Save on Food Costs: 1920 Advice

squashFood is expensive today – and it was expensive a hundred years ago. Here is what someone a hundred years ago said about how they minimized their food costs:

We save on food costs. Twenty-five percent of the known incomes, allows $660 a year for food. I allow $540 or $45 a month, for a family of four. It means a very plain table. It means, too, that food costs are lessened by our flock of 12 to 15 chickens which returns 50% above its yearly cost, and by a garden from which I can vegetables and fruits. We pay in labor for part of our food – caring for the garden and the chickens.

From an article titled “Getting the Most Out of Your Dollar,” (Good Housekeeping; May, 1920)

26 thoughts on “Save on Food Costs: 1920 Advice

  1. I’m certain chickens and gardens were far more common in 1920. For today’s urban and suburban dwellers, the freedom to pay in labor for food just isn’t possible. Community gardens help, but it seems they’re still uncommon.

  2. My husband planted kale this year and we are STILL harvesting it! He even has a few arugula plants to harvest from. That alone has cut the grocery costs as fresh greens for salads are very expensive…

    1. Cookbooks and magazines a hundred-years-ago often indicated that some dishes or menus were inexpensive. My general sense is that money was very tight for many people back then, and that some cooks took great pride in being able to create a “plain table” that contained nutrious foods.

    1. Your comment makes me realize that I have several partially full bags of dried beans in a kitchen cupboard. I really should be looking for a recipe to use them. 🙂

  3. I don’t think I could do the chickens, but I dearly wish I had a garden today even though good quality produce is available in my grocery stores nearby. Many Americans, like myself, though do watch what we spend and try to be economical with our purchases. A table may be plain, but if it has fresh vegetables on it it is healthy and that is what should matter to us. Fun read!

  4. It seems that some of us will always have to budget I agree with Dorothy however small your garden or balcony… pots, hanging baskets, grow bags can produce quite a lot of produce…Here we are lucky growing your own and having chooks is the norm…I just wish that damn cock would do cock a doodle do’s at a more social time and not 3.30 in the morning…

  5. Those squash!!! I couldn’t be without home grown veggies, they are so superior to store bought, and once you get organised it’s not that time

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