Tuesday, February 19, 2008

1950s budget menu: desserts

If daily potatoes don't send you into a starchy stupor, the desserts might. This low cost menu serves them up at lunch AND dinner.

I won't kid. A sweet end makes the meals taste better. I'm curious if a week without high fructose corn syrup will leave us more satisfied.

At the same time, it's a lot of baking--and a challenge to find recipes which won't use all my butter and eggs. (Above, cocoa cupcakes with half batch of 1-minute frosting.)

My mom wants to know if these are really less expensive than a pack of Hostess. Thoughts?



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

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

On cost probably Hostess would win but from a health standpoint, homemade wins hands down. I shudder to think how much preservatives are contained in the boxed ones. I always chuckle when I remember our gradeschool field trip to the Hostess factory. The tour ended with free goodies while we watched a movie on nutrition!

Anonymous said...

They might not be less expensive, but I bet they are 10 times better tasting and the ingredients are no doubt better. I just baked some red velvet cupcakes tonight that turned out to be very expensive, but they could never be matched by Hostess. I know this is about cooking on an extreme budget this week, but still....... BTW, I just discovered individual silicone cupcake bakers (no more paper liners or muffin pans ever needed again!) and I love them. Just fill the cups, place on cookie sheet and bake. The cupcakes pop right out and the cups were easy to wash and are ready to reuse. They were pricey but if I bake 10,208 cupcakes, they will pay for themselves!

Jenni said...

I just want to echo that there's no way Hostess cupcakes taste half as good as those!

3boysmama said...

have you heard of Wacky Cake? It is a chocolate cake that uses no butter eggs or milk. Everything comes from the pantry. I make it for my milk-allergic son and everyone thinks it tastes great!

Ewokgirl said...

I have no idea if they'd be less expensive or not. I'm allergic to chocolate, so I haven't paid any attention to the price of cocoa these days.

But the taste would make them worthwhile regardless of the cost! Who wants cardboard-tasting pre-packaged stuff when moist, homemade goodies are the alternative?

Anonymous said...

I have to cast my vote for the Wacky Cake that 3boysmama mentioned...it is VERY good. Not to mention inexpensive, & easy to make. My family likes it a lot...I made it 3 nights ago, & just served the last pieces to the kids for dessert yesterday.

Brenda

TJ said...

I have to agree, that while the Hostess might win up front on price (depending on the price and what's on sale) the health bills down the road due to that crud aren't worth it!

Rachel said...

At this time of night, hard to think about worrying how much they cost or how many calories they might have....I just want one!!!

I am so inspired by your meals this week.

Anonymous said...

The donut muffins @hillbilly housewife are too good and need no butter and only 1 egg. We love them with maple extract flavored glaze or cinnamon sugar. -Melissa

Andrea said...

Meredith -

My mom often asks me the same thing..."Why spend all that time baking bread when you can just BUY it?" Well...I toss the ingredients for dough in the breadmaker and let it do most of the work. Same goes for sweets; I'll buy a pack of Quaker Oats Breakfast cookies, but I'd much rather make my own. Frankly, the sense of accomplishment of making healthy food for my hubby outweighs the fact that I can get many of these items for pennies. Granted, I won't turn them down if I can get them for pennies from time to time, but I prefer homemade! :)

And anyway...anything that can last a nuclear winter doesn't really belong in our bodies. ;)

Anonymous said...

The wacky cake recipe sounds similar to the depression-era "Cake pan cake" recipe that I use from the King Arthur Flour cookbook. They have a ton of variations (our favorite is the spice cake one) and none of them use eggs, milk, or butter. All of the ones I've made are super moist and delicious.

My other favorite dessert is a super easy no-egg chocolate pudding (from the Hershey cookbook). This is very rich and you can omit the butter easily:

* 2/3 c Sugar
* 1/4 c Hershey's Cocoa
* 3 tb Cornstarch
* 1/4 ts Salt
* 2 1/4 c Milk
* 2 tb Butter or margarine
* 1 ts Vanilla extract


Instructions:

In medium saucepan stir together sugar cocoa cornstarch and salt; gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture boils; boil and stir l minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into individual dessert dishes and chill.

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying this week of posts and Gosh! that Wacky Cake sounds just what I need for today! We are bound down in frozen fog, and could use a little science activity ;)I found the recipe at www.allrecipes.com (Wacky cake V111). I agree that homemade cakes can end up expensive, but they are so much better than the bought variety. If you check out a farmers market stall selling baked goods you can see how much homebaking costs at a "commercial" level...this is a luxury item! Aren't we lucky to be able to do this for our families. Gill.

Mama Squirrel said...

Your photo reminds me of Amelia Bedelia's chocolate cupcakes in the book about the Surprise Shower. (Just don't ice the fish to go along with them.)

Diane said...

The Wacky Cake sounds like the quick chocolate cake I make (recipe on my blog - just use the search button) - vinegar, oil and cold water in place of milk, eggs or butter.

Home made is always better than boughten!

Kate in NY said...

I haven't been able to read through all the comments this week, so I apologize if this has already been brought up. But I keep reading through these 50's recipes and thinking how most people do not eat like this anymore - all those starchy, meaty meals, all the desserts, etc. and YET - I dont think obesity was half the problem in the 50's that it is today. I guess all the preservatives and fast foods combined with the decrease in exercise really have taken their toll on America.

Interesting topic . . .

Kate in NY

Sarah said...

I have to agree with the wacky cake! It is amazing and very cheap. My daughter is allergic to milk and eggs so the wacky cake is just what we need. If you omit the chocolate and substitute the water for fruit juice you get a great cake. I've used pineapple, orange, apple and peach juice from the can and add diced up canned peaches. Yummy and so much variation. Another thing I like is to use half wheat flour. It turns out great.

