Frugal Tips from the Past

One of my favorite things is to read books from the past–children’s stories, memoirs, cook books, household tips, and photographic journals. I love gleaning useful bits of information from them and hanging my understanding of history upon them. I have a pile of vintage household tip and cook books from the 1900’s on.

Alongside crazy home remedies are many useful ideas which I find especially helpful in making our income go as far as I can. I have also gleaned many money saving tips from my grandparents who lived through the depression. I thought maybe I would share some of my favorites. The photos are all from my husband’s family as well as one from my mom’s family (I need to grab the album I did for my grandma and take pictures of those as well.)

From my grandmother I learned to save bread bags and wash them out. I find that this applies to fruit and bulk product bags as well (since we make our own bread). She also taught me to wear “play clothes” at home and change when going out and to keep old clothes as rags.

My other grandmother taught me to bake at night in the summer and in the day in the winter. In the summer it allows the house to cool faster, in the winter it helps to warm the house. She taught me how to bake from scratch and how to start plants from cuttings (I vaguely remember how at this point though I plan to relearn.)

From my great aunt I learned to know my edible weeds. Growing up she made wonderful dandelion salad and was known for dandelion wine. Since then I have learned to identify other edible and medicinal plants, most recently from Tnfarmgirl. The kids LOVE to pick me dandelion leaves for salad and enjoy searching the yard for useful weeds. Note: we don’t use anything on our yard though we are careful to wash what we use as our neighbors do.

From various books from the great depression and earlier I learned to keep less clothing per person and wear them more than once–this saves on laundry plus wear and tear on the clothes from being washed so often. Due to allergies we can’t hang the clothes out to dry but I only wash full loads which saves a lot.

From my grandfather I learned to use the leaves and dead grass and old newspaper as mulch. He taught me to reuse indoor water for watering plants. He also never bought what he could reuse. If he needed something to decorate the yard (he was big on yard ornaments) or needed to build something he used what he had lying around. I have also applied this to recipes, using what I have instead of running out to buy ingredients. If I am out and can’t substitute we don’t make it.

Despite financial setbacks we have it much easier than our predecessors. I want our children to know how blessed they are. To be wise with what we have and develop a connection with the past by learning from our ancestors and knowing where we come from.