Do you rely heavily on your homestead to feed your family? I know our family does.
However, once you preserve as much of your harvest as you can, you often wonder, “Now what do I do with it?”
When we live in a world where you can just run to the store whenever you feel like cooking something, it often takes a little creativity to utilize what you have on hand in order to make homemade meals.
So I’m going to share with you some of my favorite dishes (and recipes) that I prepare for my own family each winter when we try our best to live off of what we harvested in our own backyard.
Delicious Homestead Winter Meals
Here are my favorite go-to harvest-friendly homemade meals that I make to feed my family all winter long:
1. Vegetable Soup
Vegetable soup is such an easy go-to meal. I love it because it is fast, easy to make, and will last for days! You’ll need:
- 1lb of meat—I usually use deer meat because I almost always have a lot of that on hand
- Any mixture of vegetables
- Tomato juice
- Crushed tomatoes
- Bone broth
This recipe is so easy because all you do is brown the meat and drain the fat. Then you combine everything either in your slow cooker or in a large soup pot. If you cook it in the slow cooker, then you turn it on low and let it cook for 8 hours.
But if you decide to use a soup pot, then you bring the whole thing to a boil and allow it to simmer for a few hours until you just can’t take the smell any longer and you have to dive in.
However, remember to salt and pepper the mixture to suit your taste. We always like to add some crackers, cheese, hot sauce, and some homemade pickled jalapenos. Enjoy!
2. Deer Tips with Gravy Over Vegetables
I actually can our deer tips when we are processing deer. This makes it one of my favorite homemade meals because I can whip it up in a hurry.
So I just open up a can of deer tips and begin letting them heat up on the stove.
Next, you can either make your own homemade brown gravy or use the packet. It usually depends upon how big of a hurry I’m in to get dinner on the table.
Then I combine the gravy and the deer tips.
Meanwhile, I usually pull some vegetables out of the freezer that I’ve frozen for later use. Some of my favorite vegetables to use in this recipe is onions and peppers.
But I also like to mash potatoes to go with the deer tips as well.
Then I put the vegetables as the base, then add the deer tips with gravy on top of them. We have become more health conscious over the past year and try really hard to stay away from carbs, but you could use egg noodles as the base to this dish as well. It’s delicious no matter how you prepare it!
3. Homemade Meals – Peach Pies
I realize this is not a meal, but around my house, it could be! I use this recipe to make a very simple homemade pie crust.
Then, I take the peaches I’ve canned that year and open them up into a sauce pot. I then add a few tablespoons of cornstarch to a cup and add equal amounts of water. Then I mix it up.
After this is mixed, I add it to my peaches and let it all come to a boil. At this point, the peaches should thicken. If not, then mix some more cornstarch and water separately and add it to the mix again until you reach the right consistency.
Then I add some sugar to the mix to make the pie filling as sweet as I desire. I also add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the mixture too. I usually don’t measure, but I’d start with no more than a ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Then you can adjust according to taste from there.
Next, I fill my pie crust. Then I place the top layer of my pie crust on the pie. The video I linked to above will show you how to do this, but you can either add a whole top layer of pie crust or use a pizza cutter to dice that top layer up and complete a lattice look. Here is how you can apply a lattice pie crust.
Once you get your pie crust like you desire, you then bake the pie at 350° Fahrenheit for about 35 minutes.
Then I place an egg wash on top of the pie crust to give it a nice golden brown color and pop it back in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Remember, if you are watching your sugar intake, you can substitute Stevia in the place of sugar in canning your peaches and in turning those peaches into pie filling. I actually did that this year, and I’ve been very pleased with my results.
4. Pork Sausage Stir Fry
This was actually an idea I came up with on the fly one night, and we haven’t looked back since. I needed a fast meal that would be healthy and also use what I already had on hand.
So I had some frozen pepper and onions and some store bought frozen vegetables that I needed to use (because they had been in my freezer too long for me to even remember where they came from!)
But I digress, so I cooked 2 pounds of breakfast sausage in a skillet until there was no longer any pink. Then I added my frozen vegetables to the same skillet. I let this all cook on medium heat until it was all done.
Finally, I added some teriyaki sauce and soy sauce to the mix. I just made sure everything was thoroughly covered in the sauces. I’d say it was about 2 tablespoons of each. Then I allowed everything to cook for a few minutes more so it would all come together in a delicious way. It was delicious!
5. Fried Banana Peppers
This is something we actually just ate last night. Again, it doesn’t make a full meal by itself, but it is a favorite side dish around my house.
