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Old Fashioned Simple Habits to Start Today

Old Fashioned Simple Habits to Start Today will help you start on the path of frugal living. Grandma and Grandpa had the right idea when they watched every penny spent.

If you’re looking for more ideas on living a simple lifestyle, If You Read One Article on Simple Living, Read This, and 55 Simple Pleasures in Life will help you on your journey.

Old Fashioned Simple Habits to Start Today - Vintage bowl with flour and eggs
Old Fashioned Simple Habits to Try Today

Financial stress is awful. We could be going through life without a care in the world when a sudden storm comes up out of nowhere and knocks out our economic progress instantly.

Instead of letting unfortunate life events cripple us with fear, look for the lesson to put you on a better path.

Most of us know that the price for everything we purchase will continue to rise, and our paychecks won’t increase at the same pace. It might be time for you to adjust your life so you can weather the storms on a more solid footing.

One of the things I always buy is organic cucumbers. It’s one of my favorite things to buy in the produce department. I was recently shocked to find the price at my local co-op for $4.49 a pound.  

The price is so high right now because the demand for organic cucumbers outweighs the supply. (This was during Covid.) Instead of going home with cucumbers that day, I bought more cabbage because the price was $1.49 a pound.

Adjusting our approach to things is the key to pivoting into a better life for ourselves with simple habits we pick up along the way. 

Why not start right now by accessing where you are in life, and look for ways to cut corners using the wisdom of our ancestors?

Old Fashioned Simple Habits Wood Stove
Simple Habits Wood Stove

“People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.”

Naval Rivikant

Creating a Cozy Life Group

Since you found this article on Depression Era Simple Habits, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 122,000 like-minded souls.

It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

Here are the Old Fashioned Simple Habits to Start Today

Easy Simple Habits Regarding Food

1. Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is a thrifty practice that allows you to get a lower price for your staple items. No more running to the store to buy something you ran out of and paying a premium price.

If you use this tip, make sure you learn the best ways to store food so it lasts longer.

One of the new simple habits I just learned about is a better way to store onions. I keep my onions in a basket drawer of a cabinet that I have. The best way to store onions is to put them in a cool, dark place.

To make your onions last longer, put them in lunch bags (like these on Amazon) and punch holes in them with a puncher. Secure the top of the paper bag with a paperclip.

Another idea is to buy in bulk and split the cost with friends and family.

One of my online friends told everyone in her group that she was going to a farm to buy tomatoes to can. She wanted to know if anyone in her needed some. With multiple people purchasing the same item, they got a better price on the produce directly from the farmer.

2. Start a Victory Garden

Victory Garden - Rows of Lettuce
Depression Era Simple Habits – Victory Garden

Have you ever read the history of Victory Gardens?

When World War I started, the food supply became strained, and people put Victory Gardens in their front and backyards.

They also planted gardens on public lands like the Golden Gate Park. The park had over 800 gardens, according to

This gallant effort produced over 40 percent of all the vegetables consumed in the United States. These Victory Gardens continued in World War II because of their prior success.

If you’re interested in starting your own Victory Garden – I wrote a post about it that you can find here.

The best way to get started is to join local gardening Facebook groups to discover the best things that grow in your area.

You’ll want to grow the most expensive things you buy at the grocery store.

For instance, a large bag of organic carrots costs about $6 in our area, but a small bunch of herbs costs around $3.00. I use herbs all the time, so that’s one of the first things I started growing.

You could also join local gardening groups and exchange crops with others when your harvest comes in.

Saving your seeds for next year is also a way to save money. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can find out how to save marigold seeds here.

Composting your food waste, eggshells, and leaves is a great way to save on having to buy fertilizer for your garden.

3. Potluck Gatherings

Instead of meeting your friends out at expensive restaurants, why not switch off having potlucks at your home?

Potlucks are the perfect way to share the burden of hosting an event with all the attendees.  Whether you have a few friends over or you want to have a large gathering – the expense goes down when you only have to provide one dish for everyone.

I asked our Cozy Living Members if I gave them $500 and they had to spend it, what would they buy?  One of the members said they would like to have a bonfire at their house and invite their friends.  They would have their BBQ going.  To them, this was heaven.

4. Make everything homemade from scratch

Old Fashioned Simple Habits Homemade Food
Old Fashioned Simple Habits – Homemade Food

There’s no need to buy any condiment, seasoning mix, or boxed anything when you can make a healthier version at home for a lot less money.

