This topic came to mind because I was talking to the grandmother of a friend who just moved here from Asia (she is about 85 years old). I was lamenting the price of Jasmine rice (the kind from Thailand that is prized in the Asian community because of its quality) when she mentioned that she just mixes half Jasmine rice with half of the cheaper, regular long grain rice and you can barely tell the difference. A simple, but very effective way to stretch an expensive commodity.
In another example, an elderly neighbor never wastes food. Ever. She knows how to use every part of every fruit, vegetable, grain, or meat in order to stretch her dollars. Carrot and celery tops go into soups and stews and one chicken can be used to create a half dozen meals (roast chicken, fried chicken, adobo chicken, chicken tonkatsu, chicken pot pie, and chicken soup). She makes all of her own breads and baked goods, and never buys junk food, soda pop, or other high priced, low-value food. When I asked her how she knew all of these things, she said that she grew up poor and nothing ever went to waste because it would be like throwing hard-earned money into the garbage can. I can name quite a few younger people who are throwing their money into the proverbial garbage can on a daily basis!
Just about everywhere you look, you can see old-timers doing things that to many of us may seem too boring (like saving money), too thrifty (foregoing the big flat-panel TV because their old TV works just fine), too old-fashioned (passing up Starbucks in favor of a thermos of home brewed coffee), or things that seem to take too much effort (cooking from scratch, weather-proofing their home, tending a huge garden). In reality, these are the things that have allowed the elderly to live successfully to a ripe old age. It only makes sense to learn how to survive hard times from those who have lived through similar situations.
Take this opportunity, while your elderly relatives are still alive, to really talk to them about how to survive hard times. Take notes if need be, and glean all of the information you can from them in order to garner even more ideas to add to your preparedness arsenal.