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31 Delicious Dishes Grandma Made During the Great Depression

Grandma knew how to scrimp and save every last penny with these thrifty meals. Find delicious, budget-friendly ideas for main dishes, pickled veggies, desserts and more.

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Slow Cooker Mushroom Stuffing

My grandmother created this recipe after my grandfather left the well-drilling business and invested all their money in a mushroom farm. The farm was a success and saw the family through the Great Depression. —Eric Cooper, Durham, North Carolina
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Grandma's Pea Soup

My grandma's pea soup recipe was a family favorite. What makes it different from any other pea soups I have tried is the addition of whole peas, spaetzle-like "dumplings" and sausage. Try it once and you'll be hooked. —Carole Talcott, Dahinda, Illinois
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Grandma's Biscuits

Homemade biscuits add a warm and comforting touch to any meal. My grandmother makes these tender biscuits to go with her seafood chowder. —Melissa Obernesser, Utica, New York
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Grandma Pruit's Vinegar Pie

This historic pie has been in our family for many generations and is always at all of the family get-togethers.—Suzette Pruit, Houston, Texas
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Carrot Chowder

My husband's grandmother passed this recipe on to us, and it's just wonderful—especially with a basket of warm, fresh bread on the side. This soup freezes well. —Wendy Wilkins, Prattville, Alabama
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Grandma Davidson's Baked Apple Pudding

My savvy grandmother whipped up recipes like this homey, cinnamon-scented apple pudding in the Depression years. Many of us still make them today. —Holly Sharp, Warren, Ontario
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Mom's Pickled Carrots

My mother is the only other person I've known to make this recipe. In fact, when I take it to a potluck or picnic, no one has ever heard of pickled carrots. But once they try them, they are hooked. —Robin Koble, Fairview, Pennsylvania
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Strawberry Buttermilk Skillet Shortcake

This scratch-made strawberry buttermilk cake is a family favorite. The recipe is over 100 years old, and I remember my grandma making it. We still carry on the family tradition by making this old-fashioned recipe each summer. —Claudia Lamascolo, Melbourne, Florida
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Old-World Puff Pancake

Old-World Puff Pancake

My mom told me her mother-in-law showed her how to make this dish, which became popular during the Depression, on their "get acquainted" visit in 1927. At that time, cooks measured ingredients in pinches, dashes and dibs. But through the years, accurate amounts were noted. My wife and I continue to enjoy this dish today, particularly for brunch. —Auton Miller, Piney Flats, Tennessee
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Coconut Washboards

Coconut Washboards

This simple yet satisfying coconut cookie recipe has been around for generations. Pressing a fork into the top gives the look of an old-fashioned washboard. —Tommie Sue Shaw, McAlester, Oklahoma
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Green Tomato Pie

When frost nips our garden, I quickly gather all the green tomatoes still on the vine and make this old family favorite. It's been handed down from my grandmother, and now my granddaughters are asking for the recipe.—Violet Thompson, Port Ludlow, Washington
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Garden Vegetable Cornbread

When I was a kid, my parents would make cornbread for my siblings and me. We would slather butter and maple syrup over the warm bread—it was delicious. Today I experiment a lot with recipes, just as my grandma and mom did, and that's how my version of their easy cornbread recipe was born! —Kim Moyes, Kenosha, Wisconsin
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Mom-Mom Bessie's Coconut Molasses Pie

I'm the keeper of my husband's grandmother's handwritten recipe book. Mom-Mom Bessie was one of the best cooks I knew, and we think of her every time we make this pie. The flavor combination of coconut and molasses is a family favorite. —Susan Bickta, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
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Grandma's Rosemary Dinner Rolls

My grandma (I called her Baba) made these in her coal oven. How she regulated the temperature is beyond me! She always made extra rolls for the neighbors to bake in their own ovens. At lunchtime, my mom and aunts delivered the formed rolls. —Charlotte Hendershot, Hudson, Pennsylvania
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Grandma’s Onion Squares

My grandma brought this recipe with her when she emigrated from Italy as a young wife and mother. It is still a family favorite. —Janet Eddy, Stockton, California
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Grandma's Collard Greens

