18 Strange Meals People Ate During the Great Depression

I came across this article recently and couldn’t help but think about the difficult conditions the Great Depression caused for many households throughout the nation.  Families had to be very creative in what they ate and wore.  Many families went without basic essentials and many suffered.  Luckily, for each of us right now, we have the option to greatly mitigate any potential future hardships.  Acquiring the appropriate level of food storage now will help alleviate the stress of providing for our families in times of need.

The great depression brought out both the resiliency and ingenuity of literally millions of people. With few options, people had to make do with what was on hand. Clothes were sewn with spare flour sacks and shoes repaired with cardboard.

Food, however, is where things got really interesting. Some foods were still plentiful and reasonably affordable, but others were scarce. How do you make a full meal when half your ingredients are missing?

You improvise and invent a whole host of crazy foods in the process. Here are some strange meals people ate during the Great Depression–meals we might all be eating again someday.

1.  Corned Beef Salad – So corned beef salad doesn’t sound that bad…until you learn that it’s made with mayonnaise and Jello. Well, gelatin anyway. It’s a mixture of corned beef, eggs, mayonnaise, horseradish, and some vegetables, all held together in a loaf with plain gelatin. Yum…beef jello.

2.  Dandelion Salad – These days, the foodie movement has just about everyone open to eating foods foraged from your yard, but back then dandelion salad was just weird. They did it because it was a way to get free food onto the table, and a bit of added vitamins in an otherwise bland depression diet.

3.  Egg Drop Soup – Not anything like the egg drop soup you can order in modern Chinese restaurants, this soup started with fried potatoes and then added water. The mixture was brought to a boil, and then scrambled eggs were stirred in while the water was boiling. The whole thing was served over toast. I’m not sure why they didn’t just have eggs, potatoes, and toast, but perhaps the spirit of creativity took hold.

4.  Frozen Fruit Salad  – This particular dish was considered the ultimate treat for the holidays. There are many variations of this salad, but all have the same basic feel. Start with canned fruit and add whipped cream, eggs, flour, and any manner of other things (marshmallows, nuts, or whatever is available). Freeze the whole thing in trays and then serve.

5.  Hoover Stew – Named after the president that took office right before the crash, Hoover Stew was the name for the cheap slop eaten by residents of shanty towns Recipes varied, but usually involved hot dogs, canned vegetables, and pasta or macaroni.

6.  Ketchup, Mayonnaise or Onion Sandwiches – What do you do when you want a sandwich, but don’t have any meat or cheese to put in it? Put some ketchup between slices of bread and call it good. Mayonnaise sandwiches were also common, and honestly sound a lot better than the last option, plain onion sandwiches.

7.  Kraft Mac and Cheese – Actually invented during the Great Depression, Kraft mac and cheese was advertised as an exercise in frugality. These days it’s commonplace, and it’s still a cheap way to put calories on the table, but back then a shelf-stable box with powdered cheese replaced a traditional homemade meal full of expensive ingredients like cheese and cream.

8.  Loaves – These days, meatloaf is a simple and relatively cheap weeknight dinner. But how do you make it without ground beef? That’s how it became just “loaf” and it was made out of just about anything put into a loaf pan. Cheap foods like liver, peanuts, and raisins found their way into this catch-all food.

9.  Milkorno – Invented by scientists at Cornell University in 1933 when they were looking for inexpensive ways to feed the masses, it’s a gruel made from dried powdered milk and cornmeal. Other variations like milkwheato (using wheat instead of corn) were also invented and were just as appetizing.

10.  Mock Apple Pie – How do you make an apple pie without apples? It turns out there are a number of ways. One popular recipe involved stuffing a pie crust with Ritz and then covering them with cinnamon, butter, and sugar syrup. Other recipes substitute fruits or vegetables, like a mock apple pie made with zucchini.

11.  Poor Man’s Meal – A mixture of hot dogs and potatoes, poor man’s meal was actually quite tasty. Potatoes were fried with onions until browned, and then chopped hot dogs were added. My grandmother made this for me as a child, and my mother had her own version, substituting kielbasa for the hot dogs, which made it much tastier.

12.  Peanut Butter Stuffed Onions – Actually recommended by home economics teachers, peanut butter stuffed baked onions found its way onto tables. Can you imagine eating an onion stuffed with peanut butter?

13.  Potato Pancakes – Potatoes were one of the most widely available foods, and they found their way into many dishes. Simple potato pancakes are some of the more appetizing ways they were eaten. They were made either by frying mashed potatoes or by binding grated potatoes together with flour and eggs.

14.  Prune Pudding – Actually served at the White House as an act of solidarity with “the people who are suffering” in the streets, prune pudding is a simple mix of boiled prunes, sugar, and cornstarch. Sometimes seasoned, sometimes not, prune pudding had to fill in for dessert. It was generally served in small dishes, to prevent disastrous prune related consequences.

15.  Red Velvet Cake – These days you can find red velvet cake recipes on fancy food blogs, but back then it was a cheap way to make an “almost” chocolate cake. Substituting vegetable oil for real butter, and using almost no cocoa, what the cake lacked in flavor it made up for in color.

