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Laura Ingalls Wilder was my best friend growing up and I always wanted to live like they did on Little House on the Prairie®. My mother read every night to me from the Little House on the Prairie® books and when I was older, I read through them on my own. We watched the television show and much of my play time was spent pretending I was with Laura running wild in the big woods or through the “prairie” grass of our back pasture.
As you may have guessed, my love didn’t die as I grew into an adult. I’m eager to share Laura’s stories with my own children and future generations. In a culture based on instant gratification, smart phones, and drive thru’s, I want my children to know the reward of working hard for something. I don’t want the traditional skills to be lost or old-fashioned ways forgotten. I believe in knowing how to do things for yourself and teaching others to do the same. You may have guessed I’ve been called old-fashioned more than once in my life.
So when Little House on the Prairie® offered me the chance to help launch their official website and giveaway some old-fashioned fun, you knew I was in. Can I get a holler from my other Little House fans!
Here are my best 8 tips for living like a little house pioneer.
1.Cook from scratch. It’s amazing how many folks don’t know how to make things from scratch and I used to be one of them. I used to rely on canned cream of soups, packets of this and that, and pre-made mixes. Until I started researching the ingredients, cutting out processed foods, and realized it is way more frugal and tastier to make it at home. I’ve got over 40+ of old-fashioned from scratch recipes for you, including some of my great-grandmother’s.
Don’t be overwhelmed by making things from scratch. Pick one item you usually purchase from the store and focus on making that at home until you’ve got it down and it’s part of your normal routine, then move on. It might be homemade bread (or this no-knead 5 minute bread), homemade yogurt, or a condensed can of soup replacement.
2. Grow a garden. Growing your own food doesn’t have to take acres and acres of land. Every one can grow something from basil on a windowsill without any dirt to a full on garden. Fresh food grown at home is not only frugal, but healthier for you. We do an all heirloom garden to avoid GMO’s and to allow us to save the seed. Plus, you can’t get more pioneerish than heirloom seeds. One of the easiest crops to grow as it requires little space is lettuce. Check out these historical lettuce varieties and how to grow them.
If you’re just starting out with a garden, start small. You’ll gain confidence and won’t overwhelm yourself. Here are some of our favorite crops and how to grow them at your house. How to grow strawberries, how to grow beets, and when and how to plant your own fruit trees and orchard. P.S. there’s even container gardening tips for fruit trees. You can see all of our gardening articles here.
3. Preserve your own food. You may not be able to grow it all, but what you do grow and what you get from other sources should be preserved for future eating. There are many ways to preserve food at home from freezing, canning, dehydrating, fermenting, root cellar, and even in alcohol or oil.
My favorite is canning. There’s just something about all those pretty jars filled with food sitting on the shelf. Plus, I’m a self-proclaimed-no-shame-in-it admitted canning addict.
Home canned food is frugal, especially when you grow it yourself, and makes cooking from scratch extremely easy because all you have to do is open a jar and heat on those nights you’re pressed for time or plain don’t feel like cooking.
I preserve my food in many different ways depending upon the way I want to use it later. Are you ready for this? I have a complete 112+ FREE Ultimate Home Food Preservation Guide that covers all of this with equipment guides, recipes, tutorials, and more.
Preserving your own food at home will also help you build up a food storage.
4. Stock the basics. When Laura and Pa went to town for supplies, they didn’t grab this or that and have aisle upon aisles of food to pick from (thought I’m not convinced all the “food” on store shelves today is really food with all of the chemicals in it). They stocked basic items they could make multiple meals from like salt, oats, sugar, and coffee. Here are 8 foods everyone should be storing and how.
If you have the basics in stock it will be much easier to make your meals from scratch. You won’t have to run to the store every time you want to cook. That can get costly and make you less likely to cook due to the hassle.
5. Dry your clothes the old-fashioned way. One of my most favorite ways to dry clothes is on the line. It relaxes me, saves money on our power bill, cuts own the wear on our dryer, and also helps the wear of your clothes. You know that dryer lint you clean out? That’s your clothes wearing out faster than they should. You can also use a drying rack if a line isn’t something you want in your yard, HOA’s prohibit it or weather doesn’t permit you to drying clothes outside.
A drying rack is the most versatile way to dry clothes because you can move it from room to room, outside, and even take it camping with you to hold swimsuits and towels. But, I have to advise you against the cheaper models. I’ve went through two as the wood when wet can stain clothes and they also seem to come apart. I’d rather invest in a model that holds more clothes and won’t break easily like this stainless steel fold out rack.
6. Raise your own chickens. Chickens are a small enough animal that even many urban residences can keep laying hens. You’ll want to check with your city ordinances to be sure. Having a fresh egg source is wonderful. Here’s our tips for backyard chickens.
Chickens are also a great way to raise your own meat. We had our first batch of meat chickens last year and are doubling our numbers this year. Here’s how to raise meat chickens and how to butcher chickens.
7. Learn to cook without power. Laura, Mary, and Ma all cooked on a wood stove or open camp fire while traveling over the prairie. Having these skills is essential during a power outage and brings your variety of foods around the campfire to a whole new level. Plus, you’ll never feel more like a pioneer when cooking over a fire. Here’s 11 Ways to Cook without Electricity.
8. Wear an apron. Seriously, all pioneer woman wore an apron. One, to use as a built in pot holder while moving hot dishes from ovens or over open fires. Two, they usually only had two or three dresses and an apron helped keep them cleaner and made them last longer. Three, an apron served as a second set of hands with its pockets.
I love that these aprons aren’t just the little half ones that cover your waist because maybe I”m just the messiest cook around, but I always managed to get flour or grease or whatever I’m making splattered up my front… these have you covered.
I’ve purchased many aprons from Flirty Aprons over the past three years. Three for myself, a matching one for my daughter, and many more for my gifts. I love them, they wash well, and when bought on sale, I can’t even make them for this price.
One of my personal favorites (because vintage is cool, right?) is the Marilyn. It’s the first apron I purchased from them and is still my favorite and probably most used. Get 50% Off + Free Shipping : April 27th – May 9th at midnight use coupon code: Mom50 check out the styles here–> Apron Sale
If you’re looking for a simpler dish cloth apron you can sew at home check out this easy homemade Dishcloth apron tutorial.
These tools will help you implement Little House on the Prairie in your own home and kitchen. Vintage and modern style aprons for mom and daughter alike. Ultimate Home Food Preservation Guide… it’s totally free!
Can I tell you how much I love Amazon. I know Laura didn’t have it, but it kind of reminds me of the catalogs they could order items from, except we get it in two days and free shipping!
Learn how to implement these tips with this simple living book The Made-From-Scratch Life, recipes, heirloom gardening, homemade natural cleaning products and more!
A pioneer woman knows how to take advantage of a deal that saves her time, gas money, and tromping through stores. Stainless steel drying rack to save you money, save power, and allows you to dry clothes no matter what the weather or bossy rules say.
The complete Little House on the Prairie® boxed book set. Because every pioneer knows books are a treasured item. I think my favorite of the books was Little House in the Big Woods… but I loved them all.
Need more tips? Check out 8 Tips to Live Like Pa Ingalls and the Pioneers from the Little House Books. Did you read Little House on the Prairie® books as a child? What was your favorite part?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.