One of the most challenging aspects of surviving a major economic disruption is learning to cook with unfamiliar foods. Surprisingly enough, the amount of food discarded by households actually increases at the beginning of an economic downturn, as families buy less expensive foods but have not yet developed an expertise in cooking them. This is particularly true when families first begin participating in food-buying programs such as Angel Food or SHARE Food which provide participants with a pre-selected box of foods, or when families turn to food banks and other food assistance programs.

In the interest of easing the transition and preventing the loss of food that families need for daily nourishment, I have gathered some recipes that use the sorts of less expensive foods often found in food-club and food-bank boxes. These include both American standbys of an earlier generation and foods from a variety of peasant and subsistence cultures.

White Sauce

Brown Gravy

Ham and Bean Soup


Shchi (Cabbage Soup)

Quick Skillet Stew

Last updated October 10, 2010.