Do you ever wonder what people ate during the Great Depression? It was a time of great hardship, and food was often scarce.
However, people still had to eat, and they found ways to make do with what they had.
With resources scarce and money often scarcer, the bountiful pantries and kitchens of previous eras were only fond memories for most who lived through this time.
Preppers might be well served to memorialize some of these recipes and reboot them for our modern era.
Whether you are trying to pad a post-collapse menu with decidedly limited ingredients or just stave off boredom from the same old dish every meal, these recipes still have some life in them.
In this article, we will explore 25 recipes from the Great Depression that have been lost to history. Some of them may sound Spartan, strange or unappetizing, but they were all popular during that time period!
Bacon Grease-Fried Cornbread
A time-honored favorite that persists to this day! This was a popular dish among sharecroppers and rural families.It was simple to make and filling. You can still find versions of it all over the American South.
This is a stew made with whatever meat and vegetables were available. Anything goes, and it was often served at church socials or community gatherings.
This was a popular dish among coastal and riverine communities. It was hearty and filling, and could be made with whatever fish were caught that day along with, you guessed it, common veggie leftovers.
Chipped Beef on Toast
Also known as SOS or “S*** on a Shingle”, this dish was common in the military and among truck drivers.
It consists of dried beef that is rehydrated and then sauteed, usually with onions. It is served over toast or biscuits.
Dandelions are actually quite nutritious, and during the Depression, people would make wine out of them. It is still possible to find recipes for dandelion wine online.
Hoosier Cream Pie
This pie is a Hoosier tradition that dates back to the 1800s. It is made with a layer of sugar cream, followed by a layer of custard, and then topped with meringue if you wanted to get really fancy.
Back in the Great Depression, you would often find this pie made with a crushed cracker crust.
Navy Bean Soup
This soup was a staple among Navy sailors, and was also popular in the Great Depression because it was cheap and filling.
It is made with navy beans, ham, and potatoes. Perfect for replicating with typical survival staples.
Cute and plentiful, these fuzzy tailed rats make for good small game-eating. This was a common dish in the rural south, where squirrels were bountiful. It is not as common today, but you can still find recipes for it online.
A staple of southern cooking, hominy grits are made from dried and hulled corn kernels. They can be boiled and eaten as is or ground into flour.
Junket was a popular dessert during the Depression. It is made with milk and rennet, and has a pudding-like consistency.
Depression-era Potato Soup
This soup was created during the Great Depression, but it became popular again during World War II. It is made with potatoes and whatever vegetables are available, and sometimes includes meat.
Molasses was a common sweetener during the Depression, as it was relatively inexpensive compared to pricey, scarce sugar. These cookies are still popular today in various parts of the nation.
Pigs in a Blanket
Hot dogs were a staple meat item for most poor Americans during the Great Depression.
This dish consists of hot dogs wrapped in biscuit dough and then fried or baked. It was popular among children and adults during the Great Depression, and persists today as a cheap-if-tacky appetizer.
Rabbit was a common source of protein during the Great Depression, and far easier to come by or afford than larger fare like pigs, cows or lamb.
They were easy to catch when hunted and did not require as much feed as cattle or pigs to raise.
This stew is still popular in some parts of the country, thought the appeal of cute little rabbits has greatly diminished the popularity of rabbit meat.
Red Flannel Hash
This dish is made with beets, potatoes and onions. It gets its name from the fact that it is bears a striking resemblance to a red flannel shirt pattern when served in a skillet.
This is one of the better vegetarian options among our recipes here.
Sauerkraut was a popular dish during the Great Depression, as it was a cheap way to get vitamins from cabbage. It is still highly popular today, especially in Germany where it hails from.
Sauerkraut is a great recipe for preppers since it is a useful method of preserving a staple food item.
This dish hails from Ireland (or else is thought to!) and is made with lamb or mutton, potatoes and other vegetables, sometimes with cheese.
In the U.S. it is often made with beef instead of lamb, and is a great way to maximize leftover portions.
Though it originated somewhere in Europe it became popular in the United States during the Great Depression.
This is another stew or goulash made with whatever meat and vegetables are available. The name comes from the fact that it is often made with insubstantial leftovers or “slums”.
This dish is made with corn and beans, and sometimes includes tomatoes and bacon. It is popular in the United States and Canada, and has been eaten by Native Americans for centuries.
Fried Cabbage Pasta
This dish is a great way to use up leftover cabbage, and can be made with or without meat. Another hearty dish that is easy to prepare with minimal ingredients.
It is popular today in the southern United States and parts of Appalachia. Another good vegetarian option if you are into that sort of thing!
Watermelon Rind Pickles
Watermelons were often grown in home gardens during the Great Depression, as they did not require much care or attention.
In keeping with the notion of minimizing waste while maximizing calorie output the rinds were often pickled and served as a side dish.
Meat and Potato Patties
Meat was a borderline luxury during the Great Depression, and many folks took pains to stretch the quantity they had by any means necessary.
Bulking up a meat dish with bread, flour, or ground or mashed veggies was a popular method that gave rise to several popular recipes. Meat and potato patties are one such recipe.
This dish is made with navy beans, molasses and bacon. It was popular among sailors and truck drivers during the Great Depression. High calorie, filling, and easy to prepare in quantity this was a blue collar staple.
West Virginia Peanut Soup
Another soup dish, and a particularly filling one packed with protein. This soup is made with peanut butter, onions and sometimes potatoes.
It was created during the Great Depression, when peanuts were plentiful and cheap.
Yankee Pot Roast
This is a roasted beef dish that is popular in the northeastern United States. It is often cooked in a Dutch oven or slow cooker, and can be served with vegetables.
This dish was considered high dining during the Great Depression, and often served on special occasions like weddings.
This cake is made without butter, eggs or milk, and was popular during the Great Depression when such ingredients were scarce and expensive. It is a chocolate cake that is often served with frosting.
Eating Good Despite the Depression
Have you ever tried any of these recipes? What are some other recipes from the Great Depression that you know of?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below! And don’t forget to check out our other articles for more interesting content.
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.