the depression, it was common to eat meat no more than once a week, if
at all. Some of the kind of meals you might expect were: bread and baked
beans, bread and
gravy, breaded tomatoes (garden
tomato sauce on bread - sugar and butter can be
in buttermilk, creamed
dumplings in broth, fried
cornmeal mush (ash
cakes), fried egg
sandwich (mayo optional), fried
egg with a slice of
eggs on toast, gnocci
made with flour
and mashed potatoes), ketchup on egg
and tomatoes (onions
soup (pasta y fagioli,
pronounced pasta fazool), potatoes and
in bacon fat, raw
onion sandwich [marinated
onions recipe below], sauerkraut
and boiled potatoes, scrambled egg with potato and onion [recipe
milk pancakes (raw milk
sours and does not go bad like pasteurized
and tomatoes, spaghetti
(depression era spaghetti -- recipe below), tomatoes and
onions on toast, tomato
sandwiches and tomato
different combinations of inexpensive eggs,
flour, potatoes, onions, cabbage, beans and corn made up a lot of your
diet. You got tomatoes if you grew them in your garden. Rice wasn't
popular during the last American Depression, but I think it should be
more popular during the next now that there is more US-grown rice
If you were lucky, you got meat once a week, usually on Sunday. The
menu could be something like:
blackeyed pea soup, mashed
potatoes and gravy, parsnips. Dessert: bread pudding with cream
dinner of corned beef, potatoes, cabbage and carrots would
also fit in well, but make the cabbage sauerkraut rather than eating it
boiled. No mention is made of the traditional cheap dessert, but peach
cobbler would be a good choice.
the price of a cup of coffee:
Order a cup of
light, and a cup
of hot water (which should be free). Put ketchup in the hot water to
make "tomato soup", and then crumble saltine/crackers into it (assuming
restaurant has cracker packets at the counter). Salt and pepper to
Tear up a slice of bread in a bowl, add
depression-era families had access to raw
from a goat or cow-owner in
walking distance who would sell excess milk from the cow inexpensively.
Many families owned the goat or cow themselves.
carb-heavy menus would be
greatly enhanced nutritionally if a raw, lacto-fermented pickle
were added to them. Cucumber and apples can be made into a pickle
either sweet or salty.[recipe
below] and are
these meals would be better
with "a raw,
lacto-fermented pickle or pickled fruit or veg and some raw, cultured
or clabbered milk or cream."* added to them. (*raw sauerkraut and
yogurt basically, but there are many variations once you learn how to
make pickles/sauerkraut and culture dairy)
grew tomatoes, probably because they preserve so well
which can then be stored through the winter.
bought in large
quantity (25-50 pounds) from a dry goods
store, white flour was bought in 50-pound sacks. White flour doesn't
need refrigeration like whole grain flour, can be kept in a cool
storage area. That much whole grain flour would have to be kept in the
freezer. Whole grains can be kept in a cool storage area if you have a
way to mill them into flour when you are ready to use the flour.
popular during the last depression but it would make a
good addition to the list.
diet may sound to people used to meat every day, studies
have shown that children fed a depression-era diet were healthier than
children fed a modern diet high in processed foods, and many children
who were fed these depression-era diets loved them, and
grew to have fond food memories when they became prosperous, often
having a favorite comfort food being a food from their impoverished
to grow for a depression are tomatoes, cabbages and
onions. Buy beans and rice at a dry-goods store, and milk from the
nearest cow or goat.
not have synthetically made nitrates
in it. In the old days, they used bird guano as a naturlal source for
the nitrogen needed to make bacon and sausages safe. Now, if you don't
want or can't get guano-cured meats, you can keep them refrigerated the
meat instead. If you butcher the pig, have the
butcher cut the bacon area of the pig into chunks, it is not necessary
to have bacon long and thinly sliced. If you buy bacon from a farm or
butcher, be sure to include all the fat and
any surrounding areas meat that is otherwise less expensive.
If you are a
children, you will most likely be living in a
house -- someone will take you in -- but it
may be as a charity case and you will be expected to appreciate it and
contribute to the running of the house.
If you are a
man with a family
to support, you will be more likely to
keep your job, but you will be paid less money.
single able-bodied man, you may be living in a tent city.
You won't do much of your own cooking beyond coffee on a communal
campfire, but will get most
of your food from the community your tent city is in. There will
be a campfire going. If it gets really cold, you'll go sleep in a
shelter. At that shelter, if you want coffee and doughnuts in the
morning, you'll either have to do some work beforehand like chopping
wood or you'll have to listen to a religious-oriented lecture while you
get your coffee and doughnuts.
a house, you will have to provide occasional meals to
hungry beggars. Since you're going to have to do it anyway, you may as
well believe you're doing it out of christian charity rather than for
fear of an unfortunate accident to your property. When your children
are old, they'll fondly reminisce how "Mom could never turn away
you have a home and can save
your mortgage, but, if worse
comes to worst, you can sleep for free in a car or tent. Put some black
cardboard over the windows to shut out the light.
In the first
built with tin and
wood. Because of the prevalence of old cars, it is possible the next
Hoovervilles will inlude a lot of car living, but the availability of
cheap, easy-to-pitch tents may make them the residence of choice. Blue
tarps can be spread
over a couple cars and tents to make a home or small community. Lots of
or sleeping bags in your car will help keep you warm through all but
the coldest (below freezing) temperatures.
rice, sugar, cornmeal,
in garden/front lawn:
from a farmer:
cream, (make your own butter from the cream.), bacon or pork
(fatback/back fat), eggs, soup bones
flour/rice or white?
digestive system needs
fiber to move
food along. The best sources for that fiber are the bodies of the
bacteria and microbial symbionts that digest the food, making its
nutrients available to us. The second best source is plant fiber, whole
grain flour and brown rice. If you have a superlative digestive system
(unlikely in anyone growing up on a modern diet), you could get away
with white grains. If not, it is probably better to stick to whole
grains. There are some anti-nutrients in the fiber areas of the grains,
so whole grain foods should always be soaked overnight before
consuming. If pre-soaking is not possible due to the particular recipe
involved, then unbleached white is better.