Have you ever read some of those seasoning mix labels?  Some of the ingredients look outright scary.

One of my favorite things is to have my seasoning mixes already pre-made, so when it’s time for dinner, I can throw something together quickly.

Another bonus to making everything from scratch is that you can tinker with recipes until you find the perfect combination of ingredients that suits your family’s taste.

Making things from scratch also reduces waste in our landfills, and who doesn’t love that idea?

Here’s some homemade spice mixes you’ll love

5. Don’t Let Food go to Waste

Americans, on average, waste one pound of food per day, per person, according to The Guardian.

That’s a lot of food that’s being tossed in the garbage. I wrote an article on good practices to ensure food doesn’t go into the trash can. You can find that article here.

I’m a big believer in juicing. I think getting the proper nutrients in your body, especially with the amount of stress we are carrying. I recently committed to making sure I juice every single day.

One of the side benefits of juicing is that I never waste any fresh produce. If I see something going bad, I add it to my juice for the day. I usually do a vegetable juice combination like carrots, celery, cucumbers, and beets. I then add some greens or herbs. To sweeten the juice, I usually add an apple.

When I buy a head of cauliflower, it usually comes with leaves. I save the leaves to add to my juice the next day. It’s incredible all the things I used to toss out that now give me extra nutrients for no additional cost.

If you don’t have a juicer, the best one to buy are a slow-masticating cold press juicer. This juicer is the one I purchased for a reasonable price, and because it’s so easy to clean. My previous juicer was a pain to clean, so I used it way less than I do this one.

Here are more ideas on preventing food waste

6. Buy Local

Old Fashioned Simple Habits Homemade Cheese
Homemade Cheese

All of us need to get to know the local farmers in our area and support them. Farming is in my family’s history, and they work hard!

I think a shift has happened in our collective thoughts about who we should admire in our culture.  Truckers and farmers have become rock stars overnight.

Not only does buying local help your community, but it also helps you feed your family better. Food doesn’t have to travel, so they can pack a more powerful nutrition punch because vitamins and minerals aren’t lost along the way.

One of my favorite books is a memoir of a woman who lost her job and her husband in a span of a week during the last economic downturn.

She had to move to their tiny cottage on the lake in a harsh environment during the winter. Her food budget was small, but she was determined to eat locally.

I don’t buy many books anymore, book I just had to have this book for my library because I love it so much. You can find the book here on Amazon. The book is out-of-print and the prices fluctuate, so if the price is too high for your budget – check back.

The book will give you ideas on saving money and eating the finest ingredients simultaneously. She got to know everyone in the area and tapped into unusual ways to save money.

One of the farmers sold her the ends of cheese at a discounted price because they weren’t popular with customers. She could purchase hand-crafted artisan cheese at a price that didn’t break the bank.

Her book will inspire you to start new simple habits and enjoy the changes in your life.

7. Use Less Meat in Recipes

Meat is expensive, and prices are only going to go up. I love adding lentils, split peas, or beans to chilis, soups, and stews instead of meat.

Use meat as an accent versus the main ingredient in every dish. Lately, I’ve been making lentil soup almost daily. I’m surprised how long one small bag of lentils has lasted and how tasty they are.

You can also substitute lentils in other dishes like meatloaf and sloppy joe’s.

8. Buy Whole Chickens

Old Fashioned Simple Habits Roasted Whole chicken
Old Fashioned Simple Habits Roasted Whole Chicken

You can find posts online on how to make four different meals out of one whole chicken. I love that idea.

Think about all the different combination possibilities. You can start with just an herb-roasted chicken, use the bones to make chicken bone broth as a base for lentil soup, shredded chicken for chicken salad sandwiches, white chicken chili, and the rest of the meat for chicken alfredo pasta.

9. Save Vegetable Ends for Making Broth

There are two different ways I make sure no part of the edible vegetables goes to waste. I put it in a baggie in the refrigerator to juice later or in the freezer, along with the other gathered pieces to make homemade broth.

Making beef, chicken, or vegetable broth is so easy. I usually make mine in my slow cooker. Not only does making your own broth save money, but it also has health benefits.

You can find my recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth here.

10. Learn How to Preserve Food

Old Fashioned Simple Habits - Homemade Jam and Canning
Depression Era Simple Habits – Homemade Preserves

It’s tragic that canning, fermenting, pickling, and drying food is an art that has been lost because of modern conveniences. These simple habits of yesteryear are making a comeback in a big way.

