Great Depression Meals

Great Depression Meals-How To Eat For Less Money

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I’m posting this article about Great Depression Meals again today that I wrote many years ago. I asked a question on Food Storage Moms Facebook page a few years ago to see what people are doing to save money on groceries. Oh my goodness, the prices just keep escalating at the grocery stores.

How can families feed themselves? I am sharing responses on this post from real people just like you and me on how they are trying to cut food costs. Here’s the deal, most of us are struggling to feed our families. This is the question I posted on Facebook to my readers: I need some help here if you are willing to share some ideas. 

My Facebook question: Please share any ideas about what you are eating or serving your family to save money. I don’t need recipes. Just ideas like I feed my family rice and beans to save money. I buy a sack of potatoes and stretch it to make meals, etc.

We are all trying to feed our families on a shoestring. Let’s share ideas with each other. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for any and all ideas. I don’t think those meals are great Depression meals anymore. They are today’s meals. What do you think? People made comments that they are eating many of those meals today. I am too.

Great Depression Meals

Great Depression Meals

First of all, I am going to share some meals my husband and I grew up on and some we still eat today.

Creamed chip beef on toast

Tomato sandwiches (I never knew this was a depression meal)

Fried cheese

Fried Spam

Beef tongue

Chicken livers with onions

Beef liver and onions 

Lettuce sandwiches

Onion sandwiches

Milk and bread

Sugar sandwiches

Rice with milk

Biscuits and gravy (sometimes we had sausage in it)

Potato soup with water

Mayonnaise sandwiches

Corned beef hash


Beans and rice

Cucumber sandwiches

Pancakes rolled with butter and sugar inside

Norwegian lefse-my recipe is at the bottom

Canned peaches with bread/toast

Tomato soup with crackers

Ramen with peas

Ramen with hamburger and peas

Canned tomatoes with milk added

Tuna casserole

Creamed tuna on toast 

Fried canned salmon patties.

Creamed Chip Beef

My Recipes

Creamed Chip Beef

5 from 3 votes
Creamed Chip Beef with Peas
Creamed Chip Beef
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 people
Author: Linda Loosli
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • 2 4.5- ounce jars dried beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the flour and quickly use a whisk to make a roux. Continue whisking and add 1/2 gallon of milk. Keep stirring until the mixture is cooked and smooth. Rinse the beef, chop it into pieces and add to the white sauce above. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Serve hot over bread, biscuits, or toast. We like to add frozen peas (cooked) when ready to serve.

White Sauce

If you “brown the butter, it changes the taste of the white sauce. It’s still good either way. You can make mac and cheese just by adding your favorite shredded cheese. Add some garlic and parmesan cheese and you have a delicious alfredo sauce. It’s all about saving money, right?

5 from 3 votes
white sauce
White Sauce by Food Storage Moms
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
17 mins
Total Time
27 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 people
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 gallon of milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Sugar optional
  1. Melt the butter, add the flour and quickly start whisking it. This makes a roux. Once it’s smooth and thoroughly mixed, add the milk and keep on whisking, until smooth. This is good for making mac and cheese, Cream Chipped Beef and even gravy.

Ways To Save $ on Groceries

1. We buy ground turkey at our local Aldi when we are out of meat. We buy a hog and a 1/4 beef with our income tax return and stretch it along with the turkey and only buy chicken at .99 a pound. For snacks, because we have grown children that are grazers we eat a ton of popcorn. I make noodles as a side dish often.


2.  I try to save money by throwing in some meatless meals during the week, like potato soup or minestrone. I also make sure to add beans to taco meat to stretch it.


3. Ramen noodles 6 pk for $1.00 is a great soup starter. Add your frozen mixed veggies and some beans for protein and you have a big pot of soup for $3-4.

4. Use lentils or split peas when making hamburger dishes like spaghetti. (Half beans to the amount of meat, can always add more beans). Red beans and rice with half a pound of sausage and a few spices cost about 6 bucks and feed my family for 2 days. Split pea soup and lentil soups are all super cheap.

5. We also add beans or lentils to taco meat, eat lentil soup (lately with brown rice thrown in to make a complete protein), and rely on popcorn and bananas for snacks – also lots of carrots! But I think what helps the most is buying in bulk and avoiding the grocery store as much as possible.

For us, that means buying beef by the 1/4 or 1/2, ordering from Zaycon Foods, using Bountiful Baskets-Co-op, grinding our own grains, and making yogurt when I remember to, and then remembering to freeze or eat leftovers so we aren’t throwing food away.


6.  Porridge for breakfast – oats go a long way!

7. A fun and cheap meal is diced potatoes topped with onions, garlic, bacon bits, and cheese! My friend made it yesterday, I’m making it for dinner tonight!  And honestly, I use turkey bacon because it’s cheaper! My family hasn’t noticed. 🙂

Marked Down Meat

8. Buy meat first thing in the morning – That’s when they put out the stuff that needs to be sold before it expires. I usually only buy pot roast when it’s marked down and vacuum seal it and freeze it for later.

Also, if I don’t see any marked-down meat, I go to the meat counter and ask if they have any marked-down meat or “yesterday’s grind” hamburger. That saves a lot, and it never hurts to ask!

9. This is great if you’re not buying from Zaycon Foods, of course!

10.  Pasta is always our cheap go-to meal. The meat just costs far too much and the pasta is filling. A little olive oil and garlic over the pasta toss together, it’s healthy and filling.


11.  My sweetie’s standby recipe he calls “goulash” – just elbow macaroni, seasoned hamburger, onion, and tomatoes. Tastes ever so good as leftovers too.

Learn To Garden

12. Grow everything you possibly can each and every season. Learn to preserve what you grow. Learn to prepare what you grow. Learn to eat what you grow. Learn to love what you grow.

13. We are trying to use our leftovers before they have to be thrown out.

14.  I buy organic veggies but don’t peel them when I am low on cash we don’t do organic but still don’t peel them. Carrots are the same. You throw away a lot of food in peels! To stop eating out, we take cheese and crackers or sandwich makings. Popcorn replaces chips.