So I’ve shared before that we are low-carb, low-sugar intake people because I have some health issues that require this and my family supports me. (I’m really fortunate to have such a great support system!)
We begin this process by opening up the pickled banana peppers that I preserved from our garden this year. Sometimes I pickle banana peppers and jalapenos together so I’ll use the jalapenos in this recipe as well.
Then you’ll need to drain the liquid from the pickled peppers and rinse them in a colander. Next, pat them dry so no water gets in your egg wash.
While you let the peppers dry, you need to crack a few eggs into a bowl and mix them with a fork so they are scrambled. In another bowl pour 2 cups of cornmeal and add a few dashes of salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder. Then stir with a fork to make sure it is all mixed up really well.
Also, you’ll need to play about a ¼ cup of oil in your skillet and allow it to start heating up over medium heat. You don’t want it to get too hot too fast so keep an eye on it.
Next, you’ll need to slice the peppers down the middle so they are filleted open. Then dredge them in the egg wash and again in the cornmeal mixture. Place a little bit of cornmeal in your oil to see if it bubbles up around it.
Once the oil begins to bubble around the cornmeal, you are ready to begin frying your banana peppers. When you have a solid crunchy outside on one side, then you’ll flip them over until you have the same on the other side.
When done, place them on a plate with a paper towel and allow the excess oil to drain. Then sprinkle with extra salt, if desired. My husband likes to eat them with cocktail sauce, but I prefer them dipped in homemade buttermilk ranch. You decide!
6. Homemade Pork Barbecue
We butcher multiple hogs every year. With this in mind, we eat a lot of pork, but barbecue is still one of my favorite things to eat. It isn’t complicated. It isn’t fancy. It is just plain old delicious.
Then I sprinkle some salt and pepper on the pork butt. I’ll put it on low and let it cook for about 12 to 14 hours.
Once it is falling apart, I know it is done. Then you can either make your own homemade barbecue sauce to go with it or just buy the store bought stuff. I’ll be honest, I do both, depending upon the day. We enjoy these homemade meals with some fresh corn from the garden (that I’ve either canned or frozen) and some fresh canned green beans. It’s that simple to have delicious harvested homemade meals in the dead of winter.
7. Fried Apples – Staple Homemade Meals
Fried apples are a quick go-to part of a meal or snack when I need them. Every year we can, freeze, and dry apples.
So I’m always sure to slice up some apples and put them in a freezer bag to store in the freezer. My fried apples are why I do this.
Once the apples are frozen, when I need them, I just grab a bag from the freezer and toss them completely frozen in a skillet over medium heat. As they melt the water you would usually use in fried apples comes from the ice melting.
Then I let the apples cook down for about 15 minutes until they become softer. When I begin to see them softening up, I add a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice, and a ½ teaspoon of clover. You may want to adjust the spices to suit your preference, but this is what I prefer.
But you can’t forget the sugar. You can either add ½-1 cup of regular sugar or use a sugar substitute. This is up to you as to how sweet you like them.
Then you’ll allow all of this to come together while cooking the apples down. When the apples are super soft and almost mushy, then you are ready to eat them. We eat them as breakfast some days with an egg, as part of lunch, or as a side to dinner. They make a wonderful snack too!
8. Deer Meat and Gravy over Mashed Potatoes
Deer meat and gravy is something my husband absolutely loves! It is so easy to make that around here, it's one of the standard homemade meals he gets it as often as he wants.
So you’ll take some thawed deer tenderloin and put it in your crockpot to cook on low for about 8 hours. You make homemade country gravy and pour it over the deer meat before starting the cooking process.
Then about 30 minutes before it is done, you’ll need to start peeling your potatoes. Any potato you have on hand will do. I quarter my potatoes once they are peeled and place them in cold water with some salt.
Next, I bring the potatoes to a boil and allow them to cook until tender. You can test this, carefully, with a fork. When they are done, I pour the water off of the potatoes and begin to mash with a potato masher.
Then I add ½ cup of milk, 2 sticks of butter, salt, and pepper until it is all mixed together. When my deer meat and gravy are done, I put a portion of the mashed potatoes on the plate and serve the deer meat with gravy on top of the mashed potatoes.
Obviously, if you have a condition where you should stay away from carbs, you’ll need to go easy on this dish. But it certainly makes a great treat!
Well, you now know 9 of my favorite homemade meals that I can make from things my family and I have harvested together.