What were the most popular Great Depression meals?
Do you know?
With all the talk about food storage and growing our own food, I did a little digging around to find out what food people ate during America’s Great Depression of the 1930s.
Surprisingly, a few of these were made by my mother and grandmother, traditions, I’m sure, from those frugal years. Cookbooks like this one document many of these meals.
I still have a soft spot in my heart for Chipped Beef on Toast!
Table of contents
- Great Depression Meals
- Lessons Learned From These Great Depression Meals
- Nutrition in Depression-era Meals
- More Interesting Facts about Depression-era Food
- Check out these Great Depression cookbooks:
As you read this list, you’ll notice how simple and basic they are.
Sandwiches are featured prominently, which is a reminder of how important it is to have bread-making skills. It makes sense for fresh bread to be a key component of a Great Depression menu when you think about the cost. A single loaf of homemade bread might cost much less if you could buy and stock up on staple ingredients like flour, yeast, and salt.
Frugality meant survival.
In addition, the Great Depression was followed by World War Two when many food items were rationed. As a result, this way of approaching meals and cooking influenced multiple generations.
But remember that the limited availability of food happens for many reasons. Therefore we should be prepared because we don’t know what might cause it for us.
Great Depression Meals
How many of these are familiar to you, and do you have any others to add to the list?
- Milk toast
- Chipped beef on toast
- Cucumber and mustard sandwiches
- Mayonnaise sandwiches
- Ketchup sandwiches
- Lard sandwiches
- Bacon grease sandwiches
- Sugar sandwiches
- Onion sandwich – slices of onion between bread
- Butter and sugar sandwiches
- Fried potato peel sandwiches
- Tomato sandwiches
- American cheese sandwich: ‘American’ cheese was invented because it was cheap to make and didn’t require refrigeration which many people who lived during this era didn’t have.
- Squirrel — Here are how-to instructions for field dressing a squirrel.
- Whatever fish or game you could catch/hunt
- Chicken feet in broth
- Deep-fried chicken skin
Soups and Salads
Soups were easy to stretch to feed more people by adding water.
- Potato soup – water base, not milk
- Dandelion greens salad
- Bean soup
- Rag soup: spinach, broth, and lots of macaroni
Foods on Bread or Toast, With Gravy/Sauce, or Both
- Tomato gravy and biscuits
- Gravy and bread – as a main dish
- Toast with mashed potatoes on top with gravy
- Creamed corn on toast
- One-eyed Sam – a piece of bread with an over-easy egg in the center
- Tomato gravy on rice
- Toast with milk gravy
- Warm canned tomatoes with bread
- Sliced boiled pork liver on buttered toast (liver sliced with a potato peeler)
- Fried potato and bread cubes
- Hard-boiled eggs in white sauce over rice
- Oatmeal mixed with lard
- Corn mush with milk for breakfast, fried corn mush for dinner
- Butter and grits with sugar and milk
- Runny eggs with grits
- Cornmeal mush
Foods in Milk
- Cornbread in milk was a favorite Great Depression meal.
- Rice in milk with some sugar
- Banana slices with powdered sugar and milk
- Popcorn with milk and sugar – ate it like cereal
- Hot milk and rice
- Fried potatoes and hot dogs
- Water fried pancakes
- Fried bologna
- Garbanzo beans fried in chicken fat or lard, salted, and eaten cold
Noodle and/or Bean Dishes
- Hot dogs and baked beans
- Spaghetti with tomato juice and navy beans
- Spam and noodles with cream of mushroom soup
Other Depression-Era Meals
- Corn pone — Check out this recipe.
- Boiled cabbage
- Hamburger mixed with oatmeal
- Water pie
- Vinegar pie
- Baked apples
- Depression cake
Lessons Learned From These Great Depression Meals
Here are some of my takeaways from this list:
- Some foods that would normally have not been eaten became commonplace at the kitchen table.
- Stock up on ingredients for bread, including buckets of wheat, and know how to make different types of bread. Bread, in some form, is one of the main ingredients for many of these meals. Since I get a lot of questions about the types of wheat I use in my own cooking and food storage, check out my wheat tutorial here to learn more.
- Keep chickens around as a source of meat and eggs, and if possible, have a cow or goat for milk.
- Know how to make many different foods from scratch. Otherwise, the first three don’t make as much sense.
- Stock the right food (for you) and store it the right way. Many people start stocking up on food but aren’t sure if they are storing the right food, the right way, or what the right way is. Consequently, their food storage doesn’t serve its purpose well. Whether for Great Depression meals or not, no one wants to buy food storage, just to have it go bad because it wasn’t stored correctly. Therefore, learn exactly what to store and how to store it here! And if you want to get started with the basic building blocks of food storage, these are the top 10 foods I recommend.
- Cultivate a garden to provide at least some fresh produce, and plant fruit trees and bushes. You may be interested in this article with tips for Planning an Edible Landscape.
- Don’t waste anything, even chicken feet!
- Develop a survival mindset, a critical skill we all need to cultivate.
- Save fat, lard, and bacon grease.
- Tasty food doesn’t have to require expensive ingredients.
How many of these things do you think you could incorporate into your daily life? Or what about some of this great depression wisdom?Lessons learned from the Great Depression? Don't waste anything, not even chicken feet! Click To Tweet
Nutrition in Depression-era Meals
As you can imagine, good nutrition was a distant memory as subsistence diets became the norm for many. Consequently, malnutrition and the accompanying vitamin deficiencies were prevalent. This article from the archives discusses how people tried to maintain their health during the Depression.
More Interesting Facts about Depression-era Food
- Until it was pointed out by Jane Ziedgelman and Andrew Cole, authors of A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, I hadn’t realized something that was staring me in the face when I look at pictures of depression-era breadlines. There are never any women in them. Have you noticed that? Turns out women made up about 25% of the workforce, and when layoffs happened, they got the ax first. And breadlines were a “distinctly male institution” with decidedly rough edges. Respectable women wouldn’t frequent a breadline.
- As eye-raising as some of the foods on this list may sound to us today, we also gained Kraft Macaroni and Cheese; it officially launched in 1937. Kids everywhere now rejoice over the cheesy carbohydrate wonder.
- Loaves were popular because you could make the ingredients stretch farther. Beyond the traditional meatloaf that still graces tables today, there were also versions made from lima beans and liver.
- Creators William Dreyer and Joseph Edy named Rocky Road ice cream following the stock market crash in 1929. They hoped to make people smile during tough times.
- Refrigerator ownership increased from 8% to almost 50%. However, that still means 50% of homes DIDN’T have refrigeration.
Check out these Great Depression cookbooks:
These books are a good place to start if you’d like to learn more about what people did to survive that difficult time.
- Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression
- Hard Times Cookbook
- Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression
In tough times, when a square meal is a memory, people become resourceful, inventive, and creative about finding frugal ways to stretch food supplies. And they limited waste. These meals are evidence of that and of people’s determination to survive.
How many of these depression-era meals have you eaten?
Updated; originally published 6/7/19.
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503 thoughts on “Could You Stomach Any Of These Great Depression Meals?”
Wow, this is a list of many of the things we eat all the time! Maybe it's because my parents grew up during the depression and we just ate like this at home when I was a kid but I can tell you there isn't much on that list I haven't had. As an example, we always save our bacon grease. I use it to cook with all the time but I also use it in place of mayo on sandwiches. Why not? Fat is fat. And it adds a good flavor, too. I guess that it goes with our cheap livin' mentality around here but I figure waste not- want not.
My parents lived through the depression and even as I grew up in the sixties and seventies we didn't have a lot of money. In essence we were what is called today "the working poor". But having said that I can't ever recall going hungry and we never had school lunches or breakfasts handed to us. Always ate at home or took lunch with me. My folks bust their butts and provided no matter what. For that I am eternally grateful and remind my kids to be likewise.
My parents lived through the depression and my dad served in WWII, so they learned to be frugal. My family ate many of the items on the list while I was growing up and some of them are my favorite meals to this day..like creamed chipped beef. My mother also made a beef & vegetable stew..using homemade mini meatballs (half hamburger & half bread w/ seasonings), instead of beef chunks..and was it ever delicious…for much less cost. I still make it and my kids love it!! And, another filling but inexpensive meal my mother made was a boiled chicken dinner. She didn’t use a lot of chicken (only dark meat)..about 3 thighs for 5 people She would boil & shred the chicken..removing the bones, then add carrots & onions & cook them. She would make LOTS of egg noodles..in a separate pan and set them on the side. Then she would thicken the chicken/veggie mixture with a little flour or corn starch..whichever she had on hand. And then, she would add a Bisquik mixture to make large dumplings floating on top of the chicken & veggies. This scrumptious meal would be served over egg noodles and despite the fact that there were only 3 pieces of chicken for 5 people..we had plenty and were generally stuffed to the max. Fabulous Depression meals that I still serve and they are still loved!!
Sometimes during the 50’s when Dad was just running a chicken farm I took to school brown sugar and lard sandwiches. When we got Peanut butter and cheese from the state we are well, today I still eat peanut butter and cheese sandwiches. We could eat at eateries every day, but still eat fried spam sandwiches, SOS like I did in the military. In the military I thought I had gone to heaven. The best food ever!!!!! But today I still stick to Hamburg, potatoes and gravy. To me that’s a rich mans food. I love vegetables, my tomatoes and lettuce sandwiches in the 50’s snd 60’s were awesome!!!
A tomato sandwich is amazing! 🙂 I grew up on those, too.
One thing I didn’t see was Spam. Meat in a can. It’s pretty good fried up in scrambled eggs, or made into a sandwich with mayo and mustard.
Spam came along in answer to meat shortage. But the men on the battlefield needed a quick protein source.
Also, the folks in Hawaii got a Lot of spam as they were too far away to get supplies to , plus I think they were close to battle lines in the Pacific qnd no one really wanted to go there. So Spam “meat product in a can” became a staple there. Today, as then , one can find family recipes that have Spam in them. A local food cuisine was Macaroni and Spam salad. Its ok, but I don’t eat it all the time.
We also grew up eating about half the things on that list and thought everyone else did too. My mom was born at the tail-end of the Depression, and her mother taught her to cook these dishes, just as my mother taught me. I didn't know that these dishes were prepared "just in case" something like the Great Depression came again; if it did, we would know how to make the best of what we had, no matter how little.
How about…..corn map mush ……cornbread……cornmeal in milk “mixed”……venison….milk toast.
Keep in mind that the Great Depression was followed by World War 2 when lots of food items were rationed. A double whammy for those of us born in the 30’s and graduated from High School in the early 50’s. Thanks to my parents and the Lord, we always had food on the table. Bread with butter and sugar on it was our sweet rolls.
Yes, those were hard times. In my family’s case by the time the great depression came, they were already hardened survivalists as they had been hit by the flu pandemic, the mexican revolutionary war and resulting famine. I also thank my parents for showing us how to make the best of tough times. Nowadays, It’s just a breeze in comparison. Greetings.
Venison is my favorite kind of meat. Grandpa hunted deer and it was about the best meal we had.
Tom, agree with you 100%! I don’t exactly use bacon grease as a mayo sub… but a little bacon grease melted in a small pan, some bread (good ol’ Wonder Bread is fine) I just set the bread down on the grease , give it second to soak, roll up the bread and walk away munchin’ and smiling
Bacon grease toast; I made this in the ’70’s in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet, and thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
Have you ever eaten bone marrow on bread. When my mom would make beef or pork she would dig the bone marrow out of the bone. Delicious. I also make a dish called Sour beans. You chop of few slices of bacon up and fry it. Cook green beans or shellys add a little bit of Cider vinegar to taste. Add a spoon or two of flour to bacon fat to make thick. Add to the beans and Cider vinegar and allow to thicken Serve with a meal or make potatoes any way you want and serve as a meal. For my family I use a pound of bacon, 3 cans wax beans and 3 cans green beans and add enough vinegar to be barley able to taste it. Add it to the beans and we are in heaven. I make it with holiday meals but I also make it to just have with potatoes
Bone marrow was called Prairie butter and is very nourishing. I also grew up eating most of the above mentioned meals. I remember seeing a depression era cookbook for song birds in my grandparents house. I found when I was a boy. I have looked for it since the COVID-19 outbreak. It is long gone.
don’t forget scrapple
In philadelphia that was a stable.
do you mean staple?
Hmmm….well….believe it or not, I've eaten many of these meals and don't feel under-priviledged for having done so. There's no shame in eating humbly! My kids LOVE fried cornmeal mush, especially broiled with some tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. And "one eyed Sam", my daughter has that at least once a week for breakfast. A couple more items to add to that list: cocoa gravy and biscuits, fried green tomatoes, bologna salad and bean stew. I also vaguely remember buttered toast with leftover coffee poured over top; that's one meal I DID pass on.
Mine like fried cornmeal mush, too! I put some butter and maple syrup on top.
Try fried cornmeal mush with Liverworts gravy. Yum. I think it must be an old German thing.
Fried Mush = Ho Cake that could be wrapped in a piece of paper or fabric and carried in a backpack or nap-sack! When my kids were young we did Boy Scouts and did a Wilderness Survival course, ahead of the weekend camping experience we made jerky, ho-cakes, hardtack and dried fruit! My oldest son is 41 and remembers it…he listened to stories my depression era parents told and he remembers! He is very prepared now! And has great resources!
And 2 more favorites; fried cornbread and bean cakes. Take some stale cornbread, slice it in half and fry it in butter til brown and crispy and OMG. So good with beans and rice, kale, cole slaw.
And bean cakes, oh that's just plain comfort food. Just some leftover beans with salt, pepper, minced onion and enough flour to make a batter. Fry it in some bacon drippings til crispy and serve with ketchup for dipping.
How is it that people DON'T like this food?
Please put up how to make cornmeal mush? I remember we had this when I was 4, my great grandmother is not longer with us. I have asked my mom but she does not know how to make.
Here's a recipe to try: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fried-cornmeal-mush/… It's basically just cornmeal, water, and maybe a little salt. It become very thick as it sits. You can refrigerate it and slice off what you want for a meal, fry it, and serve it with maple syrup. Yumm!
You can buy it in the refrigerator section of your grocery story.
"cornmeal mush" in Italian is "Polenta".
Sometimes mom baked it, sometimes fried it, sometimes just straight once it was cooked, with a little red sauce on it. She often put in fried onion, olives, parsley. It was great growing up with that kind of food!
I love bologna salad. I make it a couple times a year. My husband is from a different part of the state than I am and he eats it too. My grown sons wouldn’t eat it when they were little and still won’t. I use deli bologna that is marked down so it’s even cheaper. it will last a week at my house if I use a lb of bologna and 3/4 lb of cheese along witht he other ingredients.
In philadelphia we grew up on bologna. Fried with cheese, bologna on white bread with Mayonnaise with crushed potato chips.
IV we eaten most everything on the list. We made our own noble syrup. My mom and grannie canned 100’s upon hundreds of vegetables, potatoes, fruit, jellies, pickles, beets, onions, beans of all types. I love beans today, with hot dogs or bacon. We ate crepes, pancakes raised our own chickens, ate eggs morning noon and night. To this day I never felt poor. I thought everyone ate what we did. Some guy told me when I was stationed somewhere, “we had steak every Saturday!” I told him beans and franks. If I buy a steak we grind it up into Hamburg.
Thanks for this really interesting post. I was raised by my grandparents who lived through the Depression and listened closely to their stories about how hard it was to find food, how they reused everything (and still did in 1980!), and how many folks starved to death. The scary thing? It wasn't that long ago, yet we now live in a "disposable society" where everything is plastic and ends up in a land fill and people throw food away like it's nothing. I saw a young couple in Cracker Barrel this weekend – the girl ordered a huge hamburger, ate 3 or 4 bites and then left it sitting. I couldn't help but think about how many people would have loved to have that back in 1930. It doesn't seem that we have learned from history at all and let's pray that we don't find ourselves having to learn a hard lesson at the last minute.
