Lessons from the Great Depression

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Lessons from the Great Depression
Preparing for an economic depression

"Poverty is simply having more problems than solutions." Robert T. Kiyosaki

Learn from the past: prepping for the next Great Depression.
Wondering how can you survive an economic collapse and avoid
poverty? Perhaps Robert T. Kiyosaki summed it up best when he
wrote: "Poverty is simply having more problems than solutions."
Think about this from a prepper's perspective: strive to be
prepared to have
more solutions than problems. To ensure you
have more solutions than problems, be creative, be flexible and
adapt. Below is how to help survive the next Great Depression.

How to Prepare for the next Great
Here are twelve preparedness lessons for getting through a
financial apocalypse.

Lesson #1: Change your eating habits.
The Great Depression caused an economic collapse; however,
most people did not starve during the Great Depression!
Certainly there were times when people went hungry, but it was
not for a lack of food available. For there was never an
interruption of the food supply, even with the dust bowl.
Perhaps a family chose to have a new pair of socks or shoes for
their child in lieu of eating a big meal. Perhaps having a second
portion was not necessary. Perhaps they were too proud to ask
for help. Or perhaps they were a bit creative about their meal
choices (eating only turnips instead of asking for help). Nobody
died for not having enough food, so that's good news!

While times were tough, most people just made do with lesser
quality foods, including selection of lower quality meats. Soups
and stews made up most of the meals, because it could stretch
the food budget! Casseroles helped extend the budget, too.
During the Great Depression, people changed their eating habits
to help their budget in many ways. Here's how food production
  • Crisco became a less expensive option to butter.
  • Oscar Meyer Wieners replaced more costly sausages.
  • Maxwell House Sanka coffee was the more affordable
    option to whole bean coffees.
  • Heinz Ketchup became the base for a simple tomato soup.
  • Underwood Deviled Ham substituted fresh lunch meat.
  • Carnation evaporated milk replaced fresh milk.
  • Ground acorns substituted coffee; and people added chicory
    to extend the coffee supplies.
  • Honey, molasses and corn sweeteners replaced sugar as
    sugar was at a premium, and later rationed by World War

What did people eat During the Great Depression?
Meals during the great depression included:
  • Grandmas Great Depression Cake (no eggs, no butter, no
  • Creamed chipped beef on toast or waffles.
  • Creamed chicken on biscuits, as a variation of chipped beef.
  • Hash (potatoes and corned beef or sliced hot dogs).
  • Depression soup: this was simply 1/3 cup ketchup 2/3 cup
    boiling water.
  • Molasses and Cornbread.
  • Foods the debuted during Great Depression, include:
  • Bisquick
  • Good Humor ice cream bars
  • Kraft macaroni and cheese
  • Krispy Kreme doughnuts
  • Kool-Aid
  • Toll House chocolate chips
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Spam
  • Hershey's Syrup, was invented before the depression!
    (It's naturally fat-free.)

Did you know Rocky Road ice cream was "invented" in during the
Great Depression? Indeed it was a "Rocky Road" ahead when
the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929 and started the
Great Depression. Poverty hit the masses for a decade, but hit
it's peak in 1933 when around 40% of the nations farms were
on the auction block. Since that time, people have been
preparing for the next Great Depression.

Lesson #2: Put away more food.  
During the Great Depression President Herbert Hoover declared,
"Nobody is actually starving." It's true that sometimes people
ate only turnips, others had only blackberries to eat, or apples,
so they made pie, but people of the Great Depression did not
starve as in underdeveloped countries. Generally, food was
bountiful and people starved only for PRIDE or LACK OF
CREATIVITY. As a prepper we must learn this important lesson!

Even though food was ample, many people went hungry and as
a result, began conserving and stockpiling food and money for
times of uncertainty in the years following the Great
Depression. Preppers today take comfort in stockpiling food, the
way the people did just after the Great Depression, taking
lessons from the past. Naturally, preppers create a deep larder
of food
. This aspect of preparing for financial crisis is no
different from other preparedness plans. The more food you
have stored away today, the less dependent you will be during
financial crisis when a loaf of bread could cost $100.  Not sure
where to start? Develop your "magic grocery list" of the basics.
Try these articles for preppers:

Lesson #3: Grow your own!
People of the Great Depression grew their own food. The
exception being the dust bowl states (Oklahoma, New Mexico,
Colorado, Kansas and parts of Texas) where growing was
impossible. During this time, there was approximately
100,000,000 acres of land barren, which forced farm families to
flee, (they were mostly from Oklahoma). While today big farms
and machines work the fields, back in the day a farmer fed an
average of eight families with his crops. People got by also got
by with food grown in their own gardens and they canned foods
for the Winter. While the economy collapsed, the food on the
farms were for the most part unaffected. People supported
themselves by growing root vegetables, such as onions, garlic,
and potatoes.

