“We’ve become a throwaway society. We waste time and food, and sometimes we even throw away people…Growing up, we never wasted. We weren’t allowed to. People were starving. They still are.”—Grandma
Because my grandma grew up during the Great Depression, she learned how to use what she had in the kitchen and to avoid waste at all costs. She rarely ate out, and her family spent a lot of time cooking because there were many mouths to feed; she was one of ten children. Here are ten tips from her about how to cook mindfully today that could save us college students some money along the way.
If it’s old, don’t throw it away. Instead, separate the slices so they don’t get moldy and let them dry out. Grate them or break them into small pieces for homemade breadcrumbs.
2. Egg yolks
Does a recipe call for egg whites only? Save the egg yolks in a small cup with a little bit of water on top. Refrigerate for a few days and throw them into your next batch of scrambled eggs.
3. Egg whites
In order to avoid wasting even a drop, run your finger around the inside of the egg shell once you’ve cracked open the egg to coax out any remaining egg white.
4. Meat bones
Bones can be used to flavor soups, broths and sauces. For inspiration, look at this list:
- Chicken bones: veggie soup, broth
- Ham bones: baked beans, bean soup
- Beef bones (from roasts or T-bone steak): tomato sauces
- Lamb bones: broth (especially good if you’re sick)
Are your veggies looking a little wilted? Throw them into a crockpot and cook them in water for a while. You can also add a bone or two. This makes an easy pot of stock.
If your milk has gone mildly sour, don’t cry. You can use it in recipes that call for buttermilk, like pancakes and cakes.
Cook it down with some sugar and water to make fruit sauce. Alternately, can it and freeze it for the winter when there’s less fresh fruit available.
If you made stock but have some left over, freeze it for later. It’ll keep for about two months.
9. Empty avocado skins
You can rub the inside of the skins across your face to cleanse and invigorate it. My grandma knew a woman who did this (and also used a little egg on her face every night) and her skin looked like a twenty year old’s when she was ninety.
10. Potato peels and stale Tastykakes
You’d think that potato peels and stale pastries would be destined for the trashcan—not during the Great Depression. My grandma says, “We’d give ’em to the pigs, but the kids would fight the pigs for the Tastykakes!” So, if you have pigs in your yard, this is a good option; otherwise, you can compost the potato peels and see if there are any brave kids around who want to try their luck with the Tastykakes.
Don’t waste, and make your student budget last. You know the tricks of Great Depression cooking now.
A big thanks to my grandma for sitting down and spinning me tales of the olden days.