Great Depression Foods that Helped Americans Survive Famine

Great Depression Foods that Helped Americans Survive FamineFor the Americans, the time of the Great Depression is unforgettable. It was the nation’s most serious economic tragedy during the time of modern history. The biggest misfortune was the fact that the nation’s working-class had the full burden of it squarely on their shoulders due to which they wrestled badly for their survival during this most difficult period. The following great depression foods helped them survive when nothing else was available.

Indeed but sadly, many could not survive while all suffered. Each American life was shaken up completely by this tragedy in different ways. The Great Depression forced the affluent empire to bend on its knees. Not only money and industries but also the food resources waned almost overnight. This marked the worst time for all Americans.

Will This Worst Time Strike Back?

In reality, the likelihood of such a tragedy shaking the country again is certainly not as low as you may forecast or envision. Certainly, there are new poises and checks acting as safety measures to prevent the nation’s stock market from crashing quickly. However, no one can deny the fact that the economy was badly shaken in 2008 and was sinking again through what was termed as the Great Recession.

The next economic decline can either match or surpass that of The Great Depression. It is a fact that history usually repeats itself. This is where the famous quote of Edmond Burke should be recalled, which says that those who are unfamiliar with the history are destined to repeat it.

So, How Do We Prepare for Survival if Such Period Turns Up in Future?

It is actually simple! All you need to do is learn from the survivalists or survival techniques of the past to become a smart prepper. The most reliable way to keep the past suffering at bay is to learn from the experiences and mistakes of our ancestors and hone them to prepare ourselves for a more challenging time, which is yet to come.

It is hard to believe that the big authorities did not actually learn from the past. The lessons of the past were somehow ignored. Well, the good news is that each American still has time to become a better prepper.

One of the most challenging but must-have skills of such a prepper is to arrange for food. It is truly a challenge to ask your kids to eat a dandelion salad, bizarre grass soup, or a stew of some less favorite veggies. However, if you know what our forebears did to make their family members survive, it certainly makes the same challenge easier for us. Thus, the key here is only to know the ‘where’ and ‘how’ aspects of the food arrangements or preparations during this depressive period.

What Did Our Fore Fathers do to Survive During The Great Depression?

This was the time of scarcity-instilled invention, where families had no other option for survival except for to use whatever they get. They had to manage without several household staples and utilize their ingenuity to plan for alternatives, which were based on readily available products.

Right from using dandelion in salads to mending shoes with a cardboard, the people of those days used whatever they get to make up for the scarcity of practically each good and food. Initially, desperation took over ingenuity in the average kitchens.

Urged by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who cheered families to save as many resources as possible by practicing savvier home finance management, there were some seriously disgusting food combinations that the Americans followed during the Great Depression. However, even this is true that not the recipes of this time were transient. Big companies such as Kraft used the modern norms and preferences to turn those recipes, such as mac ‘n’ cheese, into a modern household staple.

Many recipes of that time are not for a weak stomach or a faint heart. They tend to reflect the true national spirit of resiliency and adaptive creativity. For countless families, preparing a meal without using any processed or ready-made foods was no longer meant only for a weekend party. It became a skill for people to learn and master how to make those great depression foods.

Related reading: Civil War Era Foods You Can Still Make Today

People who survived and recalled what was it like to have meals during this economic disaster talked about frugality, growing to produce on their own and sharing with others, and coping with what they had. It was the time when leftovers were precious.

Anything that could be grown was on priority. Unbelievable pot pies, salads, soups, stews, dumplings, and margarine wrappers all found their way to be in kitchens for several days. Well, these recipes today are unlikely to be seen in kitchens. However, in the 1930s, those recipes were a part of kitchen art, refined by inevitability.

Recalling Top 10 Great Depression Foods

Many Americans did not learn to prepare food as they grew up. This is the reason why they are dependent on packaged food. However, the food preparation experience was totally different at the time of economic depression in the late 1920s. Here are the top 10 Great Depression foods to learn and remember for being a better prepper.

Great Depression Foods – Mock Apple Pie

This was perhaps the most common recipe of that time! You may be thinking how come apples would be available? Well, the most interesting aspect of this recipe is that it was made without apples. It is a fact that apples were not so readily available during that tough time. Nevertheless, this could not force the Americans to live without their treasured apple pie.

This recipe replaced apples with crushed crackers, cinnamon, and a flavored syrup, all of which were baked to form a crispy crust. There are many versions of this recipe but the most famous ones were published on the rear of the 1934’s Ritz cracker box.

The Ritz Mock Apple Pie was perhaps the most famous deceitful treat. It contained sugar, butter, cinnamon, lemon juice, and Ritz crackers to feature a distinct texture and a creamy taste for gratifying your senses.

Great Depression Foods – Prune Pudding

 This recipe may sound quite logical, as prunes were widely available. In fact, they are easy to store and were more affordable than other fruits. Further, they have all the nutrients for being a Great Depression diet, ranging from fiber and 1/3rd of daily needs of Vitamin K.

This recipe got popularity as a simple dessert during that time when Eleanor Roosevelt convinced her consort, who was the President to serve it to the White House’s guests. The honorable lady was simply not going to sit back and allow the bad time to bring down the prestige of her nation down.

