10 Recipes of the Great Depression (2024)

When the Great Depression hit, many people could barely afford food. People had to get very creative with what they did have. They had to make do. Because of their hard times we now can find recipes of The Great Depression to help us when we are on hard times. People make depression meals even in this day and age to save money or when times are tough.

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Most of us has can be grateful that we have never had to walk through The Great Depression. But recent times in our world has us wondering what is to come. The experts are predicting we are at least going to experience a pretty major recession soon. With so many businesses shut down and people out of work around the world, it’s bound to affect us in some way.

I’ve never been a prepper, but as a homesteader it does involve some prepping. And let me tell you, how many of us right now are looking at preppers thinking, “wow…wish I had the stockpile you guys have”?

It’s not too late to start thinking about what we can do to be in a better position, should the recession hit very soon. While we many not have a year’s worth of food in our basem*nts, there are things we can do.

We can grow gardens. We can raise our own meat if we have the space. We can stop buying things that are not necessary. We can make do with what we have. We can reuse and repurpose items we have around the home.

We can cancel magazine subscriptions, online subscriptions, cable or satellite. We can look at our expenses and cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary.

We can save money when we go to the grocery store by using coupons. Or we can save at the grocery store without using coupons with these ways I list in this post.

And we can cook meals that have cheaper ingredients. Today I am going to share with you a bunch of different recipes that are from the Great Depression era. If money is extremely tight, if you don’t know how to pay your bills this month, depression era cooking will help you out a lot.

Another place I like to find cheap recipes is in depression cookbooks. One that I highly recommend is written by Clara and her grandson called Clara’s Kitchen. If you haven’t heard about Clara you are in for a treat. She was in her 90s when she started sharing her recipes on the internet and in her cookbook. It’s her stories that bring it all to life.

What I also love about depression era recipes is that kids love a lot of them! When adults recall the meals they ate as a child during the Depression era, they talk about how much they loved some of the meals. Of course, there were ones that they weren’t fond of, but which one of us doesn’t have meals from our childhood we could happily never eat again?

The bottom line is, kids often don’t feel deprived even when we need to serve them food that is the cheapest we can find. As a parent I find comfort in that. You can make these Great Depression meals and feel good about what you are feeding your family.


Poor Man’s Meal – Potatoes and hot dogs fried up with a few other ingredients. It’s well-loved at our house.

Dandelion Salad – We’ve complained about dandelions for decades, but now we can thank God for them! This recipe is in video form by Clara, an elderly lady who since passed but who lived through the Depression and shares recipes on her channel from that time.

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast – Not gonna lie, this recipe has another name people like to call it, but we aren’t going to mention that name here because this is a kid-friendly site! No matter what you call it, if you have some hamburger and some bread, you can whip this up for your family.

Potato Pancakes – This is one of my favorite meals, and I actually haven’t made it in years. I think it’s time to bring it into the family rotation again! You can top these with sour cream or even applesauce! Yum!

Hoover Stew – This recipe has pasta in it, and let’s be honest, when money is tight the two foods you want to use lots of is potatoes and pasta!

Chocolate Crazy Cake – Think you can’t have desserts if money is tight? Think again. This cake requires no eggs, milk or butter. And I’ve had it before so I can tell you that it tastes delicious, even without those ingredients!

Potato soup – There’s those potatoes again! I’m sharing my own recipe on potato soup but if you are really tight with money, leave out the bacon and cheese. You can also leave out the milk if you need to.

Pasta and Peas – This is another one of Clara’s videos. I love the stories she shares in them with her recipe!

Ida’s Depression Goulash – Goulash is one of those foods that you can make a big pot and feed a LOT. It’s a food that stretches for sure.

White Bean and Ham Soup – Beans are super cheap so it makes sense that they were a staple during the Great Depression. Try this soup on a rainy day for some comfort food.


Making some of the above meals can really help you save money, but what about saving money in other ways? I’ve written this post on various frugal living tips that we can use from the Depression era. The tips in that post can be applied to our everyday lives today to help us save on cash.

We don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, and we don’t know what life is going to look like in 6 months due to this illness that is circling the globe right now. Entire countries are under lockdown right now and people are advised, or ordered to stay home. Many are no longer working. It can be a scary time. You might be wondering how you will pay the bills going forward with so many things up in the air.

But it doesn’t have to feel hopeless. We can learn from those who have went before us. It’s time to be resourceful and creative with what you do have. A lot of this can be done in the kitchen. It’s amazing what you can do with just a few simple ingredients.

10 Recipes of the Great Depression (2024)
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