Whenever I get in a rut with meals I like to change things up. This week I’ll be cooking and serving a 1940s style menu. I have a feeling David will love it!
It’s surprisingly difficult to find 1940s cookbooks still in print. However, my daughter (Retro Housewife Goes Green) told me that for only $19.99 you can get an annual online subscription to Better Homes and Gardens which has every issue all the way back to 1922. What a fun resource!
I sought inspiration for this menu by looking through the October issues for each year of the 1940s. One thing I noticed right away was the focus on seasonal food items. You won’t find fresh strawberries or corn on the cob in these menus. Instead, menus include apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and other autumn produce.
Whether most families really ate this way or if it was idealized in magazines and cookbooks, I’m not certain. However, there seemed to be an intentional plan to include a lot of variety in terms of nutrients.
I watch a lot of “meals of the week” videos on YouTube and I’m surprised by how often families eat just one main dish and no sides, or perhaps just a side of french fries. On the other hand, menus from the 40s and 50s usually include:
- a main dish (usually meat)
- potatoes of some type (or other starch)
- leafy, green or other vegetable
- tomatoes or citrus fruit (at least one serving per day)
- bread and butter
- dessert, often fruit-based
This may seem like a lot of food but portion sizes were likely smaller and people tended to be more physically active.
I’m curious to see how much time it takes me to prepare these meals and what we think of them. I’ll be trying several new recipes and if we like them, I’ll share them in the coming weeks.
- ham steak (brown in skillet, set aside, melt butter and brown sugar in skillet, put ham back in pan and cook until heated through)
- scalloped potatoes
- buttered peas
- baked apples
- Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Toasted Potatoes (make mashed potatoes, spoon into baking dish, top with grated cheese and bake until lightly browned)
- iceberg lettuce and tomato salad with Homemade Thousand Island dressing
- chilled orange slices
- Tamale Casserole (recipe to come)
- crisp coleslaw in tomato cups
- baked pears
- mashed potatoes
- cooked cabbage
- orange sherbet
- Chicken baked in tomato sauce (recipe to come)
- buttered noodles
- chocolate cake
- baked pork chops
- Tomato-Cheese Green Beans (recipe coming soon)
- broiled sweet potatoes
- sour cream cornbread
- scalloped apples
- pot roast
- potatoes, onions, carrots (cooked with roast)
- dinner rolls
- tossed green salad
- cherry cobbler
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This post is linked up at I’m an Organizing Junkie. Check it out for more menu ideas!