Corn tortillas fried for corn chips. Chile over baked potatoes is a favorite and the meat isn’t missed. Meat mixed in gravy makes it go farther than chunks of roast for everyone. Serving fresh bread and pickles with meals used to be very common. We just started doing fruit smoothies for afternoon snacks… has frozen berries cheap.

Go Meatless A Few Days A Week

15. We have started trying to go meatless a few days a week. I also use the big oven app, it has a search function that allows you to put in an ingredient then it will pull recipes with that item. It helps me to repurpose my leftovers into other meals.

Participate In Food Co-ops

16. I participate in a food co-op for fruits and veggies, buy canned items in caselot sales, pack lunches for my husband to take to work, eat lots of leftovers, and most importantly, never go grocery shopping while hungry.

17. Chicken leg quarters are a good way to have meat at a reasonable price. Use the legs to fry, etc and the thighs have a lot of meat to use in noodles, yellow rice, dumplings, shreds for BBQ sandwiches. It only takes a couple to go a long way. Pasta and rice are great for stretching anything at mealtime.

Meals With Veggies

18. Okay, let’s see… I do peel some veggies, but I use those peels to make my broth taste better (ie broth is made of carcass and onion skins and potato skins and carrot skins, etc, giving it a HUGE nutritional punch). Anytime we’re making something with ground meat in it, I substitute half the meat with TVP (online ). We bought a commercial quality food sealer and use it daily to seal up leftovers, both for freezing and just for in the fridge, to cut down on waste (and it’s REALLY worked well). We buy wheat berries rather than flour and grind our own. While we do sometimes buy bread, I make our buns and sweet bread. We cook things from scratch about 90% of the time, rather than using packaged stuff. When I buy meat, I buy it only on sale, and I buy enough for several meals and then freeze either portions or leftovers.

19. When we make tacos we add a few eggs to the ground meat and you honestly can’t tell the difference, then just cook them into the already cooked ground meat and season to taste, it changes the texture a tiny bit but after you add rice and beans to your tacos/burritos, you can’t tell anymore at all, this really stretches a meal!.

20.  A 74-year-old Army veteran told me that when he was growing up in the Carolinas they were dirt poor, so his mother in the morning would mix the flour into the eggs to make enough to go around. Said it tasted like eggs so they ate it.

We Need Seasonal Recipes

21.  I would like to see someone (who has the time) to create recipes that are seasonal so that I am not constantly going to the store to find ingredients to make X, right now we should be eating squash, potatoes, dried beans, etc. I think that I spend too much in search of ingredients……

22.  I buy 1/2 cow and a 1/2 pig from a local farmer the freezer was worth the investment yes it’s expensive upfront but does the math it’s cheaper in the long run and it’s locally fresh and so much cheaper than the store in the long run. I would advise anyone to buy an upright freezer and shop in bulk or even better contact a local farmer.

23. When money is short I make cornmeal with sugar and pour cold milk over it. It’s filling, and cheap and kids love it. Also cook oatmeal, and cream of wheat and if I get chicken I shred it to make it last. I make chicken soup, tacos, and rice with it. Cheap and healthy meals.

Stock Your Pantry With Bargains

24. Saving for us has more to do with how we shop than how we cook. I keep a well-stocked pantry of dry and canned goods. When I shop, I look for bargains. When I find a good one I buy a case or two of that item.

Then I have a nice hedge on inflation, plus I don’t have to purchase that product again until it goes on sale. We buy meat in bulk, so most of my purchases are for perishables only. I also do a lot of my shopping at Aldi or the Amish Bents and Broken store. We eat what we want most of the time because we shop strategically.

25. You can add oatmeal to hamburger meat, then cook it. It stretches the meat, plus oatmeal is good for you! Also, you can use half-ground chicken or turkey with hamburger meat in foods that call for some hamburger. Mixing them and then cooking means it all tastes like hamburger.

26. I also make hamburger casserole. Hamburger, mixed with oats, onion, tomatoes, rice, a small can of tomato paste, and an equal amount of BBQ sauce. Brown hamburger, onion, and oats together, then drain, add tomatoes with the juice, BBQ sauce, tomato paste, rice, and enough water for the rice to cook and cook until the rice is done. You can top it off with cheese.

27. I just watched Food Inc. on Netflix. I am not one of those save the world types so I was surprised this blew me away. Although I do not think gardening your own saves any money I now feel it’s at least a better option, healthier food, teaching my kids where food comes from, some to put up in storage, etc. They say healthier eating equates to less money spent on medical needs, so I am hoping there is truth to that.

Eraser Gravy

28.  I fry ground beef, use the grease to make a gravy, and serve on toast. We call it Eraser Gravy. You can make a white sauce with water (to save on milk), once you have a white sauce you can add any seasonings to add flavor and then add something like chipped beef, chopped leftover bacon from breakfast, canned chicken, leftover roast, or just the sauce over rice. Top ramen omelet. Stretches the noodles and the eggs. Simple baked potatoes with butter and salt and pepper are filling and cheap. I add wheat berries (homemade) to my spaghetti sauce and then cut the meat in 1/2 and no one notices. Hope this helps!

29.  Also, I do one month’s worth of grocery shopping at a time. Then I don’t go back to the store and get caught thinking this is a good deal. Another favorite is a piece of toast, fried egg on top, and hot milk poured on top. Yummy soups are always good because they are so filling, homemade tomato with saltines.

30. PS. Our parents used to use their ‘green stamp books’ to save. I remember how important putting those stamps in the book was and how exciting to see it fill up. These days, I do not make a purchase where I do not stand at the register with my smartphone and come up with a coupon for an item or a % discount. I never pay full price, I don’t care if I stand there for 10 minutes with the line piling up, I am determined to find a coupon that works.

