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15 Depression-Era Recipes That Are Surprisingly Delicious And Cheap

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Despite the challenging circumstances, cooks during the Great Depression managed to create flavorful and satisfying dishes using simple, affordable ingredients. In this guide, we explore a collection of Depression-era recipes that have stood the test of time, showcasing their ingenuity and deliciousness while demonstrating how they can still be enjoyed today as budget-friendly meal options.

1. Tomato and Bread Soup

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup 
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Feel that tomato soup can only be upscale? This Depression-era version uses canned tomatoes, leftover bread, and some broth to create a creamy, comforting dish. It’s perfect for using up stale bread and tastes way better than anything from a can.

2. Potato Chip Casserole

Potato Chip Casserole
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Who knew potato chips could be the star of the dinner table? This casserole combines leftover mashed potatoes, cheese, and yes, potato chips for a delicious and unexpected crunch. It’s a one-pan wonder, perfect for busy weeknights.

3. Goulash on a Budget

Goulash on a Budget
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Goulash doesn’t have to be expensive. This clever recipe uses ground beef but adds lentils or beans for extra protein and volume. Diced vegetables like carrots and onions bulk it up even further, making a hearty and satisfying stew.

4. Pot Pie Magic

Chicken Pot Pie
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Next time you roast a chicken, save the leftover meat and bones! This recipe transforms them into a delicious pot pie filling. Add some frozen vegetables, leftover mashed potatoes, and a simple crust for a complete and cozy meal.

5. Fried Rice Redux

Egg Fried Rice Extravaganza
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Fried rice doesn’t need fancy ingredients. This version uses leftover cooked rice, chopped vegetables (whatever you have on hand!), and maybe even a fried egg for protein. It’s a quick, easy, and budget-friendly way to use up leftovers.

6. Mac and Cheese Makeover

Mac and Cheese
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Mac and cheese don’t have to break the bank. This recipe uses a simple cheese sauce made with milk, cheese, and a little flour. You can add breadcrumbs for a crunchy topping, or even cooked hot dogs for a heartier version.

7. Apple Crisp Comfort

Apple Crisp Comfort
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Who needs fancy desserts when you can have apple crisp? This simple recipe uses sliced apples, a buttery oat crumble topping, and a sprinkle of sugar. It’s perfect for using up-fall apples and satisfying your sweet tooth without hurting your wallet.

8. No-Bake Cookies

Are Crumbl Cookies Vegan
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Baking doesn’t have to involve an oven. These cookies use ingredients like peanut butter, oats, cocoa powder, and honey for a no-bake treat. They’re perfect for kids, quick to whip up, and require no fancy equipment.

9. Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle
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Canned tuna gets a flavor boost in this casserole. It’s combined with cooked noodles, peas, and a creamy sauce made from condensed soup (a pantry staple!). It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal that’s perfect for using up pantry staples.

10. Liver and Onions

Liver and Onions
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Offal might not sound appealing, but hear us out! Liver and onions are a surprisingly delicious and nutritious dish. The liver is packed with protein and iron, and when cooked right, it’s tender and flavorful. Paired with caramelized onions and mashed potatoes, it’s a hearty and affordable meal.

11. Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup
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Don’t underestimate the power of split peas! This hearty soup is packed with protein and fiber, making it a filling and satisfying meal. It’s easily flavored with herbs and spices you likely already have on hand, and can be jazzed up with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

12. Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans
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This simple combination is a staple in cultures around the world for a reason – it’s delicious, affordable, and incredibly versatile. Cooked rice and beans can be dressed up with spices, salsa, cheese, or whatever you have on hand. It’s a blank canvas for endless flavor combinations.

13. Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls
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Don’t throw away the leftover core of your cabbage! This recipe uses it to make delicious stuffed cabbage rolls. Filled with a mixture of ground meat, rice, and seasonings, they’re simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce for a comforting and budget-friendly meal.

14. Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes
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Thinly sliced potatoes layered with cream, cheese, and onions bake up into a creamy and decadent side dish. It’s a great way to use up leftover potatoes and is sure to become a family favorite. Plus, it can easily be stretched further with the addition of chopped ham or other vegetables.

15. Fruit Cobbler

Peach Cobbler dessert
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Fresh fruit doesn’t need to be fancy. This cobbler uses whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand, topped with a simple biscuit dough. It’s a delicious way to end a meal without breaking the bank, and the biscuit dough can be easily doubled for a batch of drop biscuits.

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