“What will we have for dinner?”


A hundred-year-old home economics textbook had a short section on planning meals:

The Planning of Meals

“What will we have for dinner?” Nearly every day in the year the average home hears this question. Sometimes the query comes very close to the meal hour and means that time is too short to prepare certain foods. This haste frequently means a hurried telephone call or a trip to the nearest store and the purchase of such materials as can be made ready very quickly for the approaching meal. This method is costly in time, energy, money and disposition, and should give place to a better plan. In a very smoothly running household there is a more or less definite and regular time for giving thought to the food question, resulting in a written meal plan and the making of order lists. Meals should be planned at least one day in advance, and very frequently it is advantageous to plan for several days. This results in better food, in less confusion, worry and waste, in lessened work, in a smaller cost, and in greater satisfaction to all persons in the household.

Economics of the Family by C.W. Taber and Ruth A. Wardall (1923)

I’m intrigued by the concerns and suggestions. In some ways the advice seems on the mark and in other ways it feels very dated. We don’t call the store to order groceries. (I actually was surprised that the textbook authors apparently expected most families to have telephones in 1923.) But we do plan menus, shop for ingredients, and try to keep the cost of food down.

14 thoughts on ““What will we have for dinner?”

  1. I agree that meal planning is a good idea and I like to plan for a week, not that always happens. Here we can order groceries online for pick-up, but I don’t know how quickly you can get them.

  2. And back in the day when I was a full-time instructor, mother, housewife, and cook I used to prepare the weeks meals on Sunday, refrigerated for baking at dinner time. It was easy with the Italian foods my in-laws — and my husband — preferred.

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