Just the other day, I got $10.00 off a new suit for my 7-year-old because I diligently stood at the register until I found a coupon code she would accept. Hey, $10.00 bucks is a savings gold mine!

31. We buy food at a scratch and dent store. Prices are half and more off. I have bought a half gallon of OJ there for 50 cents and a FLAT of strawberries with nothing wrong with them for 2$ (0.25 a quart). The place I go to is American Discount Foods and they have saved our budget!

Hunters like my nephew, Collin

32. We are hunters. Free meals. We also raise chickens and we get free eggs.

33.  I was just talking to my cousin about this today. We actually ate a lot of beans when I was a kid because they were cheap. I still make a lot of beans because they are high in fiber and protein and depending on how you make them, low in fat. I buy the dry beans and cook 2 lbs at a time in the slow cooker. Then I freeze several containers for later meals. I serve them like my mom did, with fried potatoes and cornbread. I can also mash pinto beans for refried beans with Mexican food.

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34. When I was going thru hard times I did a lot of beans and rice in different ways rice cooked in beans rice underneath beans with spices beans with tomatoes.

35. Twice a year we go to an Amish bulk supply store and buy the basics. This means that I have gluten-free flour and supplies on hand to make bread, pancakes, and other cheap basics to eat.

Eat Leftovers

36. I didn’t read the other post, but planning for leftovers is a huge dollar-saver. It doesn’t have to be that you’re eating the exact same meal (e.g. does making more of X become a key ingredient for meal days or weeks later). The other is learning what ingredients can be frozen so you can minimize waste (my niece learned tons just looking through our freezer)

37. Eat a lot of casseroles because it doesn’t require as much meat. Also eat a lot of beans, rice, eggs, and pasta.

38. My grandmother made Top Ramen once a week for dinner with sliced boiled eggs. A side salad and some saltines.

39. Venison stew with garden frozen veggies

40.  I’m grateful that we have an Aldi USA in our area. However!!! We also CAN our own garden that we grow! I take advantage of the Meijer buy 10 get the 11th one free offers PASTA!!! We stretch stretch stretch!! I cook some chicken. Add in mashed potatoes. Ok. Then the leftover chicken gets turned into a chicken and rice soup! Which THEN gets turned into Chicken Pot Pie w/ homemade pie crust! THREE meals out of ONE chicken! Talk about a stretch! I’ve learned how to cook. Because I needed to! Make EVERY meal count. Pinterest is AWESOME for helping with recipes!

41. We have a 50 by 50-foot garden and plant what we can and then can it, the beginning costs may be high but you reuse most of it for years. We also shop at Aldis, just be careful and know your prices at other stores. Eggs and milk (hormone free) are less at Aldis! We use turkey burger meat from Aldis instead of hamburger meat and find there isn’t much of a taste difference in our minds.

This year we bought 1/2 a cow which ended up being about $4 a pound but that includes so much that would cost more than that at the store. We use tons of beans too. Also, buy meat on sale, we bought 4 turkeys at Thanksgiving. Found whole chickens for 88 cents a pound and looked up how to cut them up ourselves. We hope to get laying chickens this spring, hubby is building a coop fit for queens lol!

Creamed Tuna On Toast

42. Creamed tuna on toast!

43. We are eating a ton of chicken and pork, and can’t afford beef much…I got a 3-4 lb pork loin on sale and got like 10 meals out of it (it’s just 2 of us) cut into chops and a small roast found an organic whole chicken cheaper than the ‘regular’, several meals and bone broth from that eating a lot more eggs finding creative ways to stretch out pasta, rice, and potatoes.

Working to ‘teach’ DH that leftovers are eaten not thrown out. Getting creative in that area too. Also trying to get him over his meat-eating mentality. We do utilize an area butcher, buying packages from them periodically so we don’t need to pay the higher prices at the local grocery. I ALWAYS go first to the manager’s specials at the grocery store.

44. Hashes, stir fry’s

45. I add rice and refried beans to taco meat to stretch it further! It’s really good, especially with a little shredded cheese thrown in!

46. I make my own spaghetti sauce with canned tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and seasonings. It’s quite a bit cheaper.

47. Save all your vegetable scraps to make a good stock base for any soup or stew.

48. I use chicken leg quarters in foil packs with potatoes, carrots onions, and fresh green beans. It is a complete meal and easy cleanup.

49. We process the meat ourselves. This year, I canned (in mason jars) 61-pint size jars of deer meat, about 40 jars of pork (wild hogs), and a few jars of chicken broth. Processing meat is really not that hard to do. We use to skin the animal outside, quarter it up and bring it inside to finish the process, grind, cut it up, or do whatever we need to be done.

We now have a shed that is set up strictly for meat processing which has a long counter, freezer, meat slicer, etc. Here in the South, we have to deal with hurricanes which will result in a loss of electricity which means the loss of all refrigerated and frozen foods. Therefore most of our meats, fruits, and veggies are canned in jars.

50. When we lost our food budget for two months, I turned to boiling a whole chicken and shredding the meat to use in many meals. I think I could get 5 meals at least for our family of four (although eating is more like 2 1/2 people). I was really skimpy on the meat, but I’ve always liked that ratio better.

I did more casseroles and found a cream of chicken substitute I had all the ingredients for. That and shredded chicken meant lots of casseroles. I also found a different bread recipe that used fewer ingredients so we could have bread. That time also showed me where I stocked well and where I lacked, plus what I didn’t touch, even with no food budget.

Fried Rice

51. Fried rice (leftover rice cooked in bacon drippings with whatever veggies need to be used up). Mini pies (masa/corn flour mixed with water or broth, pushed into muffin tins, filled with whatever leftovers and some cheese work well). Lentil patties (lentils cooked until tender, mash up with seasoning and onion, shape and fry or bake.

