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The Great Depression was a time of scarcity-induced innovation: families had to do without many household staples and used their resourcefulness to come up with alternatives made from goods that were more readily available. From dying their legs with tea in lieu of stockings to mending shoes with cardboard, the families of the Great Depression used what they had to make up for shortages of practically every food and good.
Nowhere was Great Depression ingenuity—and desperation–more apparent than in the average American kitchen. Spurred on by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who encouraged families to save money and resources by practicing savvier home economics, the Great Depression produced some truly disgusting food combinations. Not all the dishes that came from this time were short-lived, however; mega food companies like Kraft used the new normal as a platform to make their products, like mac ‘n cheese, a household staple for generations to come.

Although most of the dishes on this list aren’t for the faint of heart—or the weak of stomach—these dishes represent the true American spirit of resiliency and, for better or worse, creativity.

1) Prune Pudding

This simple dessert was made famous when Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to serve the dish to guests who were invited to the White House. Prunes were easy to store, widely available, and much less expensive than other fruits, while providing needed nutrients to the Depression-era diet: the fruit is packed with fiber and supplies almost one-third of your daily needs for Vitamin K.

2) Mock Apple Pie (No Apples)

Apples weren’t readily available in the Great Depression, yet Americans weren’t willing to give up their cherished apple pie. Enter “mock apple pie” which substituted apples for crumbled crackers sprinkled with flavored syrup and cinnamon, all baked into a crust. The most famous of these recipes appeared on the back of the Ritz cracker box in 1934: “Ritz mock apple pie” was an instant hit.

3) Spaghetti and Carrot Casserole

Casseroles were wildly popular in the Great Depression: by combining all sorts of leftovers into one dish, families could increase the variety of their menu without needing to incorporate hard-to-find items. At the time meat was, for most, an unaffordable luxury so in this spaghetti casserole, boiled carrots were substituted for pricier meatballs and the whole concoction was then covered in white sauce.

great depres vinegar cobler4) Vinegar Cobbler

This dessert substituted a large amount of vinegar for more expensive fruit, in addition to water, a small amount of sugar, vanilla and butter as the filling.





5) Mulligan Stew

“Mulligan stew” is a term used for stews created by the homeless during the Depression. As the recipe varied depending on what food was on hand, the “stew” can be thought of as throwing anything and everything you had in the pot to fill your belly. Some down-on-their-luck folk went so far as adding lint to the pot to make it more filling.

6) Loaves

When the food shortages began, meatloaf was already a diet staple. Another example of a food that had to be tweaked to accommodate the scarcity of the new normal, meatloaf became “anything” loaf… from meatless meatloaf made with everything from peanuts to raisins to liver loaf, families used their creativity and whatever was available to make this alternative to the weekly favorite.

7) Dandelion Salad

A dish that is a favorite of preppers and wilderness experts alike, dandelion salad is nutritious and can be made with simple greens foraged from any neighborhood. With salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste (when available), dandelion salad was both tasty and a way to add vital nutrients to the dinner menu without spending a cent.

8) Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

Kraft Foods introduced its iconic macaroni and cheese in 1937, selling 8 million boxes its first year of production. The simple to make pasta dish provided 4 servings of food for $0.19 each, making it a cheap and easy way to fill empty bellies.

7) Jell-O

Gelatin surged in popularity during the Great Depression, with Jell-O leading the pack as the most popular. Gelatin (and Jell-O in particular) was marketed as a way to treat yourself to something “fancy” and often gave its relatively simply recipes exotic names. Much more affordable than pies, a handful of peanuts or a cherished piece of fruit could be turned into a gelatinous masterpiece worthy of the holidays with little expense.

8) Creamed Chipped Beef

One of the most famous foods on the list, creamed chipped beef is affectionately known by many World War II veterans as “s**t on a shingle.” The chipped beef was covered in gravy and served on a piece of toast. When chipped beef was not available, other meats were substituted.



