Friday, May 4, 2012

4 May 1947 “Budgeting Our Time the 1940’s Way and a Need for Home Economics Today”

bugettimeschedule I know I have shared this little checklist with you before. It is from my 1947 America’s Housekeeping Book.  It is a handy little book and this is a good layout of a possible weeks work.

You will notice the little addendum on the bottom that tells one Saturday can be planned in advance as a rest day. This is certainly true if you plan the meals ahead of time and set in the ice box to simply cook that day.

It also mentions wash and marketing. I do my laundry on Monday, ironing is Tuesday and my Marketing is done on Friday as there are often sales then. But there is a list of reasons you may not be able to maintain your schedule outlined in the book and here it follows. (Simply click on any image to read full-size of course).

 budgettime2Some of these things refer you to other pages in the book, but most are simply an ‘ask yourself, test your common sense’. And some things, like the reference to the ‘one handed kitchen set up on pg. 20’ simply tells how modern cabinets are often too deep. Try to arrange like things with like such as bowls of same size together not nest larger and smaller together, as you would need two hands to get at it. Also it points out how shelves made or adjusted to simply hold one row of things, such as canned goods, make more efficiency as well as do not lead to clutter or digging to find things and lets one know what is on hand and what is needed when making next weeks marketing list.

Such films as this from 1950 on simply buying foods would not only be helpful today but would point out what I have learned. That inflation is currently rampant. Many shop haphazard and with no list or particular pattern. I have been with friends when they have shopped thus. This way many do not see the changes in prices. Because many prices are hidden cleverly today. For instance ice cream has reduced its packaging. It deceptive is the same height and width along the front of the packaging but it is narrower now. So, even when the price stays the same you are literally buying less, thus that means you are paying more per weight of item.

This has been true with tuna as well which has shrunk from 10 oz down to currently 5 oz. Just since I started my 1955 project tuna has gone from 7.5 oz. 5 oz for same brands. And though it might sometimes be on sale, even then the price over all is higher.

40steensshopping To have the ability to plan and look and watch what you are spending both for meal planning and money planning is almost unheard of today. My friend who is 28 told me she had ‘Life Skills’ courses in High School not Home Economics. And in that class they taught them how to make packaged macaroni and cheese as well as packaged cake mixes! And the school had to buy these pre packaged national brand packages as well! Wouldn’t you think one who can simply read could make mac n cheese on their own?

When I told her about the 50’s Home Economics teaching about weights and qualities and how different cuts of meat are created and used. How leftovers can be used and even understanding different fabrics to see what clothing lasts longer and how to prepare it, she said how much that would have actually helped her. So, it isn’t that today’s youth don’t want to know or understand such things.

Here is the film on buying food:

And for those who may have  been worried of the ‘Rock n Roll’ set or even if young men in the 50’s took Home Ec., here you can see this short film about young teens going to a local grocer as part of the training in their Home Economics class room.

These young people even visit the butcher while there to see the different cuts of meat and how they are used. Many people today buy premade or simply ground beef. When there is so much more economy, taste, and really quality if full meat. Though much of the meat is still full of hormones and antibiotics and the cows themselves are poorly fed on corn (not their natural diet) at least buying actual cuts of meat lets you know what you have. While pre-packaged fish fingers, chick patties and the like are mostly made of who knows what.

I heard something about some sort of ‘pink slime’ that is now used in ground beef and was only last year labeled only fit for animal foods. Another way, by the bye, that the increase in food costs are hidden, by decreasing the quality product to include ‘filler’. In a world where little is prepared but comes prepared, it is easy to slip in such false economies.

Enjoy the teens and their class at the supermarket:

I am going to close with this darling photo, also from my ‘47 Homemakers book. Here we see the good idea of allowing the young child to emulate and learn at an early age how to cook and bake. Of course, one must have a family member with such skills in order to pass this on to children. I fear this might be also vanishing. Today children may simply learn how to press the buttons on the microwave and how to toss out their paper plate rather than ‘cleaning up’ afterwards.

childinkitchen In many ways most of we modern people are like the child and do need more lessons. I have certainly given myself a thorough training session in Home Ec over the past three years. But, I am always learning and with still so much to understand. And with every day I feel a bit more in control of my small part of life. I only wish we had more control over our lives on the grander scale concerning laws, rights and such. So, the haven of the home shall have to be all the better equipped to handle the ups and downs of the economy and a better refuge from the turbulent modern world.

Happy Homemaking.


  1. M. Stump in Winston-Salem, NCMay 4, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Where do you find these wonderful publications!? I agree with you--Home Ec needs to make a comeback. Maybe with the trend toward buying local and growing your own vegetables, it will. In case you haven't heard, the Federal government purchased several million pounds of "pink slime" to stretch the food in our public schools. Just the thing for growing minds!