Many of these are familiar, and still eaten today. Nothing beats a slice of beefsteak tomato with mayo on toast .My mom used to make poor mans supper, and she just called it "recipe" . It was hotdogs and fried potatoes covered in some kind of white gravy. It kept all 9 of us teenagers with enough energy to do all of our chores ! Probably wouldn't eat it now, but if SHTF, we will probably eat worse. Hmmm, can you "can" hot dogs?
Yes, I can hotdogs and bratwurst, as well as smoked sausage links and sausage patties.
and bratwursts and any casing covered sausage, just pull off the casing and pop into the jar, break into bite sized chunks and pressure can as you would any other meat!
I'd love to know what the white gravy is.
I assume it's gravy made with flour and milk.
Yes, its flour and milk. 😉
If milk was available. A lot of times it was powder milk. My mom browned the flour and add water and pepper and salt.
1tbls grease ,oil, or butter, if you’ve fried bacon or sausage use that grease,1 tbls. Flour. Mixed in skillet and heated till it bubbles,salt,pepper,and a pinch of sugar. 1 1/2 cups of milk. Boil until thick.If you cook the flour mixture slowly and let it brown a little it has more flavor,but for breakfast with biscuits,the white is best.
When I was growing up we didn’t use the milk, just water. You want to use bacon grease, for flavor and cook it with the flour over med/high heat till the flour browns a little. Then add the water (1 1/2 C +/-) stir to make your gravy then add your salt and pepper to taste – I never used sugar. Now I use maybe 1/4 cup of milk with the water simply because I prefer it with water. We called this “Poor Man’s Gravy” I also make bacon gravy like most people make sausage gravy. Tastes awfully good over a hot biscuit.
My mother called this a white sauce, an elderly neighbor called it milk gravey, and the Food Channel calls it bechemel sauce!
The “white gravy” we grew up on was just milk gravy. I could be talking about something totally different though.
You mean hot dogs don't COME canned there?!?
It's the only way to buy them overhere; canned (very rarely you'll find some in jars, but canned is the default)
So I'd say yes, they're cannable!
In USA most hotdogs are in refridgerated sections. Vacuum sealed in bags.
Some of those sound pretty good. Some of those only sound good until you realize the quality of food storage back then. Most of those ingredients would have been stale, overripe, or questionable in some other way. Really shows the importance of making some of your own food.
I wonder if victory gardens sprung up from WW2 or if they were a natural extension of things people were doing during the 30s.
Victory Gardens did come from WWII. The government really wanted people to grow their own foods so the farm grown foods could be used to help the men in the war. It was a patriotic thing to do to grow a Victory Garden.
WOW, it has a lot of my favorites!! I eat fried egg sandwiches all the time, love a fried bolonga sandwich and always put oatmeal in my meat loaf.. Like fried spam sandwiches also. Now I only eat some of these once a month or so to stay healthy. The skin is my favorite part of fried chcken, once in college I almost bought a package of chicken skin at the local grocery to fry up but decided not too. I did always buy the packs of chiken backs to make broth for chicken and dumplings….at like 19 cents a pound you could not pass it up..Now that everything comes pre packaged you can't find deals like that..
I've eaten all the Kosher ones (road kill and lard/pork-based ones, not so much). And don't forget garbanzo beans, sprinkled with pepper and salt, with a little oil or melted chicken fat on them.
Fern, I came across a recipe that featured garbanzo beans but didn't include it because it was too long. I hadn't realized garbanzos were such a staple for some people. I use them in hummus.
Milk toast – not sure what it is?
Chipped beef on toast – love it
Cucumber and mustard sandwiches – cuke and mayo yes ….
Mayonnaise sandwiches – throw in a bit of pickle relish and yum!
Ketchup sandwiches – nope
Hot milk and rice – barbarians, rice is to be eaten white! Drink the milk ….
Turtle/tortoise – fried, baked, and in soups its all good
Gopher – no way in hell, and not prairie dog either. Both taste disgusting (I speak from experience …)
Potato soup – water base, not milk – yes – dehydrated potato flakes and vegetables of any sort
Dandelion salad – served in high end eateries today
Lard sandwiches – nope though roasted marrow on toast is good
Bacon grease sandwiches – no
Sugar sandwiches – no, but sugar/cinnamon on toast is good
Hot dogs and baked beans – staple at scout camp
Road kill – yup, one benefit of being a deputy is getting called out to take care of road kill ….
One eyed Sam – piece of bread with an easy over egg in the center
Oatmeal mixed with lard – no
Fried potatoes and hot dogs – yum!
Onion sandwich – slices of onion between bread – heat the onion until it caramelizes
Tomato gravy and biscuits – cornmeal biscuits for that italian flavor!
Deep fried chicken skin – like crackling
Cornbread in milk – eat the cornbread, drink the milk
Gravy and bread – as a main dish – gravy and biscuits ….
Toast with mashed potatoes on top with gravy – all the time
Creamed corn on toast – yup
Corn mush with milk for breakfast, fried corn mush for dinner – don't we call it polenta now?
Squirrel – baked, fried, and in a stew
Rice in milk with some sugar – Barbarians! (See above ….)
Beans – three pot rotation going now — one soaking, one cooking, one being eaten — on the wood stove
Fried potato peel sandwiches – with mayo, yum!
Banana slices with powdered sugar and milk – yup
Boiled cabbage — a staple
Hamburger mixed with oatmeal – meatloaf (soft of)
American cheese sandwich, ‘American’ cheese was invented because it was cheap to make, and didn’t require refrigeration that may or may not exist back then. — The "Blender" application used by Kraft is still one of the most complex pieces of manufacturing software around and a key reason why their systems have to maintain 5 9's availability. And yes, love them on a good sourdough bread lightly toasted.
Tomato gravy on rice – yes
Toast with milk gravy – yes
Water fried pancakes – no — you'll have to explain HOW because I can't get them to not stick with oil let alone without
Chicken feet in broth – forget the broth — some of my favorite dim sum!
Fried bologna — and fried spam with eggs ….
Warm canned tomatoes with bread – stewed tomatoes, bread, and bake until crispy
Butter and sugar sandwiches – toasted ….
Fried potato and bread cubes – yup with some wild onion thrown in as well
Bean soup – after every ham
Runny eggs with grits – and cheesy grits and …
Butter and grits with sugar and milk – why waste the milk?
Baked apples – yum! favorite around here
Sliced boiled pork liver on buttered toast (slice liver with potato peeler) – no but only because I don't eat liver no matter how much my mom would beat me
Corn meal mush – a staple
Spaghetti with tomato juice and navy beans – yes but no thank you
Whatever fish or game you could catch/hunt – isn't that normal?
Tomato sandwiches – on toast with a bit of mayo
Hard boiled eggs in white sauce over rice – nope ….
Spam and noodles with cream of mushroom soup – yup
Rag soup: spinach, broth and lots of macaroni – nope
Garbanzo beans fried in chicken fat or lard, salted, and eaten cold – bar dish in the middle east ….
Popcorn with milk and sugar – ate it like cereal – nope
Love your commentary! My husband grew up in the Pacific and can't stand anything on his white rice, other than a bit of soy sauce. Rice pudding is a huge no-no with him. Oh, milk toast is a piece of toast in a bowl with warm milk poured over it.
With cinnamon and sugar
We always ate rice “pudding” with sugar and cinnamon when I was a child in the late 40’s-50″s. I didn’t know people ate white rice any other way until I was a teenager and ate it with gravy at a friends house. Now I like it both ways.
In the 40’s whenever us kids got sick enough to stay home from school we were fed milk toast for upset stomachs and colds. Mom would put just a bit of butter(oleo) in it. I remember a plastic bag with white “fat”?? and it was a yellow capsule that you squeezed and mixed up . When the contents turned yellow it was put on a dish and it was our butter.. Milk. Toast……the bread was toasted and warm milk poured over it. We all liked it…..
As my mother was a native German she would make "milch reis mit zucker" quite a lot. Maybe it's a cultural thing while trying to survive WW2. I love it My wife is Japanese and I get plenty of it the other way.
I’ve done onion sandwiches but with mayonnaise. Tomato sandwiches I’ve also done. Ketchup sandwiches with and without mayo as well as mustard sandwiches with/without mayo. I remember having cinnamon and sugar on toast when I was young. Potatoes, beans and rice are excellent cheap staples.
good ideas.. great extention to the origin post.
In Philly we ate a lot of Chipped beef on toast. My father was in the navy they called it shit on a shingle. I always order it in Atlantic City, it cost $8. It reminds me of when i was a kid. I love it!
I can remember eating Shit on a Shingle when I was in the Navy from 1969 to 1971. No one else would eat it but as a child I ate it. I love it. I will make it with pork now as my husband can’t eat beef because of his heart.
My mom used to make it with salted dried beef. It was excellent and we kids loved it.
Rice and Milk is a Latin dessert – “arroz con leche”. It’s made in a cinnamon “bath” so the rice absorbs the cinnamon flavor and the “leche” (milk) is added with sugar when the rice is almost done cooking. It’s delishious!! I love making cinnamon tea and having the left overs to make arroz con leche!
Some of these sound pretty familiar, especially in my college days when money was tight. I remember when I would eat dinner at my parents house, my mom would send me home with the left over mashed potatoes. She would have me make peirogi. They are so cheap to make and freeze well, just make a huge batch and after you boil them pack em up and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw and pan fry. Super cheap:) Here is the recipe http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/recipes/r/pierogie…
My dad used to say they would have potatoes for one meal and the potato peels for another meal. I guess he wasn't kidding. It was hard to tell because he also said they would have dried apple for breakfast, water for lunch and swell up for dinner.
Well, I didn't grow up during the Depression, but I've been known to tell my kids that we used to eat dirt and play with rocks when we were kids. Not sure they buy that anymore, though. LOL
My grandpa said the same thing about eatin potato peels for a meal. The few photos we have of him growing up show the skinniest bunch of kids I have ever seen. He said it wasn't skinny kids, it was starving kids.
Thank you for the trip down memory lane. Growing up, money was tight so I remember eating mayonnaise and banana and mayonnaise sandwiches. I can add one you might not have heard of. My grandmother, who came from Ireland in 1921, used to boil an unopened can of Condensed milk for an inexpensive dessert. When opened, the milk slid out of the can and was sliced like cranberry sauce. The taste and consistency was similar to caramel pudding. The rich treat was especially good with a dollop of whip cream or vanilla ice cream.
All my life I have held onto my frugal parents and grandparents ways. It saddens me also that many younger people are spoiled and wasteful. They think we’re old fashioned or just plain weird when we suggest they become more economical. If the SHTF, many will not survive without Mom and Dad’s help.
Ooohhh…I've heard stories of boiling condensed milk for a dessert, but I've always been afraid that the can would explode!
try cooking it in a crock pot. Place unopened can in crock pot on it’s side. Fill crock pot with water so the entire can is submerged. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Cool before opening.
I have cooked many of cans of condensed milk and never had one to explode. I take the can put it in a pot of water to cover the can and boil it for 3 hrs turning every hour.. Let cool and our boys loved it. I learned that from a guy that worked on oil rigs. There cook made it for them. It taste like caramel.
That is the way a lot of people make caramel. If you don’t have the stuff to make it the long way or if you are like me you burn it every time that you try to make it the long way. The can is easier.
I made cakes professionally for a while. One of the “fillings” I used was dulce de leche that is just condensed milk cooked in a water bath for a long time. It tastes and feels just like caramel and super easy to make. It was one of the most popular filling flavors.
This is basically what I did also (she does a nice comparison): http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/homemade-dulce-de-leche/
Also, I just posted this a few days ago. This is a family recipe passed down from my great grandmother who lived during the Great Depression. This is my family’s go-to meal and one I make as comfort food when I need it. https://liadenorchard.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/tomato-gravy-and-noodles/
My gram still gently boils the condensed milk. It is the most delightful caramel sauce. She also told of ketchup soup.
If you watch the old show "Little Rascals" the kids are always eating a really thick slice of bread (2 inches or so) with a scoop of jelly or jam thrown on top. Obviously canning made jelly and jam a staple in that time. My guess is that no one refrigerated it either because they went through a jar in a couple days and the high sugar content preserved it a bit more.
Chip beef on toast aka SOS, was a regular when I was a kid, along with hush puppies and many other Southern dishes my mother creatively made. Learned from my grandmother who to her dying day at 99 still gnawed chicken bones. As the baby of 13 to a Georgia dirt farmer nothing went to waste, and a life time of making the most of what you had was passed on to her kids and a few of the grandkids who would recieve her wisdom. Found in some of her paperwork my mothers "Ration Card" for food from the depression and wartime when as a widow she had to draw on her skills to see her small family through. Tough times created strong people, a legacy I choose to try to emulate.
I have eaten many of these…yummy stuff…
I'm in the mood for a tomato sandwich, myself!
Yum, I started drooling as soon as I started reading the list…everything on it is delicious. But then again, I love cold, bitter, three day old coffee.
I am fairly young and its funny how much of that stuff I have eaten, currently make for myself, or variations of it.
-Milk Toast was and still is a family favorite for us. I like with with a little bit of cinnamon on it – best when made with homemade bread the store bought stuff just disintegrates.
-We do hard boiled eggs in a white sauce over toast in stead of rice, and call it Goldenrod Eggs.
-Fried egg sandwiches rock
-Fried bologna rocks – more so in a sandwich
-Runny eggs over grits is the ONLY way to eat them
-Rice Pudding is awesome and was made constantly while I was growing up
-Dandelion salad was eaten at my house when it was spring – or added to regular salad
-Cucumber sandwiches are great, in face I haven't had one in a while so I think I will when I get home
-Spam and noodles
-Spam and potatoes
-Potato soup (I didn't even know it was an "in" thing to do to add milk to it) the potatoes start liquifying and create their own base – you don't need to make one for them.
-Banana slices – check (breakfast food)
-Popcorn cereal -check (my mom used that trick when we ran out of the store bought stuff)
-Bean soup – check
-Fried potato skins – only we ate them with some salt the were just like chips.
-All things involving hot dogs – check, check and check
But ya…we have eaten many of the these its interesting to know where they came from.
Here is one I didn't see. Spaghetti made from Ketchup with Macaroni noodles (with or without hamburger). My folks used to make that ALL the time, my guess? Ketchup is cheaper than Spaghetti sauce.
And also we ate fish tails. Smaller ones from fish we caught fried until they were crunchy. It was like chips.
I remember the pasta with ketchup. My mother use to make that for lunch for us. I also remember having mayo and peanut butter sandwiches at friends' houses. Always thought that cucumber and mayo sandwiches were British from my grandmother's side.
Let's see, I have eaten a majority of the things on the list. Both sets of my grandparents were kids or teens during the great depression and they cooked depression meals for the rest of their lives. My dad is 70, he was born during WWII and he still cooks many things on the list, they were things he was brought up on and raised us with. One grandpa is still with us and some of his favorite foods are on that list. My mom still has mayo and sugar sandwiches once in a great while. White gravy with any type of bread is an acceptable meal in our house.
Wish hot dogs were still a cheap food. They run about $5 a package here.
My word– I've eaten just about everything on this list! I am a native Southerner and we ate just about everything that was put in front of us. If you grew up on a farm or had grandparents that farmed, there are a few missing things from this list, including: Wild-crafted foods such as poke salad, dandelion greens, wild berries of all sorts. We also ate every part of the pig: including hog brains (with scrambled eggs), liver mush, souse meat and scrapple (which I was unaware that Amish and Mennonite families STILL eat today).
I'm in my early 30s and it amazes me that so few people know how to COOK or make do with real ingredients. I was out in the backyard today and showed the neighbor kids the ground cherries that grow in their overgrown backyard. There's food everywhere if you know where to look…
There is a very large market for scrapple in this area among non-Amish and non Mennonites. We STILL eat scrapple, our family always loved scrapple and they were from Italy!
Thoroughly agree with your take on today's lack of cooking skills and making do, and knowing where to look.
