What is Provident Living?

Provident Living is seeing abundance in your daily life and putting aside a portion of the abundance for a future time of need. It includes concepts such as stewardship, sustainability, frugality, gratitude, food storage, preparedness, homemaking, self-reliance, contentment and happiness. All of those ideas wrapped into a daily (or sort-of daily) lifestyle.

What We Do at PHC

Provident living isn’t an event; it’s a process. The idea is to evaluate where you are now and work towards a goal–your goal of Provident Living. Don’t try to do it all in one year.  Take baby steps.  Don’t obsess with the destination of “preparedness” (I don’t think there is such a place, anyway.)  Enjoy the path to a provident lifestyle.

Every month I will give two goals that you should try to work on.  Maybe you’ll only do one of the two—that’s fine.  I try to find goals that are appropriate to the season, but they might not be what you need to do at that very moment. That’s OK, too. Just try to do a little bit each month.  If you don’t make progress this month, don’t get discouraged!  Just resolve to pick up where you left off the next month.  Believe me, I get sidetracked a lot as well. And since the goals are often season-driven, we are sure to revisit the same or similar goals next year.

I’m still learning. I’m still trying to improve what I know and how to better use it. We’ll work on this together.  I’ll tell you what’s worked for me (and what hasn’t!) and hopefully you’ll tell me what’s working for you or how I can better help you. I’d like to be your Provident Home Companion.

My goal is to live providently.  Provident living is not Food Storage and it is not Preparedness.

Let me explain:  Food Storage is where you store buckets of wheat and beans and boxes of MRE’s and you take it out when there’s an emergency—job loss, economic collapse, a giant meteor hitting the earth.  It’s a good place to start.  You never know when an emergency—short or long term, personal or wide-spread—will keep you from getting the food, water and power you need for living.  Everyone should work for some sort of Food Storage.

A Preparedness lifestyle–or self-reliance–goes a step further.  It is where you incorporate your Food Storage into daily life.   You don’t sit on the food, waiting for the meteor that destroys civilization.  Instead, you use it regularly–make and eat whole wheat bread and bean dishes every week.  You routinely rotate stored food and produce your own: gardening, canning, dehydrating and freezing.  And you try to stay out of debt.  I hope we are all working towards a Preparedness (or self-reliant) lifestyle.


Try to focus on Provident Living

Though the terms all seem interchangeable, Food Storage and Preparedness are a sub-set of Provident Living.

Food Storage and a Preparedness lifestyle require money.  They are measured by how many cans of food or buckets of grain you have in your garage. Many of my friends are barely making ends meet.  If I were to tell them they also need to buy extra food and start making whole wheat bread, it’d just be too much.  I have other friends whose idea of healthy eating is finishing off the Twinkies before the expiration date.  If I suggested they eat whole wheat bread or dried beans, I think their heads would explode.

But I believe that Provident Living is for everyone, regardless of where you are financially or how much of a homemaker you are.  I believe Provident Living is first a spiritual belief and that Food Storage and Preparedness principles will naturally follow when we embrace that spiritual outlook.

Paul tells Timothy: “For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us therewith be content…”   (1 Timothy 6:7-8)  Paul’s right.  We really don’t NEED much more than food, clothing and a safe place to live.

When we are content with food and raiment, we find our focus is not on things—the things we have or don’t have.  We don’t measure our security or well-being by dollars in the bank or buckets of food in the garage.  The size of our house or the age of our car no longer matters.  When we are content, we discover abundance.

The key to Provident Living

The key to Provident Living is to see God’s Providence in our daily lives. Everyday He gives us “enough and to spare.”  Every day He gives us more than we need.  We have an abundance—of time, good friends, health, happiness, a sense of well-being, beauty around us and  yes, food and money.

Because we see God’s bounty everyday, we feel compelled to use it wisely.  We feel it’s vital to make good use of the time He has given, improve the skills He has given, learn from our friends He has given us, be productive with the health and energy He gives and yes, store food for a time of need.  How else can we be counted good stewards of His bounty?

