Let's Party Like It's 1929!

 Top 6 Tips for Cooking in a Depression

Whatever your favorite pundit is calling the current and ongoing economic crunch - recession, economic decline, bear market, slow down -- one thing is certain: the cost of living is going up. Groceries are more expensive and getting to and from the store is costlier as well.

Recently, a close friend said to me, "I just read an article that compares our current economic woes to some of the harbingers of the Great Depression. How are we supposed to prepare for that?"

I'm not a financial whiz (really I'm more grasshopper than ant), but I shrugged and replied, "I guess we should live like the second Depression has already come." It sounds a little scary, but could it hurt? I did a little research.

During World War 1, the U.S. Food Administration was responsible for overseeing the allies' food reserves and for stabilizing the price of wheat and other commodities. The USFA made recommendations for American civilians to utilize the food supply with respect and thoughtfulness.

By the time the Great Depression came (ten years later), many American households were already versed in making the most of their food supplies. Here are the recommendations of the U.S. Food Administration for Food:

1. Buy it with thought

Make a list for grocery shopping (and stick to it), with an emphasis on good, healthy pantry items and foods that will help to stretch your food dollars.

2. Cook it with care

Consider investment cooking (creating extra portions of soups, stews and other foods that can be frozen or refrigerated for later use). Gather a handful of favorite recipes that utilize simple, common ingredients used well.

3. Serve just enough

Portion control will help your bottom line and your bottom. Then see below.

4. Save what will keep

When the meal is finished, take a few moments to portion out the leftovers for meals to take to work or school (or even to freeze).

5. Eat what will spoil

Many of us (including me) are guilty of buying fresh produce and then ignoring it until it's well past the use by date. Eat your fresh veggies and fruits first. Save your pantry items for later.

6. Home grown is best

Plant a vegetable garden if you have room. If you don't, consider doing some urban farming at a community garden or with potted tomatoes, greens or herbs on a porch, balcony or patio.

Throughout the year, Fresh City Life will be hosting events that offer tips for making your food dollars go further. Starting this Saturday, Chef Jessica Gaydos presents cooking demos on Depression Era cooking. Chef Jessica knows lots of delicious ways to minimize your food bill and maximize your budget.

Power Pantry - Saturday, April 9, 1:30-3 p.m.Central Library, Level B2 Conference Center

Keeping a well-stocked pantry means cooking at home more often, which means better, cheaper and more nutritious food for you and your family. Chef Gaydos will give you all the tools to make your pantry a powerful asset for your cooking and your financial strength. Recipes and samples included.

Written by Chris on April 5, 2011


Anonymous on April 6, 2011


Love this!

Anonymous on April 6, 2011

In reply to by Anonymous


Thanks for the tips!

Andrea @ Fork … on April 7, 2011


Totally agree. A well-stocked pantry with staple ingredients equals better-for-you food and money-saved.

Growing up on limited means (decades ago), meant we rarely ate out and made things from scratch. We ate a lot of soups, beans and dishes where meat was stretched. As an adult, I still prefer the same over the convenience of processed food.

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