Mmmmm scrapple sandwiches! Can’t get it where I live 🙁
OMG! You walked me right down memory lane- and what a fun trip it was. More depression memories from my mom: one whole chicken, which in 1932 probably weighed 16/18 ounces, fed the entire family of 20+ people for Sunday dinner. Everyone got a piece of chicken-just not a big piece!! And the next 2 days you had homemade noodle soup! The potato peels were NOT thrown away-they went into the vegetable soup broth pan. Frog legs were not a delicacy but a necessary meal because her brothers could catch them for free. (Bleah!) Gardening was survival-not Martha Stewart Fancy. Nut trees and Fruit trees were all over my grandmother's backyard and they were treated like royalty. Cow brains were mixed with eggs for a good scramble. We are such a spoiled society now. Hopefully, we are waking up. I know that I have made a 90 degree turn when it comes to wasting food.
We always used to use oatmeal to stretch hamburger when I was a kid. And bananas and milk aren't really an inexpensive dessert. For a free dessert pick berries.
Hubby's comment: A lot of these sound like lazy bachelor meals…(later down the list)…See, I've made that!
And… don't forget bone soup. In a large pot place several large (or small) pork or beef bones and fill the pot with water. Bring the bones to a boil and simmer for 6 to 8 hours and/or until the liquid is somewhat opaque. Pour the liquid off and save for soups and stock or just salt it and drink. The second time around for the bones produces the best and thickest stock, believe it or not. Bone soup, great taste, cheap and nutritious.
The broth and soups made with broth from bones has lots of calcium.
My Mum always roasted the bones first, it brings out the flavour better, then she added them to the stock pot, I still do it to this day
Wait, you mean we aren't *supposed* to be eating these now? 😉
Seriously, here in the south- many, many of these meals are still eaten today. You forgot cornbread and milk, though!!
I grew up eating this stuff, and it was a real treat then, and i still use and eat a lot of these recipes today. We know for sure there are no fillers in them, less very much fat and what fat content there is would't add up to the junk food we eat in a day now. what goes around comes around and i will eat this and also maybe dress it up a bit with a side dish of rice etc.
This really brings back a lot of memories! My mom was not a good cook, but she could fry the best fried chicken ever. I could not figure out how she did it until I remembered that all of the lard we used was used over and over again. She kept the lard in a coffee can on the stove. All of the bits of bacon, potatoes, chicken, and whatever else she fried was in the lard. Believe me, that makes some fine fried chicken. We were so poor we had to reuse everything we had. Do you remember that flour could be bought in cloth bags? We bought flour this way so my mom could make clothes out of the material.
We STILL have tomato gravy and biscuits, it’s a treat! I have a picture of me, about 4 years old wearing a dress made from a flour sack. It had little daisies printed on it. Very pretty. I was the youngest of 7 and my Grandfather was a farmer with one mule. No tractor~ I remember a hog killing when I was 5. Everybody pitched in and sausages were made, pork chops cut etc. You have to wait until the weather is real cold, in the South so that the meat won’t spoil before you can process it all. Good eatin’~~we were very poor, but always ate well. Everything was grown by them, even had corn meal ground from the corn they grew. Only thing bought was wheat flour and things like baking powder, etc.
it is amaizing: that food was and still is a healthy and complete meal. I am inspired by that recipes and this is how I cook so I had no colds all my family and the blood tests in the blood donation center are great. The bone soup and the free vegetables collected ( dandelions, nettles, ramsons, forest fruits etc) helped me to repair some mineral issues and about several years I spend 0 money to pharma.
Thanks for the articles and your comments, I forgot a lot of money free solutions.
Great list. Love the ingenuity of our grandparents and great grandparents. I grew up with my grandmother making several of these dishes, or mentioning that they use to eat them when she was a child. I know we are all collecting food storage recipes and planning out our #10 can meals, but it will be amazing how creative we'll become during hard times.
I still make the One Eyed Sam, but renamed it Sunshine Bread. It sounded more appetizing. It's one of my DH and DSs favorite breakfast meals.
Great article. I caught it on Lew Rockwell. Some swell comments also. It's a good notion that we all like these meals. Most won't be able to swing into the hard times with such flare.
Here are some of my favorites:
Soda crackers with milk and sugar. (breakfast cereal)
Fried salt pork with fish and boiled potatoes. ("fisherman's turkey"–mash together the fish and potato on your plate and add diced raw onion and salt pork gravy)
Green tomato pickles. (Lysine is generally lacking in American diet. Adding lysine-rich tomato eaten with beans creates a whole protein. Protein being one of the most difficult nutrients to acquire during hard times)
Soda bread–baking powder biscuits–corn bread (cheap, quick and filling)
Corn chowder. (A spin-off of potato soup or perhaps the other way around)
Sausage gravy. (A pound of sausage goes a long way when in a gravy. over biscuits or fried mush)
Chicken and noodles. (hand cut noodles in gravy, mashed potato and a tiny bird will feed a big family)
Tomato bisque. (A hearty meal, nearly free if you have grown the tomatoes) [post one of two]
Nettle soup. (Sounds grim but the fresh taste of nettle soup with dandelions and potatoes is a gourmet treat)
Tongue and cheek (a fish chowder made from boiling fish skin, organs and bones)
Welsh rarebit (rabbit) (A spicy cheese sauce over soda crackers or toast)
Dandelions (Nature's perfect food)
My parents were young adults during the depression. (They suffered thwarted lives due to few opportunities. This scarred them forever. They never escaped this depression mentality. It's happening to our young people today.)
These are a few meals I grew up with and practice still. (I'm 70 years old–take no pills and still work 12 hours a day.) Visit me at rowescorner.com where I occasionally relate some of my strategies for surviving hard times. ccw
Ihave eaten a number of these. Sugar sandwiches are wonderful with brown sugar and butter.
Yes to the brown sugar and butter sandwiches. Love them.
Great post, I'm fond of a number of these. I will say that bone soup is a big one in my northern area. I remember giving some caribou meat to an older friend and her asking me to cut the leg bone into chunks so she could make soup. She boils them and then eats out the marrow. Which is very rich. Normally I cook these for my dogs as homemade treats.
There are a couple of books one is, Make do and Mend, the other is, Eating for Victory, these are books compliled from pamphalets passed out in England during WWII fabric and food rationing. They both have great tips for making do with less.
My mom was a teenager in the Depression, so I heard a lot of stories. She used to fix some of these dishes, we were poor. We always like ” Graveyard Stew”, milk toast. I think it was the name, it was like eating ghosts.
If you can grow a good sized tomato, wrap it in foil and cook until soft and very hot, the best tomato soup you’ll ever have. If you have any veggies like basil, chives, garlic, onion, etc., cut off the very top and stick these in it and replace a small slice you cut off before heating. Make pesto out of nearly every herb you can with the ingredients you have on hand. Basil or other herbs made into pesto with any type of nut is good, cheese to go with it is even better and if you don’t have olive oil, use a veg. oil or a bit of bacon grease. If you have corn meal and milk and bacon grease you only lack a leavening agent to make real cornbread and if you don’t have baking soda, it’s not bad without it as is cooking it without an egg, something I rarely use. Grind up mesquite beans and make a dandy flour. Cook mesquite beans in bacon grease or lard on a griddle with any spice you have and they’re mighty good also. Nearly any fresh plant you know isn’t poison and has the moisture to grow is good food when you’re hungry. Carry a slingshot and let chance be the factor of what you eat. Shoot a bureaucrat and make lots of soap and feed the rest to the pigs. DO NOT consume mistletoe in any way. Lard or bacon grease or any oil(non-petroleum)will make a tasty grasshopper and similar insect meal.
What about liver and onions or cow tongue or ox tail stew? My grandparents told us that every last bit of the animal, including all organ meat was used. Chicken gizzard, necks livers and hearts? Pickled pigs feet or pork rinds or snout? They also told us whippersnappers that people used to eat horse meat until the late 30's-to early 40's (people still do in Europe).
I know many folks who turn their nose up at these sort of things, but then again, most have never been that hungry-yet.
Chicken gizzards is one of my favorites. That was actually a special treat when I was growing up (I'm 44). When my first son was just a little guy and couldn't pronounce gizzards he'd ask my mother to make him some fried buzzards every time we'd visit my parents.
Yes! All that! (except the horse… at least that I know of…) Beef tongue and tail are 2 of my favorites, and tripe, and pork skin.
Gizzards in red sauce… mmmmm. When I was a late teen/ young adult, my mom & I used to flip a coin for who would get the neck and/or what she called the "north end"!
I guess it kind of helps when you grew up in a family that cooked, and knew what to do with all the odd-bits…
And I agree that many, many people have "never been that hungry yet". Was at a dinner party earlier tonight, and there were a couple of gals there that always set my teeth on edge every time they say, "I'm picky…"
My mother would have never let us live with that attitude.
My grandmother often told the story of having some neighbors show up a little before noon. They were very embarrassed because they only had a couple potatoes and were going to make some soup. They found out that the neighbors came because they had nothing.
My aunt to me they would have baked bean sandwiches in their school lunch.
My uncle told me they would buy wheat by the bushel, sit at the table and clean it, and they would have it cooked for breakfast. The family had 7 children and a bushel of wheat lasted them about a month for breakfast food.
Missouri You for got the no nothing pie we made back then
poor mans fish – potatos fried in corn meal , ive eaten everything on this list at 45 yrs old being from the south it is common . bacon grease rules on anything
My dad still talks about how his favorite dinner as a child was canned peaches and juice on a slice of torn-up bread. He was one of four siblings raised by their single mom in Illinois during the 1930s.
Interesting topic that reveals just how spoiled we are nowadays!
Most of these would send my blood sugar through the roof…I'm diabetic and can't have a lot of carbohydrates or sugar. I'm supposed to be on a high protein diet with lots of lean cuts of meat, fish, chicken, eggs, low fat diary, nuts and a few beans. All that bread, rice, sugar … omg … I'd end up in the hospital or worse, dead.
I've eaten many of the very things listed here while growing up and I'm not even fifty. Never knew hunger either. Maybe it's because my folks told me to eat what was in front of me or simply do without. Lets say I never forced that issue and learned to appreciate every bite I took.
Mom was born in '08 & worked cooking for Threshing crews and as a Domestic before Marriage in '31. Stewed Dried Apricots, prunes & tapioca keeps forever and is a Great Desert. Her homemade whole grain brown breas in round loaves was the Best.
My dad was born in 1934 and said he remembered a lot of turnip soup. I had quite a few of these on the list as well from my parents and my grandparents (I'm 43). My mom would take bread or crackers and crumble them up in milk (she got that from her dad). My grandmother made Brunswick stew out of squirrel and never told me what was in it. It was really good and I know I could handle squirrel if need be. Unfortunately where I live, I won't be able to get eggs nor fresh milk but over the past 10 years, I've learned a lot about what is edible around the yard. I could handle the dandelion greens cooked like mustard greens (I have a really old cookbook that even has a recipe for cooked dandelion greens).
I've eaten many of this meals growing up. My mother grew up during the Great Depression and many times we had meals of vegetables and bread, gravy and bread and some pretty basic dishes.
My grandmother said that at the peak you could not find a dandelion anywhere. They were eaten as fast as they appeared. also other wild greens. that was northern Illinois
You forgot no nothing pie
Cornbread in BUTTERMILK, because buttermilk doesn't spoil when kept cool in the crick (creek) like "sweet" milk will. But since many kids won't like the buttermilk, let them have the sweet milk for the cornbread. Add a teaspoon of finely diced onion, seriously it tastes awesome!
And of course the poke sallet on the side (boiled 3 times, throwing out water each time). Grandma wouldn't show me the poke plants though, because of the stigma of being seen collecting poke. Apparently the families that took longer to recover from the Great Depression gathered their poke where they wouldn't be seen by their neighbors LOL
Crick? You must be a fellow Ohioan lol
Cornbread and buttermilk for an evening meal or snack. Biscuits or cornbread instead of expensive store bought white bread. Green tomato relish was served with beans, and unripe apples were sweetened with a little sugar, buttered, and served with the chipped beef gravy and biscuits. Chipped beef was a treat: fried bologna, white gravy made with bologna grease, and those beautiful biscuits was served more often.
No child ever got tired of a good biscuit that I ever heard of!
What are "water fried pancakes"? K
I have to say, I've enjoyed the comments even more than the original article! Lots of interesting combinations and some great memories!
It points up the fact that people who know anything about cooking — as opposed to just opening a can or box — can not only can put together very tasty, filling meals with very basic ingredients, but grow or forage for food to enhance the experience. So stock up on some of those basics! When the belly is full we can go on to fight another day.
Another area that our society needs to get back to the very Basics of home economy (aka "home ec. 101").
Need some recipes 🙂
That's the point: You don't Need recipes. \
Its Improvisation with available ingredients.
Got my Grandmother's recipe of hot dog casserole and beef hash. Great meals that basically use leftovers. I am going to hunt down some of the dishes you listed above.
This is the united states we are talking about. The country where spam is in every store. We are not known for our fine cuisine! That list is normal daily food around a big portion of the US, including my own home, and all my neighbors!!
As a child I lived with my great-grandmother who lived through the great depression and to this day some of my favorite things to eat are mustard and onion sandwiches, ketchup bisquits, and fried potatoe sandwiches. Now I know where that came from.
True- we eat a lot of this stuff regularly, although I can’t say I’ve ever tried chicken feet, but I know people who have! We have a garden every year and I can all I am able. When buying seeds, I try to get non-hybrids so that you can save the seed. Hybrids won’t grow true- like Forrest Gump, “you never know what you’re gonna get!!” We also keep a herd of goats and a flock of chickens. My next project, now that we’ve finally fenced part of the back yard off from the goats, is fruit trees and bushes! We also live in the country on a farm, have a pond for fishing and plenty of hunting. But some of the above named foods are staples at our house. We can add (sliced) pineapple sandwiches, banana sandwiches, and when I was growing up, my mom bought canned corned beef hash. She cut both ends out of the round cans, pushed the meat out little by little, slicing it into “patties.” She arranged them on a cake pan, dabbed a little ketchup on top and baked it until hot through. We also got packs of the thin-sliced sandwich meats like “Land o Frost” and had two slices on a sandwich. Fed the whole family on one pack!
I've eaten quite a bit off that list. I grew up on a small ranch, and even though we usually had meat, there were times we were out and made do with what we had. I remember many times eating boiled potatoes and boiled eggs. Mash them on your plate, add a bit of butter and salt and pepper. It was really good. Hmm, maybe I'll make some for supper. 🙂
My mother in law always cooked her chicken feet after butchering. Her mother in law always broke the chidken bones in half and sucked the marrow out. She said when you come from a large family you eat every thing you can.
I grew up eating nearly everything on this list.
I have eaten and still do eat a lot of those items. My grandma who grew up during the depression would also fix peaches with milk bread and sugar ( said it was like cobbler I disagree but did eat it) that and fried green tomatoes( not to bad really)
We have a saying in my family (I've been hearing it as far back as my great-grandmother who passed decades ago): "Hunger is the best gravy."
A lot of these are still around, I still like onion sandwiches.
Fried bologna my father would fix for us. My kids remembered me speaking of it and noticesd in Cinderella about the depression they fried Salami. My mother used to suggest bread with butter & sugar for a snack after school. Guess we know where that came from too. Hash was cooked the same way a previous writer posted. Sliced and put on a pan put in the oven. For Sunday she would add canned peach halves, and English muffins and broiled them all at once. Another favorite was similar to upside down cake. It was a mixture of diced spam, beaten egg with yellow mustard, and brown sugar. add peach slices and cover with cornbread batter and bake. Not all of the food was “great” but nothing got wasted. Several days of old bread was left in the oven to dry and be used for bread crumbs or cubes. There was always a can for bacon drippings. Suddenly at 60 * I am homesick. Take care all and keep safe.
I’m not of an age that lived during the “Great Depression” but I did grow up eating alot of those meals, in fact I still eat them. My Dad would make me some of these and they always tasted great! Don’t know if it was because he cooked them or not.
As a kid growing up with a single mom, I often had gravy on toast. We called it “stuff” on a shingle We also often had leftover white rice for breakfast. We added milk, cinnamon and sugar and ate it like oatmeal. When my husband was a kid, the lumber mill his dad worked in closed down, leaving the family of seven short on cash. They often ate oatmeal with salt and bacon grease. He also remembers eating fried zucchini for days on end. Now he often asks me to cook those things. Our kids are finicky eaters, but not in the way you might expect. We recently bought a package of pre-made burritos on a whim. My five year old ate it, but wanted to know where the rest of the beans were. I told her they were already in the burritos. She said “yeah, but where is the pan of beans, didn’t you cook them?” She just couldn’t grasp that it came pre-made. I love that! I always tell people our kids will never know it if we get really poor, because beans and rice are some of the only things they consistently like.