9) Poor Man’s Meal

Both potatoes and hot dogs were inexpensive and easy to find; both make an appearance in this Great Depression meal. By frying up potato slices and adding a few hot dog pieces, families could get a filling meal without using scarce and expensive ingredients.



10) Peanut Butter Stuffed Onions

Created by the Bureau of Home Economics, this dish was well-known only for it’s bizarre taste. Baked onions were “improved” with scoops of peanut butter as filling, resulting in a disgusting and much disliked period food.



11) Hoover Stew

Like many other stews of that time, this recipe changed depending on what ingredients were on hand. Hoover stews (named after President Hoover) were mostly given out in soup kitchens and consisted of very thin broth with hot dogs, pasta, and any vegetables available.


12) Italian Ice

Italian ice was popular during the time because of its similarity to ice cream, without the addition of costly ingredients like cream and rock salt. This frozen treat was inexpensive and helped stave off the heat during the long summer days.

13) Potato Pancakes

Because of the wide availability and low cost of potatoes, Depression-era cooks used potatoes as substitutes in other dishes. Potato pancakes, made with grated potatoes cooked or fried in a pan, was a common dish at every meal.


14) Tin Foil Hobo Dinners

Hobo dinners, named after the homeless who lived in shantytowns near the railroad tracks, were a favorite because they could be cooked over an open fire. A square of tin foil was filled with meat, potato, onions, and other ingredients and thrown on top of the fire to cook for approximately half an hour.



15) Great Depression Casserole

Last on our list is the Great Depression casserole, which features bologna as the prized ingredient. With other budget-friendly ingredients like pork and beans and onions, this casserole was filling and could be altered to fit any budget.

The Great Depression was a time of scarcity-induced innovation: families had to do without many household staples and used their resourcefulness to come up with alternatives made from goods that

It may be difficult to understand but in many states it is highly regulated to harvest rainwater, whatever the method. It seems a little insane that anything that could actually fall on your head and soak in the ground couldn’t be captured and used as you see fit, but there are many explanations for the regulations on rainwater that so many states have put in place.

Why Is Rain Water Harvesting Regulated?

Regulations surrounding rain water collection were for the most part not put in place because the average Joe collected a little rain from his roof using a guttering system and a rain barrel. Perhaps the rules are primarily intended to protect the ecosystem from large-scale rainwater collection. This does not mean, however, that rainwater collection in some states is no longer legal for individuals.

When large amounts of rainwater are diverted from where they would flow naturally, it can cause many environmental and human problems that rely on and have rights to these natural waterways. For example, if large quantities of rainwater are accumulated that would have poured into a river allowing a farmer to water his crops and or a rancher to provide his cattle with sufficient water supplies, problems can occur. Such changes will wreak havoc especially in areas that already experience drought and water shortage problems.

History of Rain Water Regulation

The history of some US rainwater regulatory laws goes back to at least the 1800s. Although large-scale collection wasn’t really feasible then, the idea that someone could cause ill effect on someone else by collecting rainwater was still a controversial idea in some cases.

States with Rain Water Harvesting Laws

It’s important to note that the degree to which the laws would affect the average homeowner varies a lot in many places where there are laws regulating rainwater collection. Some laws state that commercial collection is unacceptable, or that you can only collect so much rain water a year, or regulate how you use rainwater collected. Just because a state has legislation governing the harvesting of rainwater doesn’t mean it’s completely unlawful. Many cities do have strict rainwater laws in effect, outside state legislation, so be sure to check those out as well.

Having said that, here are the states that have rainwater collection laws on their books with a brief explanation of how those laws are in each place.


A few years back, harvesting rain water in Colorado was simply illegal in any capacity, but thanks to new laws passed in 2016, harvesting rain water for personal use is okay in most areas. People are allowed two barrels with a capacity under 110 gallons. Collected water can be used for non-potable purposes, like watering gardens.


California has a mass amount of regulation surrounding rain water collection due to severe droughts in much of the state, but home rain water collection is mostly legal.


