30 Thrifty Holiday Recipes from the '30s (2024)

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30 Thrifty Holiday Recipes from the '30s (1)Carrie Madormo, RNUpdated: Jan. 05, 2022

    Hosting a festive gathering doesn't have to break the bank. Stick with these inexpensive holiday recipes for all the flavor at half the price.


    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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    Citrus-Herb Roast Chicken

    This dish is one of my all-time favorites. The flavorful, juicy chicken combines with the aromas of spring in fresh herbs, lemon and onions to form the perfect one-pot meal. I make the gravy right in the pan. —Megan Fordyce, Fairchance, Pennsylvania

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    Traditional Mashed Potatoes

    Mashed potatoes make a wonderful accompaniment to most any meal, so keep this recipe handy.

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    Old-Fashioned Fruit Compote

    A perfect partner for your Christmas goose, this warm and fruity side dish can simmer while you prepare the rest of your menu, or make it a day ahead and reheat before serving. —Shirley A. Glaab, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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    Hearty Navy Bean Soup

    My family loves navy bean soup! Beans were a commodity you did not survive without in the ’30s. This excellent navy beans and ham soup is a real family favorite of ours and I make it often. —Mildred Lewis, Temple, Texas

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    Taste of Home

    Pumpkin Pie Pudding

    My husband loves anything pumpkin, and this creamy, comforting pumpkin pudding recipe is one of his favorites. We make our easy pudding all year long, but it's especially nice in the fall. —Andrea Schaak, Bloomington, Minnesota

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    Glazed Cinnamon Apples

    If you are seeking comfort food on the sweet side, this warm and yummy apple dessert, made with cinnamon and nutmeg, fits the bill. —Megan Maze, Oak Creek, Wisconsin

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    Bacon Roll-Ups

    This family recipe dates back to the 1930s, when my grandmother started making these hearty breakfast rolls. —Janet Abate, North Brunswick, New Jersey

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    Taste of Home

    Mom's Fried Apples

    Mom often made these rich cinnamon-sugar apples when I was growing up. I swear the folks at Cracker Barrel copied her recipe! —Margie Tappe, Prague, Oklahoma

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    Sugar-Glazed Ham

    This old-fashioned ham glaze gives a pretty golden brown coating—just like Grandma used to make. The mustard and vinegar complement the brown sugar which adds a tangy flavor to this glazed ham recipe. Be prepared to serve seconds! —Carol Strong Battle, Heathville, Virginia

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    Roasted Chicken with Rosemary

    Herbs, garlic and butter give this hearty meal in one a classic flavor. It's a lot like pot roast, except it uses chicken instead of beef. —Isabel Zienkosky, Salt Lake City, Utah

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    Taste of Home

    Oyster Stuffing

    This recipe came from my mother. She made it every Thanksgiving for my father, who absolutely loved it. —Amy Daniels, Brodhead, Wisconsin

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    Taste of Home

    Sunday Dinner Mashed Potatoes

    Sour cream and cream cheese add delicious dairy flavors to these potatoes. They can be prepared in advance and are special enough to serve guests. —Melody Mellinger, Myerstown, Pennsylvania

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    Cinnamon Spiced Apples

    If you’re feeling festive, scoop some vanilla ice cream over a bowl of my cinnamon spiced apples. They’re homey, aromatic and just plain heavenly. —Amie Powell, Knoxville, Tennessee

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    Taste of Home

    Cranberry Glazed Ham

    That show-stopping entree you've been hoping for is right here, and it only takes five ingredients to make. The sweet and tangy cranberry glaze pairs beautifully with succulent ham. —Joni Peterson, Wichita, Kansas

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    Taste of Home

    Roasted Chicken

    This tender chicken is a real time-saver on a busy weekend. A simple blend of seasonings makes it a snap to prepare, and it smells heavenly as it roasts. —Marian Platt, Sequim, Washington

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    Taste of Home

    Pumpkin Pudding Desserts

    I love pumpkin pie but I don't always have time to make it so I decided to come up with a way to eat pumpkin pie all year round with this lighter pumkin dessert. Very delicious when topped with cool whip like a real pumpking pie! Could be considered the new pumkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner!

