Erica Nygaard

Erica Nygaard (center) sits with her children, Paige, Dane, Shali and Jordan, and her grandchildren, Rowan and Charlie. 

Staying ahead of the curve is a major focus for Erica Nygaard.

Nygaard, who lives outside of Wesley, Iowa, runs “Living Life in Rural Iowa,” a blog where she focuses on frugal living, homesteading and self-sufficiency. Her expertise comes from plenty of hands-on experience.

“I have been living those,” Nygaard said. “When I got divorced in 2007, I had four kids from ages 2-12. You learn really quickly that you need to be really tight with your money. The more you can do for yourself, the better prepared you are and the easier life is. Being able to put quick meals on the table, being able to grow your own food, that’s all very important.”

Nygaard always wanted to be a writer, starting her blog eight years ago as an outlet while providing for the family. She said the idea came from people asking her questions about how she was saving money or how to make certain things.

Topics on her blog within the realm of being prepared can vary from food storage, to cookbooks to have on hand, to what to keep in your vehicle in case of emergency.

While raising four kids, she said she has learned a lot about preparation, especially when it comes to meals. Nygaard said she likes to focus on always having the essentials available.

“The key thing to putting a good meal on the table is to keep a well-stocked pantry,” she said. “… I don’t know about other people, but my kids never really got tired of spaghetti and tacos. I could count on having that once a week or once every two weeks.”

It was also helpful teaching her children how to cook with her. She said it speeds up the process some days, and she is proud of the fact her kids have gained that skill as they grow. This came in handy with children who were involved in a lot of activities.

“When you have kids, you stick with what you can make quickly,” Nygaard said. “Sometimes we’d get home at 4:30, 5 p.m. and had to turn around and go to a ballgame at 6:30, 7. I used my slow cooker a lot.”

Nygaard said she tries to make a blog post once per week, when not working at her day job at Farmer’s Cooperative in Algona, Iowa.

She would like to see the blog grow, and sees some of her fellow bloggers moving into video and social media, which gives her a few ideas. In whatever form it takes, Nygaard hopes to continue providing information.

“You try to be informative and persuasive. You are putting something out there for people to learn from,” she said.

On the web

Find Erica Nygaard’s blog at

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