Could you stomach these Great Depression meals?

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Could You Stomach These Great Depression Meals

With all the talk about food storage and growing our own food, I did a little digging around to find out what some people ate during America’s Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Surprisingly, a few of these were made by my mother and grandmother, traditions, I’m sure, from a more frugal era.  I still have a soft spot for Chipped Beef on Toast!  How many of these are familiar to you, and do you have any others to add to the list?

Milk toast

Chipped beef on toast

Cucumber and mustard sandwiches

Mayonnaise sandwiches

Ketchup sandwiches

Hot milk and rice



Potato soup – water base, not milk

Dandelion salad

Lard sandwiches

Bacon grease sandwiches

Sugar sandwiches

Hot dogs and baked beans

Road kill

One eyed Sam – piece of bread with an easy over egg in the center

Oatmeal mixed with lard

Fried potatoes and hot dogs

Onion sandwich – slices of onion between bread

Tomato gravy and biscuits

Deep fried chicken skin

Cornbread in milk

Gravy and bread – as a main dish

Toast with mashed potatoes on top with gravy

Creamed corn on toast

Corn mush with milk for breakfast, fried corn mush for dinner


Rice in milk with some sugar


Fried potato peel sandwiches

Banana slices with powdered sugar and milk

Boiled cabbage

Hamburger mixed with oatmeal

American cheese sandwich: ‘American’ cheese was invented because it was cheap to make, and didn’t require refrigeration that may or may not exist back then.

Tomato gravy on rice

Toast with milk gravy

Water fried pancakes

Chicken feet in broth

Fried bologna

Warm canned tomatoes with bread

Butter and sugar sandwiches

Fried potato and bread cubes

Bean soup

Runny eggs with grits

Butter and grits with sugar and milk

Baked apples

Sliced boiled pork liver on buttered toast (slice liver with potato peeler)

Corn meal mush

Spaghetti with tomato juice and navy beans

Whatever fish or game you could catch/hunt

Tomato sandwiches

Hard boiled eggs in white sauce over rice

Spam and noodles with cream of mushroom soup

Rag soup: spinach, broth and lots of macaroni

Garbanzo beans fried in chicken fat or lard, salted, and eaten cold

Popcorn with milk and sugar – ate it like cereal

Lessons learned from this list?  Stock up on ingredients for bread, including buckets of wheat.  Bread, in some form, is one of the main ingredients for many of these meals.  Second, know how to make different types of bread.  Next, have chickens around as a source for meat and eggs, and if possible, have a cow or goat for milk.  Another lesson is to have a garden that will provide at least some fresh produce, and plant fruit trees and bushes.  Finally, don’t waste anything, even chicken feet!

Check out these Great Depression cookbooks:

Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression

Hard Times Cookbook with Back to Basics Great Depression Cooking

Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression

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  • By Annie, November 15, 2014 @ 16:12

    I still make meatloaf with oatmeal.

  • By yooper, May 10, 2016 @ 19:28

    I can stomach these meals easy, in fact this is mostly the kind of meals i enjoy yet today.

  • By Suzanne Gerard, November 17, 2014 @ 06:52

    Not only could I stomach these things but now, having full choice as I live alone, I still make some of them for myself. Cold, crumbled cornbread with milk and sugar is one of my favorite cold breakfast cereals and probably more nutritious many that are manufactured today.

  • By David, November 17, 2014 @ 14:55

    I remember my grandmother making us sugar sandwiches and how thinking what a treat it was. It wasn’t till years later I found out that this was what they did during the Depression, now I see by this list some of my favorite things to eat where from back then.

  • By Cy, November 21, 2014 @ 00:14

    Milk toast a favorite. Many others we still do. Haven’t done road kill or possum…yet.

  • By Ray, November 22, 2014 @ 02:25

    You did not mention white rice with a little ketchup. It’s the poor man’s gravy and I had it growing up. Even now while being a little better off, I still indulge.

  • By UrbanS, November 29, 2014 @ 12:04

    Geez whiz, I eat at least 30 of the mention food with great pleasure and fact I just had two of them for breakfast. Am I that old? LOL

  • By BeverlyD, May 10, 2016 @ 17:46

    Gonna need to keep a pig if you want lard. If you really can keep a cow, you can make butter, of course, or you can use chicken fat when you slaughter chickens that are no longer laying.

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