How Would Grandma Have Done Things In Her Kitchen?

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

How would grandma have done it? I’ve been seeing this question a lot on social media lately.

But it’s interesting food for thought, especially for those striving to reduce waste and save a little money too in their own kitchens. Let’s see how grandma would have done it.

Did you ever stop and wonder "How would grandma do this?" Oh yeah, grandma was the queen of "Use Whatcha Got"! She got by fine without plastic & disposables. #TexasHomesteader

Single-Use Items Not Common In Grandma’s Day

Grandma went about things in a whole different (and often simplified) way than is common in today’s kitchen.

You see, plastic and single-use items weren’t commonplace kitchen items back in my grandma’s day.

And yet, grandma got around the kitchen just fine without it. And without having to use specialty products either.

Sometimes the old ways are really the best ways. 

Here’s How Grandma Would Do It!

Replacement For Plastic Wrap To Cover Food

Grandma didn’t need plastic wrap to cover thawing food.

She simply covered the food with another piece of dinnerware.

Frozen food on white square plate covered with a white bowl to thaw. #TexasHomesteader

Oh yeah, I watched my grandmother do this countless times when I was a child! How did our grandmothers get so smart??

Covered Bakeware Can Store Leftovers

I have my grandmother’s CorningWare Bakeware and I love it.

I use vintage CorningWare baking dishes with glass lids for cooking, serving and storing leftovers in the fridge without using plastic. #TexasHomesteader

But it’s used for more than cooking. I often bring out one of these dishes to store leftovers in my fridge.

This replaces the dreaded plastic bowls I used to store leftovers in when I was learning my way around the kitchen as a young adult.

Plus, you know, I’ve got these lovely vintage dishes – it would be a shame not to put them to full use.

And I’m able to store, heat & eat in the same dish. Fewer dishes to wash. Again with the shortcuts!

Keeping Produce Fresh With A Jar & Water

Grandma knew how to keep that fresh produce fresh for longer.

She would put the cut end of fresh broccoli or celery in water, whether in a repurposed wide-mouth jar or a deep bowl.

Keep broccoli fresh longer by placing cut stem in water to store in the refrigerator. #TexasHomesteader

I use this same trick for peeled carrots in the refrigerator. They stay fresh and crisp for a long time when you add a little water to the bottom of the jar.
I keep fresh carrots in a glass jar with a little water to keep the vegetables fresh longer. #TexasHomesteader

That produce can be stored in the refrigerator for much longer while staying fresh too!

Actual Dishes At The Supper Table

Although there were times when paper plates made sense with a quick meal at grandma’s table, it was rare. Grandma used real dishes at her table.

Real plates and flatware is a great zero-waste step. #TexasHomesteader

Disposable paper plates and plastic utensils cost too much – both in money and the environment – to buy and toss over & over again.

Plus having a nicely-set table adds a little something ot the ambiance of the meal.

Repurposed Jars Hold Small Leftovers In The Refrigerator

Grandma was always saving useful jars for reuse. So I do too!

There are several repurposed wide-mouth jars that were saved for me by family members to use for storing food in my refrigerator.

I prefer to store our food in the refrigerator contained in glass jars. No plastic touching our food! #TexasHomesteader

If there’s a small amount of food left over such as half an onion or bell pepper I often use these small jars to hold them in my fridge.

I love it because I’m once again storing my food in glass instead of plastic. 

Plus since the jars are completely see-through I find I don’t forget about what’s been placed in the fridge. That leftover food is much more likely to be used instead of being shoved to the back & forgotten until it’s only fit for the compost heap.

This has obviously saved us money in our food budget since food is less likely to be wasted. And y’all know how much I hate food waste.

Cast Iron Cookware Lasts Forever

Another beloved item of my grandmother’s that now resides in my kitchen is her cast-iron skillet.

Grandma received this beautiful skillet as a wedding gift when she and my grandfather married in 1934.

Did you ever stop and wonder "How would grandma do this?" Oh yeah, grandma was the queen of "Use Whatcha Got"! She got by fine without plastic & disposables. #TexasHomesteader

It cooked many delicious meals for her family for decades before being passed to me. And it’s still not showing any signs of wear!

I’ll be passing this skillet down to my children and then on to my grandchildren and beyond. That’s some kind of longevity for cookware, y’all. 

Grandma Used Rags For Cleaning

Grandma would have never considered buying something disposable to clean even if it had been available to her!

My grandmother lived through the depression and she was well skilled in ‘Use Whatcha Got’!

I took a cue from her and I don’t buy specialty kitchen cloths. This old T-Shirt of RancherMan’s is cut into dishcloth-sized rags. They’ve replaced our disposable paper towels too.

