You know… when you didn’t get the big one…Some years are just like that.
Some years you go into the winter with less fowl, swine, cow, rabbit, (etc.) than you wanted–for whatever reason. And even if you’re a hunter and/or fisherman, some years you didn’t get anything, or you got something small. What do you do for the next year?
You’re going to have to either trek it to town and pay ridiculous prices for meat that you probably don’t know the origin of–or learn to do with what you’ve got.
Here are some tips to make it all bearable.
Make sure you have a source of daily protein.
Your body recognizes when something is missing. If you try to just go without any meat at all, it won’t take long before your body starts to crave protein. You’re going to want to make sure you’ve prepared ahead for times such as this by storing up other sources of protein.
In a self-sufficient lifestyle, other sources of protein would include:
- You can forage for local nuts, or grow your own (which is what I suggest). Some nut trees won’t produce nuts for many years, but others could produce in as little as 2 years.
- Eat nuts in your trail mix, granola, or ground and use as flour.
- Nuts should be rationed, not eaten as snacks, or they will run out quite quickly.
- It’s so hard not to use or sell all your eggs when you are getting so many in the summer. But it can be of vital importance to put some in your cellar here and there to ensure an adequate supply for your winter needs.
- Cheeses, yogurts, and just drinking your dairy plain are all valuable sources of protein whether it’s cow or goat milk.
When you have a regular source of protein in your diet, your body will be healthier, you’ll have more energy, and your meat cravings will be less (but most likely not gone).
Learn To Be Content With The Meat You Do Have
This is challenging, even if you aren’t a homesteader. If you’re an on-grid shopper type of person trying to figure out how to afford food for your family, then no-doubt you know meat is a big culprit of ruining your grocery budget.
If you’re only “a little bit” low on meat, then plan on keeping it as the center of your family dinner once a week. Perhaps you have a family dinner on Saturday or Sunday night?
If you regularly have friends or other community members over, plan your meat meals on the nights you have company. You don’t want to be stingy. Chances are, if you really know your guests well, they will know you don’t have a stockpile of meat and offer to brings some. If they’ve got it to share, don’t turn down an offer–you also don’t want to be prideful.
Did your church offer you a ham or turkey during the fall & winter holidays? One of these could supply several meals.
Ration The Meat You’ve Got
There are meals out there that contain meat in small enough portions that you can still eat it without using your supply quickly. Perhaps some of the following dishes will start to make their way to your table:
- Sauces over rice or pasta
- Pot pies
And the laws–which vary from state to state. Most people do not hunt in the winter. This is either because most of the big game animals have migrated away (or are otherwise near impossible to find), or because it’s illegal.
If you are going to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, or you just want to be prepared for the what if, I highly recommend knowing a few things:
- What animals are in your area and where/how you safely find them
- What animals are edible
- Laws in your area regarding how many of what you can harvest by what manner
- Basic trapping techniques
- Ice fishing safety–don’t get caught on thin ice
In most areas, you’re not going to be able to secure a large portion of meat unless you butcher your own pig or cow. The animals that are available are going to be small, and often you may work all day to only get enough meat for a meal or two.
Overall, the best way to get through a long winter is to be prepared for having only a little bit of meat ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll need to either get it as you go with small animal hunting/trapping/fishing, or learn to ration it.