Lesson #4: Raise animals.
Many people of the Great Depression kept chickens or rabbits to
supplement food from their gardens. A lucky few had cows or
goats. Desperate people of the Great Depression got even more
creative with animal protein. An interesting Website to note is

Lesson #5: Learn to hunt, fish and forage off the
In many rural areas, hunting was a way to put meat on the
table during the Great Depression. An important lesson;
however, is that each shell from a man's rifle had to account for
game (or a family might go hungry)! Coming up with shells was
indeed a problem. Proximity was another factor to consider as
gas and cars were not affordable for the masses.

Lesson #6: Learn to barter when the bank won't
give you money.
Having skills to make your own food and supplies will help you
to provide for your family. For example you might exchange a
haircut for apples.  Visit a bartering Web site.

Lesson #7: Learn the art of repair.
Start now and repair what you have instead of buying new. Use
the money saved to buy food, such as freeze dried milk, cheese
and meats, which will be harder to come by after the depression

Lesson #8: Make use of multi-purpose items.
Cornstarch was one of those products used during the Great
Depression quite often because it could thicken sauces, gravies,
soups, pie fillings and puddings. It could help make recipes
stretch. Cornstarch is a dense powder that comes from the
endosperm portion of corn, which though brought to market in
1899 had it's heyday in the 1930s. At this time, there was a
surplus of corn, particularly when the price of a bushel of corn
fell to just eight or ten cents. With so much corn there was an
opportunity to find new uses. Homemakers soon learned this
one product had so many uses.

Here are some of the many uses of  cornstarch:
  1. soothes rashes, beats heat rash, prevents diaper rash
  2. sunburn reliever as a paste
  3. deodorizes under arms to absorb moisture
  4. absorbs odors in your shoes as a talcum powder
  5. keeps roaches away
  6. works as a dry shampoo for pets
  7. prevents chafing while hiking so you won't get blisters on
    your feet
  8. frees rubber gloves from sticking to your hands for easy
  9. helps polish silver
  10. stiffens clothes as a starch for ironing

Lesson #9: Learn to do with less.
The people of the Great Depression learned to do more with
less. Making do with less today might mean today:
  • Getting rid of cable or your LAN line.
  • Dropping memberships in clubs.
  • Repairing your old car rather than getting a new one.
  • Learning to fix a water pipe and handle plumbing issues
  • Eating at home, instead of going out.

Lesson #10: Ask for help.
People of the Great Depression didn't really ask for help, and
yet they received it. Like the Beatles song, learn to "Get by with
a little help" from your friends. Some survivors of the Great
Depression accepted the charity support of penny restaurants
and soup kitchens.

  • Penny restaurants fed the proud. Penny restaurants
    popped up as a way to feed unemployed families who were
    too proud to accept charity. People paid pennies for meals
    that were subsidized by charitable organizations. Patrons
    paid only a small portion of the actual food costs.

  • Soup kitchens fed the rest. Soup kitchens fed many
    people, the way charitable organizations and food banks
    feed people today. Chefs could make soup with whatever
    was available, including produce grown in charity gardens.
    Soup was a convenient, one pot meal that could be served
    with bread. Plus, it was easier to clean up than other more
    elaborate meals.

Lesson #11: Learn from people who survived the
Great Depression.
While many of the survivors are now deceased, there is still a
wealth of knowledge available in the form of DVDs, books and
the Internet.
Great Depression Cooking with Clara is the popular
online cooking show created by Christopher Cannucciari and
starring Clara. In each episode Clara prepares recipes that her
mother made during the Great Depression.  Clara shares her
stories and wisdom from the Depression as she shows you how
to make simple, inexpensive and delicious meals.

With over 2 million views, national news coverage and a
continuously growing fan base, Clara's online cooking show has
touched the lives of so many people looking for inexpensive,
delicious, nourishing meals. In the DVD, Clara provides her
mother's recipe's including: Pasta with Peas; Egg Drop Soup;
Poorman's Meal; Peppers and Eggs; Homemade Bread'
Depression Breakfast; Poorman's Feast, Twice Baked Potato,
Pasta with Garlic, and Fried Fish. You'll find some of Clara's
recipes on YouTube!

  • What did people miss most during the Great
    Depression? As one Prepper's grandmother put it... "nails,
    garden seeds, wire, string, sewing supplies, clothes pins,
    bleach, disinfectant, and vanilla." What will you add to the
    list? Take one day to write down everything you use from
    your toothbrush to a pencil to ear swabs or chocolate.
    What will you miss the most? That's the stuff you should
    hoard too.

