Saturday, February 23, 2008

1950s budget menu: conclusions

After cooking 21 meals straight, with a $67, one-stop shopping trip:

  • Lost 4 more pounds, despite desserts and bacon grease.
  • Cooked at 5 am without losing mind.
  • Defeated urge to eat out because I had a firm plan.
  • Thrilled my husband beyond words.
  • Needed an entire bottle of dishwashing soap.
  • Lost time with the kids.
  • Ended week with nothing in the fridge.
Thanks for cheering me on with your helpful advice and recipes. Now someone better pass me a big bowl of salad before I start making a festive dinner out of sausages, noodles, and peach halves!

Click here to return to the complete 1950s budget cooking experiment!


Anonymous said...

"Thrilled my husband beyond words" makes up for all the "cons", don't you think? I bet you could continue to tweek the menu and still come up with great meals. Great going!! I'm going to check out some of those old recipes now.
I remember my grandmother making meatloaf and we would sneak bites of it before it was baked. Oh, my!

Dianna said...

Thank you for doing this series; I really, really enjoyed it. What an adventure!

Andrea said...


To what do attribute the lost weight, even WITH desserts & bacon grease? Is it something about this way of cooking? Also, am I understanding that this was cheaper or rather more expensive for you than usual? Sorry to be clueless. :-)


Anonymous said...

Wow, sounds like a winner to me! Lost weight, thrilled husband, extremely cheap and most things tasted good. I am sorry you lost some time with the children and had to wash so many dishes. I guess I just assumed you had a dishwasher.

Are you planning to keep any of the recipes in future menus or do you plan to go back completely to the way you normally cook? What dishes were the family's favorites?

Meredith said...

Losing weight, possible reasons:

--Physically on my feet more than usual in kitchen

--No eating out at all

--Everything cooked from scratch, no high fructose corn syrup, felt more satisfied with the food that I did eat

--either that, or was so tired of Food Food Food all the time that I didn't want to eat it that much!!!

Meredith said...

Since we didn't eat out at all, we saved money this week. The detailed meal plan kept us from being tempted to grab a burger when running errands on the weekend or treat ourselves to Sunday lunch after church.

I knew I had already bought the food to eat, and I was determined to cook it.

My grocery bill was a little higher than normal, but I can attribute that to having no surplus on hand (butter, eggs, milk, etc) due to my fridge breaking.

Meredith said...

which dishes we'll keep:

I would cook everything again, except for the boiled cabbage and frankfurter dinner.

My attempt at lemon pudding was disastrous (blanc mange cornstarch recipe with lemon extract--blech!)

I asked my husband if he preferred by normal quick dinner of spaghetti with meat sauce or the 50s era spaghetti with meatballs. he cut me off with his haste to say "Meatballs! Definitely meatballs!"

In general I am more thankful for the routine than for the recipes.

Tracy said...

The fact that your husband was pleased says volumes to me. This was very interesting!

Unknown said...

I had so much fun reading this! If you ever would like someone to take that book off your hands let me know. I'd be happy to!

Martha said...

I loved the series. I am suprised your weight went down. When I was seeing what you were making - I was thinking that you would see weight gain. However, the same has been true for me - when I am home and cook our meals - I stay the same or weigh less. I too think I eat less - for I am more satisfied - not from the food so to speak - but even with having a plan.

Thanks for the series. It was very enjoyable and helpful.


Anonymous said...

Good for you losing weight and pleasing your husband. I'm not sure that even those make up for all the time spent and the loads of dishes to wash, because you can lose weight and only throw in one of those meals now and then to please your husband. Still, I've really enjoyed reading along with your trying this out. You've done a great job keeping up with it all for a whole week.

Anonymous said...

Do you have an ISBN number for the book? I would like to find one to purchase. I enjoyed your week of posts!

Stuart and Beth said...

What a fun week of cooking. I can't believe you lost weight but then again I can -- I think it was cooking from scratch and no hidden ingredients.

Maybe you can make meatballs in bulk for the next spaghetti dinner. I agree meatballs are better than meat sauce.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this series of posts. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

ebay has SEVERAL copies of various editions of this book, i think i'm gonna buy one, for some ideas, inspiration and of course, just for the memories of my mom...who was raised in that era...

Celina in Canada

Anonymous said...

I have thorougly enjoyed reading about your 1950's style budget menu week, thank you for taking the time to post daily for us to see. What a week for you though.
Delurking, finally,

Sandy said...

oh, the last two cons - lost time w/kids and no leftovers! painful!!

good for you for doing this! and sharing it with all of us.

i love the "lost 4 lbs" - that's worth it. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I think you could combine some of the 50ies style cooking and current-day time-saving tips. I make 2-3 dozen meatballs at a time and then freeze them by the half dozen for our family of two. Buy extra meat when it's on sale and do the same thing. You'll please your husband and save some time when you just need to pull a bag out in the morning and let it defrost for dinner.

I'm glad this was successful for you. I keep saying that I'm going to come up with a menu for the week, make sure I have everything on hand, and then cook at home all week. I think I'll try it the first week of March (because it's going to take me a week just to prepare! LOL!)

Meredith said...

I'm sorry--my book does not have an ISBN number.

A later edition of the same book uses this ISBN: 0023641002

I am NOT sure how later 60's and 70's edition of this book look.