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    Chunky Creamy Chicken Soup

    I am a stay-at-home mom who relies on my slow cooker for fast, nutritious meals with minimal cleanup and prep time. I knew this recipe was a hit when I didn't have any leftovers and my husband asked me to make it again. —Nancy Clow, Mallorytown, Ontario

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    Roast Chicken with Vegetables

    Love a moist and tender chicken but not the mess of actually roasting one? Use an oven cooking bag to keep a chicken and veggies easily under control. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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    Gran's Apple Cake

    Gran's Apple Cake

    My grandmother occasionally brought over this wonderful cake warm from the oven. The spicy apple flavor combined with the sweet cream cheese frosting made this recipe one that we treasured. Even though I've lightened it up, it's still a family favorite. —Lauris Conrad, Turlock, California

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    Taste of Home

    Apricot-Glazed Ham

    Glaze a bone-in ham with apricot jam for a entree that's beautiful and delicious. Any leftovers will make meal planning a breeze later in the week. —Galelah Dowell, Fairland, Oklahoma

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    Deluxe Mashed Potatoes

    When it comes to mashed potatoes recipes, this is one of my favorites because they can be made ahead, refrigerated and then popped into the oven just prior to dinnertime. When my grandchildren come for dinner, I have to double this recipe. They love it! —Vivian Bailey, Cedar Falls, Iowa

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    Taste of Home

    Warm Cinnamon-Apple Topping

    You'll quickly warm up to the old-fashioned taste of this cinnamon-apple topping. Spoon it over vanilla ice cream or slices of pound cake. —Doris Heath, Franklin, North Carolina

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    Spinach Souffle Side Dish

    You just can't make an easier, more delicious side dish than this. It's great with beef, pork and lamb, and I especially like serving it for a festive occasion like New Year's Eve. —Bette Duffy, Kenmore, Washington

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    When my whole family comes over for dinner, I make a big platter of roast chicken with sweet potatoes, carrots and fennel. My dad leads the fan club. —Kelly Ferguson, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

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    Taste of Home

    Pressure-Cooker English Pub Split Pea Soup

    This family favorite is the same recipe my grandmother used. Now with the magic of today's appliances, I can spend 15 minutes putting it together, walk away for a bit and then it's "soup's on!" Finish it with more milk if you like your split pea soup a bit thinner. —Judy Batson, Tampa, Florida

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    Taste of Home

    Maple-Peach Glazed Ham

    This is one of my husband's favorite recipes. He makes it regularly for his group of friends on the weekends because it's so good and easy. —Bonnie Hawkins, Elkhorn, Wisconsin

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    Sunday's Best Chicken

    I am a busy mom of four and a nursing student, so weeknight dinners are often rushed. Sunday dinners are very important to our family, and everyone loves when I make this old-fashioned chicken recipe. —Amy Jenkins, Mesa, Arizona

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    Originally Published: December 06, 2020

    30 Thrifty Holiday Recipes from the '30s (30)

    Carrie Madormo, RN

    Carrie is a health writer and nurse who specializes in healthy eating and wellness through food. With a master’s degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin, she strives to translate the latest health and nutrition research into interesting, actionable articles. During her six years at Taste of Home, Carrie has answered hundreds of reader questions about health and nutrition, such as if pomegranate seeds are safe to eat, why pregnant women crave pickles and how much caffeine is in a shot of espresso. Carrie is also a former health coach and food blogger.

    30 Thrifty Holiday Recipes from the '30s (2024)


    What food was served at a 1930's dinner party? ›

    A 1930s dinner party menu would probably also have included dishes that mirrored what Hollywood considered sophisticated European taste with items like scones, crumpets, cucumber or watercress sandwiches, salmon croquettes, trifles, tortes and meringues.

    What food was popular in the 30s? ›

    From frozen foods to Jell-O molds, the 1930s and 40s saw a huge upsurge in convenience foods. Building on the popularity of brands like Wonder Bread, Kool-Aid, Velveeta Cheese, and Hostess Cakes, American supermarkets stocked up on mass-produced items.

