Depression Era Recipes Tips and The Secret of How to Survive

The period of The Great Depression in the 1930s was a trying time for people, about 15 million Americans were unemployed and the country’s economy was in shambles. 

survival food depression era recipe

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This meant that with little or no money, people had to get creative and learn new skills to survive. Everybody who was able to work looking for jobs from children to the aged, there was nothing like a retirement age. Everything from metal to scraps became valuable.  

How To Survive a Great Depression Tips

Women had these ideas to cook meals and then sell them to any working sites. 

One of the most disheartening moment was when American starting to lost their home.


Some built their own tents and shelters.

how to cook depression era food.

 People barely can have money and were push to trade their own food or livestock to satisfy their need.

Jobs done were paid in produce as employers found it hard to pay in cash. People really did not mind as they got what to eat from working.  

Begging was not seen as something shameful as pride was put aside in desperation.

Families had to become creative with their meals, they had to put together any ingredient they had for a meal while also making sure that it was nutritious.

Foraging for things like nuts, berries, and wild vegetables was popular as this helped feed many families. People also learned the importance of canning food to last them for a long time.

Those who lived in the country and could hunt had things even better as they could find their own meat source.


america survival food

There was nothing like fashion as people learned how to make their own clothes from any material, even sacks. There was no money to waste in buying clothes, it was rather put into buying food.

There was no sense of entitlement as people worked very hard to survive and even provided communal support to those who were trying hard but were struggling.

The American government encouraged Americans to save, use more food items like corn, flour, beans, and syrup and were also told also to plant gardens that would supplement rations given to families.

Educational pamphlets were also shared and they educated people on ways to survive the depression, some of those pamphlets also included recipes which would be frugal but filling.

Great Depression Recipes and Survival Stories

recipes from the great depression

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The meat was very scarce and dairy products were hard to come by and those that were found were rationed, so people took to raising their own livestock and growing their own vegetables which made life a bit easier.

They were better off than those who had to live off rations given to them by the government.

They could trade what they grew out of their gardens for other food items. They learned to make a dough and create magic with meals, like making cakes without flour and eggs and using vegetable shortening instead of butter.

There was no wasting of any part of an animal, as every part was cooked and eaten.


Depression era recipes were created to be filling and not fancy

People purchased large quantities of cheap, filling food items like beans, wheat, and flour. They made most of their meals with these filling food items which made sure people’s bellies were full.

Some of the depression meals have withstood the test of time and are still made in recent times. Here are some of the great depression recipes below:

Great Depression Era Recipes

1. Creamed Peas on Toast

A great depression recipe for creamed peas on toast

Image Credit Flickr

Adding peas to toast is definitely an odd meal combination but it is also really satisfying.

To make this meal, melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan, add two tablespoons of flour, stir them for about two minutes and then pour in hot milk and whisk the sauce at high heat till it thickens. Add salt and pepper, then finally, lower the heat and pour two cups of peas into the mixture.

Spread your peas mixture on top of toasted bread and enjoy your satisfying meal.


2. Egg Drop Soup

Two bowl of egg drop soup from great depression food with green onion leave toppings.

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Most people have no idea that their favorite Chinese meal was once a great depression meal.

Peel and dice some potatoes and onions and cook in olive oil in a pan, add water and boil until the potatoes are cooked, then add 2 eggs to the pan and scramble them gently, add one more egg per person and let them cook whole, finally add some parmesan cheese to the broth.

There, you have your egg drop soup, you can eat it with some bread.



3. Prune Pudding

This meal was enjoyed by President Roosevelt and his family. They did not leave the American people to eat these meals but also joined them.  

Recipes made during during great depression era

Image Credit to Flickr

The prune pudding is made by adding half a pound of prunes into a saucepan, add two cups of water and leave it for an hour. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and drain the water from the pan, dice the cooked prunes.

Then add 2 cups of water to the saucepan, add half a cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, a cinnamon stick, mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water, mix it with the prunes and leave it to cook at low heat for 5 minutes. Allow it cool and it is ready to eat.


4. Fried Cornmeal Mush

Tasty great depression food recipes

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This meal has been around for a very long time and is a very frugal and satisfying meal.

To make this, mix half a cup of cornmeal and 1 cup of broth or water in a bowl and leave it to set overnight. The next day, pour into a bread loaf pan and refrigerate it. Cut into slices and fry.


