Feeding the Family

Mrs.White shopping with one of her Grandchildren in Vermont

Home Economics training for young ladies used to be essential, especially when it came to feeding a family.  Girls studied nutrition, cooking, baking, and careful shopping.  We need to start focusing on this again.

There was a wonderful market in my hometown in Massachusetts.  It was called, "The Fruit Center." It was a beautiful store and contained the freshest quality produce you could find. (Across the street you could see the harbor with a little public beach, and, off in the distance, was a view of the city of Boston!)  The prices were affordable, and the displays were inviting.  Quite a few homes had small gardens in this suburban area, but when we needed to supplement the harvest, or buy things out of season, we went to "The Fruit Center."

Here in rural Vermont I am finding it harder and harder to find delicious fresh foods all year round.  I can understand why many grow their own food and preserve it for the winter season.  However, I did manage to freeze some of the strawberries and blueberries from my tiny gardens this summer.

My Mother did a marvelous job feeding us nourishing foods throughout our childhood.  We always had milk and orange juice.  She cooked wonderful, comforting suppers for us every single night. Breakfast was always nourishing and our lunches were mostly eaten at work or school. She was very careful with her grocery budget and made sure we had quality food to eat.  She would not buy junk food.  If we wanted something foolish like that, we had to use our own money. 

There is a sort of laid back attitude these days when it comes to providing food for our kitchens.  I see a lot of young adults buying mostly processed foods, frozen convenience dinners, and lots of pizza.  They are buying what is easy and not necessarily what is healthy.

I remember watching an old episode of "Happy Days." After all the family sat down for dinner, the youngest child grimaced when looking at her plate.  Mom had made liver.  (shudder)  It was more common for homemakers to serve nourishment for the evening meal, rather than what everyone wanted.  I don't remember my mother asking any of us what we wanted to eat.  She just made the food and we ate it.  Of course, she would notice when we enjoyed something more than usual - such as her spaghetti and meatballs!   But always, there were fresh vegetables along with a good, hot, homemade meal.

I once read of Rose Kennedy ordering her dinners at home by telling her servants what she wanted.  In the morning at breakfast time, she would go over her plan for the evening meal with the paid staff.  It was up to them to make sure any shopping or cooking was done in plenty of time to serve the food. 

In the instance of a wealthy family with a hired cook or a homemaker doing her own work, there is a requirement of planning, budgeting, and overseeing the work of providing good, nutritious food for one's household. 

This should not be taken lightly.  It will take hours of work each week to shop, write lists, plan meals, and then to actually prepare food each and every day of the week. 

To make this work more pleasant, we ought to find ways to enjoy the shopping and the kitchen duties.

 I try to shop in my favorite stores when they are not very busy. That way I can take my time. Sometimes I have grandchildren with me. At other times I might have a grown son who will help me with the unloading of groceries.  Rarely, though, do I shop alone.  I find it more fun to have company when I do necessary errands.

Our kitchen ought to be inviting and pretty. It should be the place we will enjoy spending a great deal of time.  My old time cabinets are painted a light purple.  It is a cheery kitchen which makes me smile.  I enjoy baking and cooking while sitting on a tall kitchen chair.  I have my radio nearby so I can listen to old time gospel singing or sermons on CD.  My parlour table is in sight as I work. I try to make it all clean and pretty so I can work in a happy, pleasant environment.

Feeding our guests and family good quality food does not have to be expensive.  It does not have to be fancy.  Basic, recurring menus are perfectly okay and used to be common in households.  There are ways to keep costs down.  Here are a few of my posts, from the archives, that might help:

Why the High Cost of Food?

The Thrifty Kitchen

How the Old Time Mothers Survived Poverty

I am planning to stock up on several items over the next few months for our long, cold winters.  I will have to reorganize my shelves and cabinets to make room.  I will also make a list of basic "inventory" items so we can avoid running out of things in case I forget.  I am just about to make a weekly menu, something I haven't done for quite some time.  I have been slacking on being efficient and wise in my kitchen work.  Lately, I have not been taking it seriously. I have fallen into the common ways of being too laid back. 

I have to say this.... I believe part of the sliding of kitchen values has to do with the lack of a supper table.  People are eating on the couch in front of the television more now than ever before.  I have even heard of many people who never even use their table.   Let's bring back the old time family meal at mother's table!

This effort is just another adventure in homemaking.  It is something we can do with a smile. We can take care of ourselves and our families by doing the necessary work of shopping and baking and cooking.

I am off to bring a revival to my kitchen!

Mrs. White

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

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