Learn valuable tips on frugal food preparation from the 1940s with these tips from wartime housewives. Discover how homemakers from the past made the most of what they had and reduce your food waste today.
If you want frugal food ideas one of the best places to look is to the World War II housewives. During that time people needed to save not only money but also ration food for the war efforts.
I love reading about the really inventive ways housewives made do in the 1940s. It’s sad that some of the tips have been largely lost but I’ve been spending time reading vintage magazines and learning so much. I want to share some of what I have learned with you.
We may not need to ration food right now but avoiding food waste is still a great way to save money and is also better for the environment.
Frugal Food Preparation Ideas
Keep Cakes Fresh
After you cut your cake take slices of bread and place them over the cut ends and secure them with toothpicks.
Fruit syrup from canned fruits works really well in place of some liquid in many desserts like rice puddings, brown betty, gelatine salads and desserts. You can even use it instead of water when baking apples.
Get More Out of Steak
Get every drop of goodness out of the steak you’re broiling by placing slices of bread in the drip pan under the steak.
You can serve them under the steak and it will help a thin steak look even better.
Don’t Waste Onions
Roasts seasoned with onions are always delicious but it can seem like such a waste to leave all the onion bits behind.
Instead, cut the onion into 1/4-inch slices and toothpick them to the top and sides of the roast.
You will get all of the onion flavor plus you can then serve the delicious onions or add them to the gravy.
Use All of Your Carrots
Carrot tops work really well as garnish in place of parsley. They are just as attractive and are often wasted.
Ways to Make Coffee Even Better
“Make those rationed cups of coffee twice as good as ever.”
- Buy no more than a pound at a time. The fresher your coffee is the better.
- Store coffee in a can or jar with an airtight lid.
- Keep coffee cool. You can even store it in the fridge. Heat robs coffee of its flavor.
- Measure tablespoons level, cups exactly, and no spoonful “for the pot.”
Stretch Your Tea
Coffee isn’t the only thing we don’t want to waste, you can also make tea last longer with these tips.
- Use a level spoonful, not a heaping spoon.
- Skip the “one for the pot” rule.
- Only brew the amount of tea you know your family and friends will drink so you aren’t pouring any down the drain.
Sweeten Your Cooked Cereal
Cooked cereals often taste just as good with half the sugar if you’ll sweeten it in the pan just before you serve it. You can also use honey to switch things up.
Make Leftover Sandwiches Better
Heat up leftover sandwiches in butter or other hot fat. No one will be complaining about leftovers with this trick.
“Feeding a family on a limited budget has taught me to measure ingredients accurately, not just dip in for this and that. It’s surprising how much longer supplies last!”
Don’t Waste Leftover Vegetables
To reheat vegetables put them into a wire strainer or heat-safe small colander and set them over rapidly boiling water.
As they steam, stir them around so they heat evenly. In a few minutes, they are piping hot and taste just as good as they did when you first made them.
Don’t Waste Your Cauliflower Greens
Take the leaves from your cauliflower and mix them into green salads.
You can also cook them in butter. They taste a lot like brussels sprouts.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
When cooking a big pot of beans have a jar ready. Save half of the beans and keep the in the refrigerator.
They are just as delicious a few days later and your family won’t get as tired of beans.
This tip works for many things. When you go to cook something think if you can make double and keep the other half in the fridge or freezer for another meal. This saves time and fuel.
Use a Double Boiled to Get Twice as Much Done
Cooking something like potatoes? Stick them in a double broiler and make vegetables on the top to heat while the potatoes cook.
Don’t Waste Celery Leaves
Cut up celery leaves and sprinkle them over meats or stews. You can also dry them out in a paper bag and use them for seasoning soups and pot roasts.
Use Up Leftover Onions
Toast leftover onion in the oven heat that is left after baking. Let slices dry to a golden brown.
Store them in an airtight jar and use them in soups or stews.
Don’t Waste Egg Yolks
Did you need just egg whites? Save the yolks for another dish by pouring over just enough oil to cover and store in the refrigerator. Just be sure to use it soon in another recipe.
If you aren’t sure what to do with the yolks you can add them to spinach, creamed vegetables, make a cream pie, or use for French toast.
Don’t Waste Butter
Butter for things like vegetables will go further and is more evenly distributed if you melt it first in a saucepan and then toss the vegetables in.
Some of these tips may seem like they don’t do a lot of food waste but it all adds up, that’s something the wartime housewife was good about remembering.
Even if we don’t need to save for the same reasons, with rising food costs being able to do little things like this to stretch our budgets can help. It’s also just interesting to see the ways homemakers used to save, add their tips with modern ones and you can really start saving!