A stocked winter pantry filled with things you made yourself will give you such a feeling of accomplishment. Pasta tastes even better with homemade tomato sauce.

Here are my recipes for Quick Refrigerator Tomato Jam, Bread and Butter Quick Zucchini Pickles, and Quick Refrigerator Pickled Red Onions.

11. Forage in Your Area

Where I live, berries grow in the wild. Blackberries are quite invasive. My yard has tons of blackberry vines popping up all over. Once I learned how good raspberry and blackberry leaves are for you – I started collecting them to make tea.

We have several mushroom hunter clubs in our area too. I would love to go out with someone knowledgeable before venturing off on my own.

There are quite a few common weeds that are also something you can forage for, as long as you don’t put pesticides in your garden.

One question I asked the owner of the house I just bought was if she ever put pesticides on the yard. I was lucky because the owner was the one and only person that lived in the house that she had for 30 years.

She informed me that she never used any pesticides at all. I was so happy because I used dandelion greens from my yard in my vegetable juices and made tea out of the dandelion root. (As a bonus, she also had a fenced vegetable garden ready to plant. Yay me!)

To learn more about creating your own tea garden go here to this article.  

Foraging is a growing pastime, so check to see if there are local groups in your area you can join.  Meeting new people and getting some exercise is a bonus.

12. Become a Chicken Owner

Simple Habits Raise Chickens - White Hen
Depression Era Simple Habits – Raise Your Own Chickens

Having fresh eggs outside your door is one of the best ways to learn self-sufficiency. If you don’t have the room or are not allowed to raise your own chickens, make friends with someone who does.

I buy my eggs from someone that loves chickens. Their pen is pristine, and she takes pride in serving the community by selling eggs.

If you’re able to raise your chickens, it will benefit your family in ways you can’t imagine. There’s something magical about going outside with a basket to gather eggs and then cooking them for your family for breakfast.

Raising chickens will also allow your children to learn where their food comes from.

13. Learn to Batch Cook

We all could use more free time. Batch cooking not only does just that, but it also saves you money.  One of the best investments you can make is having a separate freezer.

I can’t imagine living without my extra freezer.  It ensures nothing goes to waste, and I can cook multiple meals simultaneously and freeze for later when I have a time crunch.

A freezer will cost you approximately $60 for electricity for an entire year. That’s about $5 per month. I get way more savings than that for having one.

I know two friends that get together once a month for a cooking day. They cook enough meals to freeze so they can pop a meal into the oven when they are short on time.

By cooking these meals together, they can catch up on each other’s busy lives and complete a chore at the same time. They look for specials at the store and make a meal plan in advance for their monthly get-together.

For more ideas on food security, my friend at Schneider Peeps wrote a wonderful article to check out.

Depression Era Simple Skills to Learn

Simple Habits Wood Working
Simple Habits – Wood Working

14. Learn how to Barter

Bartering is a skill we should all learn. How much simpler would life be if we had friends to help us with things in exchange for something of yours?

You could also see if local bartering groups are in your area. If you feel like you don’t have anything to barter with, think again.

You can exchange pies, bread, or casseroles if you know how to cook. Marketing experts can lend their hand to small businesses to help them gain market share. You can even offer babysitting services in exchange for their expertise.

The possibilities are endless.

15. Teach Yourself How to Repair Things

Depression Era Simple Habits - How to Repair Things - Hammer, nails, saw, and measuring tape
Depression Era Simple Habits – Teach Yourself to Repair Things

One of the best things about our time period is the ease at which we can learn new skills.

YouTube is my go-to place when I’m trying to repair something. I’ve even taken apart my washing machine several times and figured out what was wrong. (I’m the LEAST mechanical person I know.) I will say at the time, the washer I took apart wasn’t one of those fancy machines, so it was more manageable.

16. Make Your Own Homemade Gifts

Instead of spending money on gift items, why not teach yourself a skill at the same time and give your friends and family members something from the heart?

If you love to can, give them a basket full of your favorite canning items with the recipes attached to the jar. Artists can paint cute rustic signs for their friend’s gardens. Photographers can offer to take family pictures at a fun location.

The best thing to do is to become good at just one thing. If you do, everyone would rather have something you made than bought.

17. Make Homemade Cleaning Products 

Depression Era Simple Habits - Cleaning Products
Depression Era Simple Habits – Cleaning Supplies

We’ve recently seen how fast cleaning supplies go in a national emergency. Now that you’ve tried your hand at making your own cleaning products, why not go all in and learn how to make everything you need to keep your world tidy?