Tastes like a burger patty somewhat). Fish patties (salmon or tuna, bread crumbs, lemon juice, mustard, onion, egg. Shape and fry up). Meatballs (ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, ground up veggies, leftover Cheerios or other low sugar cereal I use 1 part meat, 1 part bread type stuff, 1 part vegetables. shape, BOIL. Freeze for later use and fry up when needed. The water you boiled it in is now a quick broth used for soup). 

Potato salad, I can get 10 lbs of potatoes for $2-3 at Aldi.  I buy most meats marked down. Or frozen tubes of ground turkey/beef. Canned fish is pretty cheap. Aldi is great for low prices on produce. We don’t eat a lot of meat… we eat 3 eggs a day, and we have our own chickens. I pay $25 in feed a month, which gives us on average 250 eggs a month. Old, injured, or male birds are dinner.

Cut Back On Protein-Use Coupons

52. Buying cheap and using coupons. Cooking with potatoes, pasta, grains, and beans. Cut back on animal protein and we have a big garden. I love to cook and can make something out of nothing and it’s almost always pretty damn good.

53. Soup can always make a little meat go a long way. We live in Idaho and many farmers will let you go through and pick the fields after they’ve harvested.

54.  I try to make from scratch all our snack foods like crackers, granola bars, granola, fruit leather(when I find a great deal on fruit), bagels, bread, yogurt, etc. It saves a lot of money when I’m not buying prepackaged food.

55. Check out some of the Seventh-day Adventist meals. They do meatless recipes. I was just reading one for oatmeal patties. I used to have one of their old recipe books that had a lot of recipes for a fake meat product, I think they use a lot of TVP now, it made for an interesting read.

Most Meals Are Meatless

56. My mom raised us with very little money. Most of our meals were meatless. We ate our share of lettuce sandwiches with miracle whip. My sisters and I would let the flour tortillas sit out and get hard. Then we would pour Karo syrup over them in order to have something sweet. We ate lots of beans and Mexican rice. Potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and cumin to flavor them. Mom was awesome is all I can say. She could get hot dogs and slice them up and add garlic, tomato sauce, and water and make the most awesome casserole ever.

57. Everything I cook is served over either rice or potatoes to stretch it. Made stew over rice. Taco meat over rice. I can almost triple how long something will stretch with rice.

58. There are only 2 of us but we do buy flour in bulk due to baking. We make from scratch as much as time allows. We buy and plan for leftovers and we pride ourselves on getting larger cuts cheaper and getting many meals from it. We eat baked potatoes at least twice a week and have several go-to cheap-filling meals.

Spend Less-Eat More Veggies

59. I think the best way to save is to make more to spend less. I know this sounds crazy, but we all need to rethink what we think a meal is. Too many of us have gotten used to meat potatoes and a veggie. You almost need to take out a loan to buy meat for a family of 5 anymore.

Let’s face it those big servings of meat were never good for us anyway. So how do we serve a good meal and save? Our great-grandparents had the solution. They took a small amount of the meat they were serving for supper and made a nice soup. Everyone got a bowl of soup. This could be served with a small roll or a half of slice of bread.

Then serve a small salad of about a cup worth. Doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive. Little greens, a slice of cucumber, a few chopped onions, a small grape tomato, and a few carrot curls. Guess you can see how you could make a few salad fixings go all week.

Next serve a small portion of meat, not the large ones we have grown accustomed to. A small potato or other starch and a generous veggie portion. If you have the time and want to really make your family feel special you could make a little jello and top it off with a small teaspoon of cool whip. I should also mention that the soup does not have to be piled with veggies etc. A hand full of mixed veggies from the freezer and some seasoning along with some onion and a small part of the meat is good, or you can add noodles or barley.

I know you are most likely saying this takes a lot of time. We have one thing Grandma never had thought of, a slow cooker. You can always slow-cook enough soup for a couple of days. Salads can be made at night. Your family will think they are living large and you will cut your grocery money down.

The idea is how to fill everyone up and save money on the most expensive part of meat which we all need more veggies and less meat anyway.

60. I roasted a turkey breast. It made sandwiches for my husband’s lunch all week, then I made broth and turned that into noodle soup. The turkey was on sale and they are cheap, to begin with, this time of year.

Veggie Soups

61.  Here is another saver. When we have leftover veggies of any kind, if it is not enough for another meal, I freeze them, then add to a bag of other frozen veggies. When the bag is full, veggies soup! You can add meat, or not. Chicken for a chicken veggie soup, beef for a beef veggie.

Add your broth, and simmer till done. Also, lots of peels or ends of veggies can be frozen until you have enough to make a veggie stock with them.

62.  I just retired, so there are only two of us, but minus my pay is a big deal. I decided that as I get my Social Security check once a month, I’d shop only once a month (excluding fresh veggies and fruit). I sat down and made a menu up for a whole month (every Wednesday is fish, every Friday is pizza!), then went and did the shopping.

I spent just about $300 for the month of February, which comes to $10.71 per day. This included all my paper goods, so it doesn’t represent food only. The great thing about doing it this way is the weekends. This week I have leftover stew and pasta sauce with meatballs. Saturday we’ll have the stew, Sunday, pasta with meatballs. No cooking, just reheating!

I freeze everything I can, including bread, milk, and pizza dough. Last night I made a lemon pound cake to have on hand from ingredients I had in the house. Next week I’ll bake cookies. We’ll see how this all works out. The best part I discovered is all I do is look at the menu in the morning to see what is on tap for dinner that night.

No more stressing about “what can I make”, and, the same menu can be used month after month because it’s so varied by the time the meal comes around again you haven’t had it for four weeks!

Oxtail Soup

63.  During the depression, my elders on both sides made oxtail soup because it was the cheapest part of the cow. Back then they could get it free or for .10. They didn’t sell it in the stores and you had to ask for it. We make it once a month in a huge stockpot. Invite the family over. There are a lot of Hispanic people in my area do the price for oxtail is outrageous.

I work in Wyoming once in a while where there aren’t many and I can find them for $3 /lb. Still pricey but so much better. It’s easy to freeze. Lasts a long time and feeds many. Oxtail: It’s the bone of the tail and very tender meat.

