Printable Menu Plan: Great Depression Recipes

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Menu Plan: Great Depression Recipes

Our menu plan this week features recipes from the most frugal era in history: The Great Depression.  With all the comparisons between the current Recession and the Great Depression of the 1930s, it makes sense that we research Great Depression recipes.  Jobs are shaky and income uncertain for many people right now, so making the most of our household grocery budget is an absolute must. 

We have a definite advantage over the homemakers of the Great Depression, however, because we have many more resources available today.  Check out our “recession proof your family” series for more handy information.

Great Depression cooking focused on cheap food, substitutions, and making do with what you had. We can learn a lot from the great homemakers of the past by finding original Great Depression recipes, recorded and passed down the generations, and even adapting them to make some of our own.

Our exclusive free printable Take and Make Menu Plans contain everything you need for an entire week’s dinners and all you have to do is the shopping and cooking!  Print out the menu plan each Sunday, which includes:

  • A printable grocery shopping list of ingredients.  Print out the list, check off what you already have on hand, then take your shopping list to the store.
  • A dinner meal for each day. Click the name of the meal to print the recipe and directions.  (After the week is over, add the recipes to your cookbook for future use.) 

Take and Make Menu Plans: Great Depression Era Recipes

Menu is planned for a family of 4.  Please adjust ingredients and recipes up to accommodate extra people.


Printable Grocery Shopping List:

Meats and Proteins:
____ 2 chicken breasts
____ 1 1/2 lb bacon
____ 1/2 lb ground pork
____ 3 lbs lean ground beef
____ 3 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans
____ 1 (15 oz.) can pork & beans
____ 1 (15 oz.) can butter (or lima) beans
____ 14 ounces of water packed tuna
____ 1 cup American cheese
____ 2 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn
____ 6 1/2 onions
____ 1 lg. can whole tomatoes
____ 2 pounds + 8 potatoes
____ Green pepper
____ 1 (15 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
____ 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
____ 3 1/4 cups milk
____ 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans evaporated milk
____ 1 tbsp. vinegar
____ Worcestershire sauce
____  Salt
____  Pepper
____  3 tsp. chili powder
____  Paprika
____  Garlic powder
____  2 bottles of ketchup
____  1 cup butter
____  1/3 cup chili sauce
____  1/4 tsp dry mustard
____  1 tsp. mustard
Grains / Baking:
____ 4 cups of cooked macaroni
____ 3 tablespoons of flour
____ 2 c. uncooked rice
____ 1/2 c. brown sugar

Great Depression Meals with Recipes:


Dinner: Great Depression Era Corn Chowder with chicken breast cubes (from 2 cooked chicken breasts) added in as a source of protein.



Dinner: Great Depression Mock filet mignon. “Basically it’s meatloaf wrapped in bacon. If you have homemade chili sauce, all the better, but you can substitute store-bought or use ketchup. Mock filet mignon is cheap and delicious, if you’re not afraid of bacon fat. As the meat cooks, the juices run down into the mashed potato patty, giving it a reddish hue and a blast of flavor. From Kate Aitken’s Canadian Cook Book.” – Kim Honey, The People’s Forum 


Dinner: 1929 Great Depression Casserole.  This frugal depression recipe contains several of our favorite frugal ingredients: beans, potatoes, and ground beef (cut down with frugal fillers, of course)!


Dinner: Great Depression Tuna, Macaroni, and Cheese Casserole. This depression recipe comes from the World War II era.  Serves 6.



Dinner:  Great Depression Day Soul Food.  We couldn’t find the history of this depression recipe, but we love that it can be either cooked in a crockpot or baked in the oven.


Dinner: Great Depression Mexican Rice with cooked beans (any kind) as a side dish.



Dinner: Leftover Love. Spread out a buffet table of all the leftovers from the week’s Great Depression cooking.  This means a day-off for the chef!

By learning the Great Depression recipes that have survived for more than 70 years, we can learn to think creatively and improvise to improve our frugality.  The homemakers and parents during the Great Depression had the same uncertainty and financial worries as we do today, but they wer
e able to pull together, share knowledge, and find ways to make it work.  We hope you enjoy the Great Depression recipes this week, and hope you’ll write down your own recipe creations for your children to pass down for years to come.

Did you like the Great Depression recipes? Print out our other Take and Make Menu Plans or check out other menu plans at Menu Plan Monday.

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