Depression-Era Style Recipes and Menus
Peel apples. Throw away
peeling apple with potato
peeler into thin slices. Put in a glass jar. Add whey from a cultured
dairy or liquid from a batch of sauerkraut or previous batch of apple
pickles. Add brine to cover (salt water with a ratio of 1 pint water to
1 teaspoon sea salt or other full array salt). Put water into a plastic
baggie. Tie or knot baggie so water doesn't leak. Put on top of apple
slices to hold apples under water (or see sauerkraut to see how to use
leaves to hold fermenting vegetables under water.) Cover with a piece
of plastic secured with a rubber band and leave overnight at room
temperature (that's about as "instant" as you can get with raw,
lacto-fermented food.) In the morning, eat the apples, drink
liquid and reserve about a quarter cup of the liquid as your starter
for the next batch. You can also peel and thin slice cucumbers or any
other soft fruit or vegetable that you could eat raw and add them to
the apples. Eat some apple pickles with every meal until your
sauerkraut is ready to be eaten with every meal.
Peel, chop and core the
in blender with water and blend on
high. Strain through a flannel jelly bag and save the juice. Add a few
raisins to the apple juice, cover with an airlock and allow to ferment.
When the juice has become an alcoholic/hard cider, put a mother of
vinegar or a mother of kombucha matrix into it. Cover with a cloth to
keep out insects, and then let it set at room temperature for a couple
Cakes or Fried
1/2 cup of cornmeal and 1 cup of bone broth or water in a glass or
ceramic bowl and let set over night. Pat into a bread loaf pan and
refrigerate. To cook, slice and fry in bacon grease. Instant cornmeal
mush: mix cornmeal and boiling water half and half, shape into patty
and fry in fat.
Soak beans for at least
hours in water with lemon juice,
whey added. Drain, rinse and drain again. Put in slow cooker, cover
with bone broth and simmer at low temperature for a day or until beans
are soft. Add extra bone broth if needed to keep beans under liquid.
beans are soft, add some tomatoes or tomato sauce, onions and garlic
cloves fried in lard, sea salt, pepper, a little molasses and some
cooked bacon or pork with fat on. Continue to simmer on low heat for
another day or until all ingredients have blended together.
Hollow out some onions
and fill with
sugar or honey. Bake at medium-low
temperature until soft.
Put a slice of tomato
and a slice of
cheese under the broiler until the
cheese is melted.
Get an old chicken that
would be too
dry and tough for a roast, put in
a pot of water, bring to a boil and then simmer until cooked. Remove
chicken and set aside. Make dumplings and drop into simmering water,
cook for about 15 minutes. Remove dumplings, add more dough and repeat
until you have as many dumplings for however many people you are
feeding. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the chicken, set aside skin
and bones. When all dumplings have been cooked, return to pot with
chicken meat. Use skin and bones to make more broth for more dumplings
during the week, or make into biscuits and gravy. Dumplings: 1 cup
flour, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 2
teaspoons melted butter, 1/4 cup milk. Mix until smooth and drop by
tablespoonfuls in broth. Cook 15 minutes, covered. Do not lift lid
while cooking. Other birds or fowl may be used.
Take 1 tablespoon
butter, lard or
tallow, 1 1/2 tablespoons flour, 1/4
teaspoon salt and 1 cup milk. Melt butter in baked enamel or cast iron
saucepan over low heat. Add flour and salt, stirring constantly until
smooth and frothy. Cook about 2 minutes stirring often to prevent
browning. Gradually stir in milk. Increase heat to medium and simmer,
stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth, thick and boiling. Shell
and slice 4 hard-boiled eggs. Gently stir into cream mixture and spoon
of 4 slices of toast.
Peas on Toast
Make a white sauce (see
sauce below). Add a cup of peas and
medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over toast.
Boil a pound of
cabbage slaw or drained sauerkraut when
nearly done. Continue cooking until cabbage slaw is done to your taste
if that is what you used. Drain and add some chopped chicken and
butter. Stir and add some cheese. (If
sauerkraut, drain boiled spaghetti and add sauerkraut, chicken and
butter. No need to cook further except to heat.)
onions and separate into rings. Mix the following
ingredients (amounts can be varied according to taste): 1 ounce of
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar or extra sour
kombucha, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon sea salt or other full-array
salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, 1 garlic
clove, chopped and crushed.(Hot pepper optional.) Put all in a glass
jar with a cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 day. Liquid
can be re-used to marinate more onions.
eggs with fried
potatoes and onions
and fry in hot lard in a baked enamel or cast iron
skillet. Add onions and continue cooking until both potatoes and onions
are cooked. Scramble some eggs (you can add pieces of bread to the egg
if you want), then add to the potato mix and fry until eggs are cooked.
sauce. To make a creamed
tablespoons butter, lard or tallow, 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2
teaspoon salt and 2 cups milk. Melt butter in baked enamel saucepan
over low heat. Add flour and salt, stirring constantly until smooth and
frothy. Cook about 3 minutes stirring often to prevent browning.
Gradually stir in milk. Increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring
constantly, until mixture is smooth, thick and boiling.
lard, bacon grease or other animal fat. Place on bread.
Add salt and pepper. Mayonnaise optional.