Top 5 kitchen hacks from the frugal generation

Remember that tin of dripping always in the back of the fridge? Delicious home-made jams? Bread-and-butter pudding so the loaf didn’t go to waste? The habits of the vintage kitchen are back in vogue, whether it’s to live more green or simply save money. Here are our favourite old-school cooking secrets from the frugal kitchen (but maybe let’s skip the dripping).

Waste nothing


Everything in the kitchen can be used and re-used. Carrot peelings, celery leaves, onion layers – freeze and save them for stock. Same with chicken carcases and bones from the roast. The hard ends of parmesan cheese make a delicious addition for vegie soup. Bananas too ripe? It’s time for banana bread or cake. Stale bread? Make and freeze breadcrumbs, croutons, French toast or garlic bread.

You might know it as being sensible, while younger people are declaring it a ‘war on waste’. For this war, at least, the only blitz will be from the kitchen blender.

Respect the leftover

Bubble and squeak, chicken pasta bake, rissoles – some of our favourite classic recipes were conjured from what we couldn’t scoff the day before. One of the best things about Sunday roast was always Monday beef hash. There’s an art to creating something delicious from yesterday’s meals and the pool of ideas keeps growing – check out these lists from Jamie Oliver and BBC Good Food.

Bottling and preserving


Seasonal produce is all the rage, and the best way to take advantage of what’s in-season is to buy (or grow) in bulk and make jams, pickles, sauces and bottled fruit or veg to last through the year. It takes some time and effort but the cost savings – and the taste – make it worthwhile. It’s great that hipsters are giving preserving a new lease on life, but this was standard practice back in the day. Dust off that old Fowler’s Vacola set and get bottling … or put it on eBay – you’ll make a killing!

Nose-to-tail – been there, eaten that

Using ‘the whole beast’ is another recycled food trend – remember steak and kidney pie, lamb’s fry and bacon, crumbed brains? Besides old-school offal, some of our favourite bits, once neglected as ‘the cheap cuts’, have reclaimed prime position at the butchers’ – lamb shanks, beef cheeks, pork necks.

Crockpots and slow cookers are back in style, as these cuts need long, slow cooking to tenderise them. Grandkids are getting chummy with grandparents again, in the hopes they can get their hands on a Crock Pot.
Make a trade: Let them borrow the slow cooker in return for hearty, richly flavoured stews and braises – perfect winter fare and just as delicious as ever. They’ll feel like they’ve done a good thing, and you get yummy food. That’s what they’d call a “win-win”.

Make it yourself

Why spend money on expensive, trendy foods when they’re so easy to make? Lots of luxury food items are more about packaging than the level of difficulty. The vintage kitchen approach was resolutely DIY – fewer pre-prepared, pre-packaged foods and more home prep. Fancy flavoured vinegars, crunchy granola, pita crisps – these on-trend luxuries are as outrageously easy to make at home as they are expensive to buy. Ask: ‘what would the frugal generation do?’ Answer: ‘make it yourself!’

Most recent

Top 5 kitchen hacks from the frugal generation

What’s on the menu? Winter edition

Top 5 kitchen hacks from the frugal generation

From Julep to Cosmo: a history of world-beating ...

Top 5 kitchen hacks from the frugal generation

Flukes and Bradbury's through the ages

Top 5 kitchen hacks from the frugal generation

Over 60 style icons