As we begin our path to Provident Living, let’s look first to our spirits.  Let’s first learn to be content with what we have and see abundance in our daily lives.  And then we’ll learn to make good use of everything God puts into our path.

The disasters or crisis we prepare for can be divided by how long it lasts and how widespread it is.  It may be short-term (tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, blizzards, etc.)  or long-term disasters (prolonged illness or unemployment, civil unrest, pandemic, prolonged economic distress, etc.)  The threat might be personal, affecting only you and your family or it might be region- or nation-wide.

The best preparedness plan covers as many of these threats as possible.  We prepare first for the most immediate dangers that will affect us and our family.  Then we work to be prepared for longer-term and more wide-spread disasters and our community.

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

How smart is it to prepare for one great big end-of-the-world calamity?  Remember Y2K? (Maybe not. That was a long time ago.) But after Y2K zillions of  people ended up with a garage-full of MRE’s and freeze-dried food, waiting for the world-wide disaster that never came.  When I was a kid we were all expecting a nuclear holocaust.  There may be such a disaster some day.  But it is far more likely that you will face a serious illness or unemployment and you will find that the everyday food you’ve stored up is far tastier than MRE’s and freeze-dried food.

Now, here is your first assignment: If you don’t already have one, get a notebook.  This is your Provident Living Notebook.  Buy some dividers.  You want a section for: Goals and Gratitude, Sources, Inventory, Info and Misc.  I’ve tried to keep it to five categories because most notebook dividers are sold in sets of five.  But if you get a set that has more dividers, you can create other categories.

Goals and Gratitude

Start by recording all the examples of abundance that you find as you try to live self-reliantly.  This is the starting point for all Provident Living.

Map out your plans for being prepared for a short-term emergency.  Do you have a fire escape plan for the family?  Meeting place in case you get separated during a disaster?  What kind of supplies do you have for an emergency?  Do the same with long-term emergencies: write out what you need to do, both immediately and over the long-term, to be prepared for the long haul (such as job loss.)  You can also keep a record here of the monthly goals that I give you here.


Where are you going to get your supplies?  What are the best prices for wheat? beans? water filters?  Keeping a record of prices and source will help ensure you are getting the most for your money.

Note on sources: Thanks to the Internet we can buy almost anything we want from anywhere in the world.   But I am a big proponent of supporting local economy.  The price at the cash register is not the only thing we should consider.  We should also consider how our buying affects the local economy–our friends and neighbors.  Try to find local sources whenever possible.


There are three parts to inventory: What you want to have, what you have and what you need to replace (or buy.)  Speaking from personal experience, this is the hardest thing to keep current.  I send my kids upstairs to get a can of spaghetti sauce or jar of mayo and it’s very easy to forget to record that I’m down one jar of food.  But no big deal, right?  It’s just one jar.  But pretty soon it’s 10 or 15 jars or cans and now I can’t remember what I have or don’t have.  Yeah, I need to work on that;.


This is the biggest section in my notebook.  This is where I save all cool articles that I read on the internet or in magazines or newspapers.  I see something about cooking with Dutch ovens and I put it in my notebook to look at later or incorporate into my preparedness plans.  Lately I’ve been researching herbs and how to use them, so I have a big stack of articles and info on herbs.  I finally had to put tabs inside this section so I could keep all the different categories organized.


Or Misc. (Because without spell check I’m never certain how to spell it.  Be honest, neither are you.)  I hate Misc–it’s such a catch-all term.  But I’m always finding things that don’t fit in any of these categories (such as coloring pages and puzzles to teach kids about Emergency Preparedness) and so it goes into Misc.  Maybe you’ll find a better category for that fifth tab, but Misc will do for now.