Clara shares her Great Depression Cooking
Happy endings...
The good and happy fact about the Great Depression was that
while times were tough, and while many people went hungry from
time to time, no one died of starvation. For food was plentiful and
people were resourceful. In prepping we often prepare for major
catastrophes, but in preparing for a depressed economy you can
also help ensure you get through a job loss.

You can survive when you eat it up, wear it out, make do or do

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Prepare to live happily ever after with us at happypreppers.com - the emergency
preparedness Web site of prepping, survival,
homesteading, and self-reliance.
Get your Great Depression Cooking straight from the source with Clara,
above, as she shares her Poorman's Feast.

Lesson #12: Invest in tangibles, get out of paper.
Cash will one day be a worthless thing. Buy what you can now
with the cash you have in hand, while it is still available and
stay out of debt. Preppers stockpile to ensure they have food
and supplies in lean times. Today, you can
have a garage sale
to get rid of the useless items in your home and to help you
buy the preps you really need.

People with financial problems are not able to adapt. They are
not flexible. They are not creative. These are the main lessons
from those who have survived the Great Depression of 1929:

  1. Change your habits. If  you are a big meat eater, then
    perhaps you need to get more interested in vegetables and
    eat less meat to prepare for the coming collapse. There are
    many ways to cook rice and beans and this combination is
    an excellent source of protein.
  2. Be flexible. After the collapse of the economy, families
    began splitting up. Nearly 1.5 million husbands of the
    Great Depression left their families leaving the women and
    children to fend for themselves! Obviously, many families
    were not flexible!
  3. Let your creativity soar! The people who made money on
    the depression made their money well before the big stock
    market crash. They thought differently about the market
    before the crash. The people who made money after the
    depression, also thought differently.

Books to read about Economic Collapse:

  • The Modern Survival Manual (Surviving the Economic
    Collapse), by Fernando "Ferfal" Aguire, pictured left. Based
    on the first-hand experience of the economic collapse in
    Argentina, The Modern Survival manual (Surviving the
    Economic Collapse), will help prepare your family so you
    won't have to suffer.

  • American Exit Strategy (The Economic Collapse
    Chronicles) Volume 1 The American Exit Strategy by Mark
    Goodwin, pictured right, is a new novel about America on
    the cusp of financial annihilation. Hidden within the story
    is another that will blow your mind. It's a must read for

Ideas from the Great Depression

  • Extend meals with dandelions. Dandelions are a dandy
    way to make tea, coffee, jellies, salads, juices and more
    for health and nutrition.

  • Mesh Soap Bags: To extend the life of a bar of soap,
    people of the Great Depression would insert all the bits
    and pieces into mesh bags. In this way, they could get at
    every last bit of soap.

  • Hamburger Stretcher: Back in the day, hamburger helper
    was oatmeal! To make your hamburger stretch, add 2 cups
    oatmeal to a pound of hamburger meat, then add grated
    onion and one egg.

  • Under there is but a pair: Often times people had but a
    single pair of underwear. They'd take it off at night, hand
    wash and dry for the next day.

  • Cardboard for shoes: People would cut inserts of
    cardboard into their shoes daily to keep their feet from
    hitting the dirt and pavement since the soles had worn
    through. Shoe repair is a prepper skill.

Questions About the Great Depression:

Who Made Money BEFORE the Great Depression?
here's a Great Depression fact: it's the people
without debt and with cash in hand who made money during the
Great Depression! People who had cash at the time of the crash
were well at hand to profit from the Great Depression when it
hit! Here is an example:

  • Floyd Bostwick Odlum: He was the guy who made money
    both before and after the Great Depression.Virtually
    unheard of, this attorney turned mogul pooled money to
    buy of utilities and general securities; however, unlike
    others he was one of the few to recognize the boom on
    Wall Street could not hold and so he pulled out his money
    well before the stock market crash. He became one of the
    ten wealthiest men in his day because he had $14 million
    in cash when the market crashed. After the crash he
    bought up utilities at prices deflated by the depression.

Who Made Money DURING the Great Depression?

  • Michael J. Cullen: The concept of the first supermarket in
    America came from Michael J. Cullen, founder of the King
    Kullen grocery store chain. The focus of the first
    supermarket stores was on low prices and plenty of
    selection. Instead of baskets, there were shopping carts.
    The market chose low rent locations (including abandoned
    factories and warehouses).  They carried thousands of
    national brands of groceries, hardware and automotive
    supplies. Cash was king! They accepted only cash sales,
    unlike many of the mom and pops who lent out money and
    ran themselves out of business.

