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Great Depression Era Recipes: Rice and Gravy

For the next recipe in the Great Depression Era series, Rice and Gravy was a simple recipe, and allowed for using up leftovers. It also served as a cheap, but filling meal. We ate this in many versions growing up. The plainest Great Depression version was rice and gravy. Just leftover gravy served over boiled rice. Cheap. Easy. Maybe add in some bread to wipe the plate. Not glorious, but again…it was more about filling the belly than being fancy. They were not so picky then.

Mine is a bit more indulgent, because I can afford to add vegetables and meat to the meal for now.

Gravy isn’t used the same way these days, as it was long ago. If one makes it, it’s often a packet of gravy mix used. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and you can buy lower sodium versions now. But maybe don’t use the jarred gravy, it’s pretty sad stuff. And if you can make it from scratch, so much the better. And if you can, make it lower sodium – most of us just don’t need the heavy salt used in commercial gravy.

Rice and Gravy would go on to become something even better, in the 1940’s.

It would become Loco Moco. Rice, a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy on top. Salty, carby and full of protein. Pretty awesome food. Created by a group of high school surfers in Hawaii, who were hungry, and didn’t have a lot of cash on hand. It’s a great story to read about.

So I took the Depression Era concept and made Moco Loco, because….why not? If I am going to make dinner, let’s make it a real dinner.

Rice and Gravy (Turned into Loco Moco)


  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 Tbsp oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 packets lower sodium brown gravy mix
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 hamburger patties
  • 6 large chicken eggs


Add 4 cups water to a large heavy saucepan, bring to a boil. Add the rice, bring back to a boil while stirring. Turn down to low, cover and let cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high and add in the mushrooms and onion, saute until tender and any moisture is cooked off.

Prepare the gravy mix in a saucepan according to the directions using the 2 cups water. Add the hot gravy to the mushroom/onion mixture.

Serve the gravy over the hot rice.


To make the meal far more filling, grill up a hamburger patty per person.

Fry the eggs, sunny side up if you like them runny, or hard cooked.

Dish up the rice, making a circle of it on each plate, place the grilled hamburger patty on top, then the egg, and ladle the gravy over it.

Serves 6 if done as Loco Moco.