Is it really possible to save when you have very little? Yes! That's the lesson, I learned a few years ago from "Meme," an older woman who made feasts from leftovers. She used the syrup from canned fruit to sweeten baked goods. She even recycled birthday cards. But even on a very limited budget, Meme always saved money and shared her finances with others.
Here's her story as told to me by her grandaughter, Leah - a twenty-something mother from Miami. Leah lives by the frugal advice from her 93-year-old grandmother, Felisa Tzvia Linder, also known as Meme. Born in Argentina, Meme died a few years ago. Leah shared her story with me.
"She taught me that nothing needs to be wasted and everything can be
used," Leah said. "It doesn't mean that you're serving leftovers every
night. If you do it properly you can make beautiful dishes from odds and ends."
Recycling Canned Liquids
Her grandmother, for instance, used small leftover servings of fresh
vegetable salad to enhance a quiche or to spice up a soup. Likewise,
after opening canned fruit or vegetables, Linder would freeze and save the
clear juice from those cans. The liquid contents from the vegetables
doubled as a base for homemade soups and sweet juice/syrups were used to spice up cakes or compote recipes.
New Uses for Tea Remains and Bread Ends
With such sparks of creativity and frugality, Meme found uses for
leftover bread (bread pudding) and even, the remains of loose tea, which were
mixed with plant soil in the garden.
Saving String and Birthday Cards
And she never signed birthday or greeting cards, instead she placed her signature and private messages on pieces of paper that were slipped into blank cards. In that fashion, a single card could be used repeatedly and the personalized birthday message could be stocked away for safe-keeping. She saved string and threads (for small sewing jobs) and other odds and ends.
Shopped for Quality
Despite her thrifty ways, Meme believed in quality and buying the
best for her family.
"When she bought something she would always buys the best so that it
would last," her granddaughter said.
Generosity & Shoestrings
And above all, Meme was generous with her money. Whatever she saved
on juice and string, she offered to her children, grandchildren and great
"She taught me so much. When I'm making a recipe that she taught me, I
feel her working the dough," Leah said. "It's a real blessing."