Simple Meals

We have found our meals getting smaller and simpler as time goes by. Part of that is age, we just can’t eat as much as we used to and we don’t need to because we burn fewer calories, otherwise it is a matter of choice. I have found myself using fewer ingredients and trying to incorporate what we grow or store in almost all of our meals. We buy some things – olive oil, apples, carrots, onions, cabbage, occasional eggs, milk when the goats are dry. We buy wheat, oats and flax in bulk buckets. But there’s not really much else we buy. Coffee, we definitely buy coffee, for we are daily coffee drinkers. 

After I thought about it a while I realized that if we do experience a collapse, everyone will be eating much simpler meals made out of what is on hand. So our advice is to have on hand what you want to and can eat. Some folks have dietary restrictions because of their health, that is something to plan ahead for. Part of what we eat is to keep our bodies regular and provide adequate energy and nutrition. We have found that most people find our meals lacking enough items, ingredients or flavor, and that’s okay. We truly believe everyone should have the freedom to choose, whether it is meals, location, weapons, vehicles or religion. This is the way we choose.

Here are a few of the meals we eat regularly. Sometimes they are like this, sometimes there are variations of the same theme. I didn’t take a picture, but the other day we had a quarter pound ground pork burger on one of our sourdough buns with a slice of onion. Frank has mayonnaise and I have mustard. The side dish was a bowl of turnip greens. Different? Probably. Good? We like it.

Ground pork from the pigs that are no longer with us, eggs and salsa we canned last summer.


Okra we grew last summer and froze whole after washing. We slice and saute it in olive oil with salt and pepper. The purple hull peas were grown and canned in 2017.

Spam and cabbage, both store bought. Yes, Spam. We consider it part of our meat food storage and keep a good quantity on the shelf. We buy a head of cabbage about once a month and eat on it until it’s gone, usually over three or four meals.

We eat greens regularly and keep a good stock on the shelf. We prefer our own turnip greens, but have others just in case we need or want them. We had quite a few comments and questions about turnip greens recently, so I was going to do an article about the nutritional benefits until I realized I had already done one. You can find it here, The Nutrition of Turnips & Turnip Greens. What we do differently now than when we wrote the previous article, is a serving of greens is simply water, salt and greens. We drink the water after eating the greens for the nutrients it contains.

Soup. Frozen tomatoes, cowpeas, cabbage and peppers. Canned green beans and squash. Ground pork, carrots, onions.

We are slowly using up some of the things we froze last summer. This batch of soup provides us four meals, some we eat fresh and some we freeze for later.

We have made a number of variations of the meat pie.

This version is made with our canned chicken, salsa, frozen peppers, cheddar, sourdough starter and store bought onions. It’s okay, but we like it better with ground pork instead of chicken.

This meals takes little effort at this point. Turnip greens and Jacob’s cattle beans. The tape measure was part of Frank’s meal, um….. humor…. for this picture. Does this food taste wonderful? No, not really. We eat it for the nutrition and the taste is okay, but nothing great.



Think about simple. Think about how your meals would change if the SHTF. How would your diet change? What choices would you have? Are you used to eating what you would then be forced to eat? Would it make you sick? Can you afford to be sick in that situation?

Our diet is the way it is by choice. We like it that way. It’s interesting to think it may benefit us if the world continues to spiral down into the abyss we seem to be forced to march a little closer to everyday. Eat what you store. Store what you eat.

