Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cooking The 1950s Budget Menu

Stuck home without library books for a week, I resorted to reading an old college textbook I bought from Goodwill: Meal Management.

Its chapters on the food dollar and budgeting were surprisingly complex. I laughed at stewed prunes for breakfast and dessert with every lunch.(Click for a larger view.)


Then I wondered, "What would I learn about saving money if I cooked this way for a week?"

Let's find out.

Here's a complete list of my 1950's Budget Menu posts:

How To Shop With $67, 1950s style

Saturday: eggs for lunch and canned vs. dried beans

Sunday: breakfast coffee cake without sour cream

Monday: no store bought syrup? and roast beef for 3 meals

Tuesday: potatoes 7 days of the week and desserts at every meal

Wednesday: Mom, what are frankfurters?

Thursday: husband-pleasing pork chops and comparing canned vs. frozen vegetables

Friday: spaghetti is better with meatballs and even I had to Google cheese rabbit

Saturday: conclusions after a week of kitchen servitude

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Me thinks you would learn that you like having dessert after lunch! I always have a little sweet after a meal. My favorite motto is: "Life is short. Eat dessert first!"

samantha said...

I am looking forward to seeing how this experiment turns out. Very intriguing!

Anonymous said...

Cheese rabbit on toast??? Oh my!

Holly C.

Meredith said...

I know! What is cheese rabbit, anyway?

I'm thinking I can substitute a grilled cheese sandwich if cheese rabbit isn't something easy to make.

Victoria said...

I wonder if they meant welsh rarebit? Basically cheese sauce on toast?

Anonymous said...

I love gleaning information from older books like this! And actually, though I might find myself being the odd man out here, I have to say that most of these meals don't look that odd to me. I thought there was a fairly good variety in the plan. Like you, I don't have to have dessert after each meal, though I do enjoy baking & will have a dessert prepared 2 or 3 times a week (for our evening meal). Anyway, while it's true this is mostly plain cooking, nothing fancy, it's certainly not a deprivation diet. I'll be interested to read other commenters' opinions, & also to see how your week goes & what you decide to keep/toss, & why.

Brenda

P.S. For Holly C. Cheese rabbit (or rarebit) is not bad. Kind of a goofy name for something that has no meat, rabbit or otherwise, in it!

Patti said...

My Mom must have taken that course in the '50's, because that is how she fed her family in the 60's and 70's.

Nico said...

What a cool idea. I was wondering what the cheese rabbit is too?!?

TracyMichele said...

Is it just me or does anyone else find it interesting they have dessert scheduled after every dinner?

I'm eager to see how this works out for you. Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I was born in the 50's and went to college in the late 60's and finished in 72. So that menu does not seem strange to me. I went to college to earn a degree in Home EC. So all of this has a kind of a fimilar air...Roxie

My dear sweet mother in law was someone who ALWAYS had a sweet treat after a meal. That woman could cook circles around me and never took a class in her life for cooking. I admired her so much for the table she set. Now her 2nd husband...that was a man disturbed. He once shocked me almost away from the table by putting a HUGE helping of pinto beans on top of Mom's wonderful chocolate cake. Now this chocolate cake is the recipe off the Herchey Box with frosting almost 2 inches thick..and that man put a big piece of that in a bowl and topped it with pinto beans and ate it...how sick is that? Roxie

Michelle Smiles said...

That is what is wrong with our world today - we don't get a cookie after lunch anymore!

My mom always called it Welsh Rarebit - but basically a cheesy sauce on toast. I think Stouffer's makes it frozen but that wouldn't fit into your 50's budget.

Connie said...

Here's a recipe from a 1966 Farm Journal "Let's Start to Cook" book:
Cheese Rabbit (or rarebit)

2 c. shredded process Cheddar cheese
1/2 c. milk
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
Heat milk and cheese over very low heat until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Add seasonings.
Beat egg thoroughly and gradually stir it into cheese mixture. Continue to cook until "rabbit" thickens and becomes creamy.
Spoon over toast. Optional: place a slice of fresh tomato or chunks of tuna on each slice of toast before pouring the sauce over.

raminthethicket said...

Gotta love Oleo ;o)

Anonymous said...

Are you really going to use "Oleo"? That is worse for you than butter! I am assuming you plan to make some modifications for health.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I'm assuming the textbook includes recipes? Is the Macaroni and Cheese from a box or is it the homestyle version? Just curious.

