I’ve often heard my grandmother tell stories about growing up during the Great Depression. She was around 10 years old, the seventh of eight children. Their family was very poor, and her father (my great-grandfather) took every odd job he could to make ends meet while her mother stayed home to raise the eight children. She’s told me many stories of standing in line for cheese and bread rations, and how they could only afford one pair of shoes a year, which they wore until holes were worn into the bottom.
I have always admired the wisdom and resilience of people who grew up during this time. Growing up in such great hardship equips one with mental toughness and the skills to survive almost any situation.
Here are 13 survival skills we can learn from those who grew up in the Great Depression.
1. Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
To this day, my grandmother is the type to not throw anything away that she might use later. Scraps of fabric, wrapping paper, containers such as pill bottles and tons of other items we might consider trash can actually be reused and re-purposed. If you think something might be of use later, don’t throw it out.
2. Use Meat Extenders to Make Meals Stretch Further
During the Great Depression, people would use “fillers” such as oatmeal or lentils to bulk up their meat dishes and make them go a little further. This is also a great way to make your meals a little healthier.
3. Make Your Own Toiletries
Toiletries such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste can be made at home for a fraction of the cost.
4. Don’t Pay for Anything You Could Do Yourself
The convenience of hiring someone to mow your lawn, change your oil or clean your house might be convenient, but you’re really just throwing money away. Save money by doing it yourself, and enlist the kids to help.
5. Grow Your Own Herbs and Vegetables
Growing your own food is not only a rewarding and healthy hobby; it will save you hundreds of dollars every year.
6. Buy Generic When You Can
From clothes to food to cleaners to medication, name brand doesn’t always mean better. Do your research, and buy generic.
7. Just a Dab Will Do
Believe it or not, most of us are using too much soap, shampoo and laundry detergent. Our grandparents learned that “just a dab will do” — any more is a waste.
8. Clean With Vinegar
Vinegar is an amazing natural household cleaner. Use it for everything from cleaning windows and mirrors to deodorizing drains.
9. Learn to Sew and Mend Your Own Clothes
Sewing your own clothes is fun and will save you tons of money, and knowing how to mend them yourself will allow you to get a lot more use out of your clothes.
10. Reuse Containers
Tubs like the ones butter or sour cream are sold in can be washed and reused for a multitude of purposes. You can even make your own “miracle safe” out of an old mayonnaise jar.
11. Raise Animals for Food
Even if you don’t have land for large livestock, smaller animals like rabbits and chickens can be raised in your backyard and killed for food.
12. Learn to Preserve and Store Food
Canning and storing food for long-term use will save you money and keep your food from going to waste.
13. Cherish the Time Spent with Family
One thing I’ve always admired about my grandmother and her siblings is how they’ve stayed so close throughout the years. Times of hardship have a way of bringing us together, and cherishing the time spent with your family will make the hard times seem just a little better. Even if SHTF, staying close to your family — physically and emotionally — will give you hope and comfort no matter what happens.
Do you have any “Great Depression” tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments!
One man’s trash could be survival treasure. Click here to learn some awesome survival uses for old, empty pill bottles.
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