She was an early patron of the movement called, the home economics, and she sincerely followed what she advised. Well, the food served in the President’s house was notably the most boring one in the history. The poor guests had to eat those eggs in a tomato sauce and crushed potatoes with prune pudding.

Great Depression Foods – Mulligan Stew

This was the name of many stews that the homeless people made at the time of the Great Depression. The recipe varied as per the ingredients or food items on hand. Nevertheless, you can imagine it to be the result of tossing in the pot all that the maker has to feed the belly.

The stew is certainly not an ordinary dish of the tough time! It is a traveler food, which is usually also made using stolen onions, potatoes, corn, mixed scavenged greens, and some navy beans stored in pocket or wallet for months.

Here are two more secret ingredients in it that you cannot imagine. A bit of lint and Bull Durham tobacco for making the broth interesting.

Great Depression Foods – Dandelion Salad

Okay, the dandelion is believed to be an annoying weed. However, at the same time, it has a long history of acting as a therapeutic herb for healing swelling, upset stomach, skin issues, eye issues, diarrhea, and heartburn. It is also a richer source of Vitamins A and C than spinach and tomatoes, respectively. Moreover, they are full of Vitamins B and D, potassium, calcium, and iron.

This is perhaps why it got an esteemed place in the Great Depression diet. The dandelion salad was the favorite of preppers and wild experts. It was a nutritious option that includes simple greens sought from any neighborhood, vinegar if available for taste, pepper, and salt. It was also a tasty dish to add to the daily menu without spending any money.

Great Depression Foods – Peanut Butter Stuffed Onions

Well, this name may appear surreal to you, as both the items in the name have nothing to do with each other. They are also nowhere correlated with each other. However, this bizarre blend of baked onions and peanut butter was common during the Great Depression.

The Bureau of Home Economics made it for the first time, and since then, it was popular just for its strange taste. Onions were baked, and scoops of peanut butter were filled inside them, resulting in a highly disliked recipe. The maker itself urged the housewives to serve this recipe to all family members and become budgeteers.

Related reading: 10 Best Survival Foods At Your Grocery Store

Great Depression Foods – Vinegar Cobbler

Both the name and taste sounded weird! Well, this is a dessert that replaced a huge amount of vinegar for costlier fruits and contained sugar, water, butter, nutmeg, flour, and vanilla on the baking plate. Rather than the pieces of apples, the apple cider vinegar was used to forge the real taste for all budgeteers.

Interestingly, Chris Shepherd, an award-winning chef, is serving this recipe at his Houston restaurant. Its flavor is much like a custard of vinegar chips and salt that triggers a tingling sensation in the roof of your mouth.

Great Depression Foods – Spaghetti and Carrot Casserole

Casseroles were madly famous during this tough period. The recipes involved mixing all types of leftovers to form a single dish. This is how families were able to get a variety in their daily menu without looking for difficult-to-find ingredients.

While meat was an unaffordable indulgence, spaghetti casserole was commonly made. The hard-working moms were using boiled carrots covered in a white sauce made up of butter, salt, flour, and milk. The First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was the pioneer of this item. She promoted some truly dull dishes for supporting savvy home economics.

Great Depression Foods – Meatless Loaves

Meatloaves, as dietary staples, were no longer available when the food scarcity commenced during the Great Depression. Thus, a meatloaf was twisted as per the available ingredients. It then became a meatless loaf made using any item that was available ranging right from raisins to peanuts. People used their ingenuity to make this item their weekly favorite.

Great Depression Foods – Potato Pancakes

Potato is one such food that is widely available even during the tough times. It is also among the most affordable foods, whether it is a good or a bad time. Thus, it was no wonder why potatoes were widely used during the period of the Great Depression.

Depression-era chefs highly relied on potatoes as alternatives in their different dishes. One of the commonly cooked dishes was a potato pancake. This was a simple recipe, in which grated potatoes were fried or cooked in a pan. Mostly, all meals had this dish. It is one of the most common great depression foods that people still remember.

Great Depression Foods – Milkorno

In Cornell University, a few scientists came up with a dish called milkorno in 1933. It is a blend of cornmeal, powdered skim milk, and salt, a recipe that was made for families to fulfill their nutritional needs without increasing their budget. Upon boiling, all ingredients of Milkorno become a part of a porridge. The recipe promised a fulfilling experience for the family of five members for $5 per week.

Again, this recipe of combining corn and milk was what that guests of Eleanor Roosevelt probably ate and made. Another two variations of this recipe were Milkoato and Milkwheato, of which the latter gave scope for big business for which dystopian dust was purchased by the government for use in the recipe.


For the younger generation, the foods described here are most likely unappealing. They cannot imagine eating something like that even during a crisis. Our generation is no longer familiar with the outcomes of widespread famine. The time of distressing economic uncertainty has taught some great cooking skills to Americans. It is up to us how sincerely we master it and how dedicatedly we improve or learn it! Remember, the future is uncertain and the economy can become volatile at any point in time. So, readiness to face it is indispensable!

Useful resources to check out:

Survival Lessons from the 1880s Everyone Should Know

Learn how to Safeguard your Home against Looters

This ONE THING Can Help You Terminate Your Store-Bought Dependency

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

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