You can make your own soap, window cleaner, toilet cleaner, etc. It’s a skill that takes a little work to start, but soon you’ll find out how easy it is.

(Make sure you get your cleaning product recipes from a reputable source. If you mix certain ingredients, it can create toxic fumes.)

18. Make Homemade Beauty Products

Most of us don’t realize how toxic the ingredients are in our beauty products. Make-up, perfume, and even toothpaste can have ingredients that are not the best for our health.

I once had someone put a product on my feet, and within minutes, I could taste it in my mouth. That’s how fast things are absorbed into our skin.

19. Learn How to Sew

Depression Era Simple Habits - Learning to Sew - Sewing Machine
Depression Era Simple Habits – Learning to Sew

Buying new clothes has become a national pastime.  The reason fashion changes from season to season is get consumers to buy the latest trend.

What if we stopped going on that hamster wheel and just bought good, quality items to begin with? If you learn to sew, you can repair your clothing quickly.

One of my favorite ideas for frugal living is to wear your jeans until they are so worn out, they require patches. Some people have turned their jeans into works of art with this idea.

You could also make your curtains from tablecloths. I once used embroidered vintage pillowcases as a valence for my kitchen window.

Sewing is a frugal living skill that will come in handy.

20. Use Milk Paint to Refinish Furniture

Buying furniture is expensive. There’s a way to have a fantastic-looking home for very little money. You can buy thrift store furniture made from natural wood and use milk paint to make them beautiful.

I love my milk-painted furniture. Everyone asks where I got my furnishings because it’s all unique.

Most of my furniture came from thrift stores or garage sales but it looks as though I spent a fortune on my home decor. It’s one of my favorite simple habits.

21. Start Your Own Business

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start your own business. You can start small and build it on your off-hours.

As we recently experienced, you can’t always bank on having a job in a continually changing economic climate. Why not start a side job so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket?

Your side job may net significant results, and you can live the life of your dreams!

Creative Small Business Ideas You Can Steal is a post I wrote about this topic. The key is to do something different than the competitors.

How to Start a Small Jelly and Jam Business will give you ideas on creating your own business with food products. It’s worth the read, even if you want to do another type of food business.

Depression Era Simple Habits for Inexpensive Housing

Old Fashioned Simple Habits - Inexpensive Housing Dog on Porch
Inexpensive Housing Options

22. Family Compound

Recently I went to the home of someone that lived in an apartment on her family’s small farm.

Her parents lived in the small farmhouse on the front of the property, and multiple apartments were tucked away in the back.

What was so unique about this housing situation was that both her siblings lived in the apartments, along with their families. Her grandmother and aunt occupied two other apartments.

You would have never believed you were in an apartment when you walked into her home. There was a sizable sunk-in living space with a massive fireplace. She said every apartment looked exactly like hers.

The family built a playground for the children in the courtyard of all the apartments. Everyone loved living together because they all helped one another. Whenever someone needed a babysitter, someone was always available.

My mom recently moved across the country to live in my sister’s house. She bought a house with an apartment over the garage for her son, a daylight basement living quarters for my mom, and the rest of the house for her husband, daughter, and herself.

Because they decided to leave a state where housing was expensive and relocate to a cheaper area, my sister and her husband could purchase a multi-family house for way less money than their previous home.

I think we will see more and more family compounds in the future. It makes financial sense as well as being something good for the soul.

23. Smaller Home

Downsizing your life might be the perfect way to reap a big payoff.

In the Cozy Living Group, I share photos of cottages and cabins, both inside and outside, for ideas on creating a space you love.

When I first started the group, I consciously chose not to show large homes or rooms because I didn’t want to add more pressure to a culture that says “bigger is better.” It’s something I don’t believe in.

You can have the tiniest of homes, but if it’s filled with love and joy – no mansion can compare to its value.

Downsizing can mean working fewer hours at your job, less upkeep, and fewer things to buy to fill up space.

One of the things I did before buying my new home was to ask the owner for the last year of her power bills. I wanted to make sure my house was well insulated. I made the mistake of not asking the owner of my previous home that question.

I was pleasantly surprised to find her power bills very reasonable throughout the year.

Even though you’re buying a smaller home, you want to make sure there aren’t any financial surprises that go along with it.

24. Tiny Homes

Simple Habits -  Two Tiny Homes
Simple Habits – Tiny Homes

Building a tiny mobile home is all the rage right now.  I love the concept of them because they allow people to take them with them wherever they go.