64.  I know, and prices just keep going up. I grew up not poor, but not middle class, either. My mom had to be inventive to feed all five of us. I can’t remember as a child ever going out to a restaurant. No money for luxuries.

One thing I recommend, if it is affordable, is to buy a small freezer. It’s amazing how much can be saved by shopping the sales and freezing items. For instance, I have to eat a particular brand of bread for a health problem I have. It’s normally $3.57 per loaf.

One week it was a dollar off. I picked up 4 loaves and froze them. $4.00 savings! Also, I drink lactose-free milk. If I buy the name brand it’s a dollar more than the store brand and even less at WalMart. Again, I make my WalMart run and freeze the milk.

Not only saves me money but also gas money for my car. You always have to be on your toes, checking prices, and making good choices. It can be done, but it’s hard work.

65. We had 3 very large gardens last year so I canned and froze everything I could. With two freezers and over 500 quarts  (I stopped counting) we eat a lot of veggies so stir fry is big on the list.

66.  I am working on a post to get 4 meals from a roasted chicken: dinner with potatoes, then make broth for soup, sandwiches, or wraps for school lunches, and I usually have some leftovers to do tacos, enchiladas, or chicken pasta. Now, this is a roast chicken you make from scratch, not the store-bought pre-cooked ones (which tend to be small).

67. Save the chicken bones and boil them up to make soup stock. it tastes awesome with some spices (especially turmeric) and a little salt (sea salt, pink salt), and maybe a few veggies and chicken meat scraps, noodles, or rice.

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68. Peanut/almond butter and jelly on toasted Dave’s Killer Blue Seed Bread makes an awesome lunch!

69. Soups, stews, and chili are cheap, healthy, and belly-filling. I make huge batches and freeze the extra.

70. Sorry, it took me so long to post but I’ve been getting in at nearly midnight all week long. And today was spent gathering groceries and supplies for my waterline expansion. I’ve got a family of 5 ranging from a 17 down to 6 and two working adults.

We put all sorts of methods into practice to save money some already mentioned others a little specific to our unique situation.
One practice that is unique to us but is not out of reach of anyone.

We are our own meat processors. From deer to rabbits and all manner of fish and fowl. Some are wild others we raise ourselves or purchase from local farms or auctions. Now the key to getting the most for your money is to look for deals at auction or someone selling whole flocks or culling from herds of smaller livestock.

I buy rabbits in summer at auction sometimes as low as $2 a piece full-grown. From these animals, I substitute for chicken in many recipes.

I’ve even made sausage by mixing ground rabbit and pork trimmings which I get from a local butcher for little to nothing price. Those same trimmings go into my deer and goat burger to make a great hamburger for Chili, meatloaf, and spaghetti.

When we butcher goats hogs etc. I have a big cast iron pot I keep the fire full of boiling water nearby all the guts and oral get boiled and fed to my chickens as an added protein which helps egg production, Same with fish guts and heads. Waste nothing. Learning to do your own butchering/processing will save you a lot of money.

71. If I go to my grocery store before noon they put all the products in a cart that is ready to expire. It is labeled a dollar each. Find people that have Sunday newspapers that don’t use their coupons. Ask if you can have them. If not, it is worth it to purchase several Sunday papers for the coupons. You can stock and it will take a little time.

But, once you stock you then only purchase items when they are on sale. You will notice that you begin to have extra money. There are a lot of free things out there to help. Companies give away free things like deodorant.

That saves your own money. The other day I reused an 8×10 manilla envelope. Hey! It worked. Talk about thrifty. This is a tip I got from someone else at Halloween. Get clearance on pumpkins or neighbors’ pumpkins and make bread from them then freeze it.

In the stores, the cosmetic counters normally have samples of things. Nice-sized ones. Ask. All they can do is say, “No.” Plastic baggies can be washed and reused instead of thrown out. If you save in all the other ways, then if you have to purchase meat or whatever at the store, you have the money to do it.

72. My dad was born in 1918 and my mom in 1927, when I was a kid they ate tomato sandwiches, homemade bread, bread torn and put in a glass then added milk. My dad loved bologna and fried spam.

Lots of eggs either fried or scrambled and Dad made CORN pancakes which I HATED- he would make the pancake batter drain a can of corn and add it. My mom loved sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper as a meal.

Frankly, I never was able to eat those- the spam and bologna and homemade bread sure but the rest have never appealed to me. My Grandmother died when I was 15 and the other at 16 so I never got to ask them about the depression.

But, I know that I was taught a lot of frugal things and how to work HARD, and be an ANT, not a GRASSHOPPER!

73. Excellent article. Loved reading how others save money on food. My sister does something a bit unique. She shops at Walmart and they price match any advertised price. So before she goes grocery shopping, she spends about 20 minutes online and writes down advertised sale prices on items she needs.

Here’s the unique thing – she Googled for names of ALL the grocery stores in her area, even very tiny or ethnic ones. She finds amazing deals at some of these different stores. I always thought it had to be a large chain to price match but it doesn’t! And you don’t have to have a paper flyer or ad to prove the sale price!

She’ll tell the Walmart checker, that’s priced at $1.99 for a gallon of milk, etc. and Walmart accepts it. If they ask what store, she refers to her list but they usually don’t ask. As each item rings up she’ll tell the checker the adjusted price, the checker keys it in, no big deal, and takes hardly any extra time in line. She saves a fortune this way!

Linda, a follow-up about Walmart’s price matching: Their price matching policy is online and they are very specific about some things. Also, we’ve found that some Walmart checkers don’t really know how the policy works and may say no to price-matching some items that should be OK.

Shoppers may want to study the price-matching policy or even print it out before shopping. Usually just quoting the policy is sufficient to get the item price matched. If not ask for a manager.

