Food Stretching Strategies During Economic Depression

Cooking in the 1930s

Cooking in the 1930's

My family made every effort  to instill in me habits regarding savvy handling of food and money.  Your parents probably tried to do the same.  Maybe you listened, maybe not.  Maybe you practice what they preached, maybe not.

This is the post for those of us who tend to lean more into the ‘not’ category.

So, how did people eat during the Great Depression?  You probably already know about the urban soup kitchens for the destitute.  But what did the not quite so down on their luck people do about buying, preparing and saving food?

Farm families generally ate better during the Great Depression than town people simply because they could grow their own food.  Sure, they had to economize in terms of things like clothing or household goods, but good, fresh food was definitely available in the countryside.  Unfortunately, very few farms  are producing a comprehensive, or even a wide variety,  of fresh vegetables, fruits and proteins today.

Most of us do not have enough land to grow most of the food we need to feed ourselves or our families.  So if you, like many of us,  must continue to depend on others to provide your physical sustenance you might want to be mindful of how to make the most of what you can afford to purchase.

Food and Money Saving Tips and Tricks

Food and Money Saving Tips and Tricks

Here are some cooking tips and savings tricks for stretching those hard to come by dollars and increasingly expensive food.

  • Save all the bones from the meat you purchase.
  • While cooking take the undesirable but edible parts of vegetables and save them in the refrigerator.
  • Once you have collected enough vegetables and bones  you can use them to make a tasty stock.
  • Add rice or beans to the stock.  Use whatever is in your pantry.
  • Stock up on frozen dinners on sale at your local grocery store.  Eat them when there is no money for fresh food.
  • Eat corn products.  They are generally less expensive and more filling than wheat.
  • Learn to live on much less meat.  The chicken and beef produced commercially these days will slowly kill you anyway.
  • This is great time to go vegetarian or fully vegan.
  • Try to buy in bulk with an eye toward saving for those cash lean days.
  • Eat lots of beans.  You can get the fullest stomach for your money and season them in various ways to break the monotony of frequent eating.
  • Regardless of where you live you can probably grow at least some of your food at home.
  • If you are lucky enough to have porch posts or banister newels outside use them to support peas and beans.
  • Herbs in a garden or pot make for edible natural decor, too.
Wheelbarrow full of goodies you can grow yourself.

Wheelbarrow full of goodies you can grow yourself.

You are luckiest if you live on a farm and can grow most of your own food – vegetables (corn, potatoes, black-eyed peas, sweet peas, melons, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, onions, turnips and their greens, beets, etc.), pigs, chickens (for meat and for eggs), goats, a few cattle (for meat and for milk and butter), grapes, apples, peaches, etc.   Consider digging out a cold storage cellar (aka, “Root Cellar“)  if you do  not already have one. Tip: A cold storage cellar is will be beneficial in the north corner of your property.

If you are like most of us and not so lucky, now might be a good time to organize a collective gardening effort in the local parks and green spaces in your community.  Also look into community gardening opportunities close to home.

In addition to usual food, plant healthful and tasty herbs in your garden and pots.  Same herbs have proven medicinal properties and many herbs add rich flavor to food – as well as beauty to the landscape.

Community gardening is a viable option for most people.

Community gardening is a viable option for most people.

You will still have to buy things like flour, corn meal and cheese at the chain grocers.   Otherwise, buy your vegetables and fruits in season from your local farmer’s market.  You will pay less money and get better food.

Use your grandmother’s cookbook from the period of the 1930’s and early 40’s, and use the recipes she did.  The food and good memories will hopefully make you feel better.

***If you have any tips you would like to share please leave them in the comment area of this radient life blog.  Thanks!



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