We all know the devastation that comes with a layoff, a crashing 401k, and skyrocketing food and fuel costs. But can hard times actually benefit our family life? I grew up hearing heroic tales of the depression from my grandparents. Of course eating lard sandwiches to stave off hunger is not in any way glamorous, I still idealized the trials that made my grandparents the tough folks they became. So are we one lard sandwich away from proving our worth? Here are ten ways the bad economy can be good for your family.

1. A job layoff can mean more family time. As bleak as it is, I know of one family that is making the best of their time together. For the first time, the father is actually enjoying spending time with his kids. Fishing trips, (which also bring home food) are feeding the need the kids had to spend some bonding time with dad who was always too busy with work before. Now when he starts his new job next month, he talks about how much he'll miss them and how he'll make sure to set aside more time in the future.

2. Eating at home is healthier, cheaper, and more creative. With fewer dollars to eat out, more families are meal planning, having dinners around the table, and noshing on healthier fare. A few ways to eat cheaper and healthier: Substitute a couple dinners a week with vegetarian options. Eat more lentils, beans and rice. Use eggs as a main source of protein. (Look into your city ordinances and see if having a couple chickens is a possibility. Nothing like fresh, organic eggs you got yourself)

3. Canceling cable can save your marriage. I know it's scary. I panicked three years ago when my husband suggested canceling the cable. How would I be able to withstand missing out on the Sarah Sidle/Grisham romance? But trust me, I don't miss CSI. And the money we saved has gone towards getting out of debt. Not to mention the quality time we get to spend talking, snuggling, and entertaining ourselves now that the tv is out of the bedroom. Also, the money you save in the cable bill is nothing compared to the investment you place in your kids without the tv babysitter. Read more books together, (that you get from the library.)

4. Plant a garden. It will be a memory your kids will cherish, if you have a little yard space to spare. If not, potting plants work just as great. It's so rewarding harvesting fruit and veggies you grew yourself. Plus, it's cheaper, organic, and tastier than the stuff you get at the store. A good try for new gardeners, take a kiddie wading pool, poke holes in the bottom, fill with soil and grow your veggies in there. A fool proof way to have a great garden. (Thanks, Heloise!)

5. Make homemade baby food and breastfeed. Better for your baby and better for your wallet. Steam veggies and throw them in your blender with a touch of water. Let cool and voila! Baby food. Also, take unseasoned versions of what the family's eating and blend it up for baby. Think lasagna, bbq chicken breast, you name it, just keep it reasonable for tiny palates. You'll be raising an unpicky gourmand in the process.

6. Take the opportunity to go back to school. Getting training in what you really wanted to be when you grew up will benefit your marriage and set the bar high for your kids. When they see you reaching for your dreams, they'll be inspired too.

7. Build your DIY (do it yourself) skills. This doesn't apply to plumbing or electrical, but see what you can do before you call the landscaper. Pull out that sewing machine and make some pillows, curtains, or even a skirt for your tiny dancer. You may find some talent you never knew was there, (or were too busy to explore before.) Keep a journal and hone those writing skills for that novel you always said you'd write by the time you were thirty. Explore budgeting spreadsheets and develop the inner CPA. Build a bookshelf, a chicken coop for those newly acquired chickens, or a doll house. Be creative and find out what you're made of.

8. Explore “free” zones. The family vacation to Disneyland may be put on hold, so see what you can do for free, (or virtually free.) Go camping...even if it's in your backyard. Break out the tents, the lamps and the sleeping bags and have a blast. Explore local parks with bikes, kites or just your feet. Kids don't care about the money as much as the time. Listen to their ideas. You may be surprised at where their imaginations can take you.

9. Get acquainted with your community. Now is the time to check out local churches, outreaches, community centers and unite. Pulling together in difficult times is what makes humanity such a beautiful thing. The bonds we forge in trials last lifetimes. Get to know your neighbors. Swap eggs for apples...or something. You get the idea. Reach out and you'll be surprised at what comes back to you.

10. Home consolidation...doesn't have to be devastating. So you have to take in your parents, or in laws, or move in with them and your kids. When two households have to merge into one it can be pretty chaotic and depressing. But it doesn't have to be. As annoying as the day to day is, when the years go by, the annoying stuff disappears and all that's remembered, by kids especially, is the fun stuff that everyone got to be a part of. You may roll your eyes at another morning spent waiting in line for the bathroom as your father in law clips his nose hairs, but your kids will remember the way he picked them up and swung them around the house everyday after school. These are the memories they'll talk about long after he's gone. Sure the situation is less than ideal, but the legacy we leave behind is most often borne through un-idealistic situations.

There you have it. Ten ideas to see a financial crisis in a positive light. I'm not making light of things. But you don't need another article on how depressing the situation is. Just another take on the “make the best of a situation” coping tactics that I learned from the greatest generation. Now to get on about making those bookshelves.