After reading this, I realized I have ALWAYS eaten these foods! I never knew so many of my favorites were from this time period. Its kinda …well… scary.
Grew up pretty poor,or what I thought was poor.for generation in my family the diet consisted of elk,deer,salmon and seafood ,ducks and pheasants ,potatoes,and any vegetable.All of it that we gathered and hunted ourselves.as a kid just hated it cuz I thought it was poor people food.since all my classmates were eating hamburger ,hot dogs,chicken,and steak.
I know see error of my ways and realize how good and healthy our meals were.I thankfully that my children love it and would rather eat wild game or seafood then a lot of the processed stuff in stores or fast food restaurant.
I envy you for having been able to eat all that great food, while the rest of us were munching away on heart disease-inducing pork, hormone-laced beef and chicken and other crap. You had it made! Keep at it, my friend! Keep teaching your kids to do the same and into the next generation.
Im 17 , and grew up & love most of these i remember i could fix sugar bread by the time i was three & always got in trouble for not asking >< lol. kinda wierd , i knew we was poor i didnt have a proplem with that even growing up poor i didnt like most do, i had a blast growing up poor you have too strech your creativity honestly. putt i didnt thing we was that poor. lol
oh sh*t on a shingle was a favorite one of oour favorites , and we cooked everything almost in bacon grease or reused oil.
Yes, in fact, I have had about 2/3 of the meals on that list and most of them weren’t too bad. We didn’t know any better since we were not too well off, but nobody starved to death. Of course kids now wouldn’t eat much of that if they had a choice. But they may NOT have a choice, one of these days.
I too have had several items on this list. One exception: I grew up in a house that did not have Mayo, we used Miracle Whip and often had “Miracle Whip” sandwiches.
we used to put miracle whip on saltines and sprinkle pepper on that. don’t know where we got it, but we really liked it as kids.
Thank you for posting this, I am new to prepping and theoretically, I could eat this stuff, but who would choose to and they had another option, eh?
There is one depression era recipe that I grew up eating, and we still eat (occasionally) in our house. My moms mother saved it from a newspaper during the depression. Its called Roman Holiday, its basically a casserole with ground “meat” (we use ground beef), elbow noodles, canned tomatoes and as much cheese as you can afford. Its greasy, but soooooooooooo good.
We were eating this recipe in the ’80s when the kids were young. They called it ‘Super Supper.’ It disappeared fast, never any leftovers.
My parents were both born in 1930 and grew up in pretty well-off homes, but learned and still practice frugality to this day.
“Roman Holiday” we called “ground meat casserole”…. we had that at least once a week in the 60’s and 70’s and my father brought in a good income as an top-notch engineer. But cheese on it??? No chance, just browned ground meat, boiled elbows and a can of tomatoes.
In New England they throw in some chopped up browned onions and peppers and it becomes “American Chop Suey”. That was still a regular at the dining hall in college in the late 70’s. (“S*** on a shingle” made a frequent appearance there too.)
I’m 54 but my dad always made sure the family never went hungry so I guess we’re blessed. Oddly it was the occasional simple meals like grilled cheese sandwiches, cinnamon sugar toasts, potato onion sandwiches that I learned to make and loved. Another great meal was what my mom called Spanish rice. This was canned tomato with zucchini mixed with white rice seasoned with a couple strips of fried bacon including bacon fat.
my gram used to sell sandwiches to office workers during the depression, to support the family. my favorite was baked beans and pickle.
I grew up eating all of this.I still eat bread butter and sugar sandwiches and so do my children and grandchildren. Here’s one I didn’t see. Take boiled mush and add leftover baked beans. Pour into bread pan and bake. We called it poor mans meatloaf, and ate it with ketchup.
I always knew I grew up eatin “po’ food”, but this just brings it all home. I grew up eating darn near everything on this list and have had the joy of introducing them to my kids (The rule in our house is you *must* taste *everything* at least once). B/c of this, my kids don’t bat an eye at tomater sammiches, escargot, scrapple, fatback or the crawdads we catch in the local streams and once disappointed a good friend of mine who thought to shock them by offering pigs feet for lunch (the shock was hers when they ate it all and came back for, “more, please! ”
My wife on the other hand…
The first time she saw me making what I grew up calling ‘grease gravy’ (flour browned in bacon fat, an haute cuisine ‘roux’ by any other name) for biscuits and gravy, she turned to me, green about the gills and said in a horrified whisper, “Are we going to *eat* that !?!”
But you left out peanutbutter and onion sandwiches (Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!) Vidalias and some Extra Crunchy with a cold Dr. Pepper! Yum! Yum!
What a walk down memory lane. I remember seeing my great grandpa eating peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches. Have you seen the price for a jar of chipped beef? We ate that quite often as a child .. but I wouldn’t spend that much for a jar today. Maybe less demand made the price go up.
Most “chipped beef” used in my family was just a few tablespoons of bits of beef from whatever meal was last eaten with the broth that came from it added to a white gravy made from flour, grease and water. The meat that would serve just one becomes a meal for a family.
Wow! What memories come back with this list! We ate a lot of this growing up, and it was my grandparents that were depression era. Even now, we have quite a few off of the list. My mom loved fried bologna, and if we have cornbread, you can be sure my dad’s going to have cornbread and milk for a late evening snack. 🙂
my grandmother would always tell me about eating cardboard with ketchup on it. that was the whole meal. i learned pretty fast to appreciate what i have.
Cornbread and milk. Hot out of the oven with cold milk pour over it and eaten as fast as possible so that the bread didn’t get cold from the milk. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. I can taste it to this day. Unfortunately, my mother passed away without telling us how to make the cornbread.
This is the recipe I learned from my Grandma.
2 cups cornmeal
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon Oil
2 cups Buttermilk (or 2 cups reg milk with 2 teaspoons of vinegar added)
Heat oven to 450°.
Heat 2-3 Tablespoons of oil in cast iron skillet in oven while you are mixing the bread.
Mix all ingredients together and pour into hot skillet, batter should sizzle and form a nice crust when added to hot skillet.
Bake until browned on top… about 20 minutes.
Corn bread cooked in a cast iron skillet is the only way to go! Once you try it, you’ll never go back! Thanks for sharing.
Well, if this list is from the “Depression Era”….I must still be living in it! 😉 MANY of these foods are things that we still eat today. Chipped beef on toast is a staple around here for something cheap, tasty, filling & fast.
One of my favorites when I’m craving comfort food is white rice with sugar & milk, sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
BeBe great cornbread recipe. The only difference in yours and mine (my grandmother raised me and when I was 12 she broke her arm so she could still mix bread (biscuits and cornbread) but I had to roll out the biscuits or scrape the cornbread mixture into the cast iron skillet–and after six weeks of this I could make as good a biscuit or cornbread as any country housewife) is I use the self rising white corn meal (no need for the salt or soda, don’t add any flour and use only buttermilk (the alternatives never work as good). I also turn on the broiler for the last couple minutes to get the top that golden brown that makes it so pretty. The secret (which is no real secret) is the buttermilk and egg.
Hey I love milk and cornbread so easy get a cast iron skillet preheat oven 400 degrees put skillet on burner with a big tablespoon of lard or oil turn on the burner while melting mix in a bowl about 2cups self rising cornmeal 1cup self rising flour stir together add enough milk to make thin enough to por in skillet when grease get melted and hot pour in mix it will for a crunchy crust then put in oven and bake until brown hope you love it let me know I’m from ky and that’s how we make it. Thanks Tammy
About half if not 2/3 of this list was on the my family’s menu as a kid, and I am sure it was because my mother ate it when she was young and they had very little. I still fry bologna for myself now.
I still eat some of these foods…
We ate many of these meals growing up on the farm. One of my kids favorites, fried potatoes and baked beans, one of my favorites, is cinnamon sugar toast. What a treat, especially with home made breads. We loved potatoe skins fried in bacon grease, it was like potato chips now.
I actually voluntarily learned how to make some of these recipes in order to be more frugal and I do love some of them (corn meal mush for breakfast, yum, pan fried potatoes with whatever you have on hand…) and my daughter learned how to make your “one eyed sam” in cooking class and it’s now one of her favorite foods. I remember eating a lot of these kinds of foods when I was a kid in Germany. I *loved* lard sandwiches, and just hearing the name turns my husband’s stomach today. I’m not sure I could still eat them today though, but they were good back then.
A lot of those meals were still on the menu when I was a kid, and I’m not that old! 🙂 The tomato sauce on rice is a good one – especially with cut-up hotdogs in it. I still eat cornbread and milk sometimes – pour maple syrup over it, and it is really good. I just use a Jiffy mix, Mara, but that’s because that’s what we used when I was a kid.
The only other thing I would add is what my dad used to call “concoction.” A bag of egg noodles, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and whatever meat and vegetables (canned or frozen) you have (my favorite was ground beef or canned tuna with canned green beans, frozen peas and frozen corn). It’s not the most adventurous meal in the world, but it’s cheap, easy to fix, and very filling.
Same here! I had no idea that a tomato sandwich was Great Depression cuisine!
tomato sandwiches,yes that was my grandmother loved.she was born in1881,and my mom was born in 1923.they both told me stories of the great depression.and with the help of my mother(god bless her) i have been sharing many of the recipes to my grandchildren.they cant beleave how good they are. rabbit stew was a hit.next will be creamed rabbit over rice…
It’s funny, my mom was a kid in the depression…..So I’m guessing a lot of her recipes that she taught me and my sister came out of that….
things like french toast with applesause (she always said syrup has to be bought…apples grow on trees)
chip beef gravy, cod gravy(soaked dry fish in whitesause over potatoes)
and what my kids call Grey gravy (hamburger gravy)
My oldest son married a college professor and he called home to have me tell her how to make it properly…
when they come to visit that’s the meal he wants, grey gravy over rice with a little canned corn to mix though it.
pintos and rice (one 1″ cube of salt pork seasoned enough beans for a family of six (my mother in-law taught me that one)
It’s amazing what part of their childhood kids remember when they grow up
I grew up eating many of those things! Corn meal mush is one of my all time favorites, along with rice and milk for dessert. Another family favorite is Hamburger and potatoes boiled into a soup. We have been eating these for at least 4 generations!
Try these …
tomato slices in hot biscuit
hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes
pinto beans with wild mustard greens & corn bread
corn bread in buttermilk
homemade pancakes with homemade applesauce (the only way my husband will eat pancakes)
rice pie (bake leftover rice w/sugar, spices, raisins, etc.)
biscuits with homemade blackberry syrup (blackberries cooked in sugar water)
My mother-in-law was in Germany during WII. She has talked about making grass soup among other things. They also had to make their shoes out of rushes & reeds. My father-in-law talks about being sent out as a boy to hunt for whatever ‘food’ he & his brother could find.
I too ate many of these meals growing up in my grandmothers home. She called the hamburger and potatoe soup “Poor man’s soup”. I remember her telling me, you started with a handfull of hamburger, add a bit of celery, if you had it, onion….if you had it, potatoe and water or milk, yep, if you had it. It was one of my favorites.
Native Americans been eating like this for thousands of years. Many Native Americans are still eating this way because of the Reservation and how society treats Native Americans today.
Have eaten, and still do eat much of what’s on this list. We also eat ‘pore soles’ or cornmeal dumplings boiled in ham broth. It’s delicious!
Hi! I just stumbled onto your article, and it brought back some memories, some good, some..well..not so good. I remember my grandmom giving me milktoast when I was sick with Vincent’s Angina ( a fancy word for trench mouth–very painful!). I was in junior high school at the time. My dad used to make this snack that was delicious–he would mix peanutbutter, butter, and honey then spread it on crackers–yum!! My mother-in-law, who was a girl during the Great Depression, taught me how to make and then fry corn meal mush–that’s also yummy! I’m 61 now, and have a big garden out back, and fruit trees, and 2 pecan trees. I eat dandelion greens in springtime, and just found out that a weed growing in my back yard is purslane–very edible and high in omega 3 fatty acids. I feed it to my jungle fowl:) There are some things I can’t eat now for health reasons , but there is still plenty out there that’s cheap, healthy and tasty that I can eat. My hubby and I fish and hunt–and I have learned a lot about how to prep and cook those things. Oh, and winter squash is easy to grow, stores without refrigeration very well! Thank you, I will be back to your website!
This makes me so nostalgic for my Grandma! She was a wonderful, practical, thrifty woman who was a kid during the Depression. She always had a kitchen garden, even in her 80s. I remember her making me ‘beefsteak tomato’ and mayonnaise sandwiches on homemade bread. She grew the tomatoes herself, and told me that during the Depression beefsteak tomatoes were the only kind of steak they could afford. She would also insult wimpy people by calling them ‘milk toast’, lol.
Having been brought up in a foster home in upstate NY (Saratoga County) the parents had both lived through the depression. I have eaten 28 of the meals listed above. I still eat most of them today. I had five sons and they learned to eat those meals from time to time. I grow my own tomatoes and green peppers in the back yard of a townhouse in the ground and have grown lettuce in those green plastic hanging flower pots (they were pretty too) along the fence. When out of work one summer it came in handy: 6 tomato plants and 10 green peppers (all grown from seed) and 6 hanging baskets of lettuce. Had enough for two of us to eat and gave so much away, even dug up 2 pepper plants for an ex co-worker too. Canned the late green tomatoes (still eating them a year later) fried they are good – have shared them too. Froze the green peppers (great for cooking and omelets) Cost first year: about $6 for seeds – pots were given to me. Used store for the canning jars 12 for $3, a must tho is to buy “new” rings and lids for canning $2 (Walmart), $14 for the canning pot with rack (Walmart) no pesticides – picked the bugs etc off myself or warm water wipe on leaves – yeast with beer – no slugs – crushed egg shells for calcium and grub deterrent. And most of all, a secret between me and the landscaping guys that come mow everything flat in the backyards not to tell the landlord and asking them to leave the trees that grew (I just didn’t let them mow the seedlings down) now I have some shade as well. The real cost is your time from then on in – that’s it.
I’m 62 now, and was reared by a grandmother who was a young mother during the Depression. One of my favorite dinners as a child was potato pancakes sprinkled with granulated sugar, We had this meal often when Grandpa was between jobs. Another favorite dinner was pancakes , sprinkled with powdered sugar ( if Grandma thought we were low on syrup) . When Grandpa was out of work, Grandma always took the time to make homemde bread, biscuits, coffecakes, and cookies. I loved everything she baked, and felt really lucky when we ate her homemade bread. As an adult looking back, I can see how well Grandma managed her stored flour , potaoes, etc. so that her family always felt secure and happy, regardless of how little money she had to spend on meals.
During my childhood my mother made a couple of the dishes you listed. So I was truly surprised to see Hot Milk and Rice listed. I was born in Puerto Rico and was raised in NYC. Since rice is such a big part of our culture, I always thought this dish was original to the island (how naive of me)! It was one in a list of dishes she said was referred to as “Poor People’s Food”.
There was another dish which I absolutely loved and called my favorite, it was canned corned beef cooked in a skillet with tomato sauce, sofrito and mixed with some vegetable served over white rice. It’s not only quick, easy and inexpensive but really delicious. I’ve even made it for my husband (who is american of German/Irish descent) and loves it!
Although it was “Poor People’s Food”, these dishes fed a generation of people who during such a sad and hard period in history were able to survive. And it continues to feed generations of people afterward.
my mom was a single parent w 4 always hungry kids. we ate lots of beans ‘n fried taters, rice w brown gravy over the top, goulash-(hamburger w tomatoes, noodles and some seasoning). my mom and granny always ate poke sallet in the spring and we picked wild blackberries and wild onions. the wild onions were sauteed in bacon grease and then eggs were scrambled into them and a bit of salt. granny made the most amazing fried pies which she would sell for a dime a piece in the summer so we could go to church camp. my father-in-law frequently ate fried spam w fried potatoes. and another favorite of the kids was chocolate gravy and biscuits.