74. Linda, it has been great reading this post. Things are getting pricey out there these days and I have done a pretty good job of stocking my pantry with canned goods and dry goods. I make my own bread (usually making two loaves at a time freezing the 2nd).

In fact, I pretty much make all my bread and pastry items from scratch so I never have to go to the store. I started growing my own vegetables, spices, and fruits (strawberries, raspberries and I will be adding elderberries this year) two years ago and this will be my 3rd year.

I can tomatoes, pickles, applesauce, etc. Instead of ordering out for pizza I make my own pizza dough (making 2 doughs and freezing the 2nd for later), and make my own pizza sauce and taco sauce.

I have also gone as far as making my own personal care products (shampoo, deodorant, lotion bars, soap), laundry soap, dishwasher soap, and house cleaners (all natural).

The one thing I will tell people who want to start growing their own garden is to start small and grow what your family likes to eat. Don’t go overboard crazy and plant a lot of items they won’t eat. Start with tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, radishes, carrots, and green onions. These are pretty much the easiest items to grow.

75. Ramen noodle packages are not considered food in my house. I make soup stock out of the icky bits of meat, pan juices, and vegetable cooking water and add some Chinese noodles that only take 2 minutes to cook. If I make a huge pot of stock I freeze it in ice cube trays and then pack them in plastic bags.

You can have a cup of soup, or soup for a group quickly. A package of noodles that would probably equal about 15 to 20 ramen packages is $1.99 at a nearby store. You can control the salt and other ingredients when you make your own. You can also make your own noodles quite easily. I shop early and get a lot of 50% or 30% off items.

If they expire that day or are pre-frozen I cook them and then freeze. 50% off yogurt makes nice frozen treats that we would not have otherwise. I also freeze discounted sour cream or milk, which works great, especially for baking. I bake most of my bread and found some great no-knead recipes at

76. Our local fruit and vegetable store has bagged produce for $1. I got 10 apples in one bag the other day and only had to cut off a tiny bit of bruising. The best ones went for dehydration and the rest for apple sauce.

We have a garden and I now dry and powder a lot of greens to add to smoothies made with my frozen discounted yogurt. I dehydrated my whole garlic crop in slices (other than the ones for replanting) and can use them as is or grind them up

77. To save money while feeding 11 people we make chicken and noodles using turkey instead of chicken. It is cheaper to purchase by the pound. The turkey we roast the day before, and we also make stuffing using dried-out buns and heals.

78. I thought all those simple meals and sandwiches with just onions or tomatoes were something my family did just because. I didn’t realize others did the same thing and they came from the depression.

My parents were born in 1920 and grew up very differently. Daddy was a rich boy with no problems but my mom grew up in the country with a garden and my grand doing handy work for people who needed his skills.

He was mostly paid for food, eggs, a turkey, and whatever they had to give him. I learned a lot from both my mama and gram about frugal living and wish they were still around to thank them. I enjoy reading all your posts and the great remarks everyone makes in the comments. I’m also learning something, thanks.

79. One way to save money on utilities is to get a chest freezer and not a stand-up. Cold air sinks, so every time you open that door, your freezer has to work that much harder to reestablish the temperature. Have you ever seen that fog that rolls down and out when you open the door?

Yes, that’s money escaping. I know a chest freezer is harder to organize and dig through, but if you’re really trying to save money, the stand-up freezer is a major money-wasting machine.

80. Great ideas. We do a lot of these including using beans. Love butter bean soup. and Cuban black beans. You can make this without the chorizo to save money.

Honestly, I like it best without chorizo.

81. My mother told us about depression meals she remembered and enjoyed growing up.

Baked bean sandwich. Just what it sounds like. Hot or cold baked beans on bread or toast. My mom took this in her school lunch every day and liked it then her classmates started juggling for the option to trade their sandwich for hers each lunch. We liked it too.

Beet greens. My grandmother was able to get the Beet greens that grocers would twist off for their customers before they weighed the beets for purchase.

Grandma created a great meal with these beet tops. We really enjoyed this when my mom fixed this dish too, not really sure of the recipe but it was prepared in the frying pan and had garlic.

Fried egg sandwich. Again just like it sounds like. As kids, we asked for this for dinner and could not get it often enough. I still fix this today as a special treat. Toast with mayo, sliced onion, pepper, and fried egg over medium. Oh yum, I must make this sandwich now. Salivating. Good memories.

82. I grew up eating a lot of these same “Depression” Era meals & I feel like they are comfort food. For those who think the Spam is too expensive, Check your local Dollar store for “Treat” It should be right next to the Spam and I can’t tell the difference. (Some of my family & friends Swear by one or the other)

Today I went to Sam’s with a friend & picked up some good deals on meat. So tonight I made 2 round steaks for dinner. We ate most of 1 tonight, the leftovers & some of the other steak will be made into beef stroganoff tomorrow, and the rest will be frozen (in broth) for later use. I make lots of Frybread & salads to go with meals. I make sure no one goes to bed hungry!

My family & I not only raise chickens, rabbits, and a garden here at home, but we have helped set up what we call a “Poor man’s Co-op”. We have a few families, each with a small amount of land, and one person with a lot of property.

We each work together on the large plot of land raising veggies to can & sell (Christmas money), We all raise various animals & share the meat/milk. So if you live in an area that is possible & have a few like-minded families, sit down & work out the details.

Those who don’t have the cash up front to fund the operation, or have the land to do so, can put in work hours to cover your share of the $. Besides, working in the garden or feeding & watering, etc. goes much faster if you have someone there to keep you company.

We also get together & clip coupons, make candles & teach each other different skills, like sewing & tanning hides.

83. I guess we are fortunate. We have a half-acre garden and I garden year-round. We keep 40 to 50 hens all the time and have eggs aplenty year-round. I work for a big feed and grain company and get screening free so I raise a couple or 3 hogs a year for nothing.

We have one butchered professionally for all the different cuts and I butcher one or 2 for sausage and make bacon myself. I raise a steer a year. It does cost some, but the last one we still got almost 500 pounds of meat and soup bones for about a dollar less a pound than ground beef.