I'm also anxious to see your results.

Angie said...

How interesting!

Although, I have to say, we almost never have dessert after dinner, much less after lunch. Though, we (the kids and I) do often have an afternoon snack.

LynnMarie said...

This is so helpful for all of us trying to stretch our food dollars. Thank you. I like to make a stew made from diced up hot dogs (whatever kind is on sale), diced up potatoes, onions, and tomatoes (both sauce and whole). Add all in a crock pot, add some basel, salt and pepper and let it cook away. Easy, fast, and cheep. Hang in there, you did this once a few months ago and got some really great meals - you will do that again.

Christi said...

I can't wait to see how this experiment turns out!

Anonymous said...

Memories...memories. I grew up in California and remember having Welsh Rarebit at my grandmother's house at least once a month. It was a staple!

Jennifer F. said...

What a cool, interesting experiment!

Anonymous said...

Welsh Rarebit is just a white rue, or cream sauce, with cheese added, served over toast. A yummy staple in my growing up years.
A similar dish - white sauce with salmon or tuna added and served over toast.

TJ said...

This is so cool! Saving money, and how much healthier you are likely to eat.

Glad Connie included her cheese rabbit recipe. I have several, but didn't want to leave the pc!

Mod Girl said...

I am enjoying reading about your 1950's budget menu. Fascinating stuff! If anyone knew how to create thrifty meals consistently it was that generation! I love to read literature from that era and I'm always particularly interested to read about what they ate. The meals are always so balanced and satisfying. While the foods may be less exotic than what we are able to get, they were able to stretch it in ways that astound me. My mom tells me that my great-grandmother could make a cake without using eggs!

fluffernutter said...

~embarrassing fact~ I love stewed prunes.

I'm really enjoying this series. I once tried to spend only $100 a month on groceries for me and Big Fella. It worked, but you eat a lot of cabbage, beans, homemade bread, Welsh rarebit and peanut butter. It's okay until you've been doing it for about a month. I missed some of my convenience products -- and I don't even use that many of them!

Anonymous said...

Indeed, while 'stewed' prunes may sound blechy, if one likes prunes at all, he or she ought to enjoy stewed ones -- which after all are only prunes simmered and softened in a bit of water or juice (apple or orange), plus maybe a pinch of cinnamon and spice. Other things can be added too -- say, a bit of chopped fresh apple or peach, dried cranberries or golden raisins, all simmered gently together in a saucepan on the stovetop, for a warm mixed fruit compote. Mmmm, quite delicious as topping over oatmeal....

Anonymous said...

Was Chicken not a cheap alternative in those days? I see no chicken recipes. Or was that next weeks menu:o)? But anyway, I make something my mom called SOS that sounds alot like your Rabbit thing. You could make it probably with any leftover meat you may have. But I use ground meat. I brown it, and then add flour and milk to thicken it to a gravy and season with salt and pepper. Cheese can be added to make it more like the rabbit sauce you made. And then I pour it over toast or biscuits. Delicous! I don't make it alot because we don't eat alot of red meat and there is rarely any chicken left over but I am sure you could make with almost any type of meat. You will have to add butter or grease for the fat if there is not any fat on the meat. Just a thought.

Leanne said...

Just thinking chicken would probably not have been so intensively reared in the 50s compared to today so it was likely to have been a little more expensive.

klm said...

Yes, remember the political promise of 'a chicken in every pot'? it's because it was a treat!

Individual little chickens would be more labor intensive per pound than big hunks of pork or beef. Plucking vs. skinning, as well as just the larger volume. And if you kept chickens, you ate the eggs but kept the birds for more eggs. When you hatched out more in the spring, you ate the extra roosters cause you only need one, but you didn't eat the hens until they couldn't lay eggs anymore. (and those tought old birds were stewed in the pot.) Killing a chicken still in her primein order to have a plump, tender roast chicken was reserved for special occaisions indeed.

Your Paper Girl said...

I spent a summer living in a boarding house for young women (the Katherine House on W 13th St in NY.) Two meals a day were included in the rent and I was very broke, so they were my bread and butter, so to speak. Stewed prunes were a staple! And I grew to love them! Actually, between memories of that boarding house and the time that I spent living with my grandmother, the entire menu brings back warm fuzzy memories... :)