4 Clever Strategies Used by Housewives in the 1940s That Are Still Useful Today

By: Lydia Iseh | Last updated: Nov 14, 2023

During WWII, housewives kept themselves busy in many ways. These women were more than just wives who stayed at home—they were superheroes in their own right, working tirelessly to keep their households in order.

The chaos and uncertainty of the car came with little resources. The women of the 1940s rose to the challenge of getting by with what was on-hand. They had a knack for making the most out of what little they had, stretching every penny and resource to its limit. The tricks they used are very handy even in modern times—let’s dive in!

War-Inspired Recycling

The war left women with no choice but to recycle everything. Items such as scrap rubber and aluminum foil used for cooking fats had other uses.


Source:Suncatcher Studio/Pinterest

You can store and reuse these items for additional needs. For example, you can also ball up a bit of used foil to scrub pans rather than purchasing boxes of steel wool fluffs. Instead of buying roll after roll of the silver stuff, take a cue from these women!

Revive Stale Bread Like 1940s Women

Just like every other food item, no one wasted stale bread back then. Even today, you don’t have to give up on that day-old bread and toss it out. All you have to do is use a clever hack the 1940s resourceful housewives used.


Source: How can I recycle this/Wikimedia Commons

In the 1940s, women found two ways to repurpose their stale bread—they either broke it down into breadcrumbs or cubed it up to make crispy, delicious croutons.

Reduced Sugar Items as a Glucose Substitute

Sugar was a precious commodity during wartime. They had to use tricks to stretch it as far as they could. These creative ladies chose fruit-based sweets and low-sugar puddings to satiate their sweet tooth instead of indulging in sugary confections.


Source: Imbibe/Pinterest

Some people substituted sugar with corn syrup, while others used sugar and warm honey in an apple pie recipe. So next time you’re in the mood for something sweet, remember the ingenuity of these wartime homemakers and try your hand at a low-sugar dessert.


During World War II, housewives needed to make more income since their husbands were not bringing home the bacon. These women decided one of the most ingenious solutions they could come up with was to start a garden.


Source: Taste of Home/Pinterest

Victory gardens, as they were called, sprouted up all across the US. Housewives could reduce their reliance on rationed foods by growing their fruits and vegetables. In addition, they could put more varied and nutritious meals on the table for their families.