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16 Tips From The Depression Era That Are Actually Life Hacks

Because wasting your hard-earned gravy is bonkers.

1. When making a meal with ground beef, replace some of the beef with lentils.

Substitute up to half the amount of beef with cooked lentils. You've save a little money and consume less fat and calories.

2. Oatmeal also makes a great meat extender.

3. Make your own toothpaste.

All it takes is sea salt, baking soda, and peppermint oil.

4. Save strawberry pint containers for storage.

Instead of throwing out those cute little pints, save them to organize small objects, like nail polish or your keys.

5. Reuse your clementine boxes.

Use them as plant holders or magazine holders.

6. Grow your own herbs and vegetables.

You'll have flavorful chives, mint, and basil on hand at all times and end up saving money by not having to drop cash each time you need fresh herbs.

Check out 13 vegetables that magically regrow themselves. Scallions, garlic, and celery are all plants that you should save the ends of and plant in your own home.

7. Mash potatoes with the skin on.

It will bulk up your mashed potatoes and give you an extra dose of vitamins from the skin. Just be sure to scrub them clean before cooking.

8. Keep a soup stock bag in the freezer.

Add leftover bones, onion ends, and vegetable peels. Once you've stockpiled enough odds and ends, boil it down to create homemade stock.

9. Start hoarding sugar packets.

Your friends might laugh at you for channeling your inner grandma, but you'll be laughing your way to the bank. Every time you get a cup of coffee, take a few extra sugar packets. By the end of the week, you'll have enough sugar for a batch of cookies.

10. Reuse every single container that comes into your home.

Remove the labels from glass pasta or jam jars and use them as a drinking glasses. Or, if you're feeling super luxurious, gild them.

11. Put whiskey in your soda.

During the prohibition era, they would sneak home-brewed bourbon into their soda. While it's no longer necessary to get your buzz on so discreetly, this still makes a delicious drink.

12. Make apple pie with Ritz crackers.

During the Depression, apples were expensive and hard to come by. Some thrifty folks figured out that when they broke up the more accesible Ritz crackers and flavored them with lemony simple syrup, they got a filling that's unbelievably similar to that of apple pie.

13. Shave with a straight razor.

In addition to having the closest shave of your life, you’ll never have to buy razor cartridges or double edge blades ever again. Just give your straight razor a nice stropping and you’re good to go.

Bonus tip: storing it in mineral oil will keep it from corroding and will make your straight razor last indefinitely.

14. Make a "wacky" depression cake that is accidentally vegan.

This recipe uses vinegar and oil, which act as cheaper alternatives to eggs and butter. Get the full recipe here.

15. Before brewing, throw a pinch of salt into your coffee.

The salt reduces bitterness and creates smoothness, making cheaper grounds of coffee taste a whole lot better.

16. Save everything, and never replace an item you can fix yourself.

With such easy access to new stuff nowadays, it feels like no big deal to get rid of a shirt because it's missing a button or has a small stain.

It's easier to mend your clothes than you think. Learn the basics here.

Check out this post for 46 more penny-pinching tips.