Economical recipes from the 90s that might come in handy today

Economical recipes
Economical recipes

The ability to save the family budget and at the same time feed the whole family deliciously should be learned from women who faced food shortages in the 1990s. The hostesses could even prepare a festive dinner from a meager set of products. Unfortunately or fortunately, many recipes were forgotten as unnecessary. We offer you to remember the dishes that you can cook today, as well as life hacks to save time and money.

Sandwiches with sprats

Housewives used small golden fish preserved in oil in different ways: they made appetizers and salads with them, added them to soup. Sprat sandwiches were one of the most popular snacks. White or black bread was soaked in fragrant oil, and a small amount of mayonnaise and herbs automatically made the dish festive.


  • white bread – 4 pieces
  • sprats in oil – 8 pcs.
  • mayonnaise – 1 tbsp. l.
  • fresh or pickled cucumbers – 0.5 pcs.
  • parsley – to taste

Cooking method:

  1. Fry the bread in a pan without oil.
  2. Lubricate each piece with a thin layer of mayonnaise.
  3. Cucumber cut into thin circles. In the off season, instead of fresh, you can use pickled or pickled cucumbers from home stocks. 
  4. Put a few sprats, slices of cucumber on the bread and decorate the sandwich with herbs.

Pickle with stew

When there was not enough meat on the shelves, the housewives used stew in their dishes. Canned pork or beef could be the basis of many dishes. For example, soups. Borsch, cabbage soup, sorrel or pea soup were cooked with the addition of stew. One of the most economical options was pickle, because for its preparation, pearl barley was widely available.


  • pork stew – 300 g
  • potatoes – 3 pcs.
  • carrots – 1 pc.
  • onion – 1 pc.
  • pearl barley – 150 g
  • water – 3 l
  • pickled cucumbers – 3 pcs.
  • cucumber pickle – to taste
  • butter or margarine – 30 g
  • black pepper – to taste

Cooking method:

  1. Soak pearl barley in warm water for 2-3 hours.
  2. Fry chopped onions and carrots in butter until soft. 
  3. Peel potatoes and cut into sticks. Rinse the swollen barley under running water.
  4. Boil water in a saucepan, put the washed cereals and potatoes. Cook until half cooked. 
  5. Add fried and thinly sliced ​​cucumbers to the pan. If they are very salty, then they can first be extinguished for 5-7 minutes with the addition of a small amount of water.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  7. In order not to pour out the cucumber pickle, you can add it to the soup instead of salt. Only pre-brine must be boiled.
  8. Boil pickle for another 5 minutes, serve with brown bread. 

Naval pasta

The recipe for this dish was changed from time to time by the hostesses, based on the availability of products. Sometimes pasta was prepared with the addition of boiled meat passed through a meat grinder (which remained, for example, after cooking soup), fried raw minced meat or stew. For the base of the dish, you can use horns, spaghetti, vermicelli and other types of pasta. 


  • boiled meat – 500 g
  • spiral pasta – 300 g
  • onion – 1 pc.
  • salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste
  • vegetable oil – 1 tbsp. l. 

Cooking method:

  1. Pass the boiled meat through a meat grinder or chop with a blender.
  2. Finely chop the onion and fry in oil until golden brown.
  3. Add chopped meat to the onion and fry together for 5-7 minutes, salt and pepper.
  4. Boil the pasta until tender, drain in a colander, let the excess liquid drain.
  5. Mix pasta with meat and serve the dish to the table. 

Soup with canned fish

When preparing food, you can save not only money, but also time. Canned food will come to the rescue again, this time – fish. It is better to use varieties of canned food in oil: saury, mackerel, pink salmon, sardines. And you can take any vegetables that are in the refrigerator. To make the soup more satisfying, we recommend adding rice or vermicelli when cooking. Also, economical housewives of the 90s loved to cook soups based on processed cheese. The famous Druzhba cheese made the broth tender and creamy. Such soups were also called “student” ones, because sometimes there was nothing in their composition except water, processed cheese and onions. 


  • canned fish in oil – 1 can
  • potatoes – 3 pcs.
  • carrots – 1 pc.
  • onion – 1 pc.
  • salt – to taste
  • water – 1.5 l

Cooking method:

  1. Wash and peel the vegetables, cut the potatoes and carrots into cubes, and finely onions. If you want, lightly fry the onion in a little vegetable oil. 
  2. Boil water in a saucepan. Put potatoes to boil, after 5 minutes add carrots and onions.
  3. Send canned fish to the broth along with the liquid from the jar, mix and cook the soup until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Salt to taste. This soup can only take 20 minutes to make!

Cutlets “School”

The recipe for the famous “School” cutlets was developed not only to save meat (sometimes at least 50% of bread was added to the minced meat), but also to make the dish easier to digest, more high-calorie and give energy. That is why cutlets were included in the menu of schools and kindergartens. 


  • beef – 250 g
  • pork – 250 g
  • black bread – 400 g
  • chicken eggs – 1 pc.
  • onion – 1 pc. 
  • breadcrumbs – 5 tbsp. l.
  • vegetable oil – 2 tbsp. l.
  • salt – to taste

Cooking method:

  1. Cut brown bread without crusts into cubes, cover with cold water and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Chop the onion and fry in oil until golden. Many chefs claim that onions were not added to the “School” cutlets, since the presence of vegetables in the minced meat significantly reduced the shelf life of the products.
  3. Pass the meat, onions and bread well squeezed from the liquid through a meat grinder, salt, mix and carefully beat the minced meat on the work surface.
  4. Form cutlets 1.5 cm thick, roll each in breadcrumbs. By the way, breadcrumbs can be prepared independently from dried white bread. 
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the cutlets on both sides for 10-15 minutes. When you turn them over to the second side, reduce the heat and cover the pan with a lid. 
  6. Serve the cutlets with a side dish of cereals, mashed potatoes  or pasta. 

Cookie and condensed milk cake

Many desserts can be prepared according to the “no-bake” principle, for example, Potato cake or chocolate sausage. One of the most common is the Anthill cake, popular in the 90s. Its basis is an ordinary sweet cookie, and it can be anything: chocolate, vanilla, nut.


  • cookies – 600 g
  • boiled condensed milk – 400 g
  • butter – 200 g
  • nuts – to taste

Cooking method:

  1. Take the butter out of the fridge 1 hour before you start making the cake. 
  2. Crush cookies with a rolling pin or blender.
  3. To prepare the Anthill, you can use any available nuts (peanuts, walnuts, etc.) or do without them at all.
  4. Mix condensed milk with butter. 
  5. Add cookies and nuts to the resulting cream, mix. Form a small hill, resembling an anthill in shape.
  6. Put the cake in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  7. You can decorate the dessert with melted chocolate.

Cake “Homemade”

We offer to remember the taste of childhood and prepare a “cake”, which is well known to our grandmothers. Of course, this “sandwich” cannot be called a full-fledged dessert, but we hope that it will awaken warm memories of a carefree childhood in you. By the way, many still consider an ordinary loaf sprinkled with sugar to be the most delicious delicacy.


  • white loaf – 1 piece
  • butter – to taste
  • sugar – to taste

Cooking method:

  1. Cut the loaf into pieces, grease each with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Of course, the taste of a modern sweet sandwich will be different from its counterpart from the 90s. Bread was then baked in a completely different way. 

There is also an unsweetened analogue of such a treat, reminiscent, rather, of an appetizer. A piece of black bread should be greased with unrefined sunflower oil and salted.

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