There was a big story about a man who was arrested for illegally harvesting rainwater in Oregon that got a lot of attention on the internet a couple of years ago, leading people to assume it was completely illegal there, but that is not the case. The man in question illegally harvested rain water but not all collection of rain water is illegal. You need a permit to collect rainwater on a wide scale in the state of Oregon, but there’s also a law that specifies that collecting rainwater from surfaces like roofs or parking lots is perfectly okay.


There are some restrictions on the rainwater collection books in Texas but the practice as a whole is usually encouraged. The rules only cover those health requirements for collected rainwater. Apparently, there are regulations on the books in Texas that cover rain water collection.


Oklahoma house bill 3055 established a committee to look into more efficient practices for water use and concluded that some potential rain water harvesting projects may be grant eligible.


This is another state with a ton of legislation around rainwater harvesting and the regulations are very prohibitive when it comes to harvesting a lot of rainwater. Nonetheless, there are exceptions that mean rain barrels are okay and in certain cases do not need a permit as long as there is no part within a dwelling and it does not require permits under any other regulations.


There are laws regulating what harvested rain water can be used for in Ohio, but collecting rain water here is actually encouraged and grants may be provided to set up rain water collection systems. So long as you’re not trying to consume collected rain water, you’ve got nothing to worry about in Ohio!


While there are regulations regarding commercial rain water harvesting in Arizona, there’s nothing on their books that pertains to residential collection.

North Carolina

The laws on the books in this state are actually to promote the harvesting of rain water, not deter people from it. There are grants available for projects, like rain water collection systems, that help make the best use of the state’s natural water resources.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s law rewards residents for rain water collection with a 10% tax credit for the cost of their rain water collection system. Homeowners can get a credit of up to $1,000 for putting in a cistern or replacing a cistern with a larger one if they have not already received the tax credit. No rain water collection ban there, though!


Although rainwater collection is not completely illegal in Utah, it is still very regulated. Without registration, small systems which store under 100 gallons are allowed. If you plan to collect rainwater for personal use with a storage capacity of more than 100 gallons, you’ll need to register your system, which includes letting the government know how much water you can store. Only up to 2,500 gallons are permitted, and you may only use the water on the parcel of land where it was collected.


Though there is some regulation in Washington, it should be no problem, legally speaking, for the average citizen to collect rain water for their personal use.


Virginia does have some usage regulations to make sure collected rain water is being used safely, but overall, rain water collection is encouraged in the state of Virginia.

The Final Word on the Legalities of Rain Water Harvesting

While in many states, there is a lot of legislation around rainwater harvesting, it’s not really completely illegal anywhere on a small scale. Make sure you obey all laws in your state, county, or city and you’re going to be all right.

It may be difficult to understand but in many states it is highly regulated to harvest rainwater, whatever the method. It seems a little insane that anything that could actually

For when SHTF, we all have our food storage. Without outside interference, some of us can survive on our supply for years. What happens, though, when our supply is threatened by an outside interruption? Hungry neighbors can try to force their way in to steal your surplus food in a desperate scenario.

We, as preppers, are ready for anything. It is nice for storage to have a dedicated space in your basement or root cellar, but it can have easy access to intruders. You would have to start building your surplus from the ground up, again, if a burglar discovers all your food in one place. If people have already resorted to stealing food in this case, that is an expensive hassle.

Instead of having all of your long-term non-perishables in one place, I personally prefer to spread out my food in various hiding locations. I keep a thorough list of my hiding places and what is stored there, in order not to lose track of my inventory. It is also beneficial to have expiration dates clearly marked on the list as well. Keep this list easily available but secured, such as on your tablet or computer, or inside a safe with a physical list.

Not to state the obvious, but when storing, please bear in mind obvious fire hazards. In addition to electrical wires, etc., cardboard or wood boxes of food would not fit well. They should be 100 percent critter-free whether your hiding spots are under floorboards or behind walls. Just make sure that you search your hiding places long before you store them.

Here are some of my favorite unspeakable secret places for non-perishable food.

A Hidden Room

Like me, maybe you know your way around a project at home. If the space is completely shielded, home invaders will never be able to locate a cache, and most homes do not come with secret rooms upon purchase (unless you’re lucky).