Until next time – Fern

30 thoughts on “Simple Meals

  1. Hi, TB. Saving money is a side benefit to us. Yes, I can always find something to spend money on, you know, more seeds, new radio, more bullets, extra garden shovels. To boot, I get a tasty meal that is healthy and I save money.Many people say it costs more to eat at home. I don't buy that. That's just an excuse for lazy people that want to go out and eat. There's nothing wrong with going out to eat, we choose not to. I have a neighbor that drives down to our local store and buys breakfast and lunch to go and brings it home and eats, for him and his wife. Ten miles, two times a day, many days a week. But that's his choice.By the way, I have oatmeal and eggs every morning. You know what I'm going to have tomorrow morning?Thanks for the comment, Frank

  2. Well, CW, your comment is an excellent appetizer for lunch. I call it 'cool'. It's kind of a dated phrase, but that's okay. I've seen the earth turn here for about 10 years in a row now, and I look at the food in our store room, and I can see it growing out in the garden soon. To me that's cool. Some think it's a horror that we work for what we have, but this is our choice. We should all choose wisely.Time for lunch. Frank

  3. This is a thought experiment (and in some cases an actual experiment) we have working through as well. Even in a troubled economy, the ability to eat frugally if you are purchasing a great deal of food will matter.I did a back of the envelope calculation – for my typical breakfast, which is a combination of eggs, oatmeal, and/or yogurt, it is $1.87 a day. That does not assume I make the yogurt at home – add that in and I am spending less than $1.00 a day.

  4. Yes, it takes some prep time beforehand, but when it is time to put a meal on the table it can be done in under 25 minutes. One of our recent evening meals consisted of homecanned boneless country pork ribs, quinea, homecanned green beans, homecanned applesauce, and homemade bread with butter and honey from our bee hives. I avoid adding sugar and salt to my canning unless it is required. Simple and satisfying…CW

  5. Hi, Mary. Congratulations on changing your diet, you must be pleased with the results. There are men I know that do nothing to control their diet and brag to others about just taking an extra pill. You know, to each their own, we just choose not to live that way.By the way, we have decreased the size of our garden and focus more on the foods that we truly eat and store. Part of it is age and part of it is we don't experiment much with new varieties much anymore. We have found what we like and we stay with it, and also what grows here. An example. We have trouble growing pinto beans so instead we grow Jacob's cattle beans, which is very similar to a pinto. So, we do have a smaller garden, not by much, but we produce as much or more food than we did before. We're focusing more on sustainable greens this year, especially turnip greens.Good luck on the new garden. By the way, we have a policy about pests in our garden – rabbits & raccoons are shot on sight. I know God made these critters also, but this is the way we do it. Same applies with dogs and coyotes and other animals, too. If I know the dog, one warning. That's it.Take care, good luck. Frank

  6. Christi, thank you for sharing your thoughts. There are a lot of ways we try to escape poverty. Some buy clothes they can't afford, big cars they don't need, it's all just show and tell. I know people to this day that will not eat pinto beans because it is poor man's food. The same with chicken. They think that beef steak is the way to go. Look at me. I live the opulent life style. We have lots of people laugh at us about the way we live and sometimes it bothers me. I wish it didn't, but it does. But I like pinto beans and I like chicken. This is what makes us happy. We drink our water and milk out of mason jars. It's not some cutesy fad, it's just what we drink out of. Who knows how many times that mason jar has been recycled. We had canned cowpeas just a couple of days ago and they came out of a mason jar.Christi, thank you. Frank

  7. Hi, MC. In all honesty, I would be dead if it wasn't for Fern. She makes me eat some of the world's worst food, you know, that fresh junk, that garden stuff, that I so eloquently refer to as rabbit food, canned chicken meat, and the list goes on and on. YUCK! What happened to the good old days with a gallon of chocolate milk and a store bought carrot cake? Now that's the way to live, or die, I guess would be the correct term for it. Isn't carrot a vegetable?Seriously. I can't eat in a restaurant, no matter how good the food. It always upsets my stomach. I am a lucky man. My own meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables. I know where they came from and what was put on them. The fertilizer I use comes from my goats and chickens. Yep, a good life.What other people think means nothing. Thanks for the comment. Frank

  8. Right there with you and family meals. As my husband and I get older, we eat more simply, too. Two years ago I began a vegan diet to improve my health (diabetes), and it has worked wonders: weight loss, lower A1C levels and lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, I no longer take 2 medications. My husband eats mostly vegan, but still indulges in the occasional fast food. Because we eat so much plant based food, the garden we are starting in our new homestead is one that we hope to expand after each season. It's been a busy week with moving seedlings in plug trays from shelves in our spa, out to the green house. Yesterday and today my husband and 2 grown sons have been fencing the new garden plot, and I can't wait to plant. You're so right about eating what you grow, and getting used to simpler meals. I think it's the way God intended. After all, He did provide the Garden of Eden.

