Depression-Era Recipes to Stretch Your Meat Budget
The 1930s were a turbulent time of hardship, but that sparked a good deal of creativity in the kitchen. Using the few ingredients that were available due to government-imposed rationing, Great Depression-era home cooks learned how to whip up filling meals with limited funds. Since meat was often scarce, those who did buy it used clever techniques to stretch it between multiple meals. Take note from the previous generation's tips and tricks to help your own food budget today.
Chef John’s Meatball-Inspired Meatloaf
"During the Great Depression this type of dish was a popular strategy for stretching what little meat you had into as filling a meal as possible," says Chef John. In this recipe ground chuck is paired with lots of breadcrumbs, onion, cheese, and eggs to create a hearty loaf without too much meat.
Ham Cups and Eggs
With just a handful of ingredients, you can whip up this filling dinner. Leftover mashed potatoes are topped with egg-filled ham cups, which are baked until just set and served with a drizzle of Hollandaise sauce.
Spaghetti Sauce with Cauliflower
Coarsely chopped cauliflower and sweet onions add a chunkiness to this sauce that feels nearly reminiscent of a bolognese. "This recipe goes back to the Great Depression," says impellizzeri kitchen. "My large Italian family gathered in the kitchen and tried many ways to prepare Sunday dinner on a tight budget. My friends and family couldn't believe that there is no ground beef in this sauce."
Dad's Lima Bean Soup with Ham Bone
Soup is one of the ultimate budget-conscious meals, easily stretched thin with a little extra broth and veggies tossed in. Ham bones are worth saving for soup recipes like this, adding a distinct rich flavor to the entire dish.
Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast
Dried beef was one of the most widely available meats during the Great Depression, so meals like creamed chipped beef on toast became common staples.
Penne Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto
Beans and peas add bulk to this simple pasta, while just a few slices of prosciutto infuse the entire dish with deep savory flavor. Can't get your hands on prosciutto? Some reviewers had success using bacon instead.
Baked Fake Steak with Gravy
Similar to salisbury steak, this recipe takes ground beef and creates a flavorful dish by combining it with saltines and seasonings before breading and pan frying. Serve it up over noodles, rice, or potatoes for a filling dinner.
Bubble 'n' Squeak
Cabbage and potatoes, two stand-by budget-friendly veggies, are the star of this recipe. They're cooked down until tender with salty ham and rich butter for an unbeatable dinner.
This recipe manages to stretch 1.5 pounds of beef into eight hearty servings. Macaroni simmers away with meat, tomato sauce, and five different vegetables to create a stick-to-your-ribs dinner.
Poor Man's Pie
A budget-conscious take on shepherd's pie, this easy recipe uses leftover mashed potatoes and a few pantry staples to create a homey casserole.
Easy and Quick Halushki
Cabbage and buttered noodles are a classic pairing that appeared on many dinner tables during the 1930s. In this recipe, bacon is added for a boost of savory flavor.