This included all the steaks and roasts. We raise all we can. Then we eat all we can and can or freeze the rest. Even so, we eat a lot of beans and rice, goulash, and stuff that don’t require a lot of meat. Feeding 5 here.

Great Depression Meals for Diabetics:

84. I cannot remember the last time we had ground beef. I buy large cuts of pork from Cash N Carry for less than $1.50 a pound, take it home, and grind it myself. It makes a pretty good taco, etc. Some of it I freeze, some I can. A couple of weeks ago, I took one of those large cuts and made pozole and Chile Verde and canned them- ended up with 24 pints of pozole and 18 pints of Chile Verde. 

I buy whole chickens and turkeys and cut them up myself, then freeze or can them. I’m diabetic, so I can’t fill up my meals with lots of rice or pasta. Instead, I make “cauliflower rice” by grating cauliflower (which I buy on sale) and freeze it in meal-size portions. We fill up on salads and 2-3 vegetable sides.
Did you know you can make your own cheese using dry powdered milk? When butter is on sale, I buy a case of it, then make ghee and can it. It stays good for months.

85. Robyn: Red beans and rice. If I have it in the freezer, a small section of andouille sausage is chopped up. Walmart sells a package of 5 for $4 and they are really good!

I freeze each one separately so I can use just one at a time. Bag of beans, rice, onions, tomatoes, sausage. An amazing meal for about $5 with plenty of leftovers for the next day. 

Very similar navy beans, a little bit of ham (or even better a leftover ham bone), some onions, celery, and carrots. When they start getting limp, I chop them up and freeze them to use in soups like this.

A nice piece of cornbread on the side. If you’re really splurging, fried potatoes and onions. Hamburger soup a package of frozen mixed veggies, some elbow noodles, and about 1/2 pound of cooked ground hamburger.

Season with a beef bouillon cube, garlic powder, tomato paste, salt & pepper. Serve with a side of cornbread.

{Linda} I really want to thank every one of you for helping me with food-saving tips available for the world to see how to save money on groceries! Now let’s save some money! Blessings to all of you!

Final Word

I hope these ideas help you save money even if you are eating Great Depression Meals just like me. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. Stay well, eat at home. Linda

Food Storage by Linda

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  1. Linda, cold,snowy day ,minus 1. This has to be one of the best articles ever written. So many ways to make ends meet without being deprived of a good filling meal. I am afraid that for most people this will be hard to adjust to. Too many are used to fast and easy. This will take a little more time.

    1. Hi Linda, I totally agree. It’s interesting because we were raised this way, it’s the norm to cook from scratch. Fast and easy meals are expensive and sometimes not as healthy. Great comment, Linda

  2. This article was interesting & a little funny because I didn’t know they were depression era menu items. Several on here we still like today. We used to beg my mom to make rice with milk, cinnamon & sugar. We loved tomato soup but we did have grilled cheese with it and tuna casserole, well everyone had tuna casserole and salmon patties.
    Enjoyed your article.

    1. Hi Pam, it’s interesting because Mark and I eat so many of these meals today. I would rather eat at home and not drive in and sit at a table and wait for a meal. I love eating at home. Great comment! Linda

  3. Linda, I laughed when I read your list of things you ate growing up. When my 22-yr-old granddaughter was little she loved mayonnaise sandwiches (she called them “ham-maise” sandwiches). I don’t know how she came to make them, they had never been served to her. Her mother hated mayonnaise & it grossed her out! Granddaughter learned to make them herself before she was 2. Haha This was a great article, as usual.

    1. OH, Linda, this is the best comment! She made them before she was 2!! Don’t you just love memories, this one? I can almost see her saying she loves her “ham-maise” sandwich! They are so darn cute at that age! It never gets old, does it? Linda

  4. Much as I like rice and beans, rice with meat dishes, potatoes, peas (Small young canned peas sold at Aldi’s) and breads or other grains, those are all carbohydrates. Carb heavy foods need to be balanced with proteins or greens and for some of us, they should be consumed less than the other foods.

    So I would include lots of fresh veggies and salads. Carbs in moderation are doable and soaking potatoes in a bowl of water (In the fridge for long periods) helps eliminate much of the starch. So even if times are tough, these foods are usually not expensive and good for us.

    Growing some foods (small plot or pots) or even just sprouts on a window sill can help help fill our pantry. And as mentioned by many, learning to use everything up along with proper storage and preserving methods helps. Just freezing fresh foods, chopped, sliced or whatever means never letting it go bad.

    1. Hi Frank, great comment! I agree, no waste, just freeze it! I can hardly wait to work in my garden. I did a little the other day. It’s all about cooking at home and eating fewer carbs or like you said balance them with proteins. Life is good, stay well my friend! Linda

  5. My Mum made ‘soup du jour’ using a can of soup, usually cream of mushroom or cream of chicken, and adding what ever leftovers she had. 1 can of soup with leftovers served 4-5

    Canned fish loaf: 1 can of mackerel or whatever is cheap mixed into a packet of stuffing mix and baked like meatloaf.

