The 1950s housewife was expected to cook three wholesome and nutritious meals every day for her family; send children off to school with filling and healthy lunches; set an elegant and lavish table for entertaining; and keep her husband happy and satisfied with a full stomach.
She was expected to know how to choose the best foods at the best prices, and to plan weekly menus that fulfilled the nutritional needs of her family. She read women's magazines and cookbooks, looking for new recipes and advice about raising happy, healthy kids. Over cups of coffee and freshly-baked cookies, she swapped recipes, shared marital secrets and advice, and complained about housework to neighborhood friends and family. The 1950s housewife was highly-regarded and well-respected as the glue that kept the family and society together. And she benefited from post-war prosperity with new innovations in household appliances, television, and increased leisure time.
Simple Breakfast Menu
Coddled Eggs (hard-cooked or soft-cooked boiled eggs)
Graham muffins (or bran muffins)
Coffee and Milk
Simple Lunch Menu
Bacon and Liver Sandwiches (or Bacon and Liverwurst)
Lettuce and Onion Salad Bowl
Chiffondale Dressing ( a variation of French dressing)
Baked Stuffed Pears
Simple Vegetarian Lunch Menu
Creamed Asparagus on Toast
Cottage Cheese Salad
Simple Dinner Menu
Lettuce and Chicory Salad Bowl
Cheese Tray and Toasted Crackers
Simple Vegetarian Dinner Menu
Buttered String Beans
Radish and Cucumber Salad
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A huge part of entertaining guests in the 1950s was setting a proper table using the best china, glassware, silverware, linen napkins and tablecloth, condiment holders, place cards, and centerpiece. Monogrammed napkins and tablecloths were quite popular in the 1950s. Buffet dinners, in particular, gave the 1950s hostess the opportunity to show off her best silver, glass, and linens.
The Formal Dinner
1st course - Appetizer
2nd course - Soup
3rd course - Fish
4th course - Roast
5th course - Game
6th course - Salad
7th course - Dessert
8th course - Crackers and Cheese with Coffee
9th course - Nuts and Raisins
10th course - Fruit
The Simplified Formal Dinner
1st course - Appetizer
2nd course - Main Entree
3rd course - Salad
4th course - Dessert
5th course - Coffee with Fruit or Crackers and Cheese
Courses were served individually in a particular way, and the place setting and position of knives, forks, and spoons reflected the order in which the courses were served.
1950s Food Wisdom
"Expensive foods are not necessarily the most nutritious."
"Prepare all food so attractively, and season it so well, that it will be irresistible."
"Beautiful color and dainty, attractive arrangements play a large part in a successful meal."
"A combination of colors pleases the eye, stimulates the digestive juices, and creates an appetite."
"When planning combinations, follow the day's nutrition schedule and good combinations will result." [Today, we have the food pyramid that provides nutritional guidelines.]
"Fine flavor in foods is developed by proper cooking. Additional flavors are provided by herbs: garlic, onion, celery, and by spices. Highly-seasoned foods whet the appetite, while sweets satisfy it. For that reason, well-seasoned foods are served for appetizers and sweets for desserts. Serve only one strongly-flavored food at each meal."
"A most important point is the serving of at least one each soft, solid, and crisp foods at each meal."
"Serve hot foods hot and cold ones cold."
"Plan meals that do not have too many last minute touches. When entertaining, avoid serving food that will be ruined by a few minutes waiting."
"If planning to bake one dish, arrange your menu so that the whole oven may be used."
"Learn to buy so that there is a minimum of food left over."
"In summer, the market provides foods low in energy value but high in minerals or vitamins, such as fruits and vegetables. In winter, high-energy foods, as fats and carbohydrates, are needed, too."
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When my mother got married in the 1950s, she did not know how to cook! She was given a wonderful cookbook called The American Woman's Cook Book (1952) as a wedding gift. I pored through that cookbook when I was growing up. The colorful pictures of fabulous desserts and savory cooked meats always fascinated me and made me want to experiment in the kitchen. I treasure that cookbook as a beautiful reminder of my mother and days gone by.
May 25, 2021
Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.