I stood in the kitchen of my father’s home, a spoiled and pampered teenager. We were making a grocery list for the coming week and I glanced at the table to see a large bowl filled with water and beans and a small jar with two layers – one oil and one vinegar.
I blurted out “salad dressing” when he asked what I thought we needed and he very gently said “I already made some.” I, of course being the self-declared “wise” teenager, replied “Gross, Dad, you can’t make salad dressing.”
On the kitchen table that day were beans soaking for supper and a bottle of homemade salad dressing, simple and humble every day foods that grace our kitchen counters frequently now. But then I knew nothing of how things were made, where they came from, or what it took to create them. I just ate salad with store-bought dressing and chili with beans that came from a can.
But now that I have a family of my own I think about these things. Who grew those beans, why does the ingredient list on that salad dressing sound like a dangerous chemical we used goggles to work with in the lab, and how can I minimize our family’s expenditures.
My father seems so wise to me now, but I realize it is because he had already adapted a homemade attitude. He grew up on a farm, you see, and while it was industrialized, my grandparents grew gardens, raised milk cows, and there was the ever-present close line at which my grandmother Roselyn hung the laundry of her six children.
But you don’t have to live on a large farm in Minnesota to adopt a homemade attitude. You just have to start caring about the origins of those basic needs, start asking questions, and start learning how.
A great place to start is in the kitchen. Take a look at what you eat every day. Where does it come from? How was it grown? Is it something you could make in your own kitchen? If so you could probably save a bundle by spending a few minutes doing so.
It is a bit of a homesteading concept, I think, to want to do-it-yourself. You can adopt this attitude and practice it no matter where you live or what your current circumstances. Try a few of these tasks at home:
- Cooking from scratch.
- Hang your laundry on a clothesline or drying rack.
- Sew or mend your own clothing.
- Learn to knit hats, gloves, and the extremely easy scarf for your children.
- Invest in a book collection of how-to books.
- Plant a pot of herbs or dig up your yard and put in some vegetables.
- Make homemade bread and learn to knead by hand.
- Can some tomatoes, dehydrate summer berries, or ferment some sauerkraut for the winter.
- Find out if you can keep some laying hens in your backyard.
- Write a letter by hand.
- Bake a pie.
- Make homemade salad dressing.
It doesn’t have to be hard, expensive, or time-intensive and you may just find that trying some of these things gives you a bit of homemade fever. By doing, asking, and trying you will begin to shift your thinking from “what can I buy” to “how can I make that?”. And one day you will wake up and realize that you see things differently and are now saving money because of your homemade attitude.