I ate most of the above, as a child and still eat as an old lady… mother was an adult in the depression, scrubbing her hands raw for $5 month! we were poor as kids but like one of my brothers said, “we didn’t realize we were poor, we had love!” One popular item she made from a recipe (about 1939) in the paper was “mock apple pie” made with soda crackers. We loved it. We also would take slices off the second rising of the bread, poke a hole in the middle and deep fry it. We would coat it with sugar or douse it with maple syrup made out of sugar, water and a tablespoon of Mapleene (that spelling doesn’t look right). When we would hit bottom, mom would mix flour and water, cook this paste and then after it was in our bowls,sprinkle sugar and cinnamon. She had had that as a child too. Split pea soup was a stock item as well. You can bet the ingredients for the above are all in my storage cupboard! But since I have had a chance to expand the basics, I will eat well for a long time. My .44 will ensure I will keep it too.
Wheat is a problem for us. My husband and I took your advice and got our health squared away now. We feel great now, but discovered that we have Gluten, Wheat, Dairy and Egg issues. The upside is we can eat a plateful of steak and fried chicken wings and loose weight every month. Great news if you are flush with income, problem if you are trying to Prep. Trying to keep weight on makes the hamburger grease look good to us.
My philosophical side says that God created wheat for famines, that’s why it lasts for thousands of years in Egyptian tombs. He probably didn’t create for me to eat 2 cupcakes every day for the first 30 years of my life….but now that I’ve messed up His back-up plan what can I replace wheat with? I’m happy to store wheat for my 3 little children, but our gluten problems are genetic….. Rice just doesn’t have the protein or longevity….or does it?
A lot of people feel great and lose weight when they give up carbs. Look up our recipe for Super Rice here on the blog. It’s a way of making regular white rice more nutritious. Oats are another very versatile grain. Also, start trying grains that are new to you, such as millet, spelt, and kamut. Also, look into einkorn (www.einkorn.com). It’s an ancient variety of wheat that some people with wheat intolerance have been able to eat.
I know what you mean about God creating wheat and why would it be bad for us since it’s mentioned so often in the Bible. I wonder if our genetically modified wheat is the problem. Also, He didn’t create refined foods! That would include your cupcakes and the loaf of Cinnabon bread I bought on impulse last week!!! LOL
You know Lisa, a lo of this stuff does’t sound so bad. I might have to print this out for when I’m making the next grocery list up. My husband will love that the bill will be so much smaller. LOL! 😉 Of course things like roadkill and squirrel don’t quite sound as appetizing, but people will resort to anything when they’re desperate. I posted a link to this on my blog too. 🙂
Squirrel Dumplings is divine.
My concern is that all these foods we grew up eating that have been mentioned, are not foods the young people of today would fix to survive. We still still eat all of these things today. Being a homemaker and taking care of your family ,while pinching pennies is very time consuming , but worth it. Menu planning , shopping wisely , canning and preserving, all a part of it. There is so much waste in this country that has never had to be. Here is a good tasting recipe for all to try and so simple , Homemade tomato soup with homemade dumplings, How’s that for cheap! It is so good too.
I ate many of these as a kid, plus others like “Baked beans on toast”, “Heinz canned spaghetti on toast”, used to love butter & sugar sandwiches. We called the rice with milk & sugar “rice pudding”, and did the same thing with macaroni, milk & sugar (Macaroni pudding)… occasionally added raisins as a treat.
It is almost scary to admit I have had many many of these growing up! Yes and lived. We still eat many of the during the month now> You forgot patato soup with rivles (small drop egg noodles) any vegie peelings were chopped & dropped in as well. Hot dog, bacon sos was another, served over
toast,rice or maccaroni (whatever you had) if you didnt have anything then just plain. We have even eaten it over potatoes,turnips & rudabegas & over fried corn meal mush (this is actually good)
I remember some of the things my “old” friends told me they ate back in that era.One was bone soup..Lots of bones and whatever else you had on hand.Water,and some vinegar to extract the good stuff from the bones..Another was jack mackeral loaf,with old bread they would cut the mold off of,egg(they had chickens) and veggies from the garden.Hoe cakes was another one.My one friend told me he never knew a chicken had anything but feet and wings.When he went into the marines,he found out there was more parts on a chicken.Greens,pigs feet and ears was big as well.
Mom used to make us pinto bean sandwiches. She also used to let us have a “can” for lunch. We could open a can of what ever we wanted. My favorites were a can of peas or pork and beans, never bothered heating the pork and beans we liked them cold. Grandma taught us to like bread with milk or even better saltine crackers with milk which is my all time comfort food. We also ate hamburger gravy where you brown some hamburger and then add flour and then milk to make as much gravey as you need to stretch the meal. Yum-not kidding! You serve on biscuits or toast. We were a upper-middle class family but this is how my parents grew up during the depression.
grandmother would can anything out of her garden.i was no taller than her table and rember the red jars full to the brim. my mother died about 10 yrs ago and she passed on a cookbook of hand written recipes of hers and my grandmothers, to me. i will tell u that it is a gift from my presious mother and from god. the handiest info was the rue flour for gravies,and store it in a plastic bag or a jar with cover.also thanks for the new old recipies.
My great grandma reaching 96 was attributed to “pot liquor” poured over black bread. In the south it would be “pot liquor” poured over corn bread. “Pot liquor” is the liquid vegetables were cooked in, often greens, and after the veggies were eaten it was used often as a broth to flavor bread.
A southerner would call it potlikker.
My parents grew up during the depression and said they never realized they were poor. Both grandmothers cooked from scratch and ‘made do’. Bread and butter always had to be on our table. Broken up saltines in milk, fried eggs over rice, rice and beans (cooked with a ham bone or bacon). All great food. Still eat half on what’s on that list.
My mom was mexican so on top of that list we also had beans and tortillas. Good memories!
Spaghetti and spam in spaghetti sauce. My friends mom made this for dinner she had five kids in the 80’s single mom. We still make it once in a while for we like the taste. I have it stocked for these unsure times. Cheap easy to stock and taste pretty good.Not the best for your health but better than lard sandwich.
Boiled Spaghetti noodles coated with butter sprinkled with ground garlic. our “one eyed sams” were strangely enough called “egg in a basket” this one was taught to me by a Boy Scout Troop Leader the first one I ever saw was the one I coocked in a little aluminum pan from my mess kit coocked over a camp fire. I’ve also boiled an egg in a styrofoam cup, interesting but a story for another time.
I too have eaten most items on this list – still do a lot today due to tight finances.
Gravy (lard/butter, flour, water/milk, salt and pepper) with mushrooms over mash or just with bread/damper.
Basic soups and rice or pastas (macaroni, elbows, spirals, any low cost pasta)
broth made from chicken carcasses with pasta and sliced tomatoes.
I do not have many concerns if SHTF food wise, my children, partner and myself are willing to do what we need to survive. We are slowly improving our prepping items and I am currently learning how to ‘Can’ – we have a flourishing vege garden which serves us well. We are investing in chickens, rabbits and cattle.
We really like your site and all the information you offer – thank you
Although not living through a depression, we never had much money as my dad always gambled it away playing cards, and sometimes there was no money left at all. When there was no money we would eat things like ‘egg in a nest’, which was mashed potato made into a nest shape with a fried egg in. Other things included sugar sandwiches, not very good for the teeth, but delicious. Another would be a boullion cube mixed with water with a slice of bread. The foods I used to hate were offal, like heart, kidneys, liver, then things like pigs head, pigs trotters. lambs tongue etc. I used to love fresh veg from the garden when it was in season. My mom would also may a soya meat pie on a sunday which i loved. I used to also enjoy oxtail soup, and potato cakes.
My Dad remembered a time when he and his cousins were sick of fish and wanted gravy. The next morning they had fish gravy with toast. I never had that, but Dad would boil potatoes or noodles and add a can of cream of chicken soup. Mom taught me to make hamburger soup where you boiled the hamburger and added potatoes and carrots. I loved that with jelly bread. I never knew sugar bread was a depression food. I just thought it was something Mom picked up somewhere and really loved. As long as our home was warm and there was food, Mom was happy. As long as Mom was happy, I was happy.
My dad used to make fried bologna and for our traditional Polish Christmas meal, we eat rice and milk. I too didn’t realize that came from the depression.
Fried bologna is about the only thing my dad can cook! Still love fried bologna sandwiches and rice with milk sugar and if we had it cinnamon!
My mom was a kid during WW11 in England the big deal was a slice of white bread, whatever butter they could get their hands on and topped with sugar. Sugar Sandwich viola!
In Liverpool that would have been known as ; A SUGAR BUTTY.There were also, CHIP BUTTYS, and JAM BUTTYS…
Oh and German bombers.
Goodness, we had tons of these foods growing up (I’m in my mid 20s). I never thought of them as poor man food. In our family I suppose it had just become tradition from my great-grandparents and grandparents.
We made fried bologna all the time growing up. The middle rises off the pan when it’s cooking so we always called them bologna hats.
Milk toast was like french toast without the crispy outer edge that eggs give you. We used it in place of biscuits or rolls at dinner often.
Hot milk and rice was a super filling breakfast, akin to oatmeal or cream of wheat. (I believe rice and milk with sugar is the exact same thing, so I don’t know why it’s posted twice)
Dandelion salad (also dandelion greens, wine, and jam)
Hot dogs and beans. That was childhood at its best!
“One Eyed Sam” or as we simply called it, eggs and toast.
Grits or eggs and grits
“Rag soup” ie: noodle soup
Hunting. That is certainly not depression era, that is meals since the dawn of time.
I’m also in my mid-twenties, and grew up on the exact same foods! Mmmm…rice with milk…that was a staple at my grandma’s house. I never knew it was out of the ordinary until I visted my fiance’s family and put milk on my rice, they thought I was so strange! It’s sooooo good with a little sugar.
Fried bologna…”eggs in a frame” (one eyed sam)…bean soup…venison…I wouldn’t trade those for the world 🙂 I’ve only had gravy and bread as a main dish once, because my dad mentioned eating it as a kid and I wanted to see what it was like. He said they’d eat it when they ran out of grocery money. Slice up a loaf of white bread, douse it with gravy, and serve. They called it “gravy bites.”
Have to agree on the milk on rice. I used to love putting milk along with a little sugar and cinnamon on cold leftover white rice when I was a kid. Still enjoy it today. 🙂
What a treat to see so many things listed that I ate growing up and are still my comfort foods. being born in 1940 it was still a staple part our diet. I kow that my father didnt have a job and made bread eveyday for his family easy to see why
Crackers fried in melted butter until brown was one of my favorites during the depression time.
Many of the dishes listed my mother fixed while I was growing up, so they are not the least bit foreign to me. Many I still fix today for my family. Plain simple eating I say.
Yes we had a lot of these things too. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. We ate:
Bread with butter and sugar was one of my favorites. We ate “Hole in One Eggs” which was buttered bread with a hole cut out of the middle and fried with an egg in the hole. The hole was fried separately and we dipped it in the egg yolk.
My husband loves crackers and milk. I eat leftover rice with milk and sugar for breakfast.
Mom used to brown bread crumbs in butter and add tomatoes…called it “stewed tomatoes” I loved simple buttered noodles too. Our butter, of course, was margarine..
Had most on the list. I was born during WWII and my folks were poor for a long time after. One not on your list is mock apple pie, made with soda crackers. Or a flour and water paste, cooked, and sprinkled with sugar. My favorite cookbook was a depression era book called “You have nothing in the house but…”
I was born in 1958 to a father born shortly after the Great Depression. Seeing your list helps me understand some of the things we kids ate in the 1960s and 70s. Dad shared some stories with me about rations and bartering and more. Thanks for your enlightening article!
My grandfather grew up in the depression and STILL eats cornbread in milk. Another main stay they had was pinto beans…at every single meal my grandmother ever cooked there was always a pot of beans!
I remember creamed just about anything on toast/biscuits. I remember when my mom started her asparagus – it takes about 3 years before much is produced but that first couple of years we had a few stalks. Guess what – creamed asparagus on toast. Any vegetable or meat that needed to be stretched for a large family was creamed or in a gravy and always on bread of some sort. I also remember many of the “meals” on the list from my own childhood – perhaps they were introduced by my parents who lived thru the Great Depression.
Im 55 and I remember eating sugar and milk with our rice, sugar bread, boiled cabbage, ketchup sandwiches and a healthy slice of tomato on our peanut butter sandwiches. My husband grew up eating peanut butter & bologna sandwiches. Sometimes mom would make “turkey tracks” which was basically rolled out homemade pie crust dusted with sugar and cinnamon and cut into strips before baking. Delicious! We ate what my dad caught fishing and what my brothers shot in the woods. I hate to think of all the buckshot I probably swallowed back then. Once I came home to find a headless snapping turtle hanging from a branch on a tree in our back yard. Yep, supper!!
Depression Foods I also remember –
fried green tomato sandwiches
creamed tuna on toast, w/or w/o leftover bits of veggies or meat
rice w/margerine & pepper
Macaroni and milk! We ate it as kids, and I still love it.
Cook the macaroni, melt butter on top of it, then add milk to barely cover macaroni. Heat until just warm, then lots of salt & pepper. YUM!
My mother–born in 1932–remembers pouring vinegar on bread to eat.
I’ve ate and still do eat alot of these dishes.
Both of my Parents were raised during the depression. My Father born in 1921, Mom in 1924. They wed after the war in 1948 and started their family in 1952 with the birth of my brother.I came along a few years later, Dad was in the Army Air Corps, and was recalled for Korea, and decided to make a career of it. While growing up, we were subject to the Military once-per-month pay schedule. Dad was TDY (overseas) quite a bit when my brother and I were quite young, mainly because of the pay bonuses for the duty. Dad was trying very hared to provide the best for his family. We ate sandwiches made from miracle whip dusted with sugar, tomato soup, potato soup, many, many pinto beans and cornbread meals. For a treat, we sometimes got a strawberry preserves sandwich as dessert. One assignment my Father took moved the while family to Alaska for a four year stint. That was probably the best move he made for us. A group that worker went hunting the first winter we were there. Dad got a moose, and we had to buy a freezer to store all the meat. For the next three and a half years, our family of four ate fairly well because of that, It eased the financial burden for groceries to the point where we actually ate very well. I’ll never forget or resent the simple, hearty meals my Mother made. Food storage and hoarding were pretty much ingrained into me my whole life. My ex-wife never did “get it” (she was much younger than I), and is just now (two years after the divorce) beginning to get a grip that things are not all hunky-dory, and is scrambling to keep her head above water. Good, simple meals can be made wholesome with a little imagination and creativity. Her biggest problem is her kids are picky eaters and if they don’t like it, she would prepare something else, wasting the first item. Drove me nuts. Hopefully, they will wise up before it all goes south.
These were common in my house growing up. My mom was born in 1931, my dad in 1926. My dad grew up in the Wisconsin northwoods, my mom in dust-bowl Oklahoma. I was the last of 8 kids born, and I grew up in the 70s. My dad and brothers were great hunters, and my grandfather was an excellent trapper and forager. I wish I’d grilled my dad more before he passed away, and my mom was gone of cancer right after I graduated highschool, but I still learned a lot of lessons growing up, the biggest one is having a great big garden! My family of 5 always eats well in the summer. 🙂 And I NEVER let my pantry or fridge go bare…a bit of a security blanket after you’ve grown up with not much.
Something missing off the list is hamburger gravy either over bread or mashed potatoes, and there was always a side of green beans my mom had canned over the summer (not that I liked them. LOL!). My mom made HB gravy at least twice a week for dinner…she could make a pound of HB stretch to fill all of our hungry bellies. Mom’s homemade bread and rolls were amazing, and when I was really little I remember my parents having a few hogs. I know at some point we had a dairy cow and some chickens, and rabbits, but I don’t remember them. My brothers would bring home squirrels, pheasant and quail, and we all knew how to fish from a very young age. Let’s not forget venison, if we were lucky we’d have two or more in the freezer after Thanksgiving hunting season.
