Great Depression-era Meals We Will Be Eating Again If Things Don’t Change

One of the most important aspects of getting ready for a major disaster scenario is to stock up on food and to learn methods for preparing meals

If your grandparents could survive and thrive during The Great Depression, you can also make it through these tough times.

Much like today, the Great Depression was a challenging time in America. The Great Depression was marked by economic hardship and resource scarcity.

We can learn from the past and implement these time-tested ideas in our present lives to get through difficult times and move forward.

Have you ever tried any of these Depression-Era recipes? 

Try these dishes to experience a taste of history, bring a touch of nostalgia to your modern kitchen, or save some cash. A little creativity and some frugal shopping can make a big difference.

Navy Bean Soup


  • 2-3 cups dried navy beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • chopped onion
  • Diced ham or ham hock
  • 2 cups broth
  • 2 cups water


Soak the navy beans according to package instructions, rinsing them clean before and after soaking. Mix the beans with the can of tomatoes, onion, ham, broth, and water; season to taste.

For thicker soup, puree the cooked beans in a food processor and add them back into the soup, stirring well to combine.

Spam Fritters


  • Spam
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup beer
  • oil for frying


For the batter, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and beer.

Cut the Spam into thick slices. Dredge the slices in flour, then dip in the batter. Deep fry for about 3 minutes.

Cornmeal Pancakes


  • Cornmeal (1+ cup)
  • Flour (4 ½ oz)
  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Baking powder (1 tbsp)
  • *optional: 2 eggs, 3 tbsp sugar


Mix ingredients into a batter. Cook on a grill for a simple and satisfying breakfast. These delicious morsels can be made ahead and kept warm in an oven for up to an hour or frozen for enjoyment later.

More forgotten recipes in  ‘The Lost Ways‘ . Learn the lost ways of our ancestors! Click the banner below:

Potato Pancakes


  • a few whole potatoes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • *optional : onions, garlic, cheese, or bacon


All you have to do is grate the potatoes mix them with the salt and pepper, as well as any other optional ingredients.

Cabbage Soup


  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  •  1 cup diced potatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients except the milk and cornstarch, and cook until tender. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and add this to the soup, stirring to combine and cooking until it thickens.

Cabbage and Noodles


  • Cabbage
  • Egg noodles
  • Butter or margarine


Sauté cabbage in butter. Boil egg noodles and mix with cabbage. It is an affordable and comforting dish to use as a side, or you can add protein to make it a meal.

Dandelion Salad

The basic idea here is to use the dandelion greens as your lettuce and add any other vegetables you can acquire. This simple recipe requires you to clean the dandelions thoroughly to ensure they are free of pests and chemicals.

Mock Apple Pie


  • Crackers
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Water


Crush crackers and mix with sugar, cinnamon, and a little water to create a paste. Bake for 15 minutes in a pie crust at 425 for a surprising substitute.

Depression-Era Peanut Butter Bread


  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter


Preheat the oven to 160ºC or 325ºF. Mix the dry ingredients. Add the milk, followed by the peanut butter and knead everything together. Pour the mix into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 hour

Plain Irish Stew


  • 1lb lamb
  • mutton
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb. potatoes and any other vegetables of your liking
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 4 cups stock and salt and pepper to taste


Cut the meat into big chunks. In a pot, heat some olive oil, and cook the meat until brown on all sides and remove it from the pot.  Work in batches if you need to.

Add the diced onion to the pot and cook until translucent, then return the meat to the pot.

Add potatoes, and any other vegetables of your liking. Some people like adding carrots, peas, and even leeks.

Add the  tomato paste, stock, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir together the ingredients, cover the pot and cook for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are tender.

Egg Drop Soup


  • Chicken broth
  • Eggs
  • Green onions
  • Soy sauce


Bring chicken broth to a simmer. Beat eggs and slowly pour into the broth. Stir gently, add chopped green onions, and season with soy sauce.

⇒ Learn How to Keep Eggs Fresh for at Least a Decade

Corn Chowder


  • Corn kernels
  • Potatoes
  • Milk
  • Butter


Boil potatoes and corn in a pot. Add milk and butter. Simmer until the potatoes are tender for a rich and satisfying chowder.

