Living Like Little House in the Prairie ~ Going to Town

by Merissa on March 3, 2011

in Living Like Little House

Yesterday I went to town by myself for the first time in about 3 weeks. I'd been to town a few other times in the last couple weeks, just passing through with the hubby on the way to somewhere, but I hadn't been in by myself to pick up much of anything. Not that we really need to much besides the occasionally dairy product here and there(and only because I don't have my milk cow yet!) we are prepared to go a long time without having to go to town. While I was reading through Little House on the Prairie I came upon the chapter where it talks about Pa going to town. At the very end of the chapter it says this:

"Laura and Mary went back to sleep, very comfortable all over. Everything was all right again when Pa was there. And now he had nails, and cornmeal, and fat pork, and salt, and everything. He would not have to go to town again for a long time." ~ Little House on the Prairie p.224- 225

In those days, people couldn't go to town whenever they wanted. It took Pa an entire day to go to town and get the few things he needed and to come home. A few months ago I was talking to my mom on the phone and she was telling me about how she went to town once a week. They did what they needed to in town and got the groceries on their list and they came home and didn't go to town for another week or longer. When I talked to her about that I will still working in town part time and I had to go in at least 3 times a week, sometimes more. Every time I went in I had to go into a store(for my job) and of course then I would see things for a good deal and on clearance that I thought I needed to buy. The same was true when I worked my job before last, I was at a store all day long and at the end of the day I usually had a pile of things I couldn't live without. I wish I had been keeping track of my expenses then because now looking back at it, it would have probably made my cry to see how much I wasted!

Now that I'm working exclusively through home, I'm lucky if I make it to town once a week. With gas prices the way they are I've been trying to stay home even more, only going in if I need some prices for a matchup or if there is a sale that the hubby can't get to after work. Otherwise, the hubby can pick me up something if I really need it.  Several months ago, the hubby remarked to me that he didn't know what it was like to stay home for a whole day. Usually when he finally gets a day off we have to many things to get done and so many errands to run we are barely home for any of the day. So I was thankful for when a day came a couple weeks ago where we were snowed in enough that he couldn't go to work. We had to stay home all day. I though the hubby was going to go crazy! He was like a caged bear stuck in the house all day and I could tell he was just itching to go to town. I think part of the whole "going to town" concept has to do with not just the fact that we convince ourselves that there is something that we can't live without, or that we need today, but it has to do with habits. The hubby's daily habit is to be in town because he has to work, he is used to that and so for some reason he feels the need to be in town every day. I try to understand this the best I can because I used to be that way too, but now since I stay home all day, almost every day, it's easier for me to see how this is a bad habit to get into.

Ok now you might be thinking, well I'm not lucky enough to stay home, I have to work everyday, or maybe you live in town and therefore can't "not go to town". This is where a good dose of self control steps in. Maybe we do have to be in town every day. Maybe it's unavoidable. That doesn't mean we need to spend money in town every day! I read forums where someone will post a great deal and then people will post that they had to run and get it right then. I think this is dangerous territory. By doing that we are telling ourselves that we need that item right here right now.

Think about things you need. Not things that you think you need, things that you really need. Shelter, food basics, heat, and clothing. Most of us already have those things on hand all of the time. Yes we may get low on food from time to time but it's so easy to plan a shopping trip twice a month or even once a week to get what we need and be home again.(This is where to grocery list come in!)

I feel like I rambled on a  little in this post so I'm going to stop before you start falling asleep at the computer. The main point from the paragraph in the book that I wanted to get across is just this...think about what you really need, train yourself to stay away from the temptation of the stores and shopping and going to town as well as you can. If you think you are going to miss out on something by not going to town, learn how to do other things to keep your mind from it, take up a hobby or a craft, have family game nights, plant a garden. There is so much that you can do at home!

Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wrena March 3, 2011 at 9:21 am

Thanks for sharing. I am on the same page. We home-school and just recently read the story you mention. It was a good one for the kids too. SMILE
They are home bodies! We look forward to getting our Laying hens this spring/summer. We don’t have a milk cow either… However were mopping up mud and that can be a big job out here in the country. Soon things will start turning green and we will have dandilion salad, as a menu option.
Truly yours, Country Momma from WY


2 marci357 March 3, 2011 at 11:22 am

While I “Go Thru” town on the way home, I rarely stop.
For me, going to the store is a Time Waster….
I hate loosing the time it takes to park, walk in, shop, wait in line to pay,
walk back (altho the exercise part is good), wait at the light, and drive the rest of the way home.

So – once every two weeks would be fine – sometimes I used to go 4-5 weeks without a grocery store trip, but now I have Grandkids Mon-Fri, so milk of course is an every week deal.


3 Laura March 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I totally agree with your comments here. My husband has been unemployed for over two years and we all have definately learned through necessity what we can live without. I loved the article.


