A Real 1950's Meal Plan - Retro Housewife Goes Green (2023)

This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

By Lisa Sharp 13 Comments

Want to eat like people in the 1950s? They this 1950s meal plan from a 1952homemaking magazine. It’s an interesting look at a 1950s diet.

A Real 1950's Meal Plan - Retro Housewife Goes Green (1)

Meal planning has been important for generations but what each generation has eaten has changed a lot over the years. It can be very interesting to take a look at what past generations ate.

I was looking through a Good Housekeeping magazine from January 1952 and they had a very interesting article with a dinner menu for a couple of weeks.

They said it was good for those wanting thrifty meals