A Cheap & Easy Cabbage Pasta Recipe Inspired by the Great Depression

All Things Mandy
by All Things Mandy

I'm very excited to share this Great-Depression-inspired meal with you today. This cabbage pasta recipe is based on a traditional Eastern European dish and was used during the Great Depression to save money. It's called Halluski, or Cabbage and Pasta (which is what I call it).


This meal is very frugal. When I looked up the prices at Walmart, the ingredients cost about $4.25 (as of June 2022). That's if you make the whole recipe, which feeds four people.

You’ll use a whole head of cabbage, a whole onion, and a whole bag of egg noodles, all for only $4.25. The only thing I'm not including in that total is the butter, the salt, and the pepper. Even so, this is still a very frugal meal.


One thing that intrigued me about this recipe is that I actually really love fried cabbage. I'm a Southern girl: I love my fried cabbage! When I saw this recipe, I thought this would be a cheap, very filling way to feed your family, especially if times are very tough.

Cutting up the cabbage

One of the things that I love about the Great Depression meals I've tried so far is that you can add to it and make it more than what it is, depending on your situation.


As I looked at this recipe that uses onions, cabbage, and pasta, my mind went to kielbasa or something like that. If you can afford to add something like that to your meal, by all means, go ahead and add it.

Cutting up the onion

Let’s make the cabbage and pasta. First get your cabbage, onion, and egg noodles together.


Get your pasta water boiling. I added a lot of salt to that, and I will add half of the package of egg noodles. If you make the whole recipe, add the entire package. 

Cheap meals from the Great Depression

Next, after I've dropped my noodles in the boiling water, I have my skillet preheating. I'm going to add two tablespoons of butter, and then I'm going to add my onions. Once I have added my onions, I'm going to give those a stir in the butter and let them cook for just a couple of minutes until they soften. 


Once the onions have softened, I'm going to start adding in my 

cabbage. If you're doing the whole head of cabbage, it's going to fill your skillet up. It's okay. Cabbage wilts down quickly. I am going to fold this into the onions, and then I will add in some seasonings.

Great Depression dinner recipes

Once I’ve folded in the cabbage, I will add some salt and a pinch of pepper. You can add as much or as little as you want to taste.  


Then I'm going to add some garlic powder. This was not in the recipe, but I'm sure it's going to give it a ton of flavor. Once that’s thoroughly mixed in, I'm going to add two more tablespoons of butter. Give this all a stir, and cook until the cabbage has wilted down and is soft.  


Tip: When I talked to my mom about this recipe, she suggested adding a pinch of brown sugar. She said that whenever she cooks cabbage, a pinch of brown sugar makes it go over the top. This is not a requirement for the recipe, but if you have some, you might want to try it.  


Once my egg noodles are done (they should be soft - check the package for cooking times), I have drained them and added two more tablespoons of butter. This cabbage pasta recipe uses six tablespoons of butter.

Adding butter to the noodles

So I'm going to stir my egg noodles with the butter, to coat them.


I think that during the Great Depression, they used things like butter to help add some flavor when there wasn't a lot of ingredients in the recipe.


By now I have the cabbage and onion mixture all wilted down. I also have my egg noodles all covered in that butter. I'm going to pour the egg noodles into the cabbage-onion mix and give that a stir.  


I used a 14-inch skillet to make half the recipe. I would need a much larger skillet if I made the whole thing. 

Cabbage pasta recipe

The half recipe is definitely enough for two, probably a little bit more. If you made the whole recipe, it's definitely enough for four people.


The taste reminds me of lo mein. I didn't put any sweet sauce or anything like that in it. If you like the taste of noodles with fried cabbage and onion, like what you would get at a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, this recipe is so good. 


Cabbage pasta recipe

Give this Depression-era cabbage pasta recipe a try, you’re going to love it. I did and now I plan to make it often!

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  • Wendy Molnar Wendy Molnar on Aug 23, 2022

    I make this for my Hungarian husband and sometimes in place of the butter in the cabbage and noodles I use bacon fat. It’s really tasty. But either way is yummy.

  • MARGARET MARGARET on Aug 28, 2022

    My grandson (age 14) just got a pasta machine so there’s lots of pasta dishes being made at his home. I’m sending him this recipe…..he’ll love it!

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