    1. Hi Diana, isn’t it wonderful how we remember what our parents did to save money? I love the term “soup of the day”!! I remember my mom making salmon cakes. I never liked them, but my family did. Life is good when our belly is full. Great comment! Linda

  6. something my mom done as i was growing up was take leftover ham dice it add it to cooked beans(1 lb dry red, navy, pinto etc.) 1 16 oz jar sauerkraut ( do not drain), 2 large shredded potatoes,1 shredded onion then she made a brown gravy to use in it it is thick good the first day better the second as the flavors blend you may have to add beef or pork broth to keep it from scorching or sticking to your pan or crock-pot ( I use 2 packets of brown gravy mix as I cannot make a decent gravy to save my soul just mix it as per instructions and pour into the pot) I always add the extra broth to mine. She called it Slavic dinner I am not sure if that is it’s proper name she got the recipe from a family friend (this also freezes for later meals if needed)

    1. Hi Pauline, I love your comment about the Slavic dinner! Back in the day, there were no food stamps or EBT cards. We had to stretch every penny to feed our families. I’m glad you and I had moms who taught us how to cook from scratch! Love it! Linda

  7. 5 stars
    Hi! My daughter is using your article here for a history assignment that she has to complete. Could you please give any information you have on this photo that you used? We were wondering who took the photo and any other information you could provide on the actual photo. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Shelly, oh how wonderful your daughter is using this article!! I bought the picture to put in my post so I do not have any information about it. I wish I did. I’m so sorry! Linda

  8. I loved this article. I was raised very poor with parents born in the 1920’s. They went through the Great Depression, and World War 2. We raised 2 huge gardens every year. We also had a milk cow for milk, buttermilk, and fresh butter that we churned for hours, but was the best tasting butter I have ever eaten. We raised goats for milk and meat. We raised hogs for meat. We raised chickens for eggs and meat. Also had rabbits to eat. We had a large family of 10 people, so each meal had to be extremely cheap, and go a long way. We kids usually only got 2 meals per day, lunch and supper. When in school, sometimes we got no lunch because our dad refused to pay for our lunches, and we had nothing to carry. We all except one sister, all ended up being diabetic. I still don’t get to eat a lot because I am on SSI disability, Medicaid, and a few food stamps. That certainly doesn’t go very far. So, I still eat a lot like I did growing up, but less now because I can’t raise anything, and can’t afford much. Lots of beans, sometimes I have cornbread, or crackers. Lots of canned soup with crackers. Peanut butter sandwiches. Ramen noodles. Potatoes baked in microwave. Etc. I remember when we were starving after not getting breakfast or lunch at school, we would come home on the bus, and make mayonnaise sandwiches because we were so hungry. As a kid, I thought we were the only people that did that. Most of the kids in our classes in school, were from middle income homes, who got to eat well. We rarely ever had kids come spend the night with us because they all knew that we were very poor. Thanks for the article. Such a reminder of my childhood, and my present conditions as well.

    1. Hi JMarsh, you had a rough life growing up as I did. The good thing is we learned to take care of ourselves. It’s interesting because once we get older we are not making as much money so we do indeed need to know how to cook on a strict budget. God bless you, Linda

  9. We are vegetarians here (my husband strays from that occasionally-LOL) but I found The Gentle Chef website: who has many recipes for turning vital wheat gluten into “meats” that are quite good. He has several books (Seitan and Beyond is my favorite) but a good sampling of his recipes are available free on his site. I’ve even made some of them into shelf stable mixes! Another great (old) book if you can find it is How to Make All The Meat You Eat Out of Wheat by Shandler (my favorite). has many meatless recipes that are healthy and good tasting. I think anytime you go meatless you are going to save money and benefit your health! Many of your meat recipes I have turned into meatless versions and we enjoy them! Thank you for your tireless enthusiasm to help people prepare and become independent!

    1. Hi Geni, oh my gosh, I love your comment! I have got to go check out that website on meatless recipes! I felt my health was the very best when I ate only vegetables. Great ideas! Linda

  10. Wow! Did this ever bring back memories! My parents were born prior to the First World War and came as immigrants for a better life. What they had to endure for the next 30 years or more I can only imagine.
    We always had our own large garden plus another garden down the block. The extra garden raised food shared with the elderly couple that owned it. Weeding and bug picking were my first jobs.
    We lived off of home grown fruits and vegs with some meats from farming family. Bread making and canning were normal activities. I learned how to cook from scratch with what I had. Still do and hate food waste. Home made soups, pot pies, casseroules, fresh oven breads and pasteries, fermented foods like yogurt and kraut, pickles and relishes, canning.
    I am a senior and have had to slow down but a chair in the kitchen all most beats one on the porch.

    1. Hi Stan, oh how I loved your comment!! Thank you for stopping by! You are so right about a chair in the kitchen beats one on the porch! BEST COMMENT EVER!! I’m really hoping to teach the world to stop going to drive-throughs and fast food places and cook from scratch. The savings are HUGE! I will be 70 soon and I still make bread, life is so good when you cook from scratch! Linda

  11. 5 stars
    Wow! What a great list! Soooo many great thoughts, ideas, recipes! I love it! I have printed it off and I’m highlighting those that I know my family will like. Thank you sooo much for sharing! ❤️

  12. During the Depression; Cow tongue was probably served for Sunday dinner. Strictly because you’d be eating BEEF. If it’s properly marinated; grilled beef heart is wonderful.
    Now a days; too many Americans try to appear to be rich. So they only want to eat food that’s considered to be trendy. They consider the food you mentioned to be ” food only poor and nonwhite people eat”.
    I enjoyed reading about the food you mentioned. But I’m not sure about the rice with cinnamon; milk and sugar( I’m half Japanese. So that sounds a little strange to me.).

    1. HI JONESCRUSHER, I grew up on beef tongue, and it wasn’t during the Depression. I grew up poor but didn’t realize it at the time. I begged for the tip of the tongue because it was less grizzly! LOL! We made sandwiches with beef tongue as well. I have never tried beef heart, good idea. I could eat rice for every meal. I have two ladies from Vietnam teaching me how they cook the meals they feed their families. I am so excited to learn how to eat healthier. First of all, very little meat, always rice, and a lot of vegetables. They even show me the “sauces” I should be using. I’m overjoyed with their kindness to teach me. Life is good! Linda

  13. My favorite Beef heart marinade is made by GOYA. It’s named Mojo Criollo. You can find
    it at Walmart. Look in the latin Amer. food area. Goya has a large section.
    Preparing the heart is easy . You cut off the heart valves. Then cut it into cubes. Marinate the cubes in a zip loc bag. Put the cubes on skewers. Then grill it over a charcoal fire.

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