Dinner: not that big a deal – it happens every night
Once upon a time, your mother sat at the kitchen table with a piece of paper and a pencil and she planned meals for the week.
She calculated how many quarts of milk your family would drink; how many loaves of bread to buy and how many pounds of hamburger and chicken she would use to feed all of you. She would estimate how many potatoes or how many packages of noodles (high falutin’ pasta and had not been invented yet) to buy.
She would need to create seven dinners for your family that week. Dinner would be comprised of a starch, meat of some kind, and a vegetable. Noodles with a meat sauce was a quick, cost-effective and healthy dinner. Casseroles were a big hit. Some people served white bread and butter at the table.
Artfully, she consulted cookbooks and magazines and spoke to friends, neighbors, the butcher about their recipes- and what they served for dinner.
Women shared recipes
With scissors in hand, they they clipped recipes out of the newspaper and magazines. They discovered, invented, and shared recipes.
White rice and white potatoes were a staple
You didn’t have to be Irish to appreciate hearty servings of potatoes – they (in their four classic forms: baked, fried, scalloped, or mashed) would round out many dinners. Butter was considered healthy.
Birdseye invented frozen vegetables- so away with the canned vegetables – and in with the frozen. Yay! Variety!
And in those days, you might have a green salad for dinner served with something exotic like 1000 Island Salad Dressing. Or, for a special occasion, you might have had canned fruit on iceberg lettuce.
You or your sister might have set the table. Someone poured the milk. Everyone drank milk or water at dinnertime.
Dinner was served at a table. Everyone sat down together and had dinner. Together. Everyone ate the same thing. Some people pushed the vegetables around the plate; some people refused to eat Brussel sprouts or lima beans.
After dinner the table was cleared – somebody washed the dishes. Then the kids had their baths, finished their homework and went to bed.
TV on a school night? Depends where you lived.
Mom was probably making a mental list of what to fix for breakfast the next morning: what to pack for lunch- peanut butter and jelly or bologna? Dinner would be a snap… she already had the week planned ahead.
It wasn’t a Norman Rockwell event…it was dinner. You had two choices: you could take it or leave it….well, actually there was only one choice.