We are a proud nation and we somehow forgot the struggles we had to endure to get to the point we are today. The great depression years are unknown to many people and those times are being slowly covered by the dust of time. I refuse to let that knowledge die and I’ve gathered a few great depression recipes to show you how people were struggling to survive back then and how they had to improvise with the little stuff they had.
If we look back at our history, we can easily understand that living conditions during the great depression are the closest thing we have to a SHTF scenario. Think about Venezuela and other forgotten countries where things are still not back on tracks. The same thing could easily happen to our nation and unless you’re a millionaire or part of the big elite, you should learn how to be prepared.
During the great depression years, a lot of people suffered and struggled to go by as there was nothing much to go around and hunger was the common enemy for everyone. Those who managed to obtain the few resources available on the market or scavenge for something edible had to become creative with their cooking.
The great depression recipes listed below are a clear example that you can make a tasty meal from ingredients that shouldn’t be mixed together. I guarantee that these great depression recipes will come in handy during a time of need and this is knowledge we shouldn’t forget.
Try the following recipes:
Great Depression Recipes – Kitchen Sink Casserole
- 5 slices bacon
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 diced (15-ounce) pork and beans can
- 1 (15-ounce) chili beans can with sauce
- 1 pound, undrained all beef bologna
- 1 jar of cubed 1 pimentos
- 1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
Make sure you preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, brown the bacon and onions together.
When the bacon is crisp and the onions are tender, remove from the heat and drain any excess fat. In the baking dish, spread the cubed bologna, top with pork and beans, chili beans, the reserved bacon and onions, pimentos and, finally, with the shredded Cheddar.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and the cheese is browning. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Great Depression Recipes – Milk Toast
- 1 pint of scalded milk
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsps. butter
- 4 tbsps. cold water
- 2 ½ tbsps. bread flour
- 6 dry toast slices
Put the flour into a skillet, add water and stir on low heat until the mixture turns creamy. Add milk to the paste and stir continually until thick.
Cover and cook for twenty minutes, occasionally sprinkling salt into mixture. Add butter in small quantities.
Dip the toast slices in the sauce and remove them when they turn soft. Pour leftover sauce onto toast to serve.
Great Depression Recipes – Creamed Peas on Toast
- 2 Tbsps. of butter
- 2 Tbsps. of flour
- 1 cup milk heated close to scalding
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups fresh peas rinsed and drained
- Toasted bread
Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Be sure to stir consistently until the mixture bubbles, which should take about two minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Next add the hot milk, again stirring as the sauce thickens.
Allow this to be brought to a boil, then add salt and pepper to your preference. Lower the heat and continue stirring for two to three more minutes. Add peas and cover.
For a nutritional boost, you can also add protein, like hot dogs or tuna, whatever is available. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, then serve on toasted bread.
Great Depression Recipes – Sponge Cake
- 1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs beaten until thick and light
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 5 Tbsps. boiling water
Add flour, baking powder, and salt together and mix until evenly combined. Gradually pour sugar into eggs while beating, then add the boiling water and lemon juice. Add the combined dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Bake in an ungreased pan at 350 °F for 40 minutes.
- 2 cups quick cooking oats
- 1 tbsp. melted fat
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 egg beat in 1 cup of milk
Mix above ingredients and add 1 cup sifted flour and 1 tsp. baking powder. Beat well. Cook on a hot griddle.
Great Depression Recipes – Spider Cornbread
- 2 cups sour milk
- 1-1/2 cups cornmeal
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. salt
Combine all dry ingredients first, and then pour in milk and well-beaten eggs. Add butter or any type of grease fat to cast iron pan to grease the pan. Once the pan is hot you can pour in the mixture. Cook in a hot oven for twenty minutes. I’ve made this on several occasions and with the ingredients above you can serve six.
Great Depression Recipes – Bean Sausage
- 1 cup soaked lentils, dried peas, lima beans, or beans
- 1 egg ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 sage
- ¼ cup fat
Cook the beans until they turn soft. Thoroughly mix ingredients together and then form like a sausage. You can now cover the “sausage” in flour and fry it using fat.
Great Depression Recipes – Eggless Chocolate Cake
- 3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
- 1 vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
Mix the cocoa, baking soda, and flour in a 8” square greased baking pan. Create a large depression in the dry ingredients and pour vegetable oil into it. Create two smaller wells, pour vanilla into one and vinegar in the other. Add water to the entire pan and stir until everything is blended and smooth. Bake for 35 minutes in 350° F oven.