5. Hoover Stew

Hoover stew is a mix of pasta, corn, peas, tomatoes and hot dogs.

 Delicious great depression recipe hoover stew

Image Credit to Pixabay

Cook the pasta and drain, then slice the hot dogs and add them to the pasta, add two cans of stewed tomatoes and one can of corn or peas and simmer till the pasta is cooked. This is a really filling meal and tasty meal.


6. Ham Hock and Beans

This is one of the simple dishes during the depression era. It was originated in the Southern part.

One of the best depression meals

Image Credit Pinterest

Rinse 1lb of dry pinto beans and put into a large pot along with 5 ham hocks, one chopped yellow onion, and ground black pepper.

Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once the pot is boiled, lower the temperature and let the pot simmer for some minutes keep adding water till the beans are well cooked, then it is ready to eat.


7. Creamed Chipped Beef

How to survive great depression meals

Image Credit Pinterest

This dish is simple but it filled up a lot of bellies during the Great Depression.

To make this meal, melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of flour and whisk into a roux. Add in a cup and half of milk and stir till it thickens and boils.

Then finally, add 8 ounces of dried beef and leave it for some minutes. Scoop up the gravy on some toast and enjoy a filling meal.


8. Potato Pancakes

One of the simple depression food

Image Credit Pixabay

This is one of the simplest recipes. If you have leftover mashed potatoes, just mix that with some eggs and flour, the batter will be firmer than pancake batter. Heat the pan with grease and fry up the batter and you have your tasty potato breakfast.


9. Hard Tack

Hardtack depression survival biscuit

Image Credit Youtube

Hardtack is the most simple and long lasting food during the great depression.

Pour a cup of water into a bowl and add 6 cups of flour gradually and stir.

Once the dough becomes too thick to stir, stop and knead the dough. Roll into a ½ thick sheet.

Then use a knife to cut the dough into approximately 3 by 3 inches square. Put the squares on a baking sheet and use a toothpick to poke holes into them.

Bake for one hour and you have your hard tack ready to eat.


10. Poor Man’s Meal

Chop about 3 potatoes and also one onion, saute them in 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat.

Add 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and stir for some minutes.

Then slice four hot dogs and add them to the pan along with half a cup of water. Then cook the potatoes until they are soft.

Your meal is ready to eat.


11. Corned Beef Luncheon Salad

How to survive during depression era simple food

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This was one of the most popular and inexpensive meals at this time. The meal required corned beef, plain gelatin, canned peas, vinegar and sometimes cabbage. 

Dissolve gelatin in corned beef. Add vinegar then let it cool. You can now add the rest of the ingredients.  


What should You stock during Emergency or Disaster?

depression era recipe survival end time

If any country ever fell into depression again, these depression era recipes will be a life saver just like it saved a lot of families during the Great Depression.

During natural disasters, if there ever is a shortage of food, these meals will also come in handy. So survivalists who store food for emergencies are already on the right track. They should also think about adding some of these food items to their list and also hold on to the recipes, who knows when they will come in handy.

Another great, long lasting meal that survivalists will find handy is the Pemmican.

It is not a depression era meal but was invented much earlier by Native Americans and can last a long number of years.

This meal includes meat and berries and is a great addition to your survival food list.

 To make Pemmican, you need to get about 6 pounds of red meat, some blue berries, and some beef fat. The first step is to slice the meat really thin and lay out the thin strip on an oven rack.

depression era cooking

Also, place the blueberries in a tin foil and place it on the rack with the beef. Set your oven to the lowest temperature and dry them for about 15 hours.

Leave the oven slightly open so as to thoroughly dry the beef. When done, grind both the dried meat and blue berries into a powder.

Next step is to place your beef fat in a pot and lower the heat to a medium and stir every minute. Once you see the liquid fat bubbling, lower the heat and keep stirring every five minutes.


Once done, sieve out the crackling and you can eat as a snack or give it to your dog if you are not a fan of the 

Then you take equal amounts of the fat and the beef and mix them together, as you mix, you will notice that there is no liquid, only the fat. Then place the pemmican in a Ziploc bag and press down until you are sure there is no air in the bag, this is to make sure that the oil does not go rancid due to air. This meal can last many, many years and is also nutritious.

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