My grandmother made the best collard greens recipe in the world. Eating them with a slice of buttermilk cornbread is pure bliss. —Sherri Williams, Crestview, Florida
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Grandma's Rice Pudding

My sisters and I always loved the recipe for rice pudding our grandma made. After she passed away, I took it upon myself to try and find the secret to her rice pudding. It took quite a bit of experimentation, but I finally got it right! And I'm glad to share this easy recipe here. —Margaret DeChant, Newberry, Michigan
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Blackberry Peekaboo Cookies

My grandmother bakes this recipe every year for the holidays. She uses homemade blackberry jam that she makes fresh every summer. These cookies are so delicious! —Jacquie Franklin, Hot Springs, Montana
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Grandma's Dill Pickles

This treasured dill pickle recipe is like an old friend. These crispy spears have a slightly salty, tart flavor with a good balance of dill, garlic and peppers. —Betty Sitzman, Wray, Colorado
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Mom's Meat Loaf

Mom made the best meatloaf, and now I do, too. When I first met my husband, he didn't care for homemade meatloaf, but this won him over. —Michelle Beran, Claflin, Kansas
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Grandma's Honey Muffins

I can remember my Grandma Wheeler making these delicious muffins—we'd eat them nice and warm, fresh from the oven! She was a "pinch of this and handful of that" kind of cook, so getting the ingredient amounts correct for the recipe was a challenge. Now it's a family treasure! —Darlis A. Wilfer, West Bend, Wisconsin
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Tillie's Ginger Crumb Cake

This recipe goes back at least as far as my grandmother, who was born in the early 1900s. Our sons and I enjoy eating it in a bowl with milk poured on it—much to the dismay of my husband, who prefers it plain! —Kathy Nienow Clark, Byron, Michigan
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Crisp Sugar Cookies

My grandmother always had sugar cookies in her pantry, and we grandchildren would empty that big jar quickly because they were the best! I now regularly bake these wonderful cookies to share with friends. —Evelyn Poteet, Hancock, Maryland
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Apple Roly-Poly

Apple Roly-Poly isn't very fancy, but it's genuine Down East fare. It came from my grandmother. With 13 children plus the men at Grandpa's sawmill, she had to do lots of cooking each day! —Megan Newcombe, Cookstown, Ontario
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Farmhouse Apple Coleslaw

A friend from church gave me this apple coleslaw recipe that her grandmother handed down to her. The flavors complement each other well, while the fruit creates a refreshing change of pace from the usual coleslaw. —Jan Myers, Atlantic, Iowa
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Onion Pie

My grandmother and mother always make onion pie during the holidays, but it's good anytime. This is a savory side dish that you can serve with almost any meat or main course. It's especially good with roast beef. —Mary West, Marstons Mills, Massachusetts
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Old-Fashioned Stack Cakes

My grandmother has always fixed these at Christmas and they are the first thing everyone asks about. "Where is the stack cake?" The super thin layers are what make this recipe stand out...delicious! —Stephanie Gilbert, Whitesburg, Kentucky
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Roasted Beet Jam

This spicy jam recipe is from my Russian grandmother, who had no written recipes and who gave a few jars of the jam as gifts. I re-created the recipe from memory and think of her each time I prepare it. If you want to increase the yield, it's easy to double the recipe. I like to serve the jam on buttered toast or with cream cheese on toasted pita. The jars, which are dark red from the beets, make a welcome gift.—Susan Asanovic, Wilton, Connecticut
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Leek Potato Pancakes

Leek Potato Pancakes

I received this recipe from my great-grandmother. She brought this over from England, where they enjoyed leeks immensely during the fall and winter. —Suzanne Kesel, Cohocton, New York
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Shoofly Pie

My grandmother made the best shoofly pie in the tradition of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Shoofly pie is to the Pennsylvania Dutch as pecan pie is to a Southerner. —Mark Morgan, Waterford, Wisconsin
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Skillet Herb Bread

We had a lot of family get-togethers when I was growing up. My grandmother, aunts and mom were all good cooks, and each had her own specialty when it came to bread. But Mom's was my favorite—she started making it 40 years ago. The flavors call to mind the taste of cornbread stuffing! —Shirley Smith, Yorba Linda, California

Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.
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