Growing your own food is definitely a good idea, but if you want to grow enough food to last you the entire year then you will have to think very carefully about what kind of crops you will grow. This is especially important if you live in an area where the growing season is fairly short or even if you have a smaller plot of land. Most people think that in order to be able to feed yourself from your own crops you will need a large plot of land.
The truth is that the yield isn’t that important, as there are plenty of crops that have a lot of calories, and you should definitely focus on growing them. The best part about high-calorie crops is that they do not need that much space to grow or for storing. Generally speaking, crops that have a lot of calories tend to have a lot of starch in them, and some of them also have plenty of fibers, both of them are fairly important for a balanced diet.
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Crops with a high-calorie count tend to have more vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fibers. In addition to this, most of them are extremely easy to store and they also have a relatively long shelflife. Generally speaking, it is never a good idea to live off one type of food alone, so my personal recommendation is to grow at least 2-3 of these high-calorie crops, this way you will have a more balanced diet.
On the other hand, if you do not want to live off one single crop, but you want something that you can eat every day then it is still a good idea to grow one or two types of high-calorie crops. Pound for pound high-calorie crops will cost you less to maintain, and the space needed for them is fairly low. If you are new to growing your own crops then my personal recommendation is to check out my recent article Best crops for homesteading ( Top 16 ).
Sunflowers 2600 calories/lb
Sunflowers have around 2600 calories, 231 g fat, 40 mg sodium, and 95 g of protein in one pound. Sunflowers also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin b 6. Sunflowers are not the easiest crops to grow, but if you know what you are doing then it shouldn’t be a problem. Most homesteaders who grow sunflowers tend to use it to fatten up livestock, but you can also add it to your daily diet.
Soybean 2000 calories/lb
Yes, you have read it right, in one pound of soybean, there are around 2000 calories. In the same pound of soybeans, there are around 93 g of fat, 8000 mg potassium, and 136 g carbohydrates. The vitamins found in soybeans are vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B 6. A lot of people consider soybeans as being a superfood, which it is but soybeans tend to lower testosterone and raise estrogen levels which is not ideal for males. If you are wondering what kind of livestock you should keep at your homestead then check out my recent article Best livestock for small homestead ( Top 11 ).
Amaranth 1700 calories/lb
Amaranth has around 1700 calories, 30 g fat, 95 mg sodium, 300 g carbohydrates, and 65 g of protein in one pound. In addition to this it also contains calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C, in fact, amaranth has one of the highest content of iron per pound, so if you have an iron deficiency then this crop will be excellent for your health.
Quinoa 1700 calories/lb
Quinoa contains around 1700 calories, 26 g fat, 95 mg sodium, 312 g carbohydrates, and 60 g protein in one pound. Quinoa also has calcium, iron, potassium, but very few vitamins. A lot of sites and people praise Quinoa as being some kind of superfood, which is true due to the high amount of protein and carbohydrates, but it doesn’t actually have as many of the essential vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas 1600 calories/lb
Chickpeas have around 1600 calories, 27 g fat, 108 mg sodium, 277 g carbohydrates, and 86 g protein in one pound. Chickpeas also have vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B 6, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Around 77 g of the 277 g of carbohydrates is actually fiber, which is more than enough of what you need per day. In the past couple of years, more and more people have started growing chickpeas in Idaho if you are wondering how is this state for living off the grid then check out my recent article Off grid living in Idaho ( Gem State ).
Wheat 1500 calories/lb
Wheat has around 1500 calories, 8 g fat, 23 mg sodium, 328 g of carbohydrates, and 62 g proteins in one pound. Wheat also has calcium, iron, and potassium. The problem with wheat is that it loses some of its properties while being processed, and it also uses another chunk when you cook them. In addition to this, you will need a fairly large plot of land to be able to grow enough wheat to feed yourself for an entire year.
Pinto Beans 1500 calories/lb
Pinto beans have around 1500 calories, 5.4 g fat, 54 mg sodium, 286 g carbohydrates, and 95 g protein in one pound. Pinto beans also have calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B 6. If you have lived off the grid for longer periods of time then you know how delicious pinto beans can be after a hard day of work. Pinto beans are fairly easy to grow and the beans themselves have a shelflife of a couple of years.
Avocado 726 calories/lb
Avocados have around 726 calories, 68 g fat, 31 mg sodium, 2000 mg potassium, and 9.1 g protein in one pound. Avocados also have vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B 6. The problem with avocados is that they need a fairly hot climate and a lot of water to grow large. In addition to this, the fruits do not have a long shelflife, and you will most likely need to can them.
Rice 590 calories/lb
Rice contains around 590 calories, 1.4 g fat, 4 mg sodium, 127 g carbohydrates, and 12 g protein in one pound. Rice also contains iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B 6. There are some areas of the country where you can grow rice, the problem is that growing rice is fairly complicated and you will need a large plot of land. On the other hand, rice tends to have one of the longest shelf lives from the high-calorie crops.
Yams 535 calories/lb
Yams have around 535 calories, 0.9 g fat, 40 mg sodium, 127 g carbohydrates, and 7 g of protein in one pound. Yams also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B 6, iron, magnesium, and calcium. Although they do not contain as many calories as some of the other crops on this list, but yams are still an excellent source of carbohydrates.
