Frugal Living » Lessons from The Great Depression

Lessons from The Great Depression

fb iconpinterest iconpinterest iconlinkedin iconbuffer icon

Tips and tricks that were used to help families survive the great depression can certainly be useful during today’s economic crisis. They might need a little updating but I feel there is something to learn from how people sacrificed and came together to help each other. Here are a few lessons from the great depression that can still be applied today.

Lessons from the Great Depression

Growing your own food

This is an obvious one. People back then, grew their own food, traded and sold it to friends and neighbors, much like a co-op. A lot of people still do this today. Even if you don’t have the property for crops or the room in your yard for a full garden, there are things you can do to help reduce what you do pay for at the grocery store.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Container gardening:

Plant an herb arranged, stacked and placed together in a sunny corner. Save space by growing plants in tipsy pots. Go completely weed-free and maintenance-free by gardening in grow buckets.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Food storage

When fresh fruits and vegetables are at their peak, check your area for a farm and get the bushel price. When the strawberry stands start popping up, stock up and freeze or can for future use. When green beans go dirt cheap buy a ton, just wash and freeze. Corn on the cob freezes wonderfully in brown paper bags with the husks left on.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Wholesale shopping

Want to get the case price for ground beef but can’t handle 80 lbs. at one time? Find a few friends and split it. While you’re at it go ahead and get the case price on chicken breasts. Maybe buy the great big bag of potatoes and split it with a friend. Not all things are cheaper when purchased in bulk so be sure to use your head and pay attention.

Stretching meals

Here’s a big one, we all should be doing. Think side dishes; add a salad to the meal even if you have a vegetable already. When you serve tacos, make rice, bean, and salad to go with.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of leftover taco meat you’ll have that can be rolled over into another meal, or will allow you to start cooking less because you don’t need to cook so much meat to feed everyone.  One of our favorite meal stretchers is one chicken, five meals.

Repair or Repurpose it

Don’t throw it out and buy a new one just because it broke. Whatever the item might be try to see if it can be repaired reasonably or repurposed for another use.

For example, old clothes can be turned into cleaning rags, or possibly saved to make other items, like making pillows or blankets from all those sweatshirts and t/shirts you’ve been collecting from events. Even old hockey sticks can be transformed into an eye-catching bench. Here are 20 crafty ways to recycle almost everything.

Lessons from The Great Depression

Use the public library

How-to books for everything you ever imagined. Get lost in a good book instead of paying to go out to the movies. You can also rent books and audiobooks digitally to your devices. Dvd’s can also be checked out from the library. Start a book or movie swap with your friends.

Necessity vs. want

Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. There is nothing wrong with going without for a few weeks to help stretch the family budget and pay down debt or work towards an actual family need. And I’m speaking about those new shoes or the new movie that just came out you want to go see. 

Don’t waste anything! Living through the great depression inspired people to be creative, you can do it too!


What are your favorite tips for surviving tough economic times?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / iqoncept

View More Frugal Living Ideas

8 thoughts on “Lessons from The Great Depression”

  1. i am using scrap yarn and partial skeins that i have had and those that people have given me to make afghans for the homeless or displaced. i make 3 strips that have 158 rows. I chain 55 with a 5.5 mm hook (about a size 9) and turn and use the half double crochet (HDC) and have 53 stitches across.

    When I complete the strip I single crochet (SC) around stretching the yarn loosely to reach (on the sides) the hump that comes up with this stitch after 2 rows. On the top and bottom I sc in each stitch. after the 3 strips have all this around them I use the reverse sc also called shrimp stitch to join the strips and reverse sc around the whole thing.

    I make 2 chains to go around the afghan which I roll up. These are economical and useful to give or have for yourself. They are colorful and when completed people want them…the strips sometimes don’t look nice until the finishing work is done.

    The charity that I have been donating these to have an outreach ministry and seem to really like them.

  2. reduce, reuse, re-purpose, recycle. for example, we like lemoncello and i am making it in a gallon jar. the jar will be used to store baking mix once i’m done with it.

    the lemon peels will later be candied for holiday gift giving. the lemons i was left with have been dehydrated to make lemon aid or added to my iced tea. old shirts have been cut into squares to make quilts, jeans as well.

    many household items dd has needed have come to her from yard sales and second hand shops. i’ve made watermelon preserves and watermelon pickles from salad bar discards i arranged to have them save for me. since i don’t have room or the light to grow a garden, i purchase my bulk produce from the local farmer’s market and can/freeze/dehydrate accordingly.

    we eat beans and grain at least once a week. i alter clothing as needed-most don’t have the skills anymore. i make my fur babies their cookies-and i share these at holiday time.

    clothes are purchased at second hand stores–even for special events. i look for marked down meats (they must be sold within 2 days) and then freeze in portion controlled packages (vacuum sealed). I coupon and ad match and make as much as I can from scratch.

    My next foray will be into baking all my own bread.

  3. i shop at the bread store about 2 or 3 times a week. I freeze the bread as is in it’s packaging. When I take it out of the freezer I wrap it in a fluffy towel and place it on the counter overnight.

    The next morning the bread has thawed and taste fresh. You can only do this once. the bread will crumble.

  4. :celebrate1:I shop at the Bread Store about 2 or 3 times a week. I freeze the bread as is in it’s packaging. When I take it out of the freezer I wrap it in a fluffy towel and place it on the counter overnight.

    The next morning the bread has thawed and taste fresh. You can only do this once. the bread will crumble.

  5. these are some things that my family and i do.

    1. Re-use plastic bottles (such as: coke, sprite, powerade, gatorade, etc.) We wash them thoroughly and refill them with tap water. Put into the fridge or freezer for later use.

    2. Freezer pops from leftover Kool-aid (fun for the kids to make and eat)
    We make Kool-aid (store brand works just as good; and it’s cheaper), as instructed on the package. Fill ice trays with Kool-aid.
    (Just for fun, we put a gummi-bear in each slot of Kool-aid on the ice tray.) The kids love them!

    3. We re-use shoe boxes all the time. to store dvd’s, cd’s, small trinkets, receipts, etc.

    4. Re-use Butter Containers (very useful when you have leftovers)
    We wash them thoroughly, put the leftovers in them, cover (with one hand on top of lid gently pushing as much air out as possible before the lid snaps close). We then label it with a piece of masking tape on the lid; to specify whats in the bowl and the mm/dd/yy that it was cooked.

    We pre-cook (as well as leftovers) and freeze. So NOTHING goes to waste.
    It usually lasts us a month or two in the freezer.
    So, all we have to do is, take out of the freezer, thaw and reheat.

    :2cents: Saves us money in the long run.
    I hope you find these useful too.:piggy:


Leave a Comment