I am 31 years old, my mother is 59. This means that neither of us has ever lived through a time of true need and depravity. My maternal grandmother is 81, which means that she was a small child during the depression era, my paternal grandmother, who recently passed away, would be 91 now, which means she was a child and into her teens during the depression. Now, people who lived through this era really know how to be frugal and thrifty. They know how to make it work without all of the parts or ingredients, but they got it done. They lived off of very little money and/or resources. I can remember listening to my late grandmother talk about the things she and her family used to do just to make the ends meet (7 children in the home). My living grandmother has a treasure trove of stories too as she was one of 13 and they were poor even before the depression.
So I encourage you, please take the opportunity when you can to talk to those who have lived through the worst so you can gain a few tips to prevent it in your own homes.