Tons of homes have “dead space” between the walls, leaving a few rows of vacant square footage here and there. It is possible to excavate, reframe, and add shelves to these rooms. A bookshelf or cabinet will mask the entry to your new secret food storage to conceal the space entirely.

Emergency Shelter

You may already have an underground storm shelter if you are living in a tornado area. In these areas, surplus food can easily be stored. Since they are underground, the humidity levels for food storage should be sufficient.

It should be stored under benches or on shelves. It is also a smart idea in your climate to have sustenance during increasingly dangerous conditions.

Related: 59 Long-Term Survival Foods and Supplies from the Grocery Store

Under Stairwells

There’s always a lot of empty space beneath your basement’s stairwell, or from the first floor to the second floor.

This is a great opportunity to store food, as this room is normally dry and regulated by temperature. At the very back of the stairwell, I like to store food and store household furniture and other stuff to hide the food behind it.

Survival Caches

You can dig some proper storage caches all over your property in the case of SHTF. Moisture, critters, elements, and temperature are immune to all cache containers. Remembering where you buried them is the hardest part!


Sure, it might be obvious to store food in a closet. But it’s the place you need to pay attention to inside the closet.

In your coat closet, boxes of non-perishables can be kept under hanging coats. On top of most closets, the high shelves often go unused, making them the ideal place to store lighter items, such as lighter bags or vacuum-sealed foods.


Rental Storage Unit

Just in case your home is destroyed or stolen, you can never store all of your food in one location at home. If your house is under pressure, getting some food surplus in a storage unit is a smart idea.

Rentals that are temperature regulated and reputable can be found. Some are even elevated in the off-chance the unit has a critter or two. The unit should also be well-shaded and facing away from direct sunlight.

Bug Out Location

If you are lucky enough to have a place to which your family retreats in a global emergency, make sure that you have a non-perishable rotation hidden in that location. This way, packing food is one less thing on their mind if family members have to run.

It is helpful to share this room with trusted family members and friends if anyone is in trouble. Both participants can consent to continue to add to the stock as they take it.

Galvanized Steel Garbage Cans

These garbage cans store some items very well, such as dried beans or grains. They can be stored in a garage, basement, or barn and will retain optimum temperature and moisture. This is also a perfect place to store extra pet food if you are a pet owner. Using brand new bins, with food containing oxygen absorbers in mylar packets.


In The Ground

How do you store food in a garden of your own? In cold weather regions, root vegetables can be stored immediately in the soil after harvest during the winter months.

Vegetables that can be stored in this way range from beets, to potatoes, to carrots. To ensure the veggies are free from rot or critters, check regularly.


A perfect place to hide food is the guest bedroom/home office. N on-perishables can go inside a desk or be stacked inside the closet. Without being in plain sight, storage shelves may also conceal additional food.

Some Places You Should NEVER Store Food Are:

  • The attic – hot temperatures fluctuate during the summer, spoiling all of your food.
  • A crawl space – critters can easily penetrate these and crawl spaces typically get warm in the summer.
  • The shed or barn – again, temperature and rodent control is too difficult here.
  • Near chemicals or excess fuel. Just don’t do it.

In the event of an emergency, we all have excess food storage to support ourselves, so having some secret food somewhere will ensure that you have enough in a crisis.

It’s never fun to think about what if it was, like what if I was robbed? What if my stock of food is compromised? If that is the case, it will secure our safety by being prepared on all fronts.

For when SHTF, we all have our food storage. Without outside interference, some of us can survive on our supply for years. What happens, though, when our supply is threatened

For farmers around the world, growing food and raising meat is becoming even more difficult. We are seeing more crop loss and livestock losses than ever between radical shifting weather conditions and disease. Since we have large populations to feed, the numbers are big. Such populations are only rising.

For many preppers and homesteaders, it is just part of daily life to grow and make our own food. It is extremely liberating and brings a new kind of liberty into your life. It is the secret to having a good life.

