Great Depression Era Recipes: Poor Man’s Meal

Poor Man’s Meal is a classic recipe. You can have it with or without baked beans added, but it is far more filling (and tasty with it added). As a recipe in the Great Depression it filled the belly, but also tasted pretty good – and used relatively inexpensive ingredients, but also ingredients that lasted all winter in storage (potatoes, onions, canned baked beans).

The original version of the recipe called for ¼ cup brown sugar to be added with the ketchup. Which…it doesn’t need. Too sweet for me! Baked beans and ketchup both contain plenty of sugar on their own.

Poor Man’s Meal


  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1½ pounds small potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, yellow, or white (new potato size preferably)
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 pack hot dogs
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cans (16 to 17 ounces) baked beans


Thinly slice the potatoes. Peel and chop the onion.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the pan over medium high heat.

Add in the oil, then the potatoes and onions. Saute, stirring often, and scraping the pan, as the potatoes cook for 5 minutes. Cover the pan and let cook another 5 minutes to steam the potatoes a bit to finish cooking.

Meanwhile, slice the hot dogs.

Add in the hot dogs, saute until they are heated and looking golden on the edges. Stir in the ketchup and the water. Heat through.

Stir in the beans, heat thru on medium.

Serve in bowls. If desired, pair with biscuits or baked bread and butter.

Serves 4 to 6.