Ensure you look into your area’s property laws before going this route. Some areas of the country are making it more challenging to have one.

You can also have a tiny home built for you that isn’t mobile. A shed company in my area makes the most amazing tiny homes. They feel so spacious because he builds them tall and adds a lot of windows. He also adds a front porch, back porch, and a balcony to the loft bedroom.

My neighbor will be building her tiny home this summer. She bought the acre property next to me a year ago and started putting in her food forest. It took her a while to sell her home, but now she’s ready to build her retirement property.

25. Rural Living

In the future there will be more opportunities to work remotely. That’s excellent news.

Do you know there are still rural towns with homes that selling for around $60,000? Imagine having a house payment like that.

A couple moved from San Francisco and started working remotely in a small town. They were able to build a life they loved running their own business.

Because they were located near a national attraction, they could purchase homes inexpensively and remodel them for tourists to rent out during the busy seasons. The rent they receive during the busy times ends up paying the mortgage for the entire year.

Those houses are part of their retirement plan. They have several different businesses that operate out in the middle of nowhere. All their family and friends that thought they were crazy to give up their lives and forge their own path are now joining them in leaving the rat race.

Simple habits can completely change your life for the better. Why not start working on your dream plan?

We’ve reached the end of the Depression Era Simple Habits to Start Today. I hope you enjoyed it.

Let me know in the comments below how you liked the Depression Era Simple Habits to Start Today post and what skills or habits you’re incorporating in your life.

Make sure you join our Creating a Cozy Life Group. You’re not going to believe how amazing it is!

Add this Depression Era Simple Habits post below on your simple living board on Pinterest to refer to it again.

Old Fashioned Simple Habits Pin for Pinterest - Vintage bowl with flour, biscuit cutter, and eggs.
Old Fashioned Simple Habits You’ll Love


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Monday 22nd of January 2024

I would love to know the title of the book mentioned. The link seems to be corrupted/broken.

Kelly Morse

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

Hello Sarah! I just tested the link and it worked. The title of the book is The Feast Nearby. - Kelly


Thursday 11th of June 2020

This is one of the best articles I've read in a while. Also, I love the tiny home movement. It seems totally worthwhile not only for people to find more happiness in life but also better for the planet too!


Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Yes, I think living a life full of meaning is becoming more important as time goes on.

Patricia Marsh

Saturday 11th of April 2020

Hi Kelly!

I absolutely loved this article! What am I saying....I love all of your articles! There are so many wonderful ideas listed here. Not too long ago I had a conversation with you about starting a small garden. You had suggested starting with a herb garden and tea garden, which I'm working on now. I'm also starting a compost area in one corner of the backyard. After reading this article I find myself excited about all of the possibilites that can come from gardening! I really would love to grow berries and start making jams and jellies. My grandmother made the most delicious fig jam I've ever eaten. Honestly, after all of these years...I can still taste it. Such sweet memories. A Victory Garden will be on my list for next year. Nice to have something to look forward to! With times the way they are presently I have already begun baking from scratch...nothing better than fresh, homemade bread and biscuits to wake up your senses. Thank you so much for this article and the ideas you so freely share. You're an inspiration. I pray that you are settling into your new home and that The Lord will bless you and your family on your new journey. Stay well. Sincerely, Patricia


Saturday 11th of April 2020

Wow Patricia! Thank you so much for all the kind words. I'm so glad you got started on your garden. I'm a big fig jam lover! That sounds perfect. Unfortunately, I can't move until this quarantine is over - I was supposed to move this month. Hopefully it will be May or June. Thank you for your blessings too! Kelly


Saturday 11th of April 2020

Hi, Enjoyed your post. There are some really good suggestions here. Especially the family compound and victory gardens. I’ve always wanted that for my sons and I. Now that they’re adults, we’re working towards pooling resources to buy something for ourselves and start a family business. The gardens will fit into that plan too. Our landlord rips out or “removes” everything we’ve planted over the years so can’t have one just yet. All in good time.


Saturday 11th of April 2020

I love that you're planning to create a family compound. It's such a smart way to live. What type of family business are you thinking of starting? Kelly


Saturday 11th of April 2020

Hi Kris! I looked for you - but I don't see you in the group? You can remove yourself from any group easily - google "how to remove yourself from a Facebook group" and it will show you how. There is someone with your last name - but not your first. Thanks, Kelly

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