Waste Not, Want Not

Stacey Gustafson, writerGrowing up during the Great Depression, my late grandparents were the original recyclers and frugal beyond measure.  They believed absolutely everything deserved a second chance at a new life, from a piece of string to an old pair of shoes.

Perhaps it’s time to learn from an old saying, “waste not, want not.”  Our grandparent’s penny-pinching philosophy may be worth another look in today’s throwaway society.

Below is a list of “How To” tips from a booklet I found among my grandmother’s possessions, Household Hints, dated 1950.  Some of the suggestions are worthy of a second look even in 2013.  Others are a funny glimpse into the past.  You decide.

How to Be a Wise Housewife

  1. Fluff up the nap of your rugs under furniture legs by covering with a wet cloth and steaming with an iron.  Brush the spot with a stiff bristled brush.
  2. By putting double hems on your solid colored curtains you can reverse them after each washing and lengthen their life.
  3. Don’t throw those worn or torn sheets away.  You can salvage more than enough good parts for a few pillowcases.
  4. Store your candles in the refrigerator instead of the buffet.  When in use they will burn slower and not drip.

How to Save Money

  1. Don’t buy a new raincoat just because your old one leaks in sport.  Turn it inside out and repair by covering the holes with adhesive tape.
  2. The same goes for those almost good rubbers and galoshes.  Mend these with tire patches that you can buy at a hardware store.
  3. Before putting on your shoes, rub toes and heels of your stockings with a candle.  Prevents runs by providing a smooth surface or those special parts that take all the guff from shoes.
  4. Use that emery board for rejuvenating worn looking suede shoes or bags.  Just rub over spots, steam and you’re ready for the most important date.

How to Master Your Mister

  1. Just feed him delicious brown patties made by combining leftover sausage meat, mashed potatoes or chicken salad with plain pancake batter.  Sit back to bask in his praises, but not too long…he’ll want more.
  2. Be a thrifty, nifty cook by having your butcher cut pockets in your chops, shoulder or breast of meat.  Fill with a delicious bread stuffing and see how far this economy dish stretches.
  3. Don’t throw that old fat away even if it was used for frying fish and has retained the odor.  Just fry a sliced potato in the grease and presto…the potato has absorbed all unpleasant odors.
  4. When husband isn’t looking, pilfer some of his pipe cleaners.  There’s nothing better for cleaning between the tines of forks.

How about you?  Do you have any tips from your grandparents?  Leave me a comment and let me know. 

About staceygustafson


  1. I’m wondering what my husband will say about tonight’s dinner: Delicious brown patties made from leftover sausage, mashed potatoes and pancake batter. Somehow, I doubt he’ll want more!

  2. I’d love to give a lengthy comment here, but I’m off to make pillowcases and double hem the drapes…

  3. Lani Longshore says

    Wash the curtains? It’s the future – where is my self-cleaning house!?!

  4. Paulette Niehoff says

    WOW! I would have been divorced for sure. The cooking sounds scrumptious! Funny, I don’t remember my mother ever making “delicious brown patties”.

  5. I’m off to sneak one of Tim’s pipe cleaners! The dishwasher didn’t do too well on the forks today!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.