Haha…I love it because they had less heart disease and cancer back then even eating that food, it says a lot about the rubbish that is eaten now days!
My parents were very resourceful or else we would of probably starved. We were lucky, my Dad shot an elk every season for venison and during the summer my mom would go fishing. They also had a very large vegetable garden and my mom canned a lot of what we ate.It was so much better than anything in a can from the grocery store. I remember my Dad eating cold pinto bean sandwiches. We also had rice with cream, butter and cinnamon for breakfast sometimes and also fried bologna and eggs.. I still love biscuits and cream gravy.
We never felt poor or deprived in any way.
Chicken feet are actually very good to put in your bone broth. Lots of good stuff in chicken feet. Yes, don’t waste a thing. I could probably live on a lot of those things. A few sound truly horrible, though. Good post. Thanks!
I’m 66 and grew up on that food. I still like boiled cabbage, fried Spam and mayonnaise sandwiches. I’ve eaten most of the things on that list. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m healthy today. I didn’t eat processed foods as a child.
Spam – not processed?
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I grew up eating a lot of what is on that list (still eat most of it too). My Dad and Mom were born right at the start of the great depression, so they grew up with their parents (my grandparents) making many of these dishes. What they grew up with, spilled over into their adulthood.
I was born in the -80s, but I recognize half to two thirds of this food here, and versions thereof. Some, like mustard and cucumber sandwiches bring back memories to everyone who remembers Enid Blyton’s children’s novels. I even cook some versions of the listed items with and for my husband. My maternal grandparents helped raise me while my single mother worked overtime to keep a roof over our heads, and my grandfather hunted, fished and grew a lot of their own food, and my grandmother foraged and processed the rest. I also remember gleaning peas from the local land owner’s fields as a kid after the combine got through, as my grandparents used those, too.
I bring this up, because foraging is rarely mentioned as a survival strategy for low times. Foraging for mushrooms and berries in the woods is still a prolific national pastime for Finns during harvest season, as you can legally pick mushrooms and berries without the land owner’s permission, if you’re outside the immediate vicinity of their yard. Italian chefs pay big bucks for certain types of mushrooms, so some people spend a great deal of time gathering those specifically.
One thing Finns I knew growing up eat a lot, as it is readily available, even if it isn’t a time of fiscal crisis, is nettle soup. Young tender stinging nettles cooked until soft in a bit of water, with some milk, and potato or corn starch to thicken. It was usually served with half a hard-boiled egg and some bread, that was either dipped in the soup, or served with things like homemade pickles of some kind. Seems to have the bread, milk and eggs in common with the above list. Some of my first childhood memories involve me going to the garden to pick nettles (with gloves, a small pair of scissors, and an empty plastic jelly bucket) so my Mummi could make me yet another soup. 🙂
A little unrelated, as the conditions in Europe were a bit different, so this was during war years… My paternal great-great-grandmother Anna, who was in charge of a large household during the peak shortages of WWII, served a lot of inventive five course meals at her estate. A sample menu, as reported in the memoirs of a contemporary, younger relative; crows caught from the field disguised as more conventional game birds (probably squab), fish caught ice fishing from her lake, veggies and some kind of fruit preserves from the dwindling supply in the root cellar and soup from mushrooms dug out from under the snow from a patch she remembered seeing earlier in fall. In war-ridden Europe, food was in short supply, but the laws of the land in a lot of countries allowed for expansive foraging of wild food, that was preserved by everyone who had the ability to do so.
Penny, Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are right foraging is a valuable way to acquire food. I live in a fairly densely populated area. I am afraid if times got really bad these foods would become sparse.
I just learned that stinging nettles are a wonderful way to combat sinus issues or allergies. We have stinging nettles everywhere. I must try them. Boy do they sting, I would have never guessed that they were edible 😀
Nettles are one of the most versatile plants I know of! They can be dehydrated and used for teas, hair rinses, added to bread dough… the fibers in older, mature plants are strong, and can be woven into fabric that was considered so luxurious in medieval times, that there were laws in some European countries, banning peasants from making and wearing nettle fabrics.
I can’t find the link right now, but there are blogs out there with “urban foraging” in their keywords, who specialize in densely populated area foraging. If you’re curious, you might even be able to find a group in your area.
My references list uses for leaves and seeds in stews, pancakes (green pancakes sound icky, but are really good), bread and soups, and can be used for making juice, tea, tinctures, hair rinse, nettle syrup, mead and ale. Dried nettle powder can be sprinkled into foods like any other herbs. You can add nettles to water for an oral rinse, mix with shampoo, use in poultices and topical treatments for arthritic joint pain. Nettles are also said to have an allergy relieving effect, as well as a generally strengthening effect on the immune system, just to mention a few uses. It’s been used in a comprehensive list of medicinal uses, too, and historically, stinging nettles (devil’s leaf) have been used to ward off evil and break spells. In some places, witches were burned with a shirt made out of stinging nettles on her, to ward off any last ditch spells she might attempt to rescue herself with.
Okay, I need to stop geeking out about my favorite plant! 😀
Just don’t pick nettles next to compost bins or animal pens/shelters, as the nitrogen rich soil will create nitrates within the plant. And if you have kidney or heart issues, or diabetes, it may be wise to consult with a doctor before trying nettles in excess for medicinal purposes. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t claim I’m an expert.
A one eyed Sam, at our home – aka. a Birds Nest , Yummo!
How about Velveeta Cheese Rarebit? I loved the melted cheese poured over cubed toast. If we were lucky Mom would chop some hard boiled eggs, and if we were REALLY lucky- crumbled bacon.
I still have milk toast, milk and rice, fried bologna, etc. It is my comfort food when I feel low because I dont have the money for a refrigerator full of food. I do not however, remember spam being mentioned during the depression days..
One major problem with stocking up on bread ingredients. What about us that CAN’T eat wheat, barley or rye? I am stocking up on rice, beans, peanut butter and oatmeal though.
still not a bad thing to stock to sell or trade.
My dad was born in 1926. My mom was born in ’31. They lived a lot of this stuff.
One of the things they ate was blood sausage. I helped my parents make it ( you freeze or smoke it) when I was younger and then cook it in a skillet. I don’t remember what was all in it, but there was lots of blood and bits of meat and lard.
It smelled awful when we “put it up” and smelled worse when we cooked it. It was one thing I never could learn to eat. Definitely one way to get your iron though.
My parents were the same years! 🙂 my mom loved headcheese, I had forgotten about that. YUCK!
My Dad used to eat Farm Sandwiches. Bread, mayo, lettuce, S & P.
Open face apple sandwiches. Bread, smear of applesauce and super thinly sliced apple (so everyone gets one), under the broiler. Updated it for my kids–inside a whole wheat pita & a sprinkle of cheddar-popped in the toaster oven.
We use to eat onion, pickle, lettuce and mustard sandwiches – everything but the hamburger. I still eat hot cornbread crumbled into chunks and eaten with sugar and milk, yum!! We also had spam pancakes when we were young – you take a fried slice of spam and pour pancake batter around it for a surprisingly good breakfast. We were a family of 8 so sometimes money was scarce, but I don’t remember ever going hungry. We still have “farm dinners” where everything on the table comes from the garden. It’s like a free meal!
I grew up on Mac n Velveeta cheese n SPAM.
Looking at these depression era meals, it’s now apparent to me that I lived through a depression in my early years! These meals were standard fare when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s! I still enjoy many of these items..
Hey, I grew up in the Soviet Union with food shortages, so somewhat similar. Pig fat sandwiches for sure. Russians love them though. Smoked pig fat (belly?).
I didn’t realize these were depression recipes, I thought it was just us being our weird selves! My favorite was mayonaise and peanutbutter sandwiches! Anyone remember surpluse food? I loved their peanut butter! #10 can of the best peanutbutter, just remember to mix in the oil. It was great mixing in the oil with the drill! LOL
We called “one eyed sams” frog eyes. I can’t wait to make them for my son!
we call ours “toad in the hole” and i have my boyfriend addicted to them!
I grew up eating a lot of these. BTW an onion sandwich is a good way to treat a cold or sinuses. Rice with milk and sugar add a little butter for taste and it is excellent.
You find a LOT of Southerns still eat many of these, especially in rural areas. I have a turn of the century cookbook from my husbands grandmother with lots of frugal recipes using turtle, raccoon, rabbit, and lots of wild green, etc. I LOVE it.
my grandpa moved in with my family when i was two and became the automatic babysitter. i remember eating many of these meals and he would always tell the story about why he had to eat certain things during the depression. this list brings back great memories. 🙂
This list is very familiar to me. I am 41 now, and I remember my grandparents eating a lot of these things. We all laugh about the “Grandpa Schryver Special’. At almost every meal he would eat bread dipped in gravy- no matter what else was being served. I still tell my husband, “potatoes are just an excuse to eat gravy!” And Grandpa always had a plate of sliced onion next to him. I don’t think Grandma would have really needed to fix anything else- these would suffice. My Grandpa refused to eat fish, because he grew up so poor that he would have to fish for dinner or his family wouldn’t eat, and he grew sick of it. He was the first of 12 kids so you can imagine how hard it was to feed a family that big after the depression! My Grandma Mayberry always fed me toast with milk to dip it in. I still do that till this day. And creamed chipped beef over bread- delicious!! I agree with the commenter above who spoke of how healthy that generation was. My Grandparents were all very healthy until they were very old. I think it’s because they never ate pre-packaged foods. I learned to cook from my Grandma Schryver who made everything from scratch and wasted nothing.
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We are lots of these in the 50s. Big families and
we only bought what we could pay for with cash.
Sometimes Moms had to get creative toward the
end of the month.
We are a lot of soups from anything left over. If you
could chop it up, you could make a sandwich out
of it. My mom would save even a tablespoon of
leftover veggies and at the end if the week, mix
them all together, melt a bit of cheese on top and
tell us she’d eaten something similar at The Neiman’s
Tearoom. Sardines on saltines too. Cinnamon toast.
My father and mother were both born in 1920, and therefore lived through the Great Depression. My dad told me that these types of recipes grew out of necessity since most folks had little or no money to buy “normal” food they had to make do with what they could grow, trap, shoot, forage, “midnight shop”or handouts from the government (commodities). Mothers had to be creative to feed their families and turned to some old-timey farm recipes that their mothers and grandmothers may have used as well as simply combining whatever ingredients they had on hand.
Squirrel, rabbit, groundhog, and any fish or amphibian (frogs were easy for little ones to catch… everybody pitched in) were often, if dad and grampa were lucky, the main meal. Tomatoes were easy and took little room to grow and most people had a garden where they at least could grow enough to feed the family and neighbors, and can enough to last through the winter. My own favorite when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties was stewed tomatoes and day old bread with a little sugar. I liked it mostly because I helped mom weed the garden daily and can the tomatoes at the end of summer. Simple, but nearly a free meal since when she was young bakeries gave away day old bread, they grew the tomatoes, and the sugar (along with cheese, powdered milk, peanut butter, flour, butter, dried beans, and occasionaly tinned or dried meat) were available free of charge from the government. No one went too hungry when everyone chipped in.
Even when money wasn’t too tight when we came along, mom still cooked these recipes for us. We loved them then, and my kids learned to like them too. My oldest son still talks about grandmas’ bread and tomatoes and has his wife fix them for him today.
Ahh… the good old days…
A favorite sandwich of mine is a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich. We also ate sugar sandwiches and I probably have hot rice with milk and sugar once a week. Another favorite is to make Cream of Wheat or Farina, place in a plastic container and let it firm up in the fridge. Take it out, slice and fry in some butter and serve sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Yum! Reading this article and the comments was a nice trip down memory lane.
I love peanut butter ad pickle sandwiches!
I missed the depression but collect old Woman’s Day magazines from the war ration times. This use for leftover oatmeal is great:
Just put it in a loaf pan, I use a bread pan. Refrigerate it until the next day. Slice it up like bread slices, it will be pretty solid. Fry in butter, both sides. Add maple syrup or some sugar and cinnamon.
I sometimes just make thick oatmeal at night and don’t even eat it. Just let it firm up to fry the next morning. It’s really great! Better than pancakes, kind of chewy.
Wow! I was born in 1959 to a middle class family, lived in the suburbs, and never went without central air and heat, or meat at least once a day, and we never had a garden. I never even saw a mason jar and have still never eaten anything home-canned. I am learning now how to grow a garden, shoot a gun, chop firewood, dehydrate, vacuum seal, store food, and am soaking up survival info like a sponge. I’ve bought 3 cases of mason jars and will learn to can this summer. THANK YOU for these great ideas! I hope it’s true that when you’re really hungry, you’ll eat anything as I’ve been hopelessly spoiled.
I remember 75 % of this….some I still eat today…only 40 too lol…
My parents both were born in the middle of the depression…but felt the effects of the rations during the second world war. My father said the only time they had icing/frosting on a cake was for their birthdays because of the rationing of sugar. I grew up on a farm in the 70’s and 80’s and my mother, with the help of 4 children, preserved a lot of fruits and vegetables, baked everything including bread…..We had a freezer the size of dining table and a cellar full of jars preserves and pickles and a root cellar for potatoes and onions. Everything tasted so much better then. I am now making as much as I can from scratch and fresh foods.
My stepfather was born in 1897 so he was in his 30″s during the Great Depression. He took over most of the cooking when he married my mother in the late 1960’s. We had all of the Depression dishes except for squirrel, gopher and roadkill. I never realized they were from the Depression. I just thought it was good eatin’. My dad also made hamburger mixed with onion soup on toast and creamed anything on toast. As for the health aspect of these foods?!? He lived until the age of 97 with all of his faculties. Great memories!
I was born during WWII. We grew up poor but didn’t really know it. Some of my favorites from that time and still today are red beans and rice with hush puppies, mustard sandwiches, maple syrup sandwiches, margarine sandwiches – with or without syrup or sugar, ground beef with white gravy on toast and macaroni and tomatoes – macaroni with a can of diced tomatoes – this was our preferred after school snack. My grandparents ate cornbread crumbled up into a glass of buttermilk every evening for supper until they died in the ’60s. My mother-in-law raised five sons alone during the depression. She always had a garden and fixed home canned blackeyed peas and cornbread every day. Mother made a “special” treat when we had friends over. She melted margarine in a skillet, added brown sugar and cinnamon and cooked it until the sugar dissolved. She poured the mixture over toast and cut it into quarters. Beats candy or cake any day for me.
My father’s family lost a farm at the beginning of the Depression. His parents, grandparents, and 2 widowed uncles along with their children (a total of 13 children between them) moved North into Missouri by mule-drawn wagon. They settled and became share-cropper farmers. These meals were all common. Because the men and older boys were needed for manual labor in the fields, meals were seved in shifts. The men and boys ate first and the rest of the family second. My aunts have told of many meals where after the first group had eaten, the second only had bread (often cornbread) and pot liquor to eat. Pot liquor is the cooking broth left over. It’s saving grace is that it often has dissolved vitamins, etc. One year had a bad growing season. The only crop that did well was field peas. The price fell and the farmer would have taken a loss to sell them. Therefore, that winter their diet mainstay was dried field peas. Dad said they ate them breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even when money was tight when I was growing up, the one thing he did not want to see on our table was field peas. Most of the foods on your list were considered normal, regular items on the menu. However, I think you will find that they date much farther back that the Depression, but were often common fare for people since the beginnings of this country and probably back to the Middle Ages.
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s to depression era parents we ate a huge pile of mashed potatoes with a depression in the middle. Mom fried a small amount of hamburger and added a lot of cream of mushroom soup then poured it over the potatoes. That was dinner many nights and we were so grateful~ it was So Good!
I’m going to use this list as a menu lesson for my son. We’ll add it to our Pantry Surprise (surprise, there’s food in the pantry) menu options and cook off this list for a while. Going to suggest the same to my sister. We can play Great Depression with the kids~ like playing 1810 and not allowing anything you wouldn’t have in 1810! Too Fun!!!
