Use it up, wear it out . . .

. . . make it do, or do without!

A phrase that became famous first during World War 1, made popular again during the Great Depression and then again during World War 2. Around the time the United States entered WW1, Calvin Coolidge is said to have created the phrase to encourage Americans to make do with shortages and rationing from the war. However, he “was quoted as saying ‘Eat it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without”. The phrase was later changed to “Use it up.”

During these three periods of history, those that were able to stay in their homes embraced the ‘Victory Garden’ ideals and raised whatever food they could. There was no money for items such as shoes or clothing. Everything was used until it just couldn’t be used anymore.

In these days of high inflation and food shortages, we may have to take some points from our parents or grandparents who lived through the depression and/or food rationing during WWII.

Use it up

That means don’t throw things away unless it absolutely can’t be avoided. For example, don’t throw away a jar of peanut butter unless it is completely empty. Add a little water to the bottom of that bottle of shampoo or facial cleanser to get the last drop. Cut open that pump bottle of moisturizer to use up the last few applications.

Learn to use leftover food in new ways. Take that last serving of chili and stretch it with macaroni or rice to make an additional meal. Add the leftover broccoli or asparagus to a salad or fritata/omelet. Save your vegetable trimmings in the freezer, and use to make stock. If they aren’t good for stock, start a compost pile for your garden.

Many frugal practices involve repurposing materials for new uses. Bread bags can be cut in half to use as sandwich bags. Old towels can be cut into washcloths. With a little thought and creativity, you can reuse the things you’ve bought and save yourself from buying again.

Reuse those things that you normally would throw away. I used to mock my mother for washing and reusing storage bags. Now I think she was on to something.

If you know how to knit, you can even use the yarn from an old sweater to create a new item for your wardrobe!

Wear it out

Learn to mend.  Learn to sew on buttons. I still have a button collection, and have had one for decades. Learn to sew if you don’t already know how. Lots of clothing items come with extra buttons and yarns. Save them to use for repairs.

Create new items from old clothing, such as shorts from jeans, quilts from baby clothes or favorite t-shirts.

Learn how to repair things in your home if it is at all possible. If you can’t do it, find a local reliable repairman or handyman. Be sure to maintain your expensive purchases in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. And remember that the new refrigerator or washing machine isn’t always better.

If your kids’ clothes and shoes are outgrown, then find someone who has clothing to trade, or just needs clothes for their kids.

When your clothes are worn out, use the cloth for rags. And save the buttons!

Make it do

Don’t trade in your cell phone if it is still working. Same with your car. We don’t always need to buy the newest model.

Instead of buying books and DVD’s, get a library card and borrow them.

If you don’t have a particular tool, or ingredient, use your ingenuity to find something else that you DO have that will do the job. For example, if you don’t have a rolling pin, would a wine bottle or peanut butter jar work?

Tape can be used for purposes other than wrapping gifts. Like making your own lint remover with a toilet paper core and tape with the sticky side out. Or to cover a small cut just until the bleeding stops. A piece of sticky tape works great to remove crumbs from your keyboard or pieces of broken glass from the floor.

I once made a book bag for my daughter out of old jeans, and covered an ink stain on a favorite pair of jeans with an embroidered flower. Old socks are great as dust cloths – just slip one over your hand and dust away! I remember my mother making outdoor planters out of old metal chicken feeders.

If you don’t have butter, perhaps you can substitute lard, oil, bacon grease, or vegetable shortening, depending upon the food you are preparing. Substitute some oil in place of an egg (it often works).

Perhaps use half as much ground beef or turkey in your homemade chili, or substitute the meat with extra beans and maybe some mushrooms or frozen/canned corn.

Do without

Remember that a want and a need are two different things. Can we do without the extras? Of course we can. Do we really need a laptop, notebook, AND smart phone?

Get rid of cable and get a streaming device instead. Switch to a lower-cost substitute like Hulu or Netflix.

Tips for saving food dollars:

  • This is what I did as a young wife on a strict budget ($25 a week in 1968 – and that included ingredients for packed lunches and cleaning supplies). I got the flyers from my local stores, found out what was on sale, and planned my meals around the sale items. I bought really good bread from a bakery and meat from a butcher. I only shopped once per week.
  • Make things from scratch. Make your own pasta sauce from canned or fresh tomatoes instead of buying the expensive jarred sauces. Yours will be better and less expensive. Try making your own bread, tortillas, salsa, cakes and cookies. Refrigerator pickles are delicious and easy to make. Ditto refrigerator jam.
  • Eat the food you prepare, at home, rather than getting carry out or going out to eat. Carry your lunch to work.

Tips for making it do:


This entry was posted in baking, cooking, Economy, Inflation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Use it up, wear it out . . .

  1. MaryfromMarin says:

    Where did this post go?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reflection says:

    While searching for a better way to open ring-top cans, I came upon this solution and it works very well.

    Take a sturdy wooden spoon.
    Pull the ring tab upright.

    Insert the spoon handle through the ring, until the spoon end rests on the opposite side of the lid near the rim.

    While holding the spoon handle steady, pull-up on the bowl end of the spoon. The can will open smoothly and easily.

    No cost, no mess, no pain!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Re-Farmer says:

    There’s a kind of surreal sense I get about how “popular” such notions are getting now. This is how I grew up. All our neighbours did the same things, since they were pretty much all subsistence farmers, too. This is how I’ve lived pretty much my entire life (though my husband had difficulties getting used to it! We were raised under very different circumstances. LOL). With all our moves and homeschooling on a single income, who could afford anything else? I’m glad to see more people recognizing the value of such a lifestyle and trying to learn how to do it, but I still catch myself thinking “you mean you weren’t already doing that?” 😀

    Gosh, I suddenly feel old… 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • jeans2nd says:

      I agree – “you mean you weren’t already doing that?”
      No worries, though. We all may be feeling old, but most of us taught our kids during our early lean years. Most will be fine, Our Lord willing. Not including the city folks, of course. We should pray for them.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Re-Farmer says:

        A remarkable number of city folks are trying to get creative about “homesteading” with what little they have access to. It’s been pretty remarkable, watching what has been a fairly slow shift suddenly go into overdrive! People are scared.

        Liked by 3 people

    • stella says:

      That’s the way my family lived when I was little. Of course, I am old. My first home as a child was a garage that was converted by my dad and uncle. My second home was a house built by those two and a couple of my other uncles. Both houses were tiny.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. czarina33 says:

    My parents grew up during the Great Depression in dust bowl Oklahoma. They were naturally frugal and never wasteful. All the things you mentioned and more. Even when we finally became upper middle class income they still did it. Czar just fit into saving, reusing, eating leftovers, growing, caning and freezing. I haste it when some food goes bad before I can finish it! I am still wearing my favorite raincoat from 1998! And used dogs and cats are fine (Czar’s favorite phrase, “who would throw away a perfectly good dog/cat?!?!”)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. deaconmike51907 says:

    We have become a wasteful throwaway society. One example is the almost complete disappearance of shoemaker shops. When was the last time anyone brought shoes to be re-soled or put a new heel? Just one example, but indicative of how we treat our possessions. Disposable. Whether they were meant to be or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • czarina33 says:

      We got new clothes every September, including a new outfit for church. Wore it all year. Mama patched knees on my brothers’ jeans over and over, using patches cut out of old jeans. We changed out of school clothes the minute we got home, into “play clothes” to keep the school clothes nice. Of course, Mama said she wore a hand me down slip to school her entire third grade year…1930-31… and her mother sewed clothes out of the fabric from flour sacks.

      Liked by 1 person

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