Here are the stories of
ten people who made money during the
Great Depression. They were entertainers, game makers, inside
traders, and Michael J. Cullen.

Who Made Money AFTER the crash?

  • Diamond Matches Investors. Anyone who invested in the
    Diamond timber matchstick maker (Diamond Match and
    Mengel Co.) did well in the years following the Great
    Depression. It was the only stock to do well in three years
    following the crash according to the Wall Street Journal.

How to Survive Next Great Depression
You don't necessarily need to sell your house, go completely off
the grid, move overseas, invest in Euros, or buy gold to survive
the next financial collapse...

  • Sell your house? Not necessarily. Preppers live within their
    means. They don't own a house they can barely afford;
    however, to keep a roof over head, a prepper may choose
    to take in a boarder, merge households with an elderly
    family member, or rent out the garage for storage. It's all
    about being flexible and creative.

  • Move off the grid? Not necessarily. In some ways, farmers
    of the Great Depression were better off than people in the
    city (because they could feed themselves); however, they
    still had to pay their taxes and debts with cash, not crops.
    Farmers thought they had the solution to their problem:
    just produce more crops to sell, so they bought more farm
    equipment. However, this strategy backfired as soon there
    was a surplus of food, which drove down the price of food.
    Farmers were then more in debt and had even less cash to
    pay their debts. That's why so many farmers had to sell off
    their family farms.

  • Move overseas? No! Preppers are patriots and not ex-
    patriots! They love the right to bear arms and to stand up
    for their second amendment rights. Besides, every nation
    will feel the affects of the Great Depression, and it's
    possible Americans won't be highly regarded overseas
    when they blame the United States for the depression.

  • Invest in Euros? No! American Preppers watched the
    agony of what's happened in Greece: economic calamity!
    People have withdrawn money from Greek banks in record
    numbers fearing the Euro would be replaced by the weaker
    "Drachma." When investors sell Euros, typically they buy up
    Dollars: and that's good news for Americans. Prepper's are
    patriots and have the best interest in supporting the U.S.
    Dollar! At the same time, preppers also don't invest in
    paper assets (unless it's toilet paper). We buy tangible
    goods and base metals for bartering, and we pay off our

  • Buy Gold? Not necessarily! Owning gold is never a bad
    thing, but the cost of gold currently is much higher than
    other precious metals. Preppers save copper pennies, which
    are worth more than double their face value according to
    coinflation.com.  Preppers buy silver coins because they are
    easier to trade. They hold precious metals in the physical
    form in a safe deposit box or home safe. They do NOT
    invest gold paper, ever.

To survive an economic down turn, you must have more
solutions than problems. To prepare for the next Great
Depression, you must learn from the past.

Here are frugal tips from the Great Depression to prepare
for the next one:

  1. Some day, paper money won't be good. Gold and silver
    gives you a reserve.
  2. Extend meat with oats. Use oats in casseroles and
    meatloaf to bulk up the servings.
  3. Buy a whole chicken and make at least meals from it!
    You can make roasted chicken dinner, and with the scraps
    chicken salad sandwiches, chicken pasta, and finally soup
    stock from whatever is remaining, including the bones.
  4. Don't ditch it: stitch it! If you can sew a repair instead of
    replacing a garment then it's worth your time to do so. A
    stitch in time, saves a dime.
  5. Never throw away buttons. If a garment is no longer
    useful, salvage the buttons for reuse along with the
    others. Look in the seams before discarding. Sometimes
    dress shirts will have extra buttons sewn into the seams.
    For that matter, reuse the material!
  6. Never throw away fabric. Material is ripe for reuse! Turn
    old clothes into something different. Even an old adult
    sweat shirt or a sweater can be a garment for a child.
  7. Just a dab will do! Instead of pouring a palm full of
    shampoo in your hand, wash your hair with a much smaller
    dab. The same for toothpaste. There's no need to fill the
    entire row of bristles with toothpaste when just a dab will
  8. Use mesh bags to help you get the most out of soap.

How to Live Happily Ever After...
Certainly the Great Depression in the decade following October
1929 brought the lower class of America to rock bottom. The
low morale caused many to take suicide as the only way out.
This need not happen to preppers! To survive the next great
  1. Keep a positive mental attitude. Tell stories, sing songs,
    play a musical instrument and Play board games.
  2. Stick with others. Take care of each other.
  3. Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!
  4. Never give up hope. Know that things will get better,

In short, you can survive the next Great Depression by changing
some habits. So there you have it. People changed their habits,
and you can too. Preppers are optimistic for the best of times,
and yet they plan for worst of times.
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