Friday, March 13, 2015

Homestead Basics: To Buy or DIY?

There is so much out there on making DIY products--everything from cooking staples to beauty products to cleaning products.  While I love the notion of making so many homemade products and homegrown food that aren't tainted with preservatives, additives, or chemicals, I've often wondered whether it is worth my time to simply purchase an organic, natural/wholesome version of the product instead of making my own.

For example, there is a local grain/flour mill that is probably 15 minutes away from where we live. Their products are organic and wholesome, and they make a sprouted spelt flour that you can purchase in 3 lb bags (only $3!) or buy in bulk 25 lb bags. Is it wiser for me to purchase the sprouted spelt flour from them or to try and make my own, having to invest the time, effort, and resources into milling my own grain, soaking, it, etc.?  Would you really be saving money when these days so often time is money?

The same is true for sweet potatoes in our region. North Carolina is one of nation's top producers of sweet potatoes, and you can find them in the grocery stores for most of the year and when in season they are SUPER cheap. Should I invest the money in buying slips and the time in planting and harvesting sweet potatoes when I can get them local, organic, and inexpensively right here in my state?

I've made a list to sort of help myself figure out which things are worth making and which products it might be worth just to buy. Since my time is very precious (I'm usually busy raising 16-month old twins), it doesn't make sense for me to DIY everything! 

Things to DIY:

- chicken and beef bone broth
- homegrown produce (except in the cases where it is cheaper to purchase a local and sustainably grown product)

- Household cleaners
- laundry detergent
- jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, and preserves

- butter, yogurt, buttermilk, and some cheeses from local dairy
- eggs from our chickens and guineas
- limited amount of meat from our chickens guineas
- dried herbs
- firewood

Things to Buy:

- flour, sugar, and other dry goods staples
- deodorant
- shampoo and conditioner
- beauty products
- local cheeses that are harder to make
- local milk and cream products (until we have a source of our own)
- local pork products (NC is a top pork product producer and we aren't ready to get pigs just yet!)
- local grass-fed beef
- local poultry
- local seafood when available
- local honey (until we get our own honeybees!)
- local fruits when in season (until we have our own fruit trees and berry bushes)

So, what can you add to these lists? I'm sure there is lots more I can DIY that I'm not thinking about that isn't too time-consuming!


  1. I go back and forth on the things to make/grown and buy too. I have a friend who is milling her own flour, but I cannot see myself getting on the bandwagon for that with all the flour we go through. I'm impressed you make your own butter. I've made it before, but just as a treat. Not as a staple. Someday I want to be making all my own soaps too.

  2. Right now, I make our broths as well, yogurt, and all our baked goods. I make a few cleaning products, and some herbal salves, and our jams and other preserves. We don't currently have ANY animals (boo) since moving to a new area where we aren't allowed farm animals, but we're working on that so should have home raised eggs again soon and more hopefully, goats milk in a couple of years. I don't want to bother with milling flour at the moment, although I think it does sound nice. I'd just rather use the time in other ways and I belong to a bulk buying group for our closest organic grain mill. For now, I'm purchasing natural detergents rather than making our own. I hope to install a greywater system one day and we will see if that changes anything in that department. I definitely want to make our own soap for personal use when the goats become a reality, and we're going to try to grow a lot more of our own food as well. But we still signed up for our organic veggie CSA as a backup this year. :)