Great Depression Recipes – Cornmeal Mush with Milk
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 cup water or bone broth
- Leftover bacon grease
Mix the cornmeal with bone broth or water and allow it to sit overnight. Form into loaf pan and keep it the refrigerator. Slice and fry in bacon grease.
Additionally, you could also mix ½ cornmeal and ½ boiling water, let cool and form into a patty and then fry in grease (no overnight soak required). Pour milk over cornmeal.
Great Depression Recipes – Bread Pudding
- 2 cups whole milk (or 2 cups half & half)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2/3 cup sugar (white or brown, depending on taste preference)
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 vanilla extract
- 3 cups bread, torn into small pieces (French bread works best)
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat the milk (or half & half) just until film forms over the top. Combine butter and milk, stirring until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm.
Combine the sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk to the mixture.
Place bread in a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole and sprinkle with raisins if desired. Pour the batter on top of bread. Now all is left to do is bake it at 350° F for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Serve warm.
Great Depression Recipes – Depression Bread
- 4 cups flour
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tbsps. yeast
Pour the flour into a large bowl and create a hole in the center. Pour the yeast and warm water in the center, and then combine with the flour until you form a ball. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until it’s doubled in size. Knead the dough and split into two loaves, then allow rising one more time. Bake at 300 °F until golden.
Great Depression Recipes – Cream of Celery Soup
- 3 cups celery (cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fat
- 2 cups milk 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
Wash and scrape celery and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add water and cook until it turns very soft and tender. Rub through a sieve. Heat milk in a double boiler and add milk to celery. Melt fat and flour and seasoning and mix with soup.
Great Depression Recipes – Hoover Stew
- 16 oz. package or any box of noodles (macaroni, spiral or similar are best)
- 2 cans of stewed tomatoes (do not drain)
- 1 package of hot dogs
- 1 can of corn, peas or beans, do not drain
Cook your pasta until it is just about done, but not all the way. Slice the hot dogs into round bits (thinner if you’re feeding more people). Put the cooked pasta and hot dog slices in a pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer low until the pasta has finished cooking and the whole pot is heated.
Great Depression Recipes – Mock Lemon Pie (Vinegar pie)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, blend the butter and sugar until it turns light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stirring vigorously with a fork. Add the vinegar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously for 1 full minute, until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Pour into the unbaked pie crust. Bake until a butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean. In about 45 minutes, the pie will be golden brown. Cool on wire rack until firm.
Great Depression Recipes – Easy Baked Eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 4 eggs
- 16 small square soda crackers
Crush the crackers into a fine powder. Put milk in a baking pan with browned butter. Then add eggs and cracker crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in moderate heat about an hour or until done. Serve warm with fresh sliced tomatoes.
Great Depression Recipes – Throw Together Bologna Salad
- 1 pound all beef bologna, cubed
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1 red pepper, large diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon parsley salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup lemon (juice only)
In a large bowl, combine bologna, celery, pepper, onion, tomato, and cheese. Stir gently to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, serve cold.
Great Depression Recipes – Hot Chipped Beef
- 1 package (2.5 ounces) chipped beef
- 3 finely cut scallions
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (chopped)
- 2 ounces softened blue cheese
- 1 cup jarred mushrooms, drained
- 1/3 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Rinse the beef to remove salt. Combine all ingredients in a shallow Pyrex or oven-proof dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve on toasted bread or dip with crackers or pita chips.
Great Depression Recipes – Simple Shepherd’s Pie
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- garlic powder and seasoning salt to taste
- 3/4 ounce package brown gravy mix
- 2 cans (10 3/4-ounce) cream of mushroom soup
- 2 1/2 cups water 1 1/2 cup frozen sliced carrots, thawed
- 10 ounces package frozen peas, thawed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
- paprika to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the brown beef and onion in a skillet and season to taste with garlic powder and seasoning salt. Drain it and pour into a large bowl. Stir in gravy mix, soup, water, carrots and peas and mix well. Spoon into a greased 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread mashed potatoes over the top and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika.
These great depression recipes are still being used by many families and they are part of our heritage. You can clearly see that with a lot of imagination you can turn a few scraps into a tasty meal. I’ve tried some of these great depression recipes over the years and I can tell you that even the looks are not appealing, the taste is quite surprising.
I advise you to try these great depression recipes and take a bite out of history, and most importantly, pass them around to keep this knowledge alive.