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How Would YOU Survive on These Great Depression Meals?

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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?

selling apples Great Depression Could you stomach these Great Depression meals?
image by edenpictures

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

Hoover Great Depression Could you stomach these Great Depression meals?

image by Tony the Misfit

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

great depression washing day Could you stomach these Great Depression meals?

image by Blue Mountains Library

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? 



by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Replies (41-50):
by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 7:27 PM

I love one eyed sams! I call them one eyed sandwiches, also have heard Roadhouse eggs and eggs in a basket. I've eaten a few of the others listed when I was younger and we lived with my grandpa. I COULD survive if we only ate the things listed, but I wouldn't enjoy it all the time.

Oh, when I was five, my best friend and I would eat mayo and sugar sandwiches! Sounds so gross now lol.

by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 7:34 PM
I could eat everything but the sandwiches
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by Group Admin on Mar. 16, 2013 at 8:24 PM
1 mom liked this

 There's ethnic food practices, nutritional values of the foods. Is that food still "cheap" in this economy?  Calorie counts, Would we work off the calories of those foods today with the activity levels required for our "average" jobs?  The kids could make a menu for a typical week for depression age and compare it to a menu for our families today and decide which really is more healthy (soda levels, potato chips, meat servings, fry oil, vegetable servings)?  Some really great lessons that may broaden our views.  We have this way of thinking we are so much healthier today, but are we really?  They ate much less soda and had fewer french fries and other already prepared foods, so what does that mean for the nutrition content of the diet in the time period.  I think we may find that they ate more plant based foods and calories than we do ... pie plant (rhubarb), cabbage, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and squash were a much bigger proportion of their diet than many typical American families today.

Quoting kirbymom:

That is what I was going for with this post. Tying it into our schooling. There could be many different lessons here. 

Quoting bluerooffarm:

 I wonder if they could be tied to the different ethnicities.  Like did the Irish do the cabbage and potatoes and the Germans do the cabbage and noodles? Were we still holding onto our ethnicities more during the depression?  Great lessons there!

Quoting kirbymom:

You know, I was thinking that these recipes could be used for some history-culture lessons from right here in our own country.  

Quoting bluerooffarm:

 I've eaten a lot of these too.  We had other names for some of them... One eyed Willie, we called toad in the hole (my boys LOVE that).  Beans and wienies.  Rag soup we made with the bow tie noodles and called it butterflies in the field.  We put "stewed" (canned) tomatoes on anything...potatoes, bread cubes, grits, noodles.

My boys like most of these recipes.



by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 8:42 PM
I used to eat miracle whip sandwiches as a kid when I couldn't find what I wanted to eat for a snack. We weren't poor I just liked the way they tasted. My hubby still likes rice with milk & sugar sometimes, he used to eat it as a kid.
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by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 8:51 PM
1 mom liked this
Yep! It isn't officially summer time until you walk out to the garden, pick a tomato and make tomato sandwiches for lunch. ;)

Quoting kirbymom:

Sounds like you were brought up in the old school ways. :)  Most of my "older" family members had milk and bread.   But if you start talking tomato sandwiches, then you have my FULL attention. lol  

Quoting tiredmomfor2:

I actually ate quite a few of these growing up! Lol My father was raised by his grandfather(he lived through the depression) one of my Dad's favorite treats was bread and milk as a bedtime snack.

We had a lot of tomato sandwiches(still one of my fav's), eggs and grits, butter sandwiches, etc. My dad and brother were hunters so I have had squirrel, rabbit, deer, and even tried turtle and a variety of other wild creatures. We had a good bit of it growing up. Lol go figure. :)

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by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 9:01 PM

grew up on a reservation , this was normal everyday food for a lot of us.  don't knock them to you try them. most are VERY good.  minus the lard  (shudders)

I've always said let a major disaster happen and  while others are starving and dying,  My kids and I will be just fine.

people hit deers and coons and such in the road and just drive off everyday... lmao that's good meat being wasted, we dress it out and take it home.  YUM!

my children love tomato gravy and biscuits

and dandelion salad OMG the best

by Jinx on Mar. 16, 2013 at 9:33 PM
I've eaten a lot of those too.

My Grandfather loved milk and cornbread.

One eyed Sam is also called "toad in a hole" and I make that sometimes.

I LOVE white rice with a lil milk and sugar...OMG! Yummmy!
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by Jinx on Mar. 16, 2013 at 9:35 PM grandma taught me to eat cracker sandwiches. Butter two slices of bead and lay 4 saltine crackers on one and put them together...Totally rocking! Especially if you have it with a Pepsi! LOL
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by on Mar. 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
I've eaten most of them, too. I wouldn't want to live on them, though.
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by on Mar. 17, 2013 at 1:03 AM

Wow, so many of those I had as a kid (I make several of these today, too. Maybe not the same way, though.). I was raised by my grandparents, though, who were products of the Depression. Bread and milk, cornbread and milk, "One eyed Sam" (I call this an egg in a basket, and make it for my son all the time!), bananas with some sugar and milk was one of my favorite treats when I was a kid! I loved baked apples, too. 

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