    What was Christmas like in the 1930s? ›

    Christmas was about family and what you did have; and being grateful for it, not griping about what you didn't have. Gifts were made by hand and great thought was given into the making of a gift. People were self-sufficient because they had to be or they and their families didn't survive.

    What are classic holiday foods? ›

    Every family in every part of the world serves their own traditional Christmas foods, but in the U.S., some are enjoyed nationwide:
    • Turkey.
    • Prime Rib.
    • Baked Ham.
    • Mashed Potatoes & Gravy.
    • Stuffing.
    • Green Bean Casserole.
    • Candied Sweet Potatoes.
    • Roasted Vegetables.
    Dec 19, 2022

    What was the most popular food in the 1930s? ›

    Maybe the most favorite item coming from the 1930s was the new Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies developed in 1938. Photos: Bologna Casserole; Vinegar Pie; Fried Egg Sandwich, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and Lay's Potato Chips.

    What soup became a common meal during the 1930's? ›

    Simple to heat and eat, a simple can of Campbell's soup went a long way for many, and by the end of the Depression, Campbell had five different flavors for consumers: tomato, chicken, oxtail, vegetable and consommé.

    What was junk food in the 1930s? ›

    Many of today's favorite snacks were also introduced during this decade: Twinkies, Snickers, Tootsie Pops, Fritos, 3 Musketeers, Ritz Crackers, Kit Kat Bars, Five-Flavor Life Savers, 5th Avenue Bars, Rolo, Smarties, Heath Bar, Lay's Potato Chips and RC Cola.

    What is the poor mans meal? ›

    Potatoes were also inexpensive and used extensively. Some meals even used both. One of these meals was called the Poor Man's Meal. It combined potatoes, onions, and hot dogs into one hearty, inexpensive dish, which was perfect for the hard times people had fallen on.

    What is the name of the iconic Christmas movie set in the 1930s? ›

    Set in the 1930s, 'A Christmas Story' takes place in the fictitious town of Hohman. These are the real-life places in Hammond, Indiana that inspired the iconic holiday movie.

    What is the least popular Christmas food? ›

    Across all states, their findings showed that the least popular Christmas foods are persimmon pudding (13%) and fruitcake (25%).

    What are 3 traditional Christmas foods? ›

    Traditional Christmas Foods
    • 01 of 12. Roast Goose. The Spruce Eats / Anfisa Strizh. ...
    • 02 of 12. Turkey. The Spruce Eats/Diana Rattray. ...
    • 03 of 12. Glazed Ham. The Spruce. ...
    • 04 of 12. Panettone. Panettone - Italian Christmas Cake. ...
    • 05 of 12. Gingerbread Houses. ...
    • 06 of 12. Plum Christmas Pudding. ...
    • 07 of 12. Buche de Noel. ...
    • 08 of 12. Fruitcake.
    Aug 28, 2020

    What were the appetizers in the 1930s? ›

    • CRAB MEAT DIP. Soften cream cheese and combine with mayonnaise, sour cream, Tabasco, Worcestershire, cayenne, salt, garlic and Old Bay seasoning. ...
    • SPINACH DIP. ...
    • EASY HOT CRAB DIP. ...

    Were there diners in the 1930s? ›

    These early diners were often small food trailers or converted train cars. They were particularly popular in rapidly growing urban areas, as they provided quick and affordable meals for workers. In the 1920s and 1930s, diners began to evolve, with the emergence of larger and more elaborate models.

    What were the foods of the 1920's parties? ›

    For a co*cktail party, hors d'oeuvres like shrimp co*cktail, crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms as well as cheese trays and finger sandwiches were popular 20s fare. When planning a sit-down dinner, salad or soup along with a main course of smoked ham or roasted turkey will please your guests while staying on theme.

    What was a popular meal during the Great Depression? ›

    Cornbread/Johnny Cakes

    During the Great Depression, corn meal was one kitchen staple that was typically easily accessible and cost-effective. To utilize this ingredient during hard times, home cooks began making Johnny cakes, a Northeastern bread that became particularly popular during the Great Depression.


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