check out this post about cooking with cast iron, including care, maintenance and the benefits of cast iron.
- Metal cooking utensils – Why metal over plastic or silicone? Simple, metal won’t melt, discolor or crack. When you cook with cast iron, it’s nice to be able to use that metal spatula to scrub it out when you’re done. Metal cleans up easily in the warm dishwater and food doesn’t stick as much as the others. These can also be found on Amazon, but make sure they are stainless steel and not aluminum or copper. Those are soft metals and won’t last you as long.
- A percolator – No consistent flow of electricity means no coffee pot that automatically goes off in the mornings, yikes! Have no fear, a percolator makes the best coffee after a small learning curve. Most people don’t want to drink the coffee grinds, so I’ll give you a little tip on keeping them (mostly) out of your coffee. Use a coffee filter, I use a 4 cup filter for the 9 cup percolator, you may need a regular size one depending on the size of your percolator. Poke a hole in the center of it and fill it with your favorite coffee grounds. Then fold the filter over in a circle and place the top on. This seems to keep nearly all the grounds out of my cup.
In our house, I’m the only one who drinks coffee, so ours isn’t that big. I usually only have one cup a day, in the early morning to get me going while I sit on the front porch and listen to the birds singing. The great thing about my percolator is that I make a whole pot and it lasts me 3 days. I know what you’re thinking: “YUCK!” Let me assure you that because it’s not on a heated surface all day every day, it doesn’t taste like truck stop tar coffee on day 3. If anything on day 3, it’s the best because it has percolated even more and is richer than the first morning.
Again, this doesn’t need to be a top of the line item. All you have to do is take care of it and it will last you forever. I’ve even had mine over the open flames of a campfire while tent camping and it still polished right up like new.
While it doesn’t need to be top of the line, I will say that I have found a difference in the style to be important. The “Coleman” type percolators are fantastic, and they get the job done, however, they also leak when you’re pouring your coffee. This drove me crazy, so I have upgraded to a seamless percolator like this one shown in blue below. (only mine is red)
- Stock pots – These are used for a variety of things, most importantly hot water! Fill these with water and place them on your wood burning stove to heat it up. You’ll have hot water for everything from bathing, to laundry and dishes.These are the ones I use and I absolutely love them!
A few added bonuses, when you want to make soups you’ll have a large pot to do it in. Making more than needed for one mealtime isn’t a problem because you can just can your leftovers and serve it up another day! These can be used for water bath canning, and also for steaming vegetables!
- Mixing bowls – When you’re creating meals from scratch, you really can’t have too many of these. From salads to doughs, you can mix them in your large mixing bowls and not have to stop and wash one after every use. Not that washing right away is a bad thing, but when you’re cooking a hearty meal for the family, you won’t want to wait to mix the next batch, you’ll want to do it right away to keep the cooking train going.
- 5-gallon buckets with lids – These are needed for food storage as well as a variety of other uses. Often you can find fantastic deals on bulk grains. I like to buy them in the 50lb bags and store them. For one it lasts quite a while, and for another, it is much cheaper than buying the little quantities at the local food store.
We use these for more than just food. We use them for gathering crops from the garden, mixing sour kraut, and (shock alert) our showers and laundry! We use them to hold our compost items from the kitchen and dump it in the compost pile when it’s full. We use them to hold tools, parts and more. Really the uses are endless both inside the kitchen and out.
- Manual meat grinder – If you’re processing your own meat, you’ll want one of these. Make ground venison, ground moose, ground bear. Whatever it is you’re hunting (or raising) and processing, you can grind it and use it much like you would with hamburger.
- Manual grain grinder – You can get great deals on hard wheat berries and grind it yourself for flour. You can also grind barley, oats, rye, quinoa, corn, rice, peas, garbanzo, and more into flour for cooking and baking.I prefer one that can be bolted down. I find that the clamp on styles tend to “walk” off the counter as the grinding gets harder. You can simply bolt them onto a wooden platform that you can then set on your countertop so they aren’t always in the way.
- Manual vegetable chopper – Once you get all those yummy veggies out of your garden, you’re going to want them canned in a variety of ways. Having one of these makes it so easy to prepare your veggies for canning.
- Baking Sheets – For baking, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of bread pans, cookie sheets, and cake pans. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house.
That’s it. That’s the most basic list of things you’ll need in your homestead kitchen to take care of your everyday needs. Are you surprised that there isn’t anything electric? If you’re like most people, you’re really thinking about those grinders. Here’s a tip, use your drill to create an attachment where the turn arm is and you have a very efficient way of grinding anything without the strain on your hands and arms!
We do run a generator for a few hours each evening. We go through about 5 gallons of fuel every 10 days or so. Because I work from home in an online environment, this varies when I’m working more. The only things we have that require electricity are our computers, our cell phones, and our MiFi WiFi. My husband has tools that require electricity on occasion, but not every day. Everything else we have is power free.
Our ultimate goal is to get solar but even then, we won’t be looking to purchase items that require electricity. We want to be as independent as possible because you never know what could happen.
I hope you find this list helpful for getting started in your homestead kitchen. What else would you add?