  9. I grew up eating very simple foods, mostly what we grew, preserved, or bartered. After DH and I got good jobs and weren't poor like I grew up, I purchased alot of packaged stuff to make – I think to me eating packaged stuff showed I had left poverty behind. After a few years we have come back to simple from scratch cooking because really that packaged stuff doesn't taste good. The other day I was just thinking about how awful our produce in the store has been lately, which spurs me to figure out gardening here. I need to figure out fresh greens during our brutal heat here, so I am experimenting with microgreens and sprouts. My very favorite meal (and I wish my grandma was here to cook it for me one more time) is cowpeas from the garden that we all sat around and shelled, collard and mustard greens fresh from the garden with hot pepper vinegar, and a corn cake. If we were really celebrating, we would have a biscuit with sorghum. Like you, my constitution can't handle processed foods or restaurants much any more. Over the last several years we almost always left a restaurant disappointed at the food and wished we would have not gone. Now we don't except for a rare treat in our very small town at a mom and pop restaurant. We like supporting the local family businesses.christi

  10. That sure looks like the way I grew up eating (well, except when it was just my dad and me; then pretty much every lunch and supper consisted of rice, pasta, or potatoes, some kind of pan-boiled white meat seasoned with lemon juice and pepper or the very occasional hamburger patty, and two raw vegetables).People say really nasty things about my cooking, but we're pretty healthy.

  11. BJ, my 87 year old aunt always asks if I am making corn bread to go with a meal. She's in Texas. We haven't eaten any corn or cornmeal in almost five years now. I do serve a piece of sourdough with some of the meals on occasion, usually with soup. We're going to plant some corn this year for the first time in quite a while. Not much, but if the SHTF, I want some viable seed for corn. It grows well here and would provide some much needed calories.Your turnip green recipe sounds like a good one, but I don't think you'll talk us into eating anything relating to a radish, they are just YUCK. Kind of like what Nina said about okra. How could anyone not like okra? A friend of ours doesn't like it, says it tastes like tree bark. It's funny how people's taste preferences are different.Thanks for sharing, we appreciate the contribution. Fern

  12. Hi, Bluesman. Ok, Spam. Survival food. High in salt, a nutrient the body cannot live without. High in fat, in hard times we will be craving fat. High in protein, which produces the best form of energy. It stores extremely well. Now the controversial part. Some people like the taste, some people don't. Give me a choice between SPAM and cauliflower? What's the choice? After you eat the SPAM, remember this is in survival times, you have a great little cup. Seriously. I like SPAM, I think it tastes good and it will always be part of my food storage.DE, did not work on our cabbage worms. Made for a beautiful plant, actually quite artistic. We just can't grow cabbage here, after trying multiple techniques and different varieties. We buy the food grade DE in about a 50lb bag. I also put in on my livestock occasionally, it works well on lice. Then when you pet your animals, they kind of look like a powder puff.We're getting ready for this year's garden. And, yes, we will try cabbage again, except we will buy it at the grocery store.Take care, Frank

  13. Thank you again for continuing your blog. I enjoy it so much. This was an interesting post. I live in the south zone 8. We can grow all kinds of greens all winter long. Turnip greens with the turnips diced and cooked with the greens is one of my favorite meals. I put the greens and turnips in a big pot and add water – not enough to cover as the greens will wilt and go below water level pretty fast, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 1 1/2 hours. I also add the seasonings up front before cooking. I use salt, pepper, red pepper or a hot green pepper, and ham. I also want corn bread to eat with my vegetables. Now I'm getting hungry! You said you don't like radishes but the turnip greens with radishes on the side are wonderful. Fresh radishes right out of the garden are super. Maybe you are letting yours get too old before pulling them. I know, I know, different people have different tastes. I like your meals but I would need a bit of corn bread with some of them. Thanks for sharing. BJ in GA

