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Could you stomach these struggle meals from the Great Depression?

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During the Great Depression, when wallets were as thin as a slice of stale bread, people had to whip up meals that stretched both their creativity and their pennies. We delved into recipe and history websites, along with food websites, to uncover a collection of “struggle meals” that emerged during those trying years. From unexpected ingredient combinations to clever cooking techniques, these dishes are a testament to the indomitable spirit of the people who endured and nourished themselves through one of the most challenging periods in history.

Potato Peel Soup

We’ve heard of “nose to tail” cooking, but the Great Depression brought about “skin to center” potato cooking. Why waste perfectly good potato peels when they could be boiled into a hearty soup? Waste not, want not, as they say. The peels were simmered with whatever was on hand—onion, a bit of bacon fat, maybe a few herbs—resulting in a surprisingly tasty and filling broth.

Get the full recipe here.

Tomato Soup Cake

Tomato soup: Good. Cake: Great. Tomato Soup Cake: …questionable? Surprisingly, this recipe works. The soup provided moisture and a unique tang to the batter, and when mixed with spices and baking basics, it resulted in a spicy, moist cake. No one expected the tomato to be the belle of the dessert ball, but times were tough, and we salute those brave bakers.

Get the full recipe here.

Hot Water Pie

The original minimalist dessert, Hot Water Pie, comes off like the culinary equivalent of a Hail Mary pass. A simple custard made from hot water, sugar, flour, and a bit of vanilla was poured into a pie crust and baked. The result was surprisingly sweet and creamy. What it lacked in complexity, it made up for in comfort.

Get the full recipe here.

Peanut Butter-Stuffed Onions

This unlikely pairing was more a result of desperation than culinary genius. Raw onions were hollowed out and filled with a generous scoop of peanut butter. The result was a tear-jerking crunch with an oddly satisfying peanutty center. It wasn’t a sandwich, but it packed protein and kept hunger at bay.

Get the full recipe here.

Corned Beef Luncheon Salad

“Salad” in the Great Depression bore a questionable resemblance to today’s leafy greens. A combination of canned corned beef, gelatin, canned vegetables, and vinegar, it was like a suspended animation meal. When properly set, the result was a meaty, jiggly block that could be sliced for easy serving.

Get the full recipe here.

Hoover Stew

Named after President Herbert Hoover, who was unfortunately in office when the Depression hit, this was a frankfurter and pasta concoction. The ingredients were cheap and readily available, and while it wasn’t exactly gourmet, it filled bellies and provided much-needed sustenance. Just don’t expect to see it on a five-star menu anytime soon.

Get the full recipe here.

Creamed Chipped Beef

This is the dish that likely inspired the military’s infamous “S.O.S” (we’ll leave it to you to find out what that stands for). Dried, thinly sliced beef was rehydrated in a creamy white sauce and served over toast. It was salty, it was heavy, and it was exactly the kind of comfort food needed during such difficult times.

Get the full recipe here.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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