Lessons From The Depression Generation

Do you remember having great meals with your grandma? Maybe she’d have a Turkey and some soup with vegetables fresh from the garden. The odds are this meal cost less to make per person than your average frozen pizza.

Because of the extremely lean times during the Great Depression (and then the rationing of World War II), an entire generation learned how to make a dollar stretch, while still providing nourishment for families that are larger than most today. What are some lessons from that generation that we can use today?

Stretch Meals to the Max

Do you buy deboned chicken breasts every time you want chicken? Usually for around the same cost of a few chicken breasts you can get an entire chicken. Make one meal from the breasts, cut up the parts everyone doesn’t eat for chicken salad sandwiches, and then use the bones and remaining meat to make a delicious chicken noodle soup. Now you’ve created 4 or 5 meals instead of a single one, and it all tastes great!

Grow Your Own Food

It was practically a requirement that everyone turn their suburban yards into Victory gardens. It’s rare that you find an older person without a well tended garden for this very reason. Paying $5 for some basil at the super market? You can grow a whole crop for a fraction of that price. Not only can you guarantee the quality of your ingredients, but it doesn’t get any fresher than pulling a tomato off of the vine and putting it into a salad of lettuce you grew. If you live in an apartment, it’s still probably possible to at least grow a few pots of herbs.

Service Your Own Car

You wouldn’t find many men trusting the family sedan to a mechanic in the 1950s. Doing minor maintenance on a car was expected. Although cars are way more complicated these days, it’s still certainly possible for any man or woman to change their own oil, brakes, and other minor repairs (wiper blades, lights, etc…). Although there may be some costs to get equipment in the first place, you’ll save a fortune in the long run (and maybe help some friends out as well).

What’s the key lesson with all of the above? A little more work on your part equals savings. Although we are used to an age of convenience where anything can be done for us, it can feel good to put a little elbow grease into your daily life, giving you a feeling of accomplishment and extra money in your pocket.