Anonymous said...

I do not know what a package of Hostess cup cakes costs. I do know that you can not buy the feeling of knowing what is in the food you give to your children. To me, when I read a food lable (and I do read them all the time) if I can not pronounce the name of a presersative or some other ingredient...then I do not want to fee it to the children.

AnnMarie said...

And if you can do it with at least some whole wheat flour (which I add to almost everything I bake), you can count your cupcakes for a whole grain serving (or part of a one) for the day!

I'm surprised at the frosting--a lot of waste if you pour it over, or can you re-use what drips off?

Meredith said...

Annmarie, I know I'm talking to a true tightwad--anyone who noticed the dripping frosting!!!

My five year old begged for frosting, and I let him mix it up and pour it on...hence the drips.

Even a half batch of that recipe made too much.

I did scrape the drips from the cookie sheet underneath and stuck the excess in a small Tupperware in the freezer. I'm thinking I can add it to a homemade pudding for flavor.

I will definitely try the wacky cake!

Marsha said...

I agree that short-term cost and long-term cost may not align on this question. In addition to the intangible aspects like nutrition, quality time with the kids and so forth, there are things like using food that is already paid for rather than buying new food (or food-like products, in the case of Hostess cupcakes), the packaging, the psychological benefits of being self-reliant in treat making and so on.

Connie said...

Recipes from the 1930's (Depression) and early 1940's (WWII) are often great sources of recipes that are inexpensive to make. Those who lived in towns during the Depression and didn't have access to milk, butter, or eggs learned to cook without. Some of these ingredients were hard to come by during the war because of rationing.

Great series, Meredith. I'm enjoying it very much.

Anonymous said...

this is so fun!

anonymous, thanks for the pudding recipe.

and 3BoysMama, would you be willing to post your wacky cake version?

A popular dessert here is Whoopie Pies. The chocolate cake part is made very dark, almost black, by using cold coffee in the recipe.

I have yet to taste a homemade whoopie pie that wasn't too greasy & heavy, though. The storebought W.P's are much lighter. All those preservatives and chemical substitutes probably : )

dmeyers

Anonymous said...

... and I second the observation that although 1940-50s homemakers routinely made such rich food, most people weren't even fat, much less obese! I look at photographs of my family from that era and no one was heavy, and all the women I knew cooked this way.

There's a Leave It To Beaver episode where June is making Beav some sandwiches for school and she asks him: "Do you want butter or mayonnaise on your roast beef sandwich?"; Beaver says "both!". Whereupon, she begins slathering the WHITE BREAD ...

dmeyers

jules said...

I believe that folks in the 50's ate this way and stayed fit because they didn't spend their leisure time watching television. They probably didn't even have leisure time. My grandparents had a farm, plus my Grandpa worked a 8-5 job. They didn't work on Sundays, but did go out and work the farm after work during the week and on Saturdays. Sundays were for church and that wonderful Sunday dinner, plus I can remember we'd get out the slide projector and screen and watch the old slides. We were outside alot.

Cindee said...

Probably more expensive than Hostess but contains WAAAY less chemicals! Wacky cake is the best!!

Amy K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy K. said...

Ok, I just checked, and wacky cake is 17 cents per serving or $2 for the cake according to Kris at Cheap healthy Good

http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/2007/12/wacky-cakes-and-crazy-ladies.html

A package "Hostess Cup Cakes Chocolate - 8 ct" was $3.99 in my area according to peapod.com

So, even with the frosting, I'd say homemade is still cheaper.

pomo housewife said...

as others have said, it isn't just about the price. Do hostess cakes contain partially hydrogenated fats? Preservatives? what else?

Give me a home-made cake made with flour, butter, cocoa, eggs and sugar, thanks!!!

I think people also used to eat smaller servings, and didn't snack as much. You'd probably find that for active people, as another poster mentioned, this would be quite a healthy menu. Perhaps it could be tweaked in line with our modern knowledge of nutrition.

Kimberly said...

I'd take homemade over Hostess any day!
I bake everything from scratch myself. It does seem weird sometimes to bother making bread for sandwiches when I know there are cheaper storebought brands available. I'd rather take the time and energy to do this those, than feed my family highly processed, flavorless bread.

Everytime I grab my big Bosch mixer, my two year old hollers, "Bake bread. Mommy bakin' bread."
Luckily, he hasn't quite figured out that that's where those mysterious cookie things come from too...

Lady Di said...

I have really been enjoying your "menu" this week. I've been going through some things that my mom gave me a few years ago when my grandmother passed away. I've got a few older cookbooks and some recipe pamphlets (from the gas company) that are from the early 40's to the late 50's. I've been posting a few recipes that I've been finding interesting. I mean that both in the sense that I'd like to try them or I don't plan to (A crown roast made from mashed potatoes and frankfurters is in that last catagory haha!). It's interesting to me how tastes have changed so much in so few years. Hot dogs are really big in these recipes, and chicken not so much - I think it might have been kind of expensive?

I haven't posted many of the recipes lately, but I've been post-it note flagging (with those ones that are little flags) so I can go back and actually try some before I post them. And I actually found a recipe for Quince Honey that my husband loves and one for Pineapple Honey that will be a lot cheaper to make than the Quince one.

Anonymous said...

Just made the wacky cake with the frosting recipe you posted. Didn't love the cake, but the frosting was delish!

I think I'll whip some leftover cream, microwave the cup-cakes and call them Chocolate Decadence or something.

I made it my goal not to go shopping and inspired by you I think I came up with a pretty good menu.