Lentils 525 calories/lb
Lentils have around 525 calories, 1.8 g fat, 9 mg sodium, 91 g carbohydrates, and 41 g protein in one pound. Lentils also contain calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B 6. Lentils are fairly easy to grow as long as you have the right soil for it, and they also tend to grow fairly fast.
Lima Beans 522 calories/lb
Lima beans have around 522 calories, 1.8 g fat, 9 g sodium, 95 g carbohydrates, and 36 g proteins in one pound. Lima beans also have calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B 6. Although lima beans do not have as many calories as some of the other beans on this list, but if you live in a climate where you can grow them you will find that they are extremely fast-growing crops.
Yellow sweet corn 390 calories/lb
The yellow sweet corn has 390 calories per pound, 5.35 g fat, 87 g carbohydrates, 1226 mg potassium, and 68 mg sodium. Yellow sweet corn also has vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. Yellow sweet corn is fairly easy to grow, it has an extremely long shelf life, although if you are making corn flour from it then the shelflife will drop significantly.
Sweet potatoes 390 calories/lb
Sweet potatoes have around 390 calories per pound, this is one of the few crops which actually contains fat at around 0.5 g/lb. In one pound of sweet potatoes, there is 1.5 mg potassium, 249 mg sodium, 91 g carbohydrates, and 7.3 g of proteins. The vitamins and minerals found in sweet potatoes are Vitamin A, calcium, vitamin c, iron, magnesium, and vitamin b 6.
Peas 370 calories/lb
Peas have around 370 calories, 1.8 g fat, 22 mg sodium, 64 g carbohydrates, and 23 g protein in one pound. Peas also have vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B 6, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Most homesteaders will grow some peas as they are fairly easy to grow, and if you have ducks then you can fatten them up with peas extremely fast.
Potatoes 349 calories/lb
Potatoes have around 349 calories per pound, in addition to this they also have 2 mg potassium, 77 g carbohydrates, and around 9.1 g of protein, and that is all in one pound. Potatoes also contain calcium, vitamin c, iron, vitamin b 6, and magnesium. The best part about growing potatoes is that they are extremely beginner-friendly to grow, and storing them is also fairly easy. Most people who live off the grid tend to grow potatoes.
Parsnip 340 calories/lb
Parsnip has around 340 calories, 1.4 g fat, 45 mg sodium, 82 g carbohydrates, and 5 g of protein per pound. Parsnip also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B 6. Parsnip is a root vegetable that can be grown almost anywhere, most homesteaders do grow at least some parsnip in their garden as it is great for flavoring the food.
Jerusalem Artichokes 331 calories/lb
Jerusalem Artichokes contain 331 calories, 18 mg fat, 77 g carbohydrates, and 9.1 g protein in one pound. Jerusalem Artichokes also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B 6, iron, calcium, and magnesium. I have never grown Jerusalem Artichokes but as far as I know, they tend to have a fairly fast growth rate and the shelf life is also significantly longer than it is for other crops.
Shallots 327 calories/lb
Shallots have around 327 calories, 0.5 g fat, 54 mg sodium, 77 g carbohydrates, and 11 g of protein in one pound. Shallots also contain vitamin C, vitamin B 6, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Although it is probably not a good idea to eat only shallots, but they are an excellent addition to your daily diet.
Winter Squash 200 calories/lb
Winter squash has around 200 calories, 0.5 g fat, 18 mg sodium, 54 g carbohydrates, and 4 g of protein in one pound. In addition to this winter squash also contains calcium, iron, magnesium vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B 6. In fact, winter squash has one of the highest content of vitamin A, which is good for the eyes, pound for pound it has more Vitamin A than carrots have.
Beetroot 195 calories/lb
Beetroots have around 195 calories, 0.9 g fat, 350 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrates, and 7 g of protein in one pound. Beetroots also have vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B 6, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Although not the highest calorie crops, or one that has plenty of minerals and vitamins, but beetroots can be grown even in the far north and many people grow them as almost nothing else grows in the far north.
Carrots 186 calories/lb
Carrots have around 186 calories, 1 g fat, 300 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrates, and 4 g of protein in one pound. Carrots also contain calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, in fact, carrots have one of the highest amounts of vitamin A which is beneficial for healthy eyesight.
Squash 141 calories/lb
Squash has around 141 calories, 2 g fat, 77 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, and 3 g protein in one pound. Squashes also have calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. Squashes are not ideal if you want to grow them to feed yourself for longer periods of time. These vegetables tend to be fairly large and generally speaking, they tend to have a short shelf life. In addition to this if you live in a remote area then you might find that a lot of animals will come to eat them.
Turnips 127 calories/lb
Turnips have around 127 calories, 0.5 g fat, 27 g carbohydrates, and 4 g of protein in one pound. In addition to this turnips also have calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B 6. As you can see turnips have a fairly low-calorie count, the only reason why I have added this to the list is that a lot of beginners actually think that growing turnips is a good idea as they do not need that much space.
As you can see there are several crops that have a lot of calories, the ones at the top of the list contain also plenty of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Just keep in mind that the protein from fruits and vegetables is not the highest quality one as they lack some amino acids which can be found only in meat.