The American Frugal Housewife

by Lydia Maria Child

american frugal housewife

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Lydia Maria Child, a controversial author who fought for the abolition of slavery, first published The American Frugal Housewife in 1829. The book was a huge success and went through 33 editions and secured her place in culinary history alongside Julia Child.

Lydia Child wanted to support the idea that to be American is to be practical and economical. She was self-motivated, went against the tide, and took risks in an era when many women did not. Her writing style was ridiculed by many as lacking class, but her gritty writing was a reflection of the work itself.

Written at a time when people lived closer to the land and made use of everything they could, Lydia’s book is equally valuable today. Beyond simple recipes, the book contains age-old tips for health, advice for “persons of moderate fortune,” and how to endure poverty. Whether for the rural homestead, the prepper looking at an uncertain future, or anyone just looking for vintage cooking styles and recipes, The American Frugal Housewife is a valuable cookbook for the home kitchen.