  14. Thanks for the article Fern. We are also pretty basic eaters at our house. We garden and preserve as much as possible. We do make an effort to eat what is in our storage. Wife always has a pot of soup ready . Soup is a great place to use up leftover scraps from prior meals. We enjoy squash from the garden so we always can some to eat when the storage room squash gets used up.We are still using our own spuds from last year and still have 1 sweetmeat squash left also. So many folks today cannot cook unless everything is in the box . That is a sad thing.We grow some cabbage and have had worm issues , but sprinkled diatomaceous earth on them and it worked for us . PTL for SPAM.Thanks again.bluesman

  15. We have more green beans on the shelf than we need, Nina, but that's okay. It's kind of like an insurance policy. Good food, salt and water if needed in a desperate situation.I haven't tried cowpea dip, but it sounds good. I bet it would taste good with our sourdough bread, too. Interesting idea.We will be happy to keep the okra, we really enjoy it! And we bought more Spam today. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment. Fern

  16. I use a few spices, Grammy, but salt and pepper are our mainstays.That's real interesting news on your sourdough. There are a number of sourdough cookbooks out there with all kinds of recipes. Your pretzels sound good, I may have to look into something like that.When I was still teaching elementary special education I would bring my students out each spring to see the baby chicks, baby goats, etc. There would be a couple of adults along and that was okay. We stayed outside and just enjoyed the animals and went to a park for a sack lunch and play time. I personally would be hesitant to have a group of adults come out and look things over while they are 'learning about farming'. Adults notice a lot more than kids and I wouldn't want them to catalog something in their mind that might bring them back if things go south. Just my thoughts.Good information. Thanks for taking the time to share. Fern

  17. I am not even planting cabbage this year, SJ. The cabbage worms tend to win the battle around here. The plants can and will grow beautifully, until the worms strip them down to the ribs. I have found the only deterrent are chemicals which I don't want to use.I have beet and carrot seedlings ready to be planted soon. I am ready to get out into the dirt. Frank gets tired of hearing me say 'I love dirt', but I do.Happy gardening! Fern

  18. We don't know anyone that lives like this, CW. You're right, it is very rewarding and satisfying to have your own food and know where it comes from. I can't help but wonder what life will be like for folks that don't have much when the lights go out for good. Please continue to share your knowledge and experiences. Fern

  19. It sure is nice to have those jars filled, isn't it Vicki? I know you can a lot from reading your blog. It's a great example of how to have food your own way even if you don't have animals, a garden and live in an apartment.I find it comforting to know we could eat very similar to how we do now in the case of a disaster or collapse. Thanks for sharing! Fern

  20. Leigh, A few months ago, I took supper to a coworker who had just had a baby. It was a simple meal: beef roast, potatoes, carrots, corn, and oatmeal cookies. She kept going on and on about how good the food was, especially the roast. She wanted to know how I seasoned it. I just used salt and pepper. I told her that the beef wasn’t from the store. It was raised on our farm and locally processed. (We rented the farm to a neighbor who raised cattle on it. He also had a meat processing business.) Good food doesn’t have to be elaborate.

