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Great Depression Survival Tips

Survival Tips from the Great Depression

The Great Depression happened ages ago and I'm sure we're all hoping it doesn't happen again. But in case it does, better be prepared, here are some helpful survival tips! This post is courtesy of Survival Life shared with permission — What Can We Learn From One of America’s Darkest Eras?

I’ve often heard my grandmother tell stories about growing up during the Great Depression. 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’ve always admired the wisdom and resilience of people who grew up during that time. Growing up in such great hardship equips one with mental toughness and the skills to survive almost any situation.

Here are survival skills we can learn from those who grew up in the Great Depression.

1. Re-use, Re-use, Re-use

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. Even 100 years before the Great depression the history of quilting in Black American culture began as early as the 17th century, with enslaved women threading, sewing, and quilting together patchwork blankets made with scraps of fabric from slave owners' households — purely for the purpose of keeping themselves and their families warm throughout the night.

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. Add chopped mushrooms to meat to increase a dish’s B vitamins, selenium and dietary fiber; mushrooms that are exposed to UV light can boost vitamin D content, too. Mushrooms add umami characteristics often described as “meatiness” to dishes and allow you to use less salt. There’s no exact recipe for blending: Use 8 ounces of raw mushrooms for 8 ounces of raw meat, or use one pound of raw mushrooms for less meat — both will work well because mushrooms cook similar to meat. Chop fresh mushrooms and mix with raw ground meat, or sauté or roast the mushrooms first to enhance flavor. Roughly chop mushrooms with a knife or use a food processor until they look like ground meat.

Affordable brown lentils are similar in color and texture to crumbled, cooked ground meat and are a good source of protein, fiber, iron and folate. Traditional in Mediterranean dishes such as Greek keftedes and Persian koftas, lentil meat extension is not new. To raw ground meat, add cooked brown lentils in a ratio of 3:1 or 2:1. Lentils that are pureed or pulsed in a food processor act as a binder to keep burgers and meatballs from crumbling and can replace egg or breadcrumb binders.

Beans a meat extender, cooked or canned beans are more noticeable in a final dish than lentils. However, mashed beans act much like pureed lentils as a binder, especially if you add a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) of the starch-rich canned bean brine. The brine is salty, so you need less salt in recipes. Mashed pinto or black beans are barely noticeable in ground beef. Lighter colored mashed garbanzo or great northern beans meld into ground chicken or turkey.

Whole Grains and Seeds

Adding oats, bulgur, quinoa and chia seeds can add volume and nutrients to meat. You can’t go wrong with 1 cup cooked bulgur or quinoa per pound of raw meat. For use as a binding agent, start with ¾ cup dry oats or 1 tablespoon hydrated chia seeds per pound of raw meat.

3. Make Your Own Toiletries

Toiletries such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste can be made at home for a fraction of the cost.

Castille Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda…. These are the essential ingredients that homesteader's know and love…

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.…That is if you can't make it at home with baking soda, lemons or vinegar.

7. Just a Dab Will Do Ya

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. A pump does not mean you have to press all the way down. Depressing half-way or even a quarter of the way will suffice.

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. It's the acidity of these foods—in addition to time in a boiling water bath—which helps preserve them safely without the use of high pressure. If it's your first time canning, start with the boiling water bath method!Three types of canning methods are water bath canning, steam canning, and pressure canning. Water bath canning involves using pots deep enough to submerge the jars, which then boil for processing. Pressure canning, on the other hand, uses canners with dials and gauges and applies heat with pressure. Steam canning is a third good option. It is an acceptable substitute for the water bath.

Cherish the Time Spent with Family

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.

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