Great Depression Meals, make them today, enjoy and save yourself money. During the economic depression of the 1930s people learned to make food and a buck stretch. You might be surprised to know that there are some meals that you can still make today. These meals aren’t ketchup sandwiches but truly tasty menus that will still help you stretch a budget.
Here are 5 Great Depression Meals You Can Make Today
I remember my dad making chipped beef on toast. His family was hit hard during those times and meals like that were passed down through time. I swear my grandma could make plain ‘ol beans taste like Heaven.
I hope you find a recipe or two that you remember or want to make.
Great Depression Meals #1
Ham Hocks & Beans – Not just a great Southern recipe but one that you can make on the cheap. We always served this with warm corn bread. This mean is even better the next day!
- 1 lbs of dry pinto beans
- 4 or 5 smoked ham hocks
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 – 3 teaspoons of black pepper
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Wash the beans (you don’t have to soak them overnight with this method)
- Put the beans, ham hocks, chopped onion, pepper and bay leaf in a large stock pot and cover with water.
- Bring to boil and then turn down to a low simmer.
- Cover and let simmer low for several hours.
- Stir and check often – you may need to add a bit more water, but only enough to keep everything covered
- Beans will be tender and the sauce will thicken up.
- Break up the meat into the beans and serve in a bowl with warm corn bread.
Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression
Great Depression Meals #2
Chipped Beef on Toast – I have to tell you my dad called this Sh*t on a Shingle; didn’t sound too appetizing like that. But this is a tasty meal that is very filling. Pair with with a veggie from the garden for a full meal.
- 8 oz dried meat (chipped beef like Hormel or Armour)*
- 2 Tablespoons of butter
- 4 cups of whole milk
- 4 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Toast, Biscuits or Baked Potatoes
- Melt the butter in large skillet over medium heat
- Add the chipped beef until it softens a bit
- Whisk in the milk and flour
- Turn up the heat and whisk until boiling
- Turn heat to low simmer and whisk until gravy thickens
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Serve over toast, biscuits over a baked potato
*You can make this with cooked ground beef or bacon instead of the chipped dried beef.
Back to Basics Great Depression Cooking
Great Depression Meals #3
Warm Rice with Milk & Sugar – I didn’t learn about this one until I was living in Kansas back in the early 90s. It is a filling breakfast and quick to make up. It goes a long way. I preferred it with rice from the night before. No real measurements here.
- Cooked Rice, about 1/4 – 1/2 your bowl, warmed
- Milk, amount is really to your taste
- Dab of of butter (optional)
- Sugar to your taste, you could use honey if that is available
- Combine ingredients in a bowl and enjoy like you would oatmeal or cream of wheat.
Great Depression Meals #4
Potato Pancakes – this is something I remember my other grandmother making and talking about them from her childhood. Meat was not always around and certainly not always affordable. Potatoes were easy to grow and affordable to buy. There are lots of potato Great Depression meals. I like the mashed potato version.
- Leftover mashed potatoes (about 2 cups)
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 2-3 Tablespoons of bacon grease or other oil for frying
- Mix together the potatoes, egg and flour
- The batter should be pretty stiff, not like regular pancake batter
- Melt the grease or oil in a skillet on medium heat and let the skillet get good and warm
- Making heaping spoonfuls of the batter and add to the skillet
- Mash the batter down with a fork or spatula
- Cook until browned and then flip
- Once both sides are brown transfer to a paper plate or paper towels to soak up the grease
- Serve with syrup, gravy, applesauce or just buttered
You can certainly put spices or herbs in the batter to make them more savory and flavorful.
Great Depression Meals #5
Hoover Stew – I have seen many variations of this Depression Era “stew” so don’t be married to the ingredients. You can substitute using what you have in the house or garden already. If you don’t use canned veggies you will want to reserve some of the pasta water for cooking the stew.
- 16 oz package or box of noodles (macaroni, spiral or similar are best)
- 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, do not drain
- 1 package of hot dogs
- 1 can of corn, peas or beans, do not drain
- Cook your pasta until it is just about done, but not all the way
- Slice your hot dogs into rounds (thinner if you’re feeding more people)
- Put the cooked pasta and hot dog slices in a pot with the remaining ingredients
- Bring to a boil then simmer low until the pasta is finished cooking and the whole pot is heated
Want more? Here are some links I think you’ll enjoy!
- Food Storage Moms – Great Depression Meals-Are We Eating The Same Meals Today?
- Melissa K Norris – Podcast #45 Great Depression Era Money Saving Tips w/ Potatoes
- The Survival Mom – Could Your Stomach These Great Depression Meals?
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