Ritz Cracker Casserole


  • Ground meat (any type)
  • Ritz crackers
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese


Brown ground meat. Layer with crushed Ritz crackers, tomato sauce, and cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden.

Okra And Tomatoes


  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of okra cut into ½-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper


In a large skillet, add some vegetable oil and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the okra and mix everything, then cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lord Woolton Pie


For the pastry :

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup mashed potatoes
  • 6 tbsp. margarine or lard
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • salt
  • water

For the pie filling :

  • 1lb. cauliflower
  • 1 lb. parsnips
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1 lb. potatoes
  • one stock cube
  • 1 tbsp. rolled oats
  • salt and pepper

You can adjust the recipe by using any veggies that you have available

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For the pastry, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and margarine or lard. Then, mix the mashed potatoes and knead. If the dough is too dry, add a little water.

Dice all the vegetables and place them in a big pot. Add water to reach ¾ of the way up to the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Then add the stock cube, rolled oats and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and most of the water is absorbed.

Please this mixture in a pie dish, then roll out the dough for the pie crust and place it on top. Bake the pie in the oven at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

Potato Patties


  • Mashed potatoes
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Salt and pepper


Mix mashed potatoes with flour and beaten egg. Form into patties and fry until golden.

Vinegar Pie


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 tbsp. of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • a quart of hot water
  • a pie crust or the pastry to create one


Preheat the oven to 450° and whisk the dry ingredients together. Cut the pie crust into strips and layer them with butter and the sugar mixture.

Add the vinegar to the hot water and pour this over the layered pie interior, leaving space where it can bubble up. Bake for about an hour, or until golden brown.

If you want to learn more about foods you can forage for, here you will find all you need to know about the superweeds that saved large communities during the Great Depression.

Meat And Potato Patties


  • a pound lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup shredded potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. chopped green pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 cup water


Combine all the ingredients, except for the tomato juice, and shape into patties; pressing lightly to flatten. Heat oil in a skillet and cook each patty over medium heat until brown.

Once they are all browned, add the tomato juice to the pan and let the patties simmer for approximately 25 minutes.

For a shelf-stable alternative, you can learn here how to can hamburger meat at home.

Fried Bologna Sandwich


  • Bologna slices
  • Bread
  • Mustard


Fry bologna slices until crispy. Make a sandwich and add mustard for a quick and tasty lunch.

Rice Pudding


  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon


Cook rice in milk and sugar until creamy. Sprinkle with cinnamon for a sweet treat.

Potato Soup


  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper


Peel and dice the potatoes and onions. Bring them to a boil in a large pot until tender. To thicken the soup, mash some of the potatoes in it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffed Peppers


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • a cup or two of cooked white rice
  • tomato sauce
  • a few bell peppers with the tops cut off and the inside cleared of seeds


Fill each pepper with a mixture of rice, beef, and sauce. You may want to top it with cheese and extra sauce and add a small amount of water or sauce to the bottom of the dish. Place in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350° – 400° for 15-20 minutes.

Granny’s Midwest Goulash


  • 1 cup of macaroni
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • any other available veggies


Cook the macaroni, leaving it a little bit undercooked. Brown the ground beef and add onions, garlic, and other veggies if available.

Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and anything else you want to use to the cooked mixture and combine with the cooked macaroni.

Season to taste, adjusting as needed. Put the mixture in a baking dish, top with grated cheese, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Bean and Rice Casserole


  • Dried beans
  • Rice
  • Onions
  • Canned tomatoes


Cook the beans until tender. Cook rice separately. Mix the beans and rice with sautéed onions and canned tomatoes. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until flavors meld together.

Sugar Cream Pie


For the pastry :

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ice water

For the pie filling :

  • 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ stick of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Melt your butter in a saucepan. While whisking, add flour, then milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let it simmer until thickened. Strain the mixture and pour it onto your crust. Bake your pie for 25 minutes and serve when it has cooled down.

