Seven-Cent Meals

Advertisement for booklet containing directions for making seven cent meals
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1919)

Holiday meals can be expensive to prepare, so I’m always looking for budget-friendly recipes and meals that I can use to keep my food expenditures in check. A classified ad in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping offers a solution – serve meals that only cost seven cents. I’d be willing to pay a dime to learn how to make seven-cent meals (or I might even consider telling a white lie and claiming that I’m interested in Domestic Science so that I can get the book for free).

33 thoughts on “Seven-Cent Meals

    1. I think that a dollar in 1919 would be worth about $15 today, so a $.07 meal back then would be the equivalent of approximately a $1 meal today – which wouldn’t get you much.

  1. I don’t think you would have to tell a white lie, all your cooking and experimenting with those old recipes would probably fall into that category. I can imagine that to some folks. .07 probably was a lot ,for food prices I believe were high at that time because of the war. Be interesting to see that book though.

    1. Wow, I’m amazed that you found this booklet. It’s fun to look at it. Some of the meals sound like very thrifty meals. For example, the Wednesday lunch or supper menu for:

      Split Pea Loaf
      Sliced Tomatoes
      Bread with Oleo
      Tea – Milk

      sounds fairly healthy – but very inexpensive.

      While the Sunday breakfast menu for:

      Graham Biscuits with Date and Prune Jam
      Scrambled Eggs
      Coffee for Adults – Cocoa for Children

      just plain sounds tasty – and I won’t have realized that it was a thrifty meal, if I hadn’t seen it in the booklet.

      There apparently was inflation between 1914 and 1919, if the meal cost in the title increased from 5 cents to 7 cents across those years.

  2. When I was a young mother in 1977 with very little money I used a contemporary of this booklet issued by a coop in Berkeley. I actually picked up a lot of very helpful tips. I think a book like that would be useful right about now for many strapped families.

    1. It’s interesting how you picked up helpful tips at a time when money was short that made you a better cook in the long run – though now that I think about it, that makes a lot of sense. I find that I do some of my best, creative cooking when I only have limited ingredients in the house (and I don’t want to go to the store).

  3. When I was in Home Ec. we had to figure the cost of each recipe and divide by the number of servings. You can still get a good meal for ~ 75 cents… Spaghetti and bean soup is even cheaper! Of course eating pasta and beans every meal isn’t healthy but there are definitely money saving meals/recipes out there!

    1. You’re absolutely right, there are some really good inexpensive dishes out there. Oatmeal is another tasty inexpensive food (if you don’t put too many toppings on it).

  4. Wow! I wonder what 7 cents would be worth today. That has to be a very cheap meal. I enjoy reading your posts about 100 years ago – that would have been when my mom and dad were born! It gives me insight into the world of their childhood.

    1. You’re right – it would have been a very inexpensive meal. I think that with inflation that a 7 cent meal a hundred years ago would be the equivalent of a meal today that costs approximately $1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy this blog. I have a lot of fun doing it, and it’s nice to know that others enjoy it.

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