16.   **** on a Shingle – This is also known as creamed chipped beef, but **** on a shingle about sums up the thoughts of those that had to eat it. In a nutshell, it’s dried beef that’s re-hydrated a bit in a sauce made with flour and butter, and then served on toast.

17.  Spaghetti with Carrots and White Sauce – Eleanor Roosevelt herself recommended this dish for the frugal cook. It involved a casserole made out of intentionally overcooked mushy spaghetti and boiled carrots, covered in a pasty white sauce made from flour and butter.

18.  Vinegar Pie – Though mock apple pie was one option, other pie recipes tried to get a “fruit pie” feel by substituting the tartness of fruit with vinegar. The dessert was made with a pie crust filled with butter, flour, sugar, and vinegar. Sounds horrible to me, but I guess it cant be that weird, even Martha Stewart has a recipe.

Source: https://homesteadsurvivalsite.com/strange-meals-people-ate-great-depression/

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

The Government’s Role In Your Safety

CBS New’s headline today warned of more Ohio River flooding after extreme weather had already taken human lives in the Midwest. Areas in Houston, still recovering from flooding 6 months ago, are now watching their rivers as poorly developed neighborhoods recognize their increased risk of future floods. Vulnerable people are looking for aid wherever they can find it.

Government Aid
In a world where states are requesting money to accommodate their water needs, what are your personal responsibilities for your personal property and well-being? Are you willing to wait for government money and help to cover your needs? Of course not.  If we’ve learned anything in the past decade, we’ve learned that we can not and should not use the government as a safety net when it comes to covering our needs, especially our water/safety needs.

Avoiding Flooding
Federal money is going to cities with poorly planned housing in flood zones. The question is, where is the responsibility of the citizens? When making possibly the biggest financial decisions of their lives, did anyone look at maps? Did anyone consider proximities to rivers, canals, etc.?  What about positioning inside neighborhoods?  The higher you are, the less likely you’ll have to deal with devastating flooding.  While states may ask and beg for federal dollars, chances of individuals seeing any financial relief from damage to a poorly placed home are slim.

Take Control
So what does that mean? It means, you do what you need to do to be prepared. If you’re able to move to higher ground, of course, do so. If you’re not able to move, what are your options?  Are you doomed because your mortgage has tied you to a house that may betray you? Not necessarily. There are things you can do. While you are high and dry, it is time to prepare. It’s time to stock up on sandbags.  It’s time to build up landscaping to minimize flooding. Research diverting water, landscaping, and other options for flooding prevention.    In other words, it’s time to assume you’ll receive nothing from the government and take control of the situation you are in.

Part of taking control is understanding your vulnerability. Store your food and water. Store physically high and low, spread out your resources so you can use them in different types of emergencies.  But have enough resources for you and your family to ride out any storm that comes your way.  If you have to ride out a flood, make sure you have enough clean water and food to do so. Even better, get away before you become stranded. Grab your Bug-Out Bag and go. Go before traffic stalls and before you can’t get out of the city.

The takeaway?  Your preparation is your responsibility. It’s not the government’s responsibility. It’s not your community leaders’ responsibility.  If you’re reading this, you probably already understand this concept.

The Plague is Back? What Do You Need to Know?

What comes to mind when you think of “The Plague”? A few months ago you probably thought that it was a long lost, eradicated disease that killed hundreds of thousands of people a long time ago. However, as a resurgence of the disease hit Madagascar in November, we all realized that we are never completely safe from diseases we thought were gone.

Is The Plague truly a threat? And if so, what do you need to know about it?

Is The Plague Truly a Threat?
The easy answer to this question is no, not today. It seems that it’s been contained to Madagascar. While nine other East African countries were threatened due to trade, no cases were found off the island. Also, while over 200 people were killed out of 2300+ people who were affected, that number peaked, leaving new cases pretty minimal today. That’s the short answer.
The long answer is, yes, possibly yes.  Yes, the disease was contained and treated. However, in a time of world travel and world trade, you can never discount the possibility of the spread of any disease. So here’s the information you need.

How Does The Plague Even Start?
The Plague originates from a flea that carries a bacteria called Yersinia pestis from dead animals to live animals or humans. The bacteria enter the bloodstream, causing the infection.

Types of Plague
Bubonic Plague– The infection is localized to the lymph glands and ducts.  Within a week fever, vomiting, and headaches occur as lymph glands swell and become painful. Eventually, extremities develop gangrene due to lack of blood supply. If left untreated by antibiotics, there is a 90% mortality rate.
Pneumonic Plague – The organism infects the lungs. This form is the most dangerous form because it can be spread from human to human. It still has the original source (flea bite), but can be transmitted by microdroplets from breathing, coughing, sneezing or through mucus. This infection causes coughing, eventually coughing up blood and ultimately, respiratory and circulatory failure. There is a 100% mortality rate if left untreated by antibiotics.
Septic Plague– The infection spreads to the blood. This can cause super-infections that can shut down organs, also causing death.