My grandparents grew up in the Depression, and I remember eating many of the items on the list as a kid…and my kids would too, because I continue to make a lot of them myself…might have come about out of desperation, but ended up becoming comfort food for a lot of folks! Not to mention, stretching the budget when I was a single mom! Thanks for all of the memories and stories shared!
Baked bean sandwiches, fried muskrat, fried eel, tomato sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, tomato gravy on bread, and fried spaghetti with scrambled egg are some of the frugal dishes that we ate when I was growing up.
I grew up on “one eyed Sam” but we called it “one eyed sandwich” or “toad-in-the-hole” Its always a nice “I don’t feel like cooking” breakfast or lunch or even dinner. haha
We ate a lot of these growing up. I guess it was because we were super poor and my mother was raised by her depression era grandmother. My mom always made sheep herder beans, pintos with a big venison, elk or mutton roast cooked in the pot and biscuits. She canned fruit and veggies and we ate a lot of homemade bread with blackberry jam. I remember when we started getting cold cereal and had to poor the huge pickle jar full of milk from the neighbors cow over little or huge bowls of cereal. That started when I was about when all of us kids were finally in school and mom could work more than part time, so i guess around 1995! She still made us great meals, but we could finally afford some of the foods that we could make if she wasn’t home. I got embarrassed at a high school basketball trip because one of my friends asked what kind of sandwich my mom had packed me. It was elk heart with homemade pickles on homemade bread. Now I just wish I had some elk to eat!
I remember my mother eating crumbled crackers in buttermilk and we kids grew up with mashed potato pancakes and mashed potato sandwiches…I also grew up skinning and scaling for whatever my dad brought home. And this wasn’t depression era. This was in the ’60s! An elderly woman friend of mine talked about frying left-over grits…? Haven’t tried that one yet. I never knew how to make jerky until very recently; within the past year. So far, I have canned hamburger and strained off the grease for the tallow for homemade soap and candles…cubed beef and chicken. I’ve learned that, for longer storage, to can already dried beans/peas. All this has happened within the recent 3 years even though I’ve been collecting the equipment for years.
LOL… I was born in 1980, and I’ve had a lot of these growing up.
I remember going to school (all the way up through high school, and I graduated in ’98!) and all the kids wanted to try my deer-meat sandwich! I told them ‘no way’! The few that turned their noses up, I’d always smile and say ‘Good! That just means more for me!’
I used to be embarrassed, because other kids would make fun of me for wearing clothes from K-Mart, or Wal-Mart, and I would remember dad telling us about having to put cardboard in the bottom of their shoes to plug up the holes, and being laughed at if you had patches on your jeans… and I got over it. In fact, I began to laugh at them, because their parents were so busy spending money on their name brand clothes and all the latest gadgets that they were in debt up to their eyeballs, while my folks were sitting debt free, eating like kings every night, and not worrying about where tomorrow’s grocery money would come from.
I do wish now that I had paid more attention to the way mom did stuff while I was growing up. IF disaster hasn’t struck before next year’s growing season, I plan to help them put in an extra big garden, and be right there helping them plant, grow, harvest, preserve and EAT that food! I’m also going to try to talk my dad into building a smoke-house, and maybe looking into salting some meat, so we’ll know how to do these things again if we need to in the future.
Should we have to hole-up, I know for a fact that there will be at minimum 10+ adults (between my parents, brothers, their wives and children and myself and my fiancee) trying to survive together, and I’ll tell you this, if they don’t help BEFORE the trouble hits, they’ll be getting the ‘second round meals’, and hoping there’s some left when us who DID do the work are through eating!
Good thing we grew up eating a lot of this! 🙂
Thanks for sharing, and reminding us all that we might want to practice our ‘rustic gourmet’ before we get thrown into the fire, LOL!
I, too grew up on these foods, and many other “po-folks” foods, and still serve them weekly – pinto beans & cornbread; refrigerator soup (clean out all the leftovers, throw the best of it into a soup pot, make a big batch of biscuits and away ya go); creamed salmon on toast (my grandma’s treat to herself a couple times a year), macaroni or rice buried in cream sauce, canned mixed veggies, and whatever meat might have been leftover in the fridge, or 1/2 a pack of hot dogs.
I once asked my Granny, about the foods she fixed us, she said that’s what Her Mama taught her, and her mother before her…. so while it might be Called Depression-Era cooking, it’s come down to some of us from the War between The States, or before. She was born in 1899, my dad in 1925.
My Mother-In-Law taught me a few more: Breakfast of biscuits with oleo and homemade syrup; Dinner of Fried Potatoes, Greens (Collard, Mustard, &/or Turnip) and Purple-hull peas. (I’d never seen those until I moved to the South… Pinto beans and rice were my families’ money stretchers) Supper of biscuits or cornbread with milk, sweet or buttermilk. Sunday nites after church you’d get to splurge on a bowl of ice cream, If You Were GOOD!
Until recently, one of the cheapest meals around was a bologna sandwich and a package of Ramen noodles (was able to build that for under 50 cents total).
Don’t waste your chicken feet now! The scalded and cleaned feet make the BEST chicken stock ever. The outer layer of the scales and claws strips off like the feathers do and you get a very clean foot to boil down with the carcase for stock. It makes a very smooth, unctuous, gelatinous broth with tons of minerals. In fact, cleaned chicken “paws” cost the same as boneless breasts at our local Mexican market here in Tx, $1.99/lb!.
Lately I’ve been reading that I’ve been wasting another prime part of the chicken – the comb and waddles. The more I learn about Asian cooking, the more I learn to use what I thought was the throw away parts of my livestock.
Well, after reading the entire thread, I didn’t find any food that I haven’t eaten. Being a true southern boy, who grew up during the Great Depression, there were two choices, eat anything available, or starve.
We lived on a farm, with a two acre garden, and several acres of apple and peaches, and lots of wild plums. Even one sweet gum tree the was the support for a huge muscadine vine. Wild blackberries, and strawberries when in season, and maypops, sometimes twice a year. Hunting was a way of life with rabbits, squirrels, birds, ducks, and whatever we found in our sights.
So with lots of work, daybreak till dusk, we ate quite well.
We had a few hogs, and lots of chickens that gave us enough eggs, an a old hen for Sunday, and a young rooster for in between. Hog killing was a time of feast and hard work. I was the neighborhood shooter for killing the hogs, and it was a neighborhood project scalding and scraping, dressing and hanging. Then the following day cutting and packing in sugar and salt for preserving. The fat was rendered, and supplied the lard for the year, with the crackings ready for cornbread and nibbling.
Although we were never hungry, we still ate those foods mentioned in this article, nothing went to waste.
When the apples were ready for picking, we sold them, door to door for 10¢ a gallon bucket. When the crop allowed, we packed them up im bushel tow sacks and drove to the nearest CCC camp, and sold them for a whopping $1.00 a bushel.
Over the years I was often told that I should not eat this, or that as it was not healthy. My response waas always, I’d rather eat what I like and die young, than what you think healthy and live to be a hundred. I still eat MY foods, and have none of the afflictions of those eating healthy foods.
I think a great depression might be good to repeat. Maybe the spoiled young folks might then appreciate the bounties of real life.
It doesn’t affect me but, the presence of bread or wheat would have meant that most people with a gluten intolerance would have starved during the depression
You left out Toasty Beaners, baked beans on toast, broiled with cheese on it, if available.
A lot of these are meals I eat to this day and love.
My Dad grew up during the depression and he always ate spinach sandwiches. (I still say Yuck!)
I’ve eaten many of those meals in my lifetime. An old family favorite is egg gravy over toast. Hard boil eggs, separate the whites from the yolks. Mash the yolks. Make a bechamel (white sauce) and add in the egg whites. Serve over bread (usually slightly stale bread) and sprinkle the top with egg yolks, salt and pepper.
I’ve eaten a few of those things, and some of the other stuff sounds good. Um, I don’t think anyone has suggested toast, peanut butter, and syrup. Its a makeshift waffle, so says my mom. It’s really good. You just toast the bread, spread some peanut butter on it, then poor some syrup on top, then enjoy! And its pretty fast to make.
Creamed anything on toast. When I was a child, we started growing our own asparagus. When we had a few stalks, mom made a white gravy with the chopped up asparagus and served it on toast. Tuna gravy on toast, hamburger gravy on toast.
Another good one is creamed new potatoes (small reds) and peas. LOVE IT. It is one of my go to comfort foods.
Many of the dishes on the list are things I ate growing up – Mom and Dad lived through the depression. I also recall my Dad pulling an onion and eating it like an apple. Not something I will likely do, however.
I grew up poor. My Granny would boil a squirrel ,put rice in it. ( even the head). We”d crack the head w/ a spoon & eat the brain. also. Suck the marrow out of cooked chicken bones Pineapple or sliced banana sandwiches w/ mayo. Chicken feet,hog feet,etc. Get the bacon grease hoe-pour a little coffee , canned milk or flour in it & eat w/ biscuits .Anything to keep from being hungry.:)
TYPO… I don”t know how the ” hoe” got into my above comment. lol
my grandfather and grandmother raised ten kids during the depression and grandpap loved coffee bread in the morning and the juice from cooked meat, grandma always made a gravy and they would spoon it over their buttered bread slice as well. Grandma froze her leftover gravy and use it at another meal and saved the bacon grease to use to fry other things. And of course there are potato sandwiches (thinly sliced potato fried and put between buttered bread and lightly salted to make a sandwich. Potatoes fries with sliced onions. Rice cereal, cooked rice with milk and sugar or cinnamon.
My ex-husband came from a family of ten children and he always fried bologna for our daughter. He also talked about eating eggs and oats (eggs mixed with leftover oatmeal and fried in bacon grease) and eggs and gravy (eggs mixed with leftover white gravy and heated). My mom ate popcorn with milk and we loved leftover rice with milk and sugar. I always have bacon grease in my refrigerator and love greens and fried potatoes. Hot milk toast with sugar and cinnamon is food of the gods!!!
One thing I wonder about is why so many people have food allergies and intolerances now. It never happened when I was growing up. Must be the processing.
I have only eaten a few of these, and only even heard of a few more. My folks grew up in that era, but one in Holland, and one in Israel. I hear horror stories from my mom about her family living on boiled tulip bulbs, except that she could never keep them down, no matter how her mom would try to disguise them. She talks fondly about how her dad came home once with a bag of field corn and how her mother made absolutely heavenly food out of it, She wonders if any of it would still taste good today since she is no longer starving.
Being that my children and I can not tolerate wheat, we have basically given up all breads. This list would change a lot for us. I think I will try to experiment with some of the non-bread meals…
I have only eaten a few of these, and only even heard of a few more. My folks grew up in that era, but one in Holland, and one in Israel. I hear horror stories from my mom about her family living on boiled tulip bulbs, except that she could never keep them down, no matter how her mom would try to disguise them. She talks fondly about how her dad came home once with a bag of field corn and how her mother made absolutely heavenly food out of it, She wonders if any of it would still taste good today since she is no longer starving.
Being that my children and I can not tolerate wheat, we have basically given up all breads. This list would change a lot for us. I think I will try to experiment with some of the non-bread meals…
Oh, and to Lana McKearney, the allergies and intolerances existed, but often we didn’t know enough to figure them out. I grew up with a dad who was in medicine, and I had stomach aches and migraines all my life. I grew up carrying a bottle of Kaopectate in my school bag. I was 40 years old before my allergies were diagnosed. Once I gave up all dairy products, all the stomach aches went away, and no, it is not a lactose intolerance, but rather casein. Once I gave up wheat, all the migraines went away. when I eat any, I feel as though I have a tight band around my head, But as a child, we had no idea what caused those things. Medicine has come a long way in the past 50 years.
My family had 3 types of milk toast:
1. Pour hot milk with salt, pepper, and butter over a stack of hot buttered toast.
2. Creamed toast–toast added to white sauce.
3. Milk toast–split biscuits in half, toast, butter, break into pieces and add to white sauce.
Bacon sandwiches. My grandfather would also crumble saltines into milk & eat that. I’ve ate some on the list also.
Was re-reading this and thought I’d try to answer Josh. Back in the 1800’s Every home in the city grew their own vegtables (even the wealthy had their kitchen gardens) and at the time may have even had a few chickens as well . As society “progressed” many city folk stopped doing as much gardening or raising chickens because houses were being built much closer together and towns were changing the codes governing that. Although, many families did keep up a garden for veggies it wasn’t as large as they had been in earlier years When the Depression hit many families relied on the older generation to help re activate the kitchen gardens of before. Then WWII hit and it became a source of pride to try and grow the food and help the military feed the troops. At least that’s one of the explanations we got when we were growing up from my grandparents as to why they had such a big garden in their backyard.
I loved butter and sugar sandwiches (sometimes with peanut butter too) when I was little. I had no idea they originated during the Depression
Growing up, my mom would always make up a pot of “wood-worms and stink bugs”…..a pot of white rice, with raisins and cinnamon and sugar, we would eat them warm the night she made them, but absolutely loved them better the next day – cold with milk over them. I grew up in the 70’s….my mom was one of 15 children born in the early 50’s…..but she grew up with no plumbing and a very small house, poor. They made due with what they had and I remember her canning and having a huge garden we’d help with. Oh, how we hated green beans!! But, we learned how to appreciate the food we did eat, and the value of hard work!! 🙂 Thanks for the article, very interesting read.
OMG, Hot milk and rice was and is my favorite dinner. My mom only made it occasionally during Lent as a meatless meal. I have it at least once a month.
My mother was raised during the depression and I, as a child, remember well a lot of the dishes on the list. We just thought we were a normal average family. During the lean times (my father was a carpenter and during the winter months work was slow) I remember how creative she became. I tell so many people that she could make 5 meals out of 1 potato. What a cook she was. I remember stewed tomatoes with bread so well, not realizing it was a Depression meal.
I am from a family of six who grew up in east Texas in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Yes, we were spread over many years. My Mama would serve us what we called Cush. It was fried cornmeal served with sweet coffee poured over it. She would caramelize the sugar in a pan, then pour in the coffee with lots of milk. It was delicious. Even now when I feel homesick, I will make myself some. My husband thinks I am crazy. Mama would also buy a bushel of tomatoes and we would eat them like apples. I dearly love tomatoes to this day. Oh, and yes, I would eat butter and sugar bread for an after school snack. Never had sweet snacks like the kids have now and the butter sugar bread had to do. Mama was very thrifty with all our food and we never threw anything away.
Milk toast…absolutely. special occassionsand every time I was sick
Chipped beef on toast..yes plus creamed chipped anything leftover at end of week. Beef,hamburger,chicken,ham,pork
Cucumber and mustard sandwiches…just cucumber and mayo
Mayonnaise sandwiches……with tomatoes
Hot milk and rice…oh yes!! With cinnamon and a litle sprinkle sugar or honey
Potato soup – water base, not milk…sort of ..water and chicken broth
Sugar sandwichesimage by Tony the MisfitHot dogs and baked beansRoad killOne eyed Sam – piece of bread with an easy over egg in the centerOatmeal mixed with lardFried potatoes and hot dogsOnion sandwich – slices of onion between breadTomato gravy and biscuitsDeep fried chicken skinCornbread in milkGravy and bread – as a main dishToast with mashed potatoes on top with gravyCreamed corn on toastCorn mush with milk for breakfast, fried corn mush for dinnerSquirrelRice in milk with some sugarBeansFried potato peel sandwichesBanana slices with powdered sugar and milkBoiled cabbageimage by Blue Mountains LibraryHamburger mixed with oatmealAmerican cheese sandwich: ‘American’ cheese was invented because it was cheap to make, and didn’t require refrigeration that may or may not exist back then.Tomato gravy on riceToast with milk gravyWater fried pancakesChicken feet in brothFried bolognaWarm canned tomatoes with breadButter and sugar sandwichesFried potato and bread cubesBean soupRunny eggs with gritsButter and grits with sugar and milkBaked applesSliced boiled pork liver on buttered toast (slice liver with potato peeler)Corn meal mushSpaghetti with tomato juice and navy beansWhatever fish or game you could catch/huntTomato sandwichesHard boiled eggs in white sauce over riceSpam and noodles with cream of mushroom soupRag soup: spinach, broth and lots of macaroniGarbanzo beans fried in chicken fat or lard, salted, and eaten coldPopcorn with milk and sugar – ate it like cereal was born in 1950.
