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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.

Tell your friends!Tweet about this on Twitter2Pin on Pinterest2Share on Facebook129Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Share on Google+1Share on LinkedIn0

Danelle Ice is an entrepreneur in Los Angeles and mom of 3. She is the creator of and Danelle is also known as internet personality SimDanelle, the first virtual person. Danelle is a beauty guru on YouTube, vlogger, blogger, and new media darling. She is a current brand ambassador for for Keurig and previous AMD Tech Mom, Kraft Foods Delicious Byte brand ambassador, and Purex Insider.


  1. Printable Menu Plan: Great Depression Recipes | Homemaker Barbi |
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 02:02:57

    [...] here:  Printable Menu Plan: Great Depression Recipes | Homemaker Barbi Tags: frugal-living, holidays-seasons, home-housekeeping, Meals, menu-plan, menu-planning, recipe, [...]


  2. Michelle
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 03:13:19

    Have you seen these videos on YouTube?
    I love watching them!


  3. Crista
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 06:46:49

    Wow, I love this! I found you from “I’m an organizing junkie”. I can’t wait to look around more. Menu plans AND shopping lists? I think I found nirvana :).


  4. Liz @ Hoosier Homemade
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 09:14:03

    Sounds interesting! I will be trying some of these recipes.
    Thanks for sharing!


  5. Susan
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 12:52:30

    LOVE this – we’re having beans tonight. This kind of thinking/cooking is good anytime, but especially now!


  6. Houstonmom
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 17:17:52

    Barbi, do you recommend a cookbook or site that specializes on depression cooking? I’ve been watching stuff on YouTube that is fascinating. The food looks great and it has stood the test of time. I want to learn how to prepare more of these recipes. Thanks!


  7. Houstonmom
    Mar 12, 2009 @ 11:22:01

    I love the videos of Clara. I have not found a depression cookbook, but I did order “More With Less” by Doris Longacre. It was published in the 70s. I have a friend who rec’d it as a wedding gift years ago and really recommend it for frugal cooking. I think it may have many depression type recipes. I ordered it and will let you know if it is any good.


  8. Tiff
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 16:33:51

    I have the More with Less book, plus its two sequels (although I forget their names…) They are fantastic, and I’d recommend that anyone who get their hands on them, does. They make you think about what meal planning and providing for your family are really about, and have lots of delicious recipes!


  9. Home Ever After
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 20:21:11

    @Tiff: Thanks for the tip- I’ll look into the books :)



  10. Janice
    May 28, 2009 @ 08:58:34

    Yes, I am looking thru several websites for depression era recipes to see if any came up that my 91 year old mother used on us. I haven’t seen any from way down south like chicken and dumplings.
    I am currently writing a family cookbook and would like to see more from the Mississippi side of the depression era since we are one of the poorest or the poorest state. I welcome anything or website people have to share. Just doing some comparison work for my cookbook.


  11. the great gab
    May 04, 2010 @ 07:55:51

    some of this looks good but others sound so unedible……those poor people reduced to brains and tongue :(


  12. Care Package for the Hard Times Kitchen – Links & Resources | The More With Less Mom
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 02:19:08

    [...] Housewife’s $45 Emergency Menu for 4 to 6 (there’s another menu for $70) Home Ever After Great Depression Recipes (does not have specific price per serving) How to Feed a Family of Four on Less Than $30 a [...]


  13. Tamra
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 08:42:24

    I don’t care for the “Cooking with Clara” videos. I think they are boring. Also, the recipes she prepares are not original and I’ve seen them many times elsewhere.


  14. Vi
    Aug 28, 2011 @ 15:50:56

    My family were farmers and not too affected by The Depression (except to hide a milk cow when ‘ordered’ by whoever to get rid of them due to drought and no feed or grazing). I’ve been cooking like this for years except for all the fillers in meat and really enjoying the occasional steak. To really be authentic and frugal though, I’d be soaking and cooking the beans from dried instead of canned.


  15. sarah
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 09:53:54

    Wow I tallied up the grocery list and I would be spending more on this “depression era” cooking then I do now! And it would only give me dinners for the week. The reason being is that there is to much meat on the list. I buy one meat item a week and make it stretch (ex one whole chicken…which cost less alot of times then 2 chicken breast.)


  16. Depression recipes–an old way to cope with our new economy | Gulf Coast Foods
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 06:15:47

    [...] Home Ever After–this has a complete menu plan, along with shopping list.  Can’t get any easier than that. [...]


  17. Kathy
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 10:46:31

    found you searching online for depression recipes… love the menu. Plan to check out your other menus – lately I’ve also been searching for menus. nice coincidence!

    @Houstonmom and @Tiff – More with Less – awesome cookbook as are the sequels – Extending the Table and Simple in Season

    @Sarah – Iol. I’ve noticed the same thing when looking through ration cookbooks – what exactly was rationed?! they ate better on ration than most people do today.

    Other cookbooks to check out:
    Depression Era Recipes by Patricia R. Wagner
    Clara’s Kitchen by Clara Cannucciari (she’s the one that does the YouTube videos)
    Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930′s and More by Janet Van Amber Paske . There are five volumes.
    Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the way we Cooked by Joanne Lamb Hayes
    Grandma’s Wartime Baking Book: World War II and the way we Baked by Joanne Lamb Hayes

    there’s more out there – just do a search on Amazon and you’ll find a bunch.



  18. Home Ever After
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 08:49:33

    @Michelle: I know! There are some fantastic cooking videos on YouTube from sweet grandmas passing down Great Depression recipes. It’s just too bad that YouTube didn’t come about sooner to record all the recipes that may be forgotten forever now!



  19. Home Ever After
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 08:54:50

    @Crista: So glad you found us! Isn’t OrgJunkie great? We’ve got menus each Sunday, so you’ll never run out of your source of zen! lol



  20. Home Ever After
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 14:39:59

    @Susan: I’ve got a big backstock of beans to use up too. Look for bean recipes on next week’s Take & Make Menu. Thanks for coming by!



  21. Home Ever After
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 17:36:09

    @Houstonmom: Yes, the only Great Depression videos I have found on YouTube are actually fantastic. The series is called “Cooking with Clara” and was one of my first stops about a year ago when I started researching the depression. Clara’s link is here:

    I haven’t researched any cookbooks yet of the depression; I usually prefer to reference electronic recipes so that all readers have access to the same info immediately. Please let me know if you come across good depression cookbooks; we’d love to check them out and review them.

    Thanks! Barbi


  22. Home Ever After
    Mar 13, 2009 @ 16:33:25

    @Houstonmom: Yes, please do let me know about the book after you get a chance to go through it.



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