Cooking at home can be about survival and prepping, as much as it can be about dinner tonight. Since they have such a long shelf life, some foods you can make and forget. I have compiled 6 survival food recipes to make and forget.

If you don’t believe you have what it takes to make delicious fresh bread at home, give them all a try, but especially the peasant bread.

Virginia Ham

One of those skills that any prepper should at least consider is the preservation of ham. Whether it isn’t something you’ve done before. It’s a very easy process, but the seasons need a lot of time and some timing.

6 Make-it and Forget-it Prepper Foods5


  • 1 Pork Picnic
  • 1 LB of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Whisky


  • In most climates, you are going to want to start this process around September at the earliest.
  • In a large container or a large unscented trash bag place your pork and cover it completely with your salt.
  • Keep this in the refrigerator for 30 days. You may need to add more salt to the pork as the month goes on to keep it covered.
  • After a month you are going to wipe the salt of the curing pork and then pour the whiskey over top. Now wrap it up in a few layers of cheesecloth, a large kitchen towel or a chef jacket. You are going to hang this for the next 6 months in an area that is covered from the sun and has some decent airflow.
  • Therefore, it’s important to time things just right. You do not wanna be hanging a ham through the summer.
  • Unwrap your ham after 3 months to check the ham out. You might need to cut some mold off the ham. Wrap it again and let hang for another 3 months.

Estimated Shelf Life: 5 years if left wrapped and uncut.


This spicy fermented mixture of cabbage is a sweet and spicy treat as well as an excellent probiotic food for the well-being of your stomach.

Kimchi will be preserved underground in covered earthenware pots in the Korean tradition and allowed to ferment for decades! While you may do things that are counterintuitive to traditional cooking techniques, Kim Chi is simple to make.

It’s all part of the method of fermentation.

What Foods Can You Bury Underground For Winter


  • 1 head of Napa Cabbage
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Heaping TBSP of Korean Ground Chili
  • 2 TBSP of Soy Sauce
  • 1 Large Thumb Sized Piece of Ginger


  • Start by mincing your garlic and ginger.
  • Next, you are going to cut the core out of your cabbage and slice it in half. Slice the halves, starting at the top, in quarter-inch slices.
  • Place the cabbage into a colander and salt it heavily. Toss the cabbage to incorporate the salt and then allow this to sit and drain overnight.
  • The next day you are going to rinse your cabbage and add it to a big bowl Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place this mix in mason jars with the lid just lightly screwed on. Allow this mix to ferment for 4 days in the dark pantry.
  • You can store it in the fridge after this and leave it to ferment for as long as you like.
  • If we experience an off-grid situation you would need only remove these from the fridge and bury them underground.

Estimated Shelf Life: Indefinitely.

Fruit Leather

For preppers, dehydration is a great part of food preservation. One of the most essential aspects of bacterial growth is eliminated by the ability to extract moisture from food. That is why it deals so well for dehydration. You will find 50 foods here which you can dehydrate at home.

Fruit leather is a perfect way to use lots of fruit and make wonderful food that will last until you need it most on the shelf. Fruit leather, including granola and fruit bars, is also a perfect addition to many other recipes.

Making fruit leather is a fairly easy process and you can get there if you have some fruit and sugar.

6 Make-it and Forget-it Prepper Foods1


I like ratios and I would rather people remember ratios than any recipe. If you understand ratios than you can recreate things easily. In this case, we are talking about the fruit to sugar ration.

  • 2 Parts Fruit: 1 Part Sugar
  • 4 cups of strawberries
  • 2 cups of sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • In a large sauce pot place your ingredients. Simmer until you can smash the fruit and sugar into a smooth purée.
  • Using a tablespoon, smooth some purées out onto a sheet pan that is lined with good wax paper or a Silpat.
  • Cook that purée in the oven for about 6-7 hours until it is completely dry.
  • Let it cool and cut the fruit purée in the shape you would like to.

Estimated Shelf Life: 4 years.


This is a South African meat preservation method that focuses on the use of vinegar. The word Biltong is Greek and means bed bug!

