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Hearty and Affordable Meals to Feed your Family Through Food Scarcity and Economic Depression

Avatar for James Walton James Walton  |  Updated: May 4, 2020
Hearty and Affordable Meals to Feed your Family Through Food Scarcity and Economic Depression

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Mom wasn’t a prepper but you could argue that she was focused on survival. Not from the standpoint of impending doom from a crumbling economy or some other threat. Mom was worried about the water bill and getting dinner on the table.

It was a different kind of survival. It was southeastern Pennsylvania, broke as a joke but got money to smoke, kind of survival.

Mom’s #1 “survival skill” was what she could do with a stove and an oven. Mom turned pennies into meals. She cooked real food. Food that we can barely speak of anymore. The very names of these dishes make our hearts and arteries tremble.

She would deliver these meals to the table with thunderous applause from my father. Every night my father ate the best meal of his life and he let us all know it. Looking back I realize now it was an incredible strategy to get the kids to eat too.

As his son, it was hard to not wanna play along with the show he put on each night. It was also an adorable act of love by which he cheered on his wife and her efforts.

They lived through hard times all of their life but we ate well. We ate well because Mom knew how to cook hearty and delicious food even in hard times.

This pandemic has brought hard times to all of us. Meat processing has been slashed in this nation and the world economy has also taken a massive blow. Are you prepared?

Access to cheap, easy to cook cuts of meat is going to be limited. That says nothing about employment and income over the next 6 months. Its time to really learn to cook at home.

We are going to go over some meals that are cheap, filling and delicious. Many of which were served up from that four burner gas stove at my childhood home in Marcus Hook.

Savory Pies

A lot of eating well was thrown out by the low fat/ no fat diet. Now I am not a nutritionist but I am a nutrition loud mouth, so I will keep that diatribe to myself.

About 3 months ago I wrote an article about what the cowboys ate on the range. I was surprised to find that many of the ingredients they had at their bunkhouse wound up in the pie crust.

Its time to bring the savory pie back out in the open. No one argues with a chicken pot pie on a cold winters day where the fire is blazing and a virgin snow blankets the ground outside.

You will want a good basic pie dough recipe to help you along with these. Just remember the basics of good pie dough are not to overwork it, keep the fat cold with ice water as you mix and let it rest.

Having a good pie pan for baking these savory pies is great, too!

Bacon, Onion, Spinach, Mushroom Quiche

One of the most filling and delicious savory pies, the quiche, is often looked at as a brunch or lunch item but this delicious savory pie can be loaded with ingredients to make a truly filling meal.


  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Cup and a Half of Cream
  • 6 Pieces of Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 Onion, diced and cooked
  • 2 Cups of Spinach, cooked
  • 2 Cups of Sliced Mushrooms Cooked

You will need to blind bake your pie crust until it is cooked but not browned. To blind bake a pie crust you need to place it in your pie pan and then prick the dough all over on the bottom.

Add wax paper to the center of the pie and fill it up with some dry beans to weigh it down. You are precooking this pie crust so it will be finished when the eggs are through cooking.

Cook for about 10 minutes. We don’t want any brown on the crust. After the crust is baked you will be able to start making the filling.

Whisk your eggs and milk together in a bowl until well scrambled and combined.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir them around to spread them out evenly.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust and then bake your quiche for about 40 minutes. Check by sticking a toothpick into the center of the quiche if it is still liquid you will need to give it another 5 minutes to rest

Sheppard’s Pie

This classic meat pie is topped with mashed potatoes and baked. It is the definition of a hearty meal. While it is not contained in a pie crust it is still a great option. You can use cheap cuts of meat and stew them low and slow.

I like to add a little Guinness to my filling before covering it with potatoes and baking it.

Beef Pot Pie

This is a play on the chicken classic. Instead, you are to use beef and beef broth to create that great filling. If you really want it to be spectacular add some red wine and rosemary to the mix.

Homemade Pasta

“Don’t eat too much of that dough. There is raw ingredients in it.”

I remember the first time I made homemade pasta with Carter. I have not made homemade pasta with Jacob yet and this article has brought that to mind.

“I want butter on my noodles, Dad.”

His little hands were covered in flour both from helping with the dough but also playing in the flour. In fact, I wound up putting about a 1/2 cup of flour on the ground so he could drive his little toy car through it.

Using the hand crank pasta maker is a great time for kids. They really like to crank things out.

Pasta is filling and can be made with eggs from your hens. You can add a number of meats and vegetables to fresh pasta to make incredible meals with great variety.

Homemade Pasta Recipe:

  • 2 Cups of Semolina Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 3 Large Eggs

Start by mixing your flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in that flour and add your three large eggs.

Whip the eggs until they are thoroughly mixed and then start to incorporate the flour a little at a time.

Knead the dough for about 8 minutes until you have a nice silky dough. If it’s too sticky add more flour and if it’s too dry you might need to add some water to smooth it out.

Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes, at least.

You can use a pasta roller to roll out sheets or you can use a rolling pin. If you don’t have a pasta roller simply fold the thin pasta sheets over one another and slice them to the desired thickness you would like your pasta.


If you do nothing else with your fresh pasta, make a creamy carbonara. This is done by cooking down some diced pancetta in a pan. Adding a diced onion and 2 cloves of garlic minced.

Once they are fragrant add some half and half or heavy cream. Bring that to a simmer and then add 2-3 of those great free-range chicken eggs.

Add a little of your warm cream to the eggs and whisk that together. this is called tempering and prevents you from making scrambled eggs in your sauces.

Bring the sauce back to a slow simmer and add a couple of nice handfuls of Parmesan cheese. Plenty black pepper to finish and some chopped flat leaf parsley.

Toss with the fresh pasta, serve with a glass of red wine and sleep like a baby!

Dinner Sandwiches

Sandwiches have mostly been relegated to the lunch category for American’s. Where I am from Friday night was about eating a delicious takeout hoagie or a cheesesteak. Most of the time they would be delivered and after you ate one of these sandwiches you finished off the week with a full belly.

Banh Mi

This Vietnamese sandwich might seem like something strange at first glance but it is about as much a homesteader or prepper sandwich as I have ever seen.

It could be the chef in me but the pickled vegetables and the homemade mayo is just as good as it gets for a sandwich like this.


  • 1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup of White Sugar
  • Sliced Carrots
  • Sliced Radish
  • Sliced Onion
  • French Baguette
  • Mayonnaise
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced Cucumber

In a small pot combine 1/4 cup of water with your vinegar and sugar. Bring it to a boil and pour this over your carrots, radish, and onion. Place this warm pickle in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Slice your baguette in half and pull some of the center so that you can begin building your Banh Mi.

Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom portion of the sandwich and then layer it with cucumbers. Add plenty of sliced, grilled, chicken. Top this with your pickled vegetables

Tear your cilantro and sprinkled it over top of the sandwich. You are ready to eat!

French Dip

The French Dip requires some very important things. This roast beef sandwich served up on crusty bread is dipped into the cooking liquid, or Au Jus, of the roast beef before eating.

This sandwich can be made exquisite with a nice slathering of horseradish mayonnaise. Sometimes mouthfuls crusty bread and high-quality meat can give you all you need.

Breakfast for Dinner

Another pleasant surprise Mom would hit us with was, about once a month, we would come home and Mom would tell us, “Breakfast for dinner.”

It wasn’t this over the top meal that featured a pricey cut of beef or seafood. Instead, it was just a hearty breakfast cooked by Mom and truly served up with love.

We would have hash browns, pancakes, eggs and bacon or scrapple or sausage. Scrapple was always, and still is, my favorite. that incredible mixture of offal and cornmeal that just crisps up so perfectly in a skillet. Even in Virginia I buy Rappa scrapple and eat it with my eggs.

One of those stove top griddles can make breakfast cookery a whole lot of fun.

Real Soups

In 1765 a Parisian by the name of Boulanger opened the first modern restaurant. It was opened near the Louvre and served what was called “Restorative Broths” as the only menu item.

Soups are served in cups and bowls in restaurants of today and they are made to serve as a starter rather than a meal. It has been beaten into our head that a bowl of soup is either a lunch item or a starter for a larger meal.

In reality, soup has been a hearty main course in homes all over the world for a LONG time.

Indian Rice and Seafood Soup

  • Good Curry Powder
  • 2 Thumb Sized pieces of ginger peeled and grated
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Onions, Peeled and Chopped Fine
  • 1 Coffee Cup of Basmati Rice
  • 2 1/2 Cups of water
  • 2 lbs of fresh mixed seafood, I like bay scallop, cod and shrimp but you could also substitute catfish, striped bass or trout if you were catching local fish
  • 2 Cans of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Lime
  • Cilantro

In a large soup pot add some oil and start cooking your onion ginger and garlic over medium heat until they become fragrant. Then add two healthy tablespoons of curry powder to the pan and stir frequently.

Next add your rice and water. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Now add the fish and coconut milk

Simmer this mix with a lid on for another 10 minutes and then stir to break up and mix around the fish.

Serve this with fresh chopped cilantro and a good squeeze of lime juice.


Sure, we are headed for some hard times. Hell, we are living through tough times now. We are ready to get back to our normal lives, get back to work, and get these relentless bill collectors off our backs!

With the millions, yes millions, of animals being slaughtered because of processing plant woes, we are going to have to face the repercussions of our strange factory farming system.

Access to meats could be limited and the price might increase, as well. All of this means that you better be able to do more with less.

Let’s not forget about what could happen if we flow from a food shortage into an economic downturn, which seems very likely. Now is the time to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios.

If you can prepare hearty meals with minimal, simple, and inexpensive ingredients than you will at least be able to feed your family through the eventual calamity.

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3 Responses to “Hearty and Affordable Meals to Feed your Family Through Food Scarcity and Economic Depression”

  1. When I realized that most of my time and effort to make quiche was in mixing and forming the crust, I decided that I didn’t really NEED crust anyway. I just mix up the filling, pour it into an oiled wide glass bowl (with glass lid), and cook it in the microwave oven for about 15 minutes (70% power), or until solidified throughout. A side plate of toast makes up for the missing crust (carbs). Dandelion greens are a tasty and nutritious component of the filling (in place of spinach or kale, from the winter cold-frame).

  2. I must be your mother. Been cooking from scratch for a lifetime. Casserole type dishes, hearty soups and stews, thick pastas all stretch further. I fed 12 boys (and often their friends as well) and believe me, they could EAT!
    Keep up the good work you are doing here. Scrapple will give you gas.
    Call your mother once in awhile. Love, Mom

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