Again, there are no known cases outside of Madagascar, so there is no indication that there is a definite threat. However, for precautionary purposes, there are some things you can do to prevent infection.
1- Invest in particulate masks. When traveling keep a mask close by. If you notice extreme coughing, wear the mask. Even if you aren’t concerned about the Plague, other respiratory diseases can easily be transmitted in airplanes, trains, etc.
2-  Check with your doctor/pharmacy to ensure they have easy access to the antibiotics Streptomycin and Tetracycline, which have been proven to treat the infection. If administered within 24 hours of the infection, chances of survival are significantly greater. If a pandemic ever occurs, you need to make sure you have access to the appropriate medications. There is no immunization so treatment is the best option.

Luckily the risk for a Plague pandemic was localized and minimized fairly quickly.  However, it was a good reminder that we are not immune to diseases we thought were eradicated.




What Can Jack Bauer Teach Us about Survival?


This summer, television viewers were reintroduced to their favorite ex-CTU, now rogue agent, Jack Bauer, the troubled protagonist of 24. This time Jack Bauer was in London, saving the world from drone attacks and perhaps a few old enemies from seasons’ past. If the ratings are any indication, we haven’t tired of Jack Bauer in the slightest.


The reason for this may rest in our own fears and distrust of those who are supposed to be protecting us. In the world of 24, Jack Bauer’s is often hindered by diplomatic ties, cumbersome bureaucratic rules, and turncoats within his own ranks. He is often forced to act alone or go against the status quo to save the day.


The very fact of the matter is that there are dangers and threats out there that can affect our daily lives. We have seen countless natural disasters, like Sandy on the East Coast, wildfires and drought in the West, and tornadoes in the Midwest. These disasters made some people homeless, others jobless and all affected in some way


We have also seen an economic downturn this century, which caused many to lose work. Some saw their 401K and savings become depleted, and many others were forced to scale back and focus on the bare necessities. Our economy is far from fully recovered and remains a major fear most Americans share.


And terrorism is always a threat as well. 24 premiered two months after 9/11, and although we haven’t seen a terroristic attack to that degree on our soil, the threat is always there as individuals and groups seek to destroy our way of life.


Given these factors, it makes sense that Jack Bauer is still a popular part of popular culture. Although Jack Bauer is not real, many of his principles are. Jack will stop at nothing to ensure that those who he cares for are taken care of and protected against any possible threats. He is always prepared and is proactive rather than being reactive. He depends on no one, but, rather, focuses on his own actions to get the job done.


You have the opportunity to be like Jack Bauer in a sense by preparing for any of these possible threats, which could affect your way of life. We encourage you to check out our wide selection of emergency survival equipment, food storage plans, and more, so you’re ready in the event that a disaster was to occur.


While 24 may be winding down, the possibility of these threats is far from over. Stay ready with the help of Food Insurance.

Common Household Hazards

When thinking about emergency preparedness, we often focus on major weather events, seismic activity, or even terrorist attacks.  All too often, we completely overlook events that are much more commonplace, and can be equally as dangerous.  One area that I believe every family needs to think about is the dangers of chemicals that are readily accessible in our homes.

Continue reading “Common Household Hazards”

How Often Should I Update My Emergency Storage?

I learned the hard way that if you don’t check something often enough, you can end up with trouble. I am guilty of not changing the filter for my air conditioning and furnace unit. Even if I had known how often I should replace it, I’m not sure I would have actually done it. When the weather turned warm and I started using the air conditioning, I suddenly had a problem. Water started leaking out the bottom of the unit threatening to ruin my newly installed basement flooring. My failure to check and replace the filter had caused a potentially disastrous situation. Continue reading “How Often Should I Update My Emergency Storage?”

How Long Should my Food Storage Last?

All of us have been there before. The hour is late, the PJs are on, the lights are out, and the unmistakable pangs of hunger lead you to the kitchen for one last pre-bedtime snack. Upon surveying the scarce remnants of the fridge, you momentarily consider making a ketchup and mustard sandwich before finally deciding to finish off that last slice of week-old pizza, still sitting in the cardboard delivery box.
Continue reading “How Long Should my Food Storage Last?”

Considering Food Allergies When Building Your Emergency Supply

When I was little, I had many close calls when it came to eating. I had severe allergies to shellfish and almost every kind of nut. This was a real hurdle for a young child that just wanted to eat the same brownies as the rest of the class, or that didn’t understand the concept of what a “shellfish” actually was. As I got older, things got much better. I grew up to understand what I could eat, which foods to avoid, and which questions to ask about food. I also encountered quite a few other kids that had food allergies too! Continue reading “Considering Food Allergies When Building Your Emergency Supply”

Sheltering in Place

Rainy days. Snowy days. Sunny days—as a child, every day was a good day to build a fort. Whether it was a blanket, box, or bush, forts were pretty much the best things ever. You would drag every toy, coloring book, and snack you had into your special citadel. Dangerous stuffed animal dragons, poisonous pillow rocks, and ferocious (teddy) bears were just a few of the deadly obstacles to overcome. Yet, under the cover of a paper-thin sheet, you felt safe, secure, and protected—for you had built an impenetrable, magical fortress. Continue reading “Sheltering in Place”