Tried and True Tricks for Today’s Tangle
Granny’s Depression Era hacks to look good, eat well and thrive in the 2020's economic misery.
The International Monetary Fund has warned us to brace for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Luckily, I had someone on the inside of that catastrophe who relished any opportunity to share the tips and tricks that got her and her family through. My Granny.
Eve Walsh turned eighteen the year the stock market crashed. Ten years later when she was twenty-eight World War 2 was declared and she was living on a 1000-acre farm in outback Australia. In the ensuing decade, through war, rationing, bush fires and drought, she raised four children and worked the cattle farm with her husband.
Most people of her generation went through similar experiences, but she never let go of her frugal ways. Even fifty years after the Depression she was still taking measures. She always had two suitcases stashed under her bed full of essentials: tea, flour, sugar, and tins of fruit. It was as if she lived in fear of shortages, hunger, and poverty.
Another endearing characteristic of Granny was her ability to talk; long and often. Some people say older people repeat their stories because they have forgotten what they already told you, but repetition is also a great teaching tool.
I can’t say I was a perfect pupil, but some of her wisdom has stayed with me as I’ve grown into adulthood and now I feel her pearls may serve to help us all as we navigate our way through this calamity.
Granny’s tricks and tips:
1. Tea tan: Use and old shirt to dab black tea on to your skin and allow to dry for a sun-kissed honey glow.
2. Make your products last: Add a few drops of water to the container when you are running out. This trick can stretch out products such as moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner, and foundation.
3. Re-heel shoes: Get the cobbler to re-heel, or re-sole your shoes and they will be good as new for a fraction of the cost of a new pair. My Granny could make her shoes last for decades.
4. Hair Styling Product: Make sugar water, pop it into a spray bottle and use style your hair. This works on curly hair, as well as with a straightener. Tip: to make the spray stronger, use more sugar.
5. Hair Treatment: Use a little Vaseline to split ends to add shine and reduce the appearance of split ends.
6. Perfume: Add your favourite perfume to some Vaseline to make it last longer.
7. Dry your soap: To make the soap last longer, and to deter insects, leave your soap to dry in the linen cupboard.
8. Buy in bulk: It is cheaper and you’ll have back-up supplies if needed. Granny kept her excess in suitcases under the bed, but you do not have to. Justify all spending in terms of need, cheapest option, and usefulness.
9. Better Coffee: A bit of salt in the coffee grounds will improve the taste and remove the bitterness from cheap coffee.
10. Grow your scraps: You can grow several types of vegetables from those that are too old to eat, or from their scraps. Potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and garlic for example can grow from planting whole in soil. The bottom bulb part of a celery bunch will grow if planted directly into soil.
11. Buy the whole chicken: Granny did her own chook killing, but that maybe a step too far. But you will save hundreds of dollars in a year if you buy a whole chicken and cut it into sections yourself. There are loads of tutorials about how to do this. It is quick and easy and you can use every part. The frame makes a great soup.
12. Save the grease: Pour the grease from a roast into a container for future use. Known as dripping, it is great for roasting potatoes among other things. Bread and dripping was a favourite dinner of Granny’s.
13. Stretch the meat: Add dried lentils to meat dishes to bulk them up. This means you will need a lot less meat to feed more people. Casseroles, curries, and soups are all great with a lentil boost.
14. Sing and dance: Just because it was called the Depression, did not mean there was no fun. Singing and dancing were highly popular because they are free, they are fun and keeping a positive attitude is vital. Granny was particularly fond of the Charleston and would spontaneously burst into dance in the kitchen when the mood grabbed her.
15. Learn to do without: The ultimate tip. If you cannot make it, grow it, or afford it, then accept that you can’t have it.
I sincerely hope that we will not need these tricks for survival, however, as Granny always used to say: “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
I am sure that every family has a trove of tips and tricks to help save money and resources, I’d love to hear yours.
If you enjoyed my article please let me know with lots of clapping. I live for applause. For more nomadic tales and experiments come see me at Coolfooting where life is a journey not a race.