Barbara Ruth, not sure what you mean by sugar bread, but my grandmother used to make something similar for us kids: a thick slice of bread, soaked a bit in water, then drizzled with sugar. So good! Also, beaten egg yolks with sugar slurped right out of the bowl, bean soup, yogurt soup with bread soaking in it, lentil soup, etc. Bean soup and lentil soup are still favorites. We also eat gizzards, as someone mentioned above. Great post!
Wow im not that old but my grandmother raised me and I still like alot of these foods now!!
Another thing not on the list, is side pork or uncured bacon. Mom would dredge it in flour, salt and pepper and fry it crisp. Made into a sandwich with yellow mustard, so good. I haven’t been able to find it at the grocer for years.
I remember eating at least fifteen items from list, some I still do. I was born in 1939. Remember the old New England proverb: Use it up; wear it out; make it do; do without.
I recognize many of these and my kids grew up with them. Now my husband and I cannot have wheat, but we eat a lot of millet, buckwheat etc. I grew up in Holland in the 60’s and 70’s and really, things that are listed as depression food were just our common food in Holland. You would have open sandwiches with margarine and jam, or margarine and sugar, or a slice of cheese or cold cuts. But always only one topping per piece of bread, and in my family, if you ate more you had to have your bread just with margarine. We also had rice pudding(rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon) or oat porridge for breakfast, or a piece of bread with jam. Eggs we only had once a week – one egg per person on Sunday. And my mom would make a gravy from a can of corned beef and a can of oxtail soup served over rice – sumptious!
The “main meal” would be boiled potatoes, a little bit of cooked veggies, a small piece of sausage or a small meatball. Only Sundays would we have regular meat, and that just a small piece. The other meal would always be bread.
I didn’t see rice pancakes. Basically some pancake batter mixed with the leftover rice, served with syrup. They used quite a bit of rice for these and I always thought it was just a different breakfast food.
I love all the names for one eyed Sam. Ours was egg in a basket. I always wanted an extra circle of fried bread on the side! 🙂
I ate a lot of the things on that list when I was growing up (*never* roadkill or the less common animals). It never occurred to me that they were “depression era” or “poor people” food as I’d never been poor and nobody ever discussed that time period (it explains why my aunt always ate the cartilage off chicken bones, though). I always thought it was just “taste good food”.
If I won a multimillion dollar lottery tomorrow, I’d still eat tomato sandwiches a couple of times each week 🙂
I could make any of that more appetizing. I ate milk and cornbread. We ate Poke salad, beans, fried potato cakes with onions from leftover mashed potatoes. We had beans and hot dogs, chipped beef in white sauce on toast, any fruit we picked, the garden we grew and canned for the colder months. The bread with an egg in the middle drizzled with pancake syrup. I never cared for Spam or fried bologna, no chicken livers except to make gravy, and apples to make apple cake or a cobbler. We also had banana pudding with homemade pudding to go over it. People can survive on a lot less than they think. I grew up that way and I used to spend $20.00 every two weeks on groceries to feed two girls, myself, and my husband. That included breakfast, packed lunches, and dinner.
Biscuits, cornbread, beans, rice, mac and cheese (macaroni salad with cold leftover mac and cheese), a head of cabbage, you can make many meals with just some basic things. People raised cows, chickens, pigs, etc. in the 1940s. My brother-in-law and brother hunted for meat, but I would never eat wild meat. I wondered why when my brother came home for lunch one day and his wife asked him what he wanted to eat, he just said, “a lard sandwich.” I thought that was hilarious. Turns out people DID eat those. I can make cornbread and biscuits, eat wild greens or grow them, cook beans and grow potatoes. I pick wild fruit to make jam and cobbler. I am not worried about having something to eat.
bacon grease was once considered an asset in the kitchen.M MOm never ver threw away bacon grease. She had a Maxwell house coofee can and saved it untilwe had enought to fry chicken. We feasted. I sill use part bacon grease to fry my chicken. We all have great cholesteral and are very healthy. game was always on the table. Pheasant, Squirrel, partidge, venison, turlte (yuck) and once even raccon. That was horrible.
My father fished and hun ted, my parents had a huge garden. I still love tomato and mayo sandwiches. YUM. My mom fed 5 kids and 3 adults with 1 pound of meat and alot of vegtables. She would simmer hamburger or ground venison and cok mashed potatoes, Then we would have veggies because theywere free. I still love mince! There was no question that you ate what you were served or yu went hngry. There was no hONEY what do you want for dinner? there was dinner is at 5. be home to eat or go hungry. This is no restaurant.
We raised 2 pigs every year. Buthcered them in the fall. Thye were cute little piggies when they arrived. They grew into horrible bititng monsters before we butchered. I never felt bad about eating that sausage ham and bacon. I stil have scars on my ankles from those nasty hogs. We also raised roosters for meat chickens. We had hens too but the roosters were for food. Anytime I smell wet feathers takes me back to a cold early winter day and chicken processing. Not for the faint of heart. or stomach. I nthink the point is we lived close to our food source and lived well. WE got free milk from my uncles farm. My MO m made our cheeseand butter. . Until Iwas in my 20’s I never had soda or anything not made in my Mom’s kitchen. The time is coming when this knowledge from an older genration is going to be needed. I am glad I remember.
When we butchered hogs a northern version of scrapple was cooked. There was sort of cummunal huge pot that every one shared for butcheringand scalding. . it included corn meal, lots of bits of pork and bones. A few onions or scarps. Salt and pepper. It was “put down” in the cold cellar to cure. We always ate it fried in lard with a bit of maple syrup. My Mom also made head cheese and jowl bacon. I stll love head cheese. I will never forget helping her crack the skull and cooking the pig head till the eyes fell out. Jowl bacon was chewy and not all that good but great cooked with green beans and potaoes with milk. My Mom;s green bean chowder. Free green beans free tatties (potatoes) free milk, fre butter almost free pork.and a great family dinner, Still ake that too but ant find jowl bacon anywhere so I use a pork hock.
I wonder if anyone’s ever heard of creamed tuna on toast? My Mom is a baby boomer, so raised by depression era folks, and she used to make this for us all the time, and my Grandpa loved the stuff (he was born in 1904, so he was close to/around 50 when my Mom was born). Creamed tuna on toast, is basically tuna, canned milk, canned peas, a thickener like flour or cornstarch, and seasoning cooked up in a skillet, then poured like gravy over toast. Love it to this day!!
A great recipe to STREEEEETCH chicken. Chicken and DUmpling. SO good on a cold New ENgland Night. This is my Moms recipe shared over and over again. I miss her every day! There will never be another Marion Edith Leslie Macintosh Paige.
I chicken or necks or legs or parts. About 2 lbs. More or less Left over roast chicken will do.
about 10 carrots peeled choped into 1 ich rounds.
some celaery. I sually spit a whole head (is it head) I spit it and cook the chicken with one part then cook the rest in the broth.
Potatoes as many as you like. The more your feeding the more tatties you can add.
onions if you have them,
I use sauteed fresh mushrooms but my Mom used canned. Both works. This is not gourmet. LOL
Simmer the chicken till the meat fall off the bones usually about 2 hours SIMMER Not boil. Strip every litee bit of meatof those bones. add it back to the broth. Let the broth coola bit and skim off the fat.
add potaots, more carrots shrooms, choped onions and everything you want in the broth. SImmer until ll the veggies are soft. Thicken with a bit or cornstrach and or flour so you have a nice gravy.
Thenmake the dumplings. You canuse BIsquick and make great dumpling sor make the from scratch. Simple alot like buiscuit dough but simmered and redlent of chicken stew. YUM
simmer the dumplings on top of the stew about 30 minutes or until the look like clouds. Serve in bowls and EAT!
Out tomatoes arent quite ready. They have to be a bit dribbly LOL
We would have sugar sandwiches too. Usually they were brown sugar or cinnamon and sugar. We would place them in the toaster oven they were so good. Hamburger soup was pretty common growing up just ground meat, with noodles and spices. Hotdogs and noodles of some kind. My dad was born in 1939 and his dad was a precher so money was always tight.
we dried green beans strung on thread and hung in attic to dry.they were called straw beans.soaked overnight and cooked with a piece of sowbelly or fat back that was salt cured.still like them today with ham hock or smoked jowl.the son of one of my unkles friends said his dad was at my uncles house in the 30s and he had dried straw beans stacked from floor to ceiling that fall .they raised 10 kids in the depression and my mom was one of them.poor folks in w. va.
OMG can’t say I’ve ever had any of these foods on this list! Plus they all sound absolutely disgusting and completely unhealthy!
Waaah! Try not to be a crybaby, Simon. The Great Depression days were a time of starvation for millions of American who were grateful for anything to put in their stomachs.
I didn’t see S.O.S on here… This was an important cheap meal from my great grandparents time. It means “S**t Ona’ Shingle” (or Slab). It was toast, white gravy (butter or fat, milk, flour, salt and pepper), and meat (usually ground beef).
I was overwhelmed when I read this….there were just a few that I had not had growing up…my dad loved milk toast w/a little sugar….the commodities we got from the government were staples…canned meat. butter in big blocks, cheese was out of this world, powdered milk we mixed with whole milk to make it drinkable, hated the powdered eggs (yuk) ,had bologna and spam a lot, the kids loved butter and sugar sandwiches, we all liked cooked rice with milk and sugar, and our sos was chipped beef gravy on toast .I loved liver and onions and fried mush w/syrup….navy beans and cornbread cooked in an iron skillet…. tomato sandwiches and if we were lucky, bologna on em..lard biscuits (the best) and homemade noodles…my grandma roasted groundhog when we were up in the mountains…can’t remember what it tasted like, but I ate it and squirrel and rabbit as well…deer meat was one I didn’t like, but we had it a lot …we were always baking bread….all kinds of it…potato , beer, biscuits , cornbread ….and of course mac and cheese…potato pancakes , baked apples we stole from the mean farmer next door….and of course a lot of hotdogs and baked beans…fresh corn from the farm…and milk , cottage cheese and cream from the cows and chickens and eggs on the farm….we hardly ever had sodas or juice or choc. milk…drank cool aide by the gallons…people nowadays waste more food than we could eat in a yr…..I actually miss those days…we just might be better if we did it that way…my grandma and grandpa lived to their 90’s….I’m scared of what we eat now…
I have enjoyed reading these comments. I am a 55 yr old foodie and from Arkansas. My father was born in ’32 and my mother in ’40. My father was from a family of 8 children and my mother’s mother died when she was 6 and both families were considered poor. But they were never complainers and lived simply. My grandparents had a big bowl of pinto beans (probably about 2#dried) fried potatoes in lard and a huge pan of cornbread on the table for lunch for as many years as I can remember until my grandfather passed away in 2001. Whoever, came to their house to visit was always welcome to eat what they had. My mother made “gruel” when times were lean. She’d boil a chicken with seasonings and take the broth and put cornmeal in it and boil it and then add back about 1 cup of chicken. The rest of the chicken was used for chicken and rice. Both were good and filling. Mom loved eating crackers and buttermilk. She always bought tons of canned goods every week when dad got paid. As longas she had canned goods, she knew we had food to eat. Once a week, Dad would go get a gallon of milk and mom would make a big pan of cornbread and we would have crumbled corn bread in milk. We loved it and I still like it. My husband and I lived off egg salad sandwiches for awhile, because eggs were cheap. My 4 children always enjoyed rice for breakfast with butter and sugar. They also enjoyed Malt O’meal, grits, Cream of Wheat, or Oats for breakfast. I can’t say it’s too healthy because I added sugar, butter and a bit of milk. My dad and I always liked coffee gravy or redeye gravy. I still save bacon grease.
I’m 41 just yesterday and I have ate almost everything on this list and then some other stuff to. My dad used to make Indian bread and mackerel cakes on weekends. I still make them. My granny could use very little stuff to make a hell of a meal on holidays. I had to chase down the pigs for butchering, I played with the deer and the bear that got killed for food. I raised possums for the family to eat. My dad even ate skunk a few times. I grew up in the mountains but lived in the city so I had the best of both worlds. I am a hell of a cook to this day because I payed attention to what my granny picked from the woods and how she cooked. My boyfriends son is a picky eater and won’t eat half of what I cook unless his dad eats it to. I have gotten my boyfriend to eat things he has never put in his mouth all of his life because he is from Northern Virginia. He told me he would never eat the innards to any animal. Well he did this year. He said they were so good he wants more.
I had a Tomato Sandwich for lunch. I miss that chipped beef on toast stuff – that was the best. I still eat grits. I knew a Federal Judge who ate Cornbread soaked in Buttermilk every single day for lunch… the diner behind the courthouse made fresh cornbread daily for him. He told me it kept him modest.
My mother had fresh and raw goat milk until she was 17 and left for the city. When she died she had 31 teeth, losing one in an accident, and that irritated her having the belief that one should live and die with 32 teeth. Her grandmother who was also her surrogate mother fed her real butter, raw of course, garden fresh vegetables until the weather turned, beef, pork. chicken, lamb, eggs, etc., on pasture, and the only down side were pancakes, bread, and occasional deserts, but then they knew nothing about nutrition, they just ate what they raised and had available. She eventually had canker sores and stomach troubles after leaving home and died at 95 due to osteoporosis and intestinal problems whereby her intestines were taken out of her body in a packet affair. She asked if this was the way she was to live and when the doctor said, “Afraid so,” she said the heck with this, when on drip morphine, bid us all goodbye and died. Her grandson, Darol Anger, played his fiddle while she lay dying, and I think that was as kind and sweet an end to her life as one can possibly have. I quoted Shakespeare with “There cracks a loving heart, goodnight sweet mother and may bands of angels carry thee to thy rest.”
She went from real food to commercial non-food and paid dearly with her health never quite right again.
I’ve been programmed to accept many of these as “a meal”! And, loved almost every minute of it! The combinations are endless!! TY!! 😉
I used to love hot dogs mixed with baked beans, we called them beans and weenies. And my great great grandmother had me hooked on eating cornbread with milk when I was little, but it was actually buttermilk we ate with it and we had it in a big mug too. It was best when it was nice and warm…. I’m 23 now, and this just brought back some nice memories. I might make some cornbread and pour some milk over it later.
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Friends of mine from a large family in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, were so poor during the depression and beyond that their father would tie a strong cord around a small piece of Rump Roast and after each of the children would have a short chew he would yank it from their mouths and pass it to the next of the ten at the table.
LOL JD, I find that very hard to believe!!
I have had a lot of these. I thought a lot of them were southern not depression foods.
We joke here about milk sandwiches when it is supposed to snow ( never more than an inch or two) the stores sell out of milk and bread in no time. That is usually all people buy.
Runny eggs over grits is good, probably one of my favorite breakfasts. I don’t think of that as being depression food. Although I never understood sugar on grits.
I did not see pinto beans over cornbread or fry bread there, with onions or chow chow. Add a side of greens and you have a meal to feed a crowd on less than 5 bucks.
Lot of these I ate as a child not depression age but from a poor farmer family. Love corn mush to this date and ketchup sammitches also ketchup and hot water as soup. Our biggest meals consisted of either potato or cabbage as the main ingrediant.
Eek. The title would suggest that these aren’t go to recipes. Any adult who spent some time with parents, grandparents (great-grandparents depending on your age) had many of these meals at some point in their life.
Milk toast: heat milk with a little butter,salt and pepper, pour over toast, really good if you pouch eggs in the milk and put the eggs on the toast then the milk.
My mother made us milk toast like this without the egg when we were sick, sometimes with a little minced garlic on it. We had it with the poached egg many times when well
Mustard and sugar sandwiches, Peanut butter in a bowl with sugar mixed in and ate with a spoon, Potted meat mixed with mayo and boiled eggs on bread, Lima beans over bread sprinkled with sugar and vinegar, Fried green tomato’s, Gravy made by browning flour in a skillet and mixing in broth until thickened just right and ladled over bread, or potatoes.
I am now seriously craving milk toast. My grandma used to make it for us kids all the time. Oh gosh….Love It!!!