That is because the coriander seeds, a necessary ingredient, resembled little bed bugs.

6 Make-it and Forget-it Prepper Foods3


  • 5 LBS of Lean Meat
  • 5 TBSP of Malt or Cider Vinegar
  • 3 TSP of Coarse Salt
  • 2 TSP of Black Pepper
  • 2 TBSP of Coriander Seeds


  • Start by toasting your coriander seeds to bring them back to life. In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle bash them up a bit. You can even add the vinegar to this.
  • Slice your meat against the grain into 1-inch pieces and place it in a non-reactive container.
  • Now dump the rest of the ingredients over top of the meat and allow that mix to sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours. 24 hours wouldn’t hurt.
  • Remove the meat from the container and gently pat it dry on a plate. Be careful not to remove all the pepper and coriander.
  • Next, you are going to hang this meat, most likely in your fridge with some twine between racks. If you get a few days of cool temperatures, you could hang it outside, but you are gonna want to cover it with cheesecloth to avoid bug infestation. Fridge works great.
  • Check it every few days. You want the entire piece of meat to be hard. If it has some give or feels mushy at the center than you are going to have raw meat inside. Let it cure for a few more days.

Estimated Shelf Life: Approximately 10 years.

Peasant Bread

You know that I put an intense emphasis on being able to cook from scratch if you’ve read my posts in the past.

It does not carry the weight of things such as military planning or communications in the prepper culture, but it is a burden that someone would need to inherit 3 times/365 days a year in a SHTF situation.

This is the best technique for making bread dough and should be part of the recipe book of any homesteader or prepper.

6 Make-it and Forget-it Prepper Foods4


  • 4 Cups of Flour
  • 2 TSP of Salt
  • 2 TSP of Sugar
  • 2 Packets of Dry Yeast
  • 2 Cups of Warm Water


  • Start in a large metal bowl with all your dry ingredients. Mix them thoroughly before adding your warm water. Mix this all together to create a sticky ball of dough.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp towel and in about an hour your dough will have doubled in size.
  • Beat the dough down with the spatula and it will deflate.
  • Now transfer it to your baking vessel, most people use an oven-safe glass or ceramic bowl. Allow this mix to rise to the rim of the bowl before baking for about 20 minutes in a 375-degree oven. The top should be golden brown and delicious.

Estimated Shelf Life: Approximately 3 years.

Pilot Crackers

When you read about something called two pilot crackers you probably think two things:

1. They were made for pilots.

2. They are basically flavorless crackers.

The funny thing about pilot crackers is that they were actually created for seagoing by a man named John Pearson in 1792. The recipe is Nabisco’s oldest!

If you like crackers, you will find the pilot cracker to be a great vehicle for spreads and even preserved meats.

6 Make-it and Forget-it Prepper Foods6


  • 2 Cups of Flour
  • ¾ of a Cup of Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lard
  • ½ Teaspoon of Salt


  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly incorporated. This can be done in a mixer or by hand.
  • Rest the dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes to allow the lard to harden up again.
  • Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch and use a circle mold or a small cup to punch crackers out at the desired size.
  • Bake them for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven and allow them to cool completely before trying to remove them.

Estimated Shelf Life: Indefinitely.

TIP: For even more extended storage, you can store them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

There is no end on making many survival meals! For long term, these are 6 perfect foods to learn how to make and store.

These foods concentrate on many essential techniques of cooking, such as dough making, curing, dehydrating and baking.

You would certainly be prepared for the next disaster if you can load your pantry with food that you can make and forget. If you can master the techniques, however, then you will be able to eat for a long time.

Stuff like the biltong could be made with beef or with venison that you hunted.

Your stored wheat could be used to make these crackers or peasant bread.

Try your hand on the above recipes and let us know how things worked out in the comments below!

All storage methods are simple, but all foods can last forever if Oxygen absorbers & Mylar bags were used.

For farmers around the world, growing food and raising meat is becoming even more difficult. We are seeing more crop loss and livestock losses than ever between radical shifting weather