4 Amanda Y. March 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

We live in the city, but have been cutting back on trips to grocery store. I also found now that I work later than hubby, if I give him a list, he’ll only get whats on the list (so I’m not tempted by additional “wonderful sales)–it’s much lower on the grocery bill!


5 Heather March 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I actually find that going into town on a regular basis helps keep our costs down. But let me explain! I live in a suburb on the west side of Rapid City but I work in a town on the east side. So, I drive through town on the interstate every weekday. I’ve found that if I do a few errands every night on my way home, I don’t have to go into town on the weekends, which means that we save gas and time. But, when I do my errands, I have a strict list of items to get at each store and I force myself to stick to it. (I tell myself it’s good practice in self control 🙂


6 Charity March 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Thanks for this beautiful post, Merisa. I’d love to email you some time and just share thoughts about life, but for now I want to say I 100% agree with you. We live in a very well to do area. We own 3 acres in the woods – it is the biggest slice of heaven we could get because my husband’s job is here. I too stay at home and homeschool my kids. We’ve been trying to downsize our life – busyness, needs verses wants, etc…and we decided to try our hand at a few things this year – starting a garden and raising some hens. I told him I want to revert back to my life as a child – I grew up on a farm and I DESPERATELY miss it. We’re hoping in the next 5 years to move back to my hometown but for now we’re trying to make our little 3 acres a little slice of simplicty heaven. It is so nice to have a “kindred” spirit (remember Anne of Green Gables) and other people here trying to learn to cut back and be more self sufficient. Thanks for everything! I know this site takes a load of time to make and I am so grateful for it!


7 Merissa March 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Sounds like you have lots of exciting things to start this year! Hopefully you can follow your dream to move back to your hometown very soon. 🙂


8 Charity March 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Oh the reason I say well to do is that the lifestyle here is utter craziness and little simplicity. People aren’t very nice (sorry to say -but very true) and there is hardly anyone around here wanting to be simple and living simply. I am a farm girl at heart – grew up that way and I am trying to bring that sort of life to this area for my kids. I forgot to clarify that 🙂


9 Merissa March 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I understand that. We used to live in a good part of town in a little house in the middle of a bunch of big fancy houses. People there felt the need to buy all sorts of things and have so many fancy things that I could never imagine why you needed.


10 Betty May 9, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I just discovered this wonderful site and I have to comment on this post. I so relate to your Mother’s memories. When I was growing up we only went to town once a month. We went to the general store on Saturdays so my brothers could get a hair cut before Sunday services and my Dad could play a few hands of Set-Back or Dominos and catch up on neighborhood news. For most of my childhood if Momma didn’t grow it and Daddy didn’t kill it, we didn’t eat it. It was a good life 🙂

We weren’t on a farm. My parents gave that up years before I came along, but the simple life never stopped. My Momma sewed everything we wore, including my brother’s suits and shirts. My Momma and I went to quilting bees in the winter and most of the spring and summer was spent in the garden. My Dad and brothers hunted in the fall and winter and fished and frog gigged in the spring and summer. We only saw chicken on Sundays, and they were bought live, and then “fixed” for Sunday dinner. There was always enough although most today would turn up there nose at a Sunday supper that we still to this day enjoy . . . cold biscuits with pot liquor.

Thanks for the memories!!


11 MamaRose June 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I love The Little House on The Prairie and Happy to find this site !


12 Shannon July 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I am so excited to find your website! We have 12 acres and are working on paying off our house so we can be debt free. We have goats we milk and chickens and a garden. Your website is so awesome.


13 Lisa April 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I live in NJ outside of NYC so there is no “town”…. No isolated spots….No “town” so to speak…..stores, restaurants, etc are everywhere. I do remember that phrase though ….where I grew up in Pennsylvania there was such a concept.


14 Shelley January 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

Have you ever been made to feel as if something is wrong with you for not getting out more often? I have only been going to town once a week for little things we need, mostly in groceries, and to save money on gas. Most of our food is bought in bulk and made homemade, but we do need some dairy and fresh veggies and fruits. I have been going out even less since the cold winter has set in, and certain relatives (who love to go shopping several times a week) think that I don’t get out often enough. I don’t care to go to town. I am happy in my home doing my domestic duties. What would you say to people who think you need to get out several times a week or you are turning into a hermit?


15 Merissa January 30, 2015 at 11:45 am

I generally brush it off since we are happy with our lifestyle and what other’s think just doesn’t concern me. If I would have someone truly worried about about the way we are living I would sit down with them one on one and really ask them why this concerns them so much. It seems like so much time in this day and age is spent worrying about what someone else has, what they do, etc and it’s hard for people to see that everyone’s life is different and that’s ok! 🙂


16 Shelley January 31, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Good advice! Thanks.


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