  2. That photo of the little girl with her mother really makes me smile! I have such fond memories of my girls helping me with this or that around the house...and I find myself wishing those days hadn't flown by as quickly as they did, despite the fatigue I was always feeling at the time! :o)


  3. As a former school teacher, it is an injustice to the younger generations to reduce the availability of home economics classes. Such skill-laden classes are so necessary no matter what profession one seeks and promotes daily self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, and critical thinking skills.

  4. I love that the daily chart lists dinner prep as one of the noon chores, and late father noon for relaxation, etc. I'm only figuring this out now; that time of day has always been challenging for my kids and me.

  5. Kudos to you. I am a child of depression era parents and large family.
    I took 4 years of homemaking and the things I learned there has been valuable to me.
    I am a freezerholic and could teach classes. I worked in a kitchen store once and the mother in laws were constantly complaining how none of their sons had wives that could cook.
    Now I believe men should cook also but you understand.
    Most do not know how to even make a pot of beans.
    Fabulous blog. Sandy

  6. As part of my job, I've been participating in interviews across the region about the various needs of each community. One topic that has come up in every town is the need to better teach life skills to the younger generation. Over and over, I keep hearing that so many young people have no idea how to manage a budget, balance a checkbook, keep house and shop and prepare meals for themselves. I didn't take home economics, which I now regret, but I was fortunate to have a mother who taught me most of the basics and I've learned a great deal from my own reading and trial and error. It seems that most parents these days aren't teaching their children, or perhaps they don't have very good skills themselves.

  7. Thank you for your blog. I've been reading for a couple of months now and have been making my way through the archives. It is invigorating to read your insights. Thank you for taking the time to blog. It has been wonderful for my family and I

  8. Thanks for all that great info! I'm a thirty-something who just in the past two years has been learning how to properly keep house and cook most things from scratch. I used to think "cooking" was buying frozen pizza instead of ordering. Then this past week we were visiting my mom, and she was making a cake with my two preschoolers. She was using a boxed cake mix and they were both so confused - they kept asking when they were supposed to put in the flour and baking powder. My changes are making a difference, and a lot of my inspiration came from your blog and one other. Thanks!

  9. I read an old book on line that said the Home Ec. teachers wayyyy before the crash of 29 taught the children well to watch their budgets etc. How to keep a home and such. But when the 20s came with much money and easy times people got away from teaching good Home Ec classes and thus forgot budgeting etc. Then the crash happened and they went back to teaching it again. Now I am thinking...before 2008 things were rosy all over and no thought of budgeting and watching spending. Easy to get $ and easy to spend. Now we are in the same boat with the thought that the young should be taught the value of budgeting their food etc and ow to cook things from scratch etc etc. The basics of home life. Now thought they say there is no $ for even other subjects they still teach let alone Home Ec that has not been taught many places for years. Now we who are older need to teach those who are around us these basic skills. Even many older people seem to lack basic living skills. I know of severe women who have taken to teach several of the neighborhood young school age girls basic sewing and gardening and cooking and such, Like little classes. Boys too need to learn the basics and it would not hurt for them to learn basic tools and wood working and other jobs either. Any self reliant skill. No one person can know it all. God gave us all some different talent the other does not have and we should be learning so we can work together for the good of the community. You had another good post...thanks! Sarah

  10. I enjoyed the Home Ec film, but am dismayed at how many processed convenience foods they had even then! What was the year, late 50's/early 60's, and they had canned biscuits! :(

    As for Home Ec being taught in schools today, indeed many schools have simply renamed it to "Life Skills" as someone mentioned above, or even "Adult Living". But the focus is more on family relationships, personal health, sex ed, etc. No cooking, budgeting, or do-it-yourself stuff.

    I remember when I was in junior high school, in the mid-1980's, I was doing horribly in math and so instead of being advanced to Algebra I with the rest of my peers, I had to take "remedial" math. And you know what? The "remedial" class learned practical math such as balancing a checkbook, how interest rates worked on loans and credit cards, how to figure percentages when shopping (20% off sale), etc. All things most teens never learn unless their parents teach it to them. And they considered it the dummy math class for those of us not smart enough to go on to Algebra (!). Hmmm.....I have not used any algebra since graduating high school, but I sure have needed to know those other "remedial" skills. I think practical math like that should be a requirement instead of placing so much emphasis on "higher math concepts" like calculus or trig.

  11. I'm 29 and while I didn't take home ec in high school I did take it in junior high, we had a very old junior high, in fact my grandparents went to the same school (it was the high school back then) we learned to make Mac n cheese from scratch and we were taught to make divinity fudge! No dishwashers, we used the sink. The kitchen hadnt been updated since 1960 lol Back then I hated it even though my grandfather kept saying but
    that's where your grandma learned ! I only wish there was an adult class I could take again!


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