Depression Meal: A Survival Guide for Low Budget Days


Everyone has some days where the wallet feels tight, and the bank statements show a red balance. Be it sudden job loss or unexpected bills; it’s hard to keep up with the expenses sometimes. And amidst all this stress, it’s difficult to keep oneself healthy mentally and physically. In such situations, preparing healthy meals becomes a luxury. The ‘Depression Meal’ comes to the rescue as an economical and quick solution to fight hunger and stay healthy.

What is a Depression Meal?

Depression Meal is a term used to describe a cheap meal that can help people meet their nutritional requirements when their resources are scarce. It’s not about the taste; rather, it’s about survival. Famous Depression meals in history include hot dogs and beans, potatoes, and cabbage soup. The idea is to cook a simple meal that doesn’t cost much and provides nutrition to the body.

Why is it Crucial?

Depression Meals are essential because eating healthy directly influences mental and physical well-being. It’s a well-established fact that nutritious meals keep the brain healthy and enhance cognitive abilities, helping individuals survive low-budget days without draining their creativity or productivity.

A study in the US found that nearly 25% of respondents were unable to buy food because of a lack of money. Consequently, they suffered from malnutrition that affected both their physical and mental health. By substituting a nutritious Depression Meal for their regular fast food consumption, they may have reduced the risk of hypertension, obesity, and other chronic diseases.

Components of a Depression Meal

The goal of a Depression Meal is to save money and utilize the resources one already has. It’s best to make use of things that are already available in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. Following are a few components of a Depression Meal that might come in handy in times of need:

Pantry Staples

Pantry staples are essential ingredients that can form a basis for various Depression Meal recipes. Many of these items have a long shelf life and can be bought in bulk, ensuring a constant food supply.


Rice is a versatile grain, and in times of distress, it can be a staple food item. One cup of cooked rice contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and potassium.


Beans are another versatile pantry staple. They are high in protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. Canned beans are a good option, as they can be stored for extended periods.


Flour is an essential component for baking, but it can also be used to make homemade pasta, bread, and tortillas.

Frozen Foods

Frozen items retain their nutritional values and can be stored for long periods. Additionally, buying in bulk saves time and money.

Frozen Vegetables:

Frozen vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. They’re already cleaned and sliced, making them ideal for a quick stir-fry or a side dish.

Frozen Fruits:

Frozen fruits are equivalent to fresh ones in terms of nutritional value. They are perfect for a snack, a smoothie, or in oatmeal.

Frozen Protein:

Frozen salmon, chicken, or meat can be a go-to source of protein, depending on one’s preferences.

Fridge Essentials

Fresh items can be expensive and their lifespan is limited, but they are an essential part of a Depression Meal.


Cheese is a good source of protein and pairs well with various dishes, such as scrambled eggs or rice bowls.


Eggs are a versatile food item and can be a prime source of protein. They can be boiled, fried, or scrambled to make breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and adds a creamy texture to many meals. It can be mixed with fruits or granola to create a quick snack.

Depression Meal Recipes

Cooking on a budget may seem challenging, but with a little creativity and research, one can make some tasty Depression Meal recipes that are nutritious, filling, and budget-friendly.

Rice and Beans

Rice and beans are a classic Depression Meal with various combinations. This recipe is for a basic rice and beans meal with a vegetable twist.


  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
  2. Add vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add sliced green pepper, if desired, and cook until tender.
  4. Then add black beans, salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for two minutes.
  6. Add the cooked rice and mix everything together.
  7. Cook until everything is heated through.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Vegetable Omelet

This recipe is ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is full of protein and fiber.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheese


  1. Whisk two eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add oil or butter to a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Saute onions and green peppers for two to three minutes.
  4. Pour in the beaten eggs to the skillet and sprinkle shredded cheese over the top.
  5. Cook until eggs are set.
  6. Using a spatula, fold one side of the omelet on top of the other.
  7. Cook for another minute.
  8. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!


Eating nutritious food is necessary for overall health, but maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging on low-budget days. Depression Meals come to the rescue, as they are easy to cook, economical, and can be made with things already present in the pantry, fridge or freezer. It’s not about taste, but survival. Utilizing pantry staples, frozen items, and fridge essentials, one can make recipes like rice and beans or vegetable omelets to stay healthy while being economical. With the help of a Depression Meal, one can nourish the body, keep the mind sharp, and overcome financial difficulties.


What is a Depression Meal?

Depression Meal is a term used to describe a meal that is cooked or consumed during episodes of depression. It is usually a quick, easy, and affordable meal that provides comfort to those experiencing emotional distress. Depression Meals can differ depending on the individual’s preferences and cultural background.

Why are Depression Meals popular?

Depression Meals have gained popularity because they can provide comfort to those experiencing depression. These meals are often easy to prepare and don’t require much effort, making it more feasible to cook during episodes of depression. Furthermore, these meals can be a source of familiarity and nostalgia, which can also provide comfort.

Is it unhealthy to rely on Depression Meals?

While Depression Meals provide emotional nourishment, they may be nutritionally inadequate or high in calories, which can lead to an unhealthy diet. In some cases, people may rely too heavily on these meals and neglect to consume a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s essential to balance these meals with a well-rounded diet to maintain overall health and well-being.


1. Crichton, G. E., Bryan, J., & Murphy, K. J. (2012). Depressive symptoms are negatively correlated with fish consumption but not with overall dietary intake in older Australian adults. Journal of Nutrition, 142(3), 546–551.

2. Jacka, F. N., Mykletun, A., Berk, M., Bjelland, I., & Tell, G. S. (2011). The association between habitual diet quality and the common mental disorders in community-dwelling adults: The Hordaland Health study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73(6), 483–490.

3. Opie, R. S., O’Neil, A., Jacka, F. N., Pizzinga, J., & Itsiopoulos, C. (2018). A modified Mediterranean dietary intervention for adults with major depression: Dietary protocol and feasibility data from the SMILES trial. Nutritional Neuroscience, 21(7), 487–501.