I've spent a lot of time in homeless shelters, having worked in several of them over the years. The women (the shelters I worked in were for women, especially those dealing with domestic violence) taught me lots of things over the year.
First, we shared recipes. Which means they taught me to make noodles using the egg mix left over from breading chicken to be fried. This is dinner here tonight, BTW.
They taught me how to re-use oil for frying. Which involved repeatedly banging into my thick head that frying shouldn't be at the HIGHEST TEMPERATURE THE STOVE CAN GET TO. I admit I was a slow student here. And I still don't save oil that is used to fry fish to fry more fish with later. The smell is not a family favorite!
They prepared me for motherhood in many ways. Early on, they taught me to not be fooled by the scent of pine cleaner - just because you smell it doesn't mean they cleaned the place. Really, the issue here was ownership: I learned that no one takes responsibility if they don't feel ownership of the problem or the solution.
Practically, when I was pregnant, they taught me how to extend the use of my pre-pregnancy clothes by use of adaptations like using strong rubber bands from the button on my jeans ... thru' the button hole .... back to the button. And what brands of sweat pants were most likely to fit thru' the entire pregnancy.
They taught me that there are no people more important in your life than friends, both from the friendship that they provided to me, and from the fact that most of them, when they moved out, moved in with friends themselves.
I also learned that I can't even be in the same building if someone is cooking chitlins, and that some people really CAN burn either spaghetti sauce or macaroni and cheese to the point that they are inedible. But I'm sure I could have learned that by simply having more roommates over the years, too.