Depression Era: Frugal Recipes

Missouri woman shares depression era advice and frugal recipes she used to feed her family and make necessary goods

| Good Old Days

  • Nothing could be more soothing - and frugal - than homemade dumplings.
    Photo by Fotolia/xalanx

In 1941, near the end of the depression era, we moved into a drafty old farmhouse that was really uncomfortable in the wintertime. Our potatoes froze behind the heating stove, and there was ice in the fishbowl. The wood heater had a flat top. I had to use it for a cookstove. My husband's hours were irregular, so I had to use frugal recipes that would stay hot and still be palatable. One of my favorites was Beef Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings: bread, meat and vegetables all in one pot.

My husband had a sweet tooth, and since I couldn't bake cakes and pies, Dessert Dumplings with Caramel Sauce was one of his favorites. Parsley Potato Dumplings were good with soup and also made a hearty meal.

During the winter months the hens didn't lay and we were without eggs. Therefore, we were always on the lookout for "eggless" recipes. It was unheard of for farmers to buy eggs! We found that many of the recipes were acceptable without eggs. We hadn't heard of cholesterol or that there was danger of salmonella in raw eggs. Most of the old recipes called for lard, cream and butter and we were unaware that they were "hazardous to our health!"

During the depression, we didn't buy anything that could be made at home! I had a notebook that I copied frugal recipes in, and it contains a lot of information, how to make Shampoo, Varnish Remover, Wallpaper Paste, Library Paste, a Cinder Plant and even remedies for Calf Scours and Ear Canker! Many of the old recipes called for sorghum and honey, especially during the time of sugar rationing. We also made use of wild game and fish.


1 cup sour cream
1 cup honey
2 eggs

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