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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Great Depression Cooking: Survival Casserole

Great Depression Cooking: Survival Casserole 

Great Depression Cooking: Survival Casserole
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During the Great Depression, resourcefulness was a necessity in every kitchen. The Survival Casserole emerged as a humble yet hearty dish, born out of the need to stretch ingredients and make the most of what was available.

Combining pantry staples with odds and ends from the refrigerator, this dish not only sustained families through tough times but also offered a comforting taste of home. Today, we revisit this Depression-era recipe, honoring its history while adding our own modern twist.


  • 1 package (about 1 pound) of dried pasta (any variety)
  • 1 can of tuna or canned chicken (feel free to double the quantity for a heartier casserole)
  • 1 can of condensed cream soup (mushroom or chicken, doubling is optional)
  • 1 cup shredded or crumbled cheddar or any cheese of your choice (reserve half for the topping)
  • Odd and ends of leftovers from your refrigerator or pantry (vegetables, meats, herbs – anything that needs to be used up)



  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a casserole dish or baking pan.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, canned tuna or chicken, condensed cream soup, and any leftover ingredients you have on hand. This is where you get creative! Consider using leftover cooked vegetables, diced ham, or even canned beans to add flavor and substance to your casserole.
  4. Mix everything together until well combined, ensuring that the pasta and other ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the greased casserole dish, spreading it out evenly with a spatula.
  6. Sprinkle the reserved cheese evenly over the top of the casserole, covering it with a delicious layer of cheesy goodness.
  7. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. Once baked, remove the foil and switch your oven to broil. Return the casserole to the oven and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and slightly crispy on top.
  9. Carefully remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Serve your Great Depression Survival Casserole hot, portioned out onto plates or bowls. Pair it with a simple green salad or some crusty bread for a complete and satisfying meal.

The Great Depression Survival Casserole is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of those who lived through challenging times. By making the most of humble ingredients and leftovers, families were able to nourish themselves and find comfort in the midst of hardship.

Today, this timeless recipe serves as a reminder of the power of resourcefulness and the importance of cherishing every meal, no matter how modest. Enjoy this hearty and satisfying dish, and may it fill both your stomach and your soul with warmth and contentment.

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