  21. Oh Fern, I get so turned on when talking about food, what we should eat, what we do eat, what we need to eat, etc. LOL!! It's one of my favorite subjects due to the fact that I love to eat and I love to grow and cook my own food.I am in the process of eating a lot of what I canned up year before last, as well as last year. I'm trying not to make my hubby green bean sick. I've always got way more of them than I'd like, but this year also so many spaghetti squash and butternut squash are leftover too. I had way too many purple hulled peas. Do you ever make bean dip? Purple Hulled Peas make a great bean dip. I generally fix a few cans of peas with some bacon or ham and onion, then whatever is leftover I blend til smooth, add some ground cumin, a couple chopped fresh garlic cloves, some basil, pinch of cayenne, salt, pepper and olive oil. Dip a little homemade pita bread into and viola!! I can live off that stuff!!!I've been trying to grow exactly what hubby and I will eat for a long while and try 1 or 2 new items each year to see how they go. If they work, yay-rah but if not no biggie but it keeps things interesting. By the way, you can keep okra, yuk!! But I couldn't live without spam. We keep spam in our storage as well. I realize it may sound silly but I often practice only cooking and eating what we have, cooking inside and outside over the fire just to stay sharp!Really liked the looks of your meat pie!! Enjoyed your blog! Thx.

  22. You're right about the creativity part, Leigh. There are times I draw a blank, but there is usually something handy on the shelf or in the frig that can turn into a good meal. There are times we miss some pre-made, store bought stuff, but not often. Anytime we try something different it usually doesn't set well. We have so conditioned our bodies to the way we eat now that they rebel when we give them something different.We bought more Spam today, by the way. Take care, Fern

  23. We eat simple meals, too. I even cook simply for our Sunday dinner for thirteen. I do have a large stockpile of various herbs and spices that I cook with. It adds a bit of variety to our rarely varied foods. I also wanted to tell you that I started a sourdough starter. I used the discarded starter and made my breakfast waffle. The taste wasn’t what I’m used to, but it was good. I made pretzels last night and shared them with next door neighbor Son and DIL. We all liked them. They don’t look like store bought pretzels, but they taste great. More importantly, I know what’s in them and I saved a lot of money making my own. I also enjoyed the fruits of my labor. I’m going to start making my own sourdough bread and rolls. I retire from teaching in May. I hope to spend a lot more time homesteading. The local Ag in the Classroom teacher wants me to allow her to bring teachers to my small homestead for teaching tours. What are your feelings on this? I would like to inspire others, but I’m concerned about security when things get bad. (The Ag teacher only knows that I have a few farm animals. She doesn’t know where I live or that I’m a prepper.) She’s actually quite clueless about farming. She only knows what she has read in books.

  24. I've come to the same place. Most dinners are rice, a cooked meat, frozen veggie and salad, usually coleslaw. When I'm motivated, I make a soup of some kind and eat on that for 3-4 dinners.So does cabbage not grow well for you? I don't grow it or winter squash because it takes up too much room in my limited space. I usually grow an early crop of carrots but then need the space for other things during the heat of the summer.Hope all is well. SJ in Vancouver BC

  25. Fern, thank you for your article on simple but healthy meals. Our family gardens, raises livestock and preserves as much as possible each year. Most of our meals are made up of the things we produce so we feel they are healthier and less expensive. We also know that food and calories, along with water, will be the most essential preps to have stored in the event of an emergency. Raising the food we eat helps us to be more self-sufficient and is very rewarding. People who have not yet learned to garden and cook without opening boxes/cans will have a steep learning curve. CW

  26. These days find me eating because I need the fuel and not because I want a gourmet meal. Most meals involve opening jars. Because I can't raise meat animals in an apartment (landlords get testy about such things) I buy meat in bulk and either freeze some like chicken drumsticks and pork chops, or can it like bacon, sausage, chicken breast, hamburger, etc. Sometime I will just open a jar of soup or sometimes I will simmer a pot of my dehydrated veggies along with a jar of canned beef or pork, for soup that lasts two or three days. Many meals include biscuits or cornbread made with ingredients I store. And yes, Spam is on my shelves. I use it in macaroni salads and sliced, fried and made into a sandwich. I guess I wouldn't be eating much differently in a SHTF situation than I do now.

  27. I can so relate to this. It's the direction we've naturally gravitated to, except I never think about spam! LOL. Thankfully Dan has always preferred plain food which makes cooking certainly easier, but that doesn't necessarily mean less tasty. Fewer ingredients stimulate creativity, making it fun to eat simply but well.

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