It's easy to replace disposable paper towels with repurposed t-shirt rags. #TexasHomesteader

When they’re too stained to be used in the kitchen anymore I send them to RancherMan’s shop where they’ll be used for greasy grimy things before finally being thrown away.

From clothing to dish rags / paper towels to shop rags. That’s lots of mileage from an old tshirt!

Grandma’s Kitchen – Good For The Environment

So there are a few simple things our grandmothers did back in the day. And those same easy steps can be used today.

It’s good for our wallets AND good for the environment!


This post categorized in      

Tagged in  A complete list of all our zero-waste living articles. #TexasHomesteader             A list of all our eco-friendly posts. #TexasHomesteader

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9 thoughts on “How Would Grandma Have Done Things In Her Kitchen?

  1. candace

    So much interesting nostalgia from all of you girls. We have a rag cardboard box. One thing I wouldn’t be nostalgic for from my mom’s time and before is feminine hygiene products. I remember hearing them talk about washing out rags every month. But they survived and I expect I would have too. I have my grandmother’s china and we use it for dinners when we have big groups of friends and relatives over. The bird man who lives with me is in line for another set of gorgeous china which will be coming to us soon because his dear mother now resides in an assisted living facility. An addition on the house? Maybe that’s what I need.
    I save (let’s not call it hoarding) glass jars and lids and am kind of obsessive about it. Not canning jars much any more, I’d rather freeze or dry things now. And I have neighbors who do can a lot and were glad to have many of mine (and my mother’s and my grandmother’s) and then they give them back to me with their great canning efforts. I just can’t get anyone to take those glass peanut butter jars off my hands and I have enough of them for an army and like rabbits they seem to multiply on the shelves of my basement “fruit” room. I do use them for small amounts of bulk bought food.

  2. Denise Olczak

    I use my cast iron skillets on my glass cooktop all of the time and have for years. I’ve never had a problem.
    Also love the Corningware dishes with the glass lids as cooking and serving dishes. From cooking to table to frig…no issue!

  3. Kim

    Love this post. We are a society of wasters I swear.

  4. Evelyn Edgett

    I do have some cast iron, but because my house came with a glass topped stove, I can’t use it, except to bake in. I would love to get a regular electric stove, because I miss using my cast iron.

  5. Patty

    I have been buying vintage glass ‘refrigerator dishes’ as I come across them at estate sales and thrift shops. I love how they look in my cabinets and in my refrigerator. I didn’t start out with them intending to reduce my use of plastic, but that’s what they’ve done. I also like that many of them are a smaller size, which works better in our 2 person household, and they are much sturdier than any plastic ware. I used to like non stick fry pans, but none of them really stay non-stick for very long. My old cast iron on the other hand, does a much better job (and I think food tastes better cooked in it 🙂 ) I hadn’t thought about ‘how would grandma do it’, but just thinking that phrase brings a smile to my face and makes me want to put on one of my grandma’s cross stitched gingham aprons and cook something from scratch. Thanks for good tips and some sweet nostalgia!

  6. Nancy

    My grandma had a, “rag bag”. It was in the closet with her vacuum. This was the bag my brother and I went to if we wanted to make something. (Clothes for my dolls or a sleeping bag for his GI Joe). My grandma also had cast iron but what I got was some of her Revere ware. I was in 5th grade when she passed away, so I got what the aunts and older cousins didn’t want. I love my Revere ware and it’s much heavier than the same brand put out now and even 30 years ago (1980s). When I was first starting out I would go to second hand stores and look for the older ones. I have enamel covered cast iron for my frying pans. I lucked out and got most at a rummage sale one time. They happen to be brown which would not have been my first choice but Le Creuset was and still is very pricey. So I really lucked out with them.

    1. Evelyn Edgett

      I have two rag bags. One in the kitchen, and one in the laundry room. They are simply two clot totes that hang from pegs, and I shove cut up t-shirts, old wash cloths, and cut up old towels into them for cleaning, dusting, and taking care of the accidents my 20 year old has from time to time. The Redneck grabs one occasionally to check the oil in the truck or to use when polishing boots or cleaning guns. When he gets his ‘man cave’ finished (going on two years now), I will see to it he gets his own rag bag. I don’t worry about getting them too nasty to wash, I can toss them into the burning barrel with no guilt. I recall as a child, watching those Handi Wipe commercials, where they made using an old shirt, rag or diaper to clean with was bad. I thought, “Well, that’s dumb. Why should you BUY something when you have rags to clean with?”

      1. Nancy

        When I was growing up we called our dish and wash clothes dish rags and wash rags. I remember asking my mom once why we called them that. She told me that when she was growing up, my grandma cut towels down as they got ragged. The last stop before going to my grandpa’s shop was either the bathroom for a wash cloth or kitchen for dishes. Hence the reason they were called rags.

    2. Karen

      I love my reverware too. I use it and my cast iron for almost everything.


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