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How to Buy Food in 1927


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I like to browse my 1927 Butterick Book of Recipes and Household Helps like it’s a novel sometimes. Vintage cookbooks are such an amazing true-to-life peek into old-time kitchens. I’m pretty sure the women of the day were all better organized than most of us. And tidier. They had folded napkins and everything.

Some of the more interesting pages in this old cookbook are in the “How to Buy Food” section, designed as an aid in planning the grocery budget. Many people in those days had a cow, but it does give instructions for buying milk for those who didn’t. “Spend as much for milk as is necessary to secure for each child three-quarters of a quart to a quart of milk a day and for everyone else in the family from one-third to one-half a quart of milk a day.”

They were milk drinkers.

On fruit and vegetables: “It is desirable to include fruit twice a day.” Oranges were recommended as often as possible, unless replaced by tomatoes. Also: “A child can eat two medium-sized potatoes in a day, and one-fourth of a pound or more of other vegetables.”


On fat: Grown-ups needed one to one-and-a-half ounces of fat a day. Children, less, because they were getting fat from drinking more milk.

The recommendations for meat are actually close to today’s recommendations, which just proves things go full-circle. “Ordinarily, do not serve flesh foods (meat, fish, and poultry) more than once a day.” And in particular, “Buy eggs instead of meat for children.” The book goes on to state that children under five are better off with no meat at all. Milk, cheese, eggs, beans, and cereals are encouraged over meat for all ages.

But then, they did have vegetable-eating children. And no Happy Meals at the drive-through!

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Posted by on March 7, 2011 | Permalink  

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4 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 3-7

    I’m a milk drinker and between BO and I we can consume a 1/2 gallon a day. Since I got the new butter churn figured out and working, I now have real home made buttermilk like Grandma used to make. Yummy stuff!!!!!

  2. 3-7

    I’ve been rifling thru some articles and booklets passed on by my MIL. I found a booklet the other day on how to save during war times! How fitting! I think I need to peruse this for some ideas for us now!

    I have vegetable-eating children; we will be putting in a much bigger garden this summer to avoid extra trips to the store and eat fresher foods. Can’t wait!

  3. 3-7

    I laughed out loud at your “Really? WHERE WERE THEY GETTING THESE VEGETABLE-EATING CHILDREN?” remark. Thank you, I needed a good laugh today.

  4. 3-8

    This is a wonderfully done post, I remember the coke and peanuts in the 16oz bottles Grandpa used to buy for us when we went to town with him. I and my sisters lived with our grandparents and amy 2 aunts and one uncle until I was 10 years old.

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