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Vintage Hints and Tips – Cutting Out Waste In Wartime

This article from November 1939 shows the beginning of wartime economy that housewives were expected to do as their patriotic duty. No longer was it about saving money on household bills, but cutting out waste for their country.

EVERY housewife who economises strictly and sensibly is playing her part in defending her country. Economy is no longer something personal, connected with the household budget, but is a patriotic duty which is expected of every one of us.

Gas has always been a subject of great waste, even in the best regulated households. For instance, flames outside a saucepan or kettle are simply waste. Those blue flames that come out from the jet, when it is very high, are waste, and serve no useful purpose in heating or cooking. Don’t use the large gas jets more than absolutely necessary – the small ones will do just as well. Keep a large pan of water in the oven, when cooking, so that you are heating this at the same time, ready for washing up, etc.

Saving Gas
Use the top of the grill when you are cooking something under the grill. If you spread a few ironed clothes on the plate rack, when something is cooking in the oven, you will air your clothes without additional heat. Two or three pans can be simmered over one gas-jet, once they have been brought to the boil. Steam saucepans can cook an entire dinner with the same gas as used for one small saucepan – and remember that a lid on a pan keeps the heating powers in, and assists cooking – with no lid, half the heat goes to the ceiling, wasted. Clean gas-jets give better service than those clogged with grease, so keep them scrupulously clean.  Don’t fill the kettle for a cup of tea­ – measure out how much water you need, and only heat that amount. And do have a real baking day, just as Grannie used to do, so that the oven, when really hot, can be used for any number of articles, instead of just two or three.

Many people have gone to great trouble to blacken their electric light bulbs so as to obtain the minimum of light. They forget they are wasting enormous quantities of electricity in this way – a low power bulb would be just as sati­sfactory, and use half the quantity of power. In ornamental electric light fittings it is usually possible to remove at least one of the bulbs, thus reducing quantity consumed.

Coal Economies
Perhaps coal will be rationed by the time you read this. Quite a lot can be done in this direction. Light destroys the burning power of coal, so see that it is kept in as dark a place as possible. Then, when you receive your coal, sprinkle it with a handful of washing soda dissolved in a pail of warm water. It will burn well, and last longer. Firebricks not only make the fireplace smaller, but also absorb the heat from the coal, and give out a glowing heat for hours, with very little coal. If you are keeping the fire going for many hours, put a layer of wet coaldust over the top of the fire, when it is going well, and it will then glow quietly for a long period, and give out just as much warmth, without replenishing.

In the case of gas-fires, these should be turned off as soon as the room is not in use, and, if possible, only a small number of the burners used, unless absolutely necessary.

Don’t throw away milk that has gone sour – it is ideal for cooking, and makes light cakes, scones, and boiled puddings. Bread that has gone dry should be wrapped in a wet cloth for a time, then, when the bread has absorbed the dampness, put into a slow oven for a little while. It will be crisp and appetising again. Bread wrapped in the paper taken from butter will keep fresh for a long time.

Quite a lot of water is wasted daily, and in these times it is imperative that water should be used carefully. Don’t wash dishes or hands under a running tap – fill the basin or bowl, and use it. See that washers are acting properly, and there is no drip from any tap, and take your bath an inch or two shallower than usual – you won’t notice much difference, but you will be saving quite a large amount of water!

Butter and Cheese
Butter, if mixed with a little milk, will spread far more easily, and go a lot farther. Quite a lot of waste goes on with regard to cheese. Cheese will keep well if wrapped in a muslin cloth soaked in vinegar. All kinds of tempting and nour­ishing dishes can be made from stale bread and cheese, so don’t throw away either of these com­modities – grate the cheese, and make a dish with macaroni or bread.

Instead of Sugar
Sugar must be cut down con­siderably. When cooking fruit, add a pinch of salt, and you will find only half the amount of sugar is necessary. Brown sugar is sweeter than any other, and consequently far less of this is needed. Highly refined sugars are the least sweet in use, remember.

Remember, too, that to extract every atom of goodness from your vegetables, you should steam them – best part of vegetables goes up in steam, when boiled in the usual way.

Disclaimer: All vintage hints and tips on ‘A Housewife’s Work’ are for a historical resource only and have not been tried and tested. Posting the hints and tips does not denote a recommendation, and anyone wanting to try them do so at their own risk.