Top 10 Great Depression Recipes: Budget-Friendly and Delicious

Top 10 Great Depression Recipes: Budget-Friendly and Delicious

Top 10 Great Depression Recipes

Introduction

The Great Depression was a period of economic crisis in the 1930s that left millions of people struggling to make ends meet. During this difficult time, families had to find creative ways to stretch their food budget and make the most out of limited ingredients. As a result, a number of thrifty and resourceful recipes emerged. Today, these Great Depression recipes not only remind us of the hardships our ancestors faced but also offer valuable lessons in frugality and resourcefulness. In this article, we will explore the top 10 Great Depression recipes that were both budget-friendly and delicious.

1. Depression Era Bread

During the Great Depression, it became necessary for families to bake their own bread rather than purchasing it from a bakery. The Depression Era Bread, also known as “Hoover Bread,” is a simple recipe that requires only basic ingredients like flour, yeast, water, and salt. Here’s how you can make it:

  • Combine 2 cups of warm water, 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
  • Add 6 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon of salt to the bowl. Mix until the dough comes together.
  • Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 1-2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  • Punch down the dough and shape it into a loaf. Place it in a greased loaf pan and let it rise for another 30-60 minutes.
  • Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 30-40 minutes, or until it turns golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Allow the bread to cool before slicing and serving.

2. Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast, also known as “SOS” or “Sh*t on a Shingle,” was a staple meal during the Great Depression. It is a simple and filling dish that can be prepared using cheap and readily available ingredients. Here’s how you can make it:

  • Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the melted butter and whisk until smooth.
  • Gradually add 2 cups of milk to the pan, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
  • Stir in 2 cups of chopped cooked beef and continue cooking until the mixture thickens.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices.
  • Toast slices of bread and spoon the creamed chipped beef over them.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

3. Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup was a popular Great Depression recipe as it allowed families to use whatever vegetables they had available. This recipe is versatile and can be customized based on the veggies you have on hand. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:

  • In a large pot, heat some oil or butter and sauté 1 diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic until fragrant.
  • Add chopped vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, celery, and peas. You can also add canned beans or leftover meat if desired.
  • Pour in enough vegetable or chicken broth to cover the vegetables.
  • Add herbs and seasonings like bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer the soup for about 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
  • Serve hot and enjoy a comforting bowl of homemade Vegetable Soup.

4. Depression Era Potato Soup

Potatoes were an affordable and versatile ingredient during the Great Depression, making Potato Soup a popular choice for families. Here’s a simple recipe:

  • Peel and chop 4-5 potatoes into small cubes.
  • In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté 1 diced onion until translucent.
  • Add the chopped potatoes to the pot, along with 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked and tender.
  • Mash some of the potatoes in the pot to thicken the soup.
  • Add 1 cup of milk and season with salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice.
  • Cook for a few more minutes to let the flavors meld together.
  • Serve hot and garnish with chopped green onions or parsley.

5. Depression Era Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies were a popular treat during the Great Depression because they could be made with basic pantry ingredients and did not require eggs. Here’s a simple recipe to try:

  • In a bowl, cream together 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and mix until well combined.
  • Shape the dough into small balls and place them on a greased baking sheet.
  • Press each ball with a fork to create a crisscross pattern.
  • Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-12 minutes, or until they are lightly browned.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack.
  • Enjoy the delicious and simple pleasure of Depression Era Peanut Butter Cookies.

6. Creamed Cabbage

Cabbage was a cheap and readily available vegetable during the Great Depression, making it a staple in many households. Creamed Cabbage is a simple and hearty dish that can be served as a side or a main course. Here’s a recipe to try:

  • Thinly slice a medium-sized head of cabbage.
  • In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté 1 diced onion until golden brown.
  • Add the sliced cabbage to the skillet and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour until smooth.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the cabbage and stir well.
  • Cook the cabbage over low heat until the sauce thickens and coats the cabbage.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices.
  • Serve hot and enjoy a comforting and economical meal.

7. Depression Era Banana Bread

Bananas were a luxury during the Great Depression, but when they started to become overripe, families would often turn them into delicious Banana Bread. Here’s a simple recipe to make your own:

  • Mash 3 ripe bananas in a bowl using a fork.
  • In a separate bowl, cream together 1/2 cup of softened butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add 2 beaten eggs and the mashed bananas to the bowl and mix well.
  • In another bowl, whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Optional: Fold in chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or raisins for additional flavor.
  • Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the banana bread to cool before slicing and serving.

8. Depression Era Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is a classic comfort food that has been enjoyed for generations. During the Great Depression, families would often make this dish using affordable ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe:

  • Cook 2 cups of macaroni according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour to create a roux.
  • Gradually whisk in 2 cups of milk and cook until the mixture thickens.
  • Add 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices.
  • Combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce in a baking dish.
  • Sprinkle additional shredded cheese on top and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  • Serve hot and enjoy the ultimate comfort food.

9. Depression Era Poor Man’s Meal

The Poor Man’s Meal was a simple and affordable dish that helped feed families during the Great Depression. It consists of a hearty combination of potatoes, onions, and hot dogs. Here’s how you can make it:

  • Peel and slice 4-5 potatoes into thin rounds.
  • Thinly slice 1 onion.
  • Cut 4-5 hot dogs into bite-sized pieces.
  • In a large skillet, heat some oil and sauté the sliced onion until translucent.
  • Add the sliced potatoes and hot dog pieces to the skillet.
  • Cook everything together until the potatoes are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices.
  • Serve hot and enjoy a humble yet satisfying meal.

10. Depression Era Mock Apple Pie

During the Great Depression, apples were scarce and expensive, so resourceful bakers would make do with what they had. The Mock Apple Pie is a perfect example of this creativity. Instead of using apples, this pie uses a surprising ingredient: crackers! Here’s a recipe to try:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • In a saucepan, mix together 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Crush about 30 soda crackers and place them in a deep-dish pie crust.
  • Pour the boiling sugar syrup mixture over the crushed crackers.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter.
  • Place a top crust over the filling and seal the edges.
  • Make a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
  • Bake the pie in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Allow the pie to cool before serving.

Conclusion

The recipes from the Great Depression teach us valuable lessons in resourcefulness and frugality. These dishes may be simple, but they are a testament to the resilience of families during a challenging time in history. By trying out these top 10 Great Depression recipes, we can not only honor our ancestors but also learn to appreciate the abundance we have today.

My 2 Cents

Looking back at the Great Depression era recipes can give us important insights into how our ancestors managed to make do with limited resources. These recipes teach us valuable lessons in stretching ingredients and making the most out of what we have. The spirit of resourcefulness and creativity displayed in these recipes is something we can all learn from, even in more prosperous times. So why not give one of these depression era recipes a try? You might just discover a new favorite dish that not only satisfies your hunger but also connects you to the past in a meaningful way.