When I first started this series I linked to Amazon, which had several 1950's copies remaining at about $5/book.

I can't believe so many of you are interested in buying it!

Please note that the book does not include recipes. In many cases I have pulled those from other vintage textbooks. It does have some lovely chapters on table setting and photos, so it's a keeper for my reference shelf.

If I'm ever lucky enough to find another copy, I'll snap it up for one of you!

Kelly said...

I cook a modern leaner version of this menu for my family. But , this is the way I learned to cook. My husband is offshore every other week, so I try to fix Man pleasing meals when he is home. I think the 50's style of cooking is more filling . You get desserts , but I don't think you really have a need for snacking. This was fun . thanks Meredith !

VoiceInTheWilderness said...

This series has been my favorite read this week. Loved it! I would say it was a success.... Makes me realize the need to plan a menu and stick to it.

Chief Family Officer said...

I just wanted to say how impressed I am that you did this for a whole week!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you stuck to the plan for a week, Meredith, & I certainly appreciate your honest appraisal of everything.

I have to agree with the others who made mention of the "pros" outweighing the "cons". Four pounds lost?...Wow! And a very happy husband, too. Fix the meatballs in bulk, & freeze them, & you can make him spaghetti once every couple weeks with no extra work.

It is too bad, truly, that you felt you lost some time with your children. I'm sure they missed that as well. But now that you have the experience of this past week, & you know you can stick to your plan, I'll bet you can reclaim that lost time without blowing the whole scratch-cooking foundation. And I have to say, it does get easier as the kids get a bit older. They can pitch in & help you with prepping food, & with cleanup too. I have had some very good conversations with my three while washing & drying dishes!

This was a great series of of the first I checked every day! Many thanks! (o:


Darcy said...

I really enjoyed this series. Thanks for the inspiration! :)


Momma Nic said...

I too shout your praises for a job well done. This truly has been a study in, Making Choices. You will be learning from this week for weeks to come. Thanks for letting us ride along.
About all those dishes, I used to get paid a quarter to do the dishes, being used to washing pans at every meal it was no big deal. But at Thanksgiving time, everybody would moan over the amount of dishes. But what fun memories of everyone helping to get the job done.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed my husband likes the idea of ethnic cuisine, but when I make down home cooking, he just loves it!! And I totally justify desserts with fruit, peanut butter, oatmeal, milk, eggs, or WW flour.
Great series, Meredith! Really brightened up my February.

Jenny said...

I have been watching this and have been so inspired!


MY BLog:

Amy said...

As always, thank you for being so inspiring! I loved seeing what you cooked and even the challenge s that were faced when cooking like this. Thank you!

LynnMarie said...

I'm so impressed that you stuck to your plan. I think that if it had been me, I would have caved in at some point and opted for a sub way sub just to get out of the kitchen! Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thrilled your husband and lost 4 pounds at the same time! What's not to like!
I have enjoyed following this experiment. I'm sure if you did it again it would be a little less time-consuming because you wouldn't have to search for all those recipes.

~katie~ said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts on this 1950s meal series... Thanks so much for sharing all the ideas, recipes, and thoughts! It was so much fun!

The Mom said...

I am always on my feet and never eat out (maybe twice a year, but that is only in the last couple of years I spent 15 + yrs of marriage without ever eating out; and always cooking for the family)

Yet I never lost weight; and worse, I could never ever shop for $67 for one week!

Our bill (and believe me we buy basics) comes to around $300 per week.

And sometimes I get sick of eating basics, days old bread, out of date fruit which is nearly rotting in the bowl, etc.

But I still can't do much outside of $300 a week.

LOL I guess that is the blessing of one husband, four teenagers, and another eight children

And the non-blessing of (a)living in London where food is mega expensive and (b)as a home schooling mom simply NOT having the time to spend baking my own bread or growing my own vegetables.

I love your blog; maybe because your life is so different, simple and easy compared to mine :-) You remind me of what might have been . . .

And your photography is brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Just catching up and thus got to read your entire 1950s budget series all at once. I love that you were willing to experiment and let us live (and salivate) vicariously! You're like the Human Guinea Pig of Frugal Living. Too bad we can't come over and taste test your recipes...but posting them is the next best thing.

Zombiemommy said...

This was an enjoyable experience reading your posts.
I think you teach your children much by feeding them quality foods and teaching to have taste buds for proper food (not processed stuff 24/7). Its funny I cook mostly from scratch and find that when I start eating a lot of processed foods I gain weight and I don't enjoy it as much (i.e. out of town) ! I would be interested to hear how much of this you actually retain as part of your repertoire.

Anonymous said...

I just LOVED this idea. I was able to purchase a copy of the book on for $.75. I have ALWAYS loved vintage/retro cooking and recipes. You have motivated me to try this myself...but not with the same book. I have one that has a week's worth of menus in it that I'd like to try. I'll probably put it on my blog, too, though I'm sure nowhere near as many people read mine as they do yours, LOL!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiment with us! It was interesting. I have a bunch of 1950s cookbooks from my grandmother, but I've never tried it in this way myself.


Anonymous said...

wow! i just found this and truly enjoyed it. thanks for sharing with us. i'm thinking i may try something similar in my own home. it definitely will require some planning, though - gotta track those recipes down. thanks again!