Sustainable Living: Kitchen Tips from the Great Depression

It just so happens that sustainable living practices coincide with times of recession.

It makes sense, when you think about it. During economic recession, saving money means using less – turning down the heat, making your own dinner, and using less fuel, being kind to the earth as a result.

In general, these practices also mean being healthier. It’s a 3-in-1 deal, and how can you say no to that?

The amount of things you can do to save energy are only as limited as your imagination. It just means reworking how you think. Do you really need to throw away that Ziplock bag, or can you reuse it?

Today’s tip: Make your own food.

(This goes along with our post about victory gardens! Growing your own vegetables, fruit and herbs is cheap and fun.)

Pre-made/frozen meals use more plastic & cardboard waste than home-cooked meals, not to mention all the added sugar & preservatives. Do your body and your wallet a favor: don’t buy prepared meals.

Just take a tip from YouTube star Clara, a 94-year-old cook who demonstrates meals that her mother made during the Great Depression. In her popular online show, she shows how to stretch ingredients to the furthest degree and still get a great meal out of it.

You can check out Clara’s videos and recipes here.

"Wilt-not waste-not" fresh vegetable care released from 1941-1945

“Wilt-not waste-not” fresh vegetable care released from 1941-1945

  • Cooking your own meals takes some planning. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Plan out a week’s worth of meals, including leftovers, before you go to the grocery store. That’ll keep you from the temptation from buying unnecessary, unhealthy packaged food.
  • Fresh food is your friend! So are rice & pasta, good staples to keep in your pantry.
  • Reduce the amount of meat you use, or get rid of it altogether. Meat is more expensive than most other foods you’ll buy.

And there you have it. Some simple ideas to get the healthy train going. If you eat out constantly, try starting out with a couple cooked dinners a week, and see where it takes you!

Do you have any kitchen tips not mentioned here? Do your fellow sustainable cooks a favor and write your tips in the comments!

Sustainable Living: What We Can Learn from the Great Depression

At the time of the Great Depression, people used whatever tricks they could to live frugally and not use up their resources.

Today, “Green Living” has been introduced to help the planet as well as save money in today’s economic downturn. But in today’s world of mass production where no one in the millennial generation knows how to darn socks, many have to completely re-learn methods of waste-free living.

We would like to help aid the movement toward sustainable living. Using research on living at the time of the Great Depression, we’ll write a series of articles describing the methods they used at the time of the Great Depression and give helpful suggestions adapted for today’s audience.

A woman with canned fruit for the winter in 1933.

A woman with canned fruit, ready for the winter in 1933.

In an article on Yahoo Voices written by Stewart Lodge, Stewart describes the Depression as a simpler time when nothing was put to waste if anyone could help it. Kids used plastic bread wrappers for lunchboxes, people wore shoes until they fell apart (then fixed the soles themselves), and canned their fruit for the winter.

Times may be different now, but where applicable, we can still learn from the past.

A simple motto to start with is this: Learn to love used stuff.



Does everything you buy really need to be new? Sometimes the hand crafted items that have stood the test of time are the better options. Not to mention the vintage charm and history they contain. (You might find some old items you like scattered throughout our other blog articles!)

And sometimes things you’ve owned for a long time don’t necessarily need to be replaced. Have a couch that’s getting a little shabby? Simply give it a snazzy new couch cover or replace the springs. Rework your thoughts from “I need to get a new one” to “How can I fix this?” That way you can save money and also stop that couch from going to the landfill.

Sometimes the way to start a big change is with small steps, and internalizing small mottos like this one can go a long way.

Make sure to check back regularly for posts on how you can make a difference with sustainable living!

And help us out in the comments: What do you do to live sustainably?