Whisk together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. sugar, and ½ tsp. salt. Add 1 stick of butter and mix everything, then slowly add 2 tbs. of ice water. Keep mixing until the dough begins to hold together. If it’s too dry, you can add a little bit of water until it reaches the desired consistency.

Roll out the dough piece until it’s about 4mm thick. Place it into a pie dish and trim the edges. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry begin to turn golden.

In a large pan, melt ½ stick of butter. Whisk in 1⁄3 cup of all-purpose flour, without letting it darken. Add the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. At this point, you can also add cinnamon. Bring everything to a boil, then keep cooking at low heat until it thickens.

Pour this mixture into the cooled crust and bake for another 25 minutes.

5 Ingenious Ways To Refrigerate Your Food Without Electricity

Homity Pie


  • pie pastry
  • one onion
  • 6 potatoes
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt
  • thyme
  • cheddar cheese
  • butter


Start off by making your usual short crust pastry using flour, salt, butter, and cold water.

In a frying pan, melt some butter and sauté the chopped onion over medium heat, until soft. Add the minced garlic and the sliced leeks and cook for a few more minutes.  At this point, you can also add some soft cheese.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked leeks and the boiled potatoes. Add salt, thyme, and any other spices to taste.

Place your pie crust into a pie dish. Add the pie filling and sprinkle over some cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

While they may require you to be a little creative, these Depression-era recipes are not only budget-friendly but also provide a glimpse into the resourcefulness of families during challenging times.

All these recipes have proven to be reliable in the toughest of times. With the economy on the verge of collapse, now is the perfect time you tried these recipes, that require simple and cheap ingredients.

Besides keeping you fed in a disaster scenario, they will be suitable meal options for days when you’re hiking or camping out in the woods as well.

This article was inspired by ”The Lost Frontier Handbook

The Lost Frontier Handbook is a guide created by Suzanne Sherman. It reveals long-lost skills of our ancestors that helped them survive during a crisis, natural disasters, and emergencies. The handbook contains high-resolution, detailed diagrams and step-by-step instructions on various survival tips and techniques. Some of the valuable lessons that consumers will discover include medicinal remedies, stockpiling and preserving foods, finding a steady supply of clean water off the grid, and many more. In addition, the content involves step-by-step instructions and detailed images. You can get your copy HERE !

7 Replies to “Great Depression-era Meals We Will Be Eating Again If Things Don’t Change

  1. Back in the olden days. Many farmers had horses and rifle. Many moose, elk and deer were obtained with no licence. Nowadays with drones and cameras, this would be almost impossible. In Canada, treaty natives are allowed to hunt and fish on crown lands. Most of our freedoms are gone.

  2. IMHO, the 1930’s depression is going to look like the Bobbsey Twins go on a picnic compared to what we’re facing. We’re staring down the barrel of Mad Max, and these recipes, well, we’ll be wishing we could find a can of Spam or beans or milk.

  3. I have a copy of “Depression Era Recipes.” Over the past few months, I have been finding it hard to find decent organic potatoes in my nearby grocery stores for my potato dishes. They look bad. Guess what? I got rid of some of my grass and have planted my own organic potatoes this year!

  4. thank you for your research and excellent advice. your article will save lives in the future. it does not take a genius, or cost a fortune, to survive. kids today with no cooking knowledge will learn fast in a disaster, or else. In 3rd world countries, many survive and thrive on beans and rice, which provide all the essential amino acids. others live on sweet potatoes or yams.

  5. One of my favorite…saute in skillet, onion, olive oil, minced garlic. Add diced ham (canned okay), can of peas, after all warmed nicely, add pasta cooked.
    stir a little and it is quite filling.

    Saute minced garlic w. chopped onion in olive oil, add sliced zucchini and when soft, add pkg of frozen corn.

    Also: minced garlic in olive oil, zucchini till soft, add sliced thin german sausage.

  6. Survival requires real nutrition from real food. Lab grown meat, bio products and genetically modified plants don’t provide nutrition, regardless of how much of it you eat. And they are extremely harmful to the human body.

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