1920 Advice for Preparing a Meal Tray for a Sick Person

Source: Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. 2) 1920 by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr

Serving food on a tray is a nice way to show love and caring when a family member is sick.  A hundred-year-old home economics textbook had the following advice:

There is one thing that you can do and no doubt will enjoy doing, – preparing an attractive tray to carry to a person who is not well enough to come to the table. Of course, if the person is very ill, the doctor must tell you what to prepare, but there are many times when a person who does not “feel like eating” will be tempted to eat if some easily digested food, daintily prepared, is served. 

The tray should be made attractive with a clean cloth or doilies, and dishes that look well together. Nicked or cracked dishes should not be used if there are others to be had. Try to think of all of the utensils that are needed to eat what is served so that the person will not have to ask for anything. Butter, sugar, and salt should not be forgotten if they are to be used, and a glass of cold water is nearly always desired. On the other hand, do not carry any unnecessary things. Try to keep hot food hot by having dishes warmed and the food covered. It is just as important to serve cold food cold. Be careful not to spill anything. 

Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. 2) (1920) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr

15 thoughts on “1920 Advice for Preparing a Meal Tray for a Sick Person

  1. I think people used to allow themselves the luxury of lying in bed for longer when not feeling well. These days people tend to spring up pretty quickly, and it’s much harder to find someone willing to cater to us in such a way!

  2. Can I just say, preparing a tray for someone is one of my favorite things to do. Their eyes light up when they see the extra special touches. It is fun and nurturing. Like me! 🙂 haha

  3. I had to laugh at the last admonition not to spill! Easier said than done, especially if the invalid is the mother of children who bounce on the bed to be closer to their mommy!! (at least from my experience)

  4. What a sweet article! Even careful not to use cracked or nicked dishes. It’s also fun if you serve toast to use a small cookie cutters to cut little bits in cute shapes.

  5. I was often sick as a child and sometimes served in bed. I do not remember that it was daintily set. But since I was not much interested in eating even while well and given that my mother often felt overwhelmed with household chores, that’s not surprising.

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