Try to weave all these categories into one fabric that covers your life.  Don’t prepare for an event.  Use this notebook as a personal map to live a sustainable, self-reliant life-style—one that will see you through the most likely emergencies you will have to face

(The really long version. You don’t need to read this.)
To begin with, I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That means I’m a Mormon.  The Mormon Church teaches us to have a supply of food and water stored for a time of need.  It really is a good idea—you never know when a natural disaster, illness or unemployment will make it impossible to get to the store, perhaps for days or weeks.  So we want the peace that comes from knowing we are prepared for hard times. (From time to time I will quote from Mormon scripture.  I believe these scriptures to be the sacred word of God.  But I realize that many will not, and that’s really OK.  You can skip the Mormony stuff if you want.   But if you do read it, I hope you will see the universal values and morality in them.)

The next thing you should know is I didn’t wake up one day knowing and practicing everything I preach about preparedness.  This has been a very long process.  I was raised in a home where we gardened and canned fruit each year.  My parents bought tons of wheat and barrels-full of powdered milk.  But until I was married that was the extent of my preparedness experience.  The knowledge and skills I’ve acquired have taken years, even decades to develop.  Because preparedness isn’t an event; it’s a process.

When my husband, Ross, went to graduate school we were living on a very meager income.  We had to make every penny stretch and even then it sometimes wasn’t enough.  Believe it or not, that is when I began to stock up food.  My goal was to buy 5-6 extra cans of food each week.   To do this, I shopped a lot of the loss-leaders and used coupons and within six months I had an extra supply of food that, in an emergency, could feed us for about a month.

And I took classes and read books.  I also read a lot about gardening and farmsteading.  And I practiced and improved my sewing skills.  After that, I learned how to can more than just peaches and pears.

After being married for ten years Ross and I bought our dream house—a small house 25 miles from Fargo sitting on four acres.  About half of the land is wooded, the other half is garden beds, lawn, fruit trees and bushes and flower beds.

That first year living in the country was a trial by fire.  It was the worst winter in North Dakota’s history, followed by record-breaking floods.  One blizzard after another left us stranded, unable to get to town.  We lost power so often it felt like we were living in a third world country.  One night, when Ross was at work, my 5-year old son split his chin open, but the weather prevented us from getting to the ER for the stitches he needed.  That year was a series of disasters that taught how horribly unprepared we were.  No more dabbling with canning peaches and pears, we needed a serious, all-encompassing preparedness plan.

So we bought a wood burning stove and a generator.  We stored water and bought firewood. I learned more extensive first aid and acquired better first aid supplies.  I learned how to pressure can meat and vegetables and make sauerkraut and we started building a serious garden.

Every year since then I’ve practiced and expanded my skills a little more.  Each year we’ve added a little more to our garden.  Year by year, we’ve learned how to store and rotate food better and we’ve practiced using our stored food in our daily diet.

Are we ready for every type of emergency?  Hardly.  Three or four years ago a November ice storm left us without power for three days.  We discovered we still had a few holes in our preparedness plan.  But we were warm and had food and water.   The important things were taken care of and we truly felt the peace of preparedness.

So, now here I am, writing a blog. I hope to share my experience and insight with you as you work on your preparedness lifestyle.  Please don’t think you need to do everything I do.  Don’t try to do in one year what has taken me 5, 10 or 15 years to learn and incorporate.  Take baby steps.  Don’t obsess with the destination of “preparedness” (I don’t think there is such a place, anyway.)  Enjoy the path to a preparedness lifestyle.

Every month I will give two goals that you should try to work on.  Maybe you’ll only do one of the two—that’s fine.  Just try to do a little bit each month.  If you don’t make progress in that month, don’t get discouraged!  Just resolve to pick up where you left off the next month.  Believe me, I get sidetracked a lot as well.

Yeah, I’m still learning.  I’m still trying to improve what I know and how to better use it.  So we’ll work on this together.  I’ll tell you what’s worked for me (and what hasn’t!) and hopefully you’ll tell me what’s working for you or how I can better help you.  I’d like to be your Provident Home Companion.

January, 2012

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  1. Glad I found your blog! We are in Nd also (5 yrs now) so I’m sure a lot of your info will be helpful in our homesteading journey. I really like your article on “(Almost)Free Cold Frames”

  2. What a great blog you have! I am looking forward to the green tomato cookbook. Am looking forward to more communications! Great Job!

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