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The Economy of Food: Learning From our Elders

A recent post of mine got a couple people talking about cooking and learning from their parents about what I call "Depression food"—recipes created during the Great Depression to get the most use out of minimal food-stuffs.

When I was back home (and had the equipment to do it), I would buy a whole chicken (about $6 for 3 lbs.) and cook it in the oven. I could get 3 good meals out of it by adding a potato or some rice. Then I'd pull off the big parts of meat, add some onion and celery, and make chicken salad. With a couple leaves of lettuce and some bagels (better than regular bread) I could get another 5 or 6 (sandwich) meals out of it. The rest of the carcass would be completely stripped and tossed into a pot of water with random vegetables and some rice or barley, and I'd get 12-16 pints of soup. I'd eat this for 3 or 4 meals, then can the rest.

For less than $20, I could have 20-30 great, home-cooked meals.

A few years ago, there was a "challenge" to feed a family of 4 on less than $200/week. I thought it was a joke. But people were honestly amazed that someone could do it.


When did we lose the ability to be efficient with food?

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