Food Frugality in the New Depression

The last few months I have been toying with the idea of writing a cookbook on frugal eating. The era I write in defines frugality and the way I live my own life reflects that a lot. It occurred to me that in our fast food, microwave box dinner society, a lot of people have lost touch with cooking from scratch and have no idea how much cheaper and healthier it can be.  Despite the carbs and the lard, the obesity epidemic has only taken root in the last twenty years with the rise of factory franken-food. Yes, it's easy and fast, a plus for the overwhelmed, overworked person, but it also costs more in the wallet and the doctor's office. 

I bake our own bread to this day. There are times when I get super busy and end up having to grab a loaf from the store. It's light and flimsy and doesn't fill up the three boys I have to keep fed. It takes three store bought sandwiches to fill them up instead of one homemade. But it buys me enough time to get more made.

I have collected hundreds of recipes over the years and have recently challenged myself to recreate as much convenience box food as possible. My crowning achievement so far has been Magic Shell ice cream topper. I haven't bought that in a long, long time. 

Another success was homemade Hamburger Helper. WHY the boys in my life love that crap, I'll never know. But I found a way to make it homemade and healthy. My sisters favorite is mac and cheese with real sharp cheddar. (She just came over yesterday and special ordered it while we were visiting.) 

I spend about 400-500 a month to feed a family of four. My husband has a physical job and my older son has no end to what his stomach can hold. My teenager is over six feet tall and he, too, has a hunger that is relentless.  I've had a lot of people shocked at how little I spend. I've had more people shocked with how little we get sick and go to the doctor. It's been over four years, in case you're wondering. We only recently got a new family doctor here in Utah because of asthma. (Don't get me started on the air here.) 

I believe this is, in part, due to how little processed food we eat. Now, we are not perfect. Every two weeks I head out for grocery's and my teenager begs me for Pringles. I usually get them. But, it's once every few weeks. My son knows a kid who eats them every day. In our house, 'convenience food' is classified more as a 'treat'. But I'm getting off topic. 

Putting together a cookbook is no easy feat. The formatting logistics boggle and hurt my tech-phobic mind and, since I believe we are living in a new depression now, masked only by welfare and unemployment, I thought I might release these recipes on the blog first. 

We live in such an instant gratification world and transitioning to the old ways isn't always easy.

But, I know people out there are struggling. I want to help people who are struggling more than I want to make a buck on a cookbook. So, stay tuned. You're about to learn how to feed a family on very little. Something tells me, you just might like it. 


M. L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmother’s life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 series—as well as her own research into the Roarin’ Twenties. She has authored eight books, two novellas, one book of short stories and a serial. Gardner is married with three kids and three cats. She resides in northern Utah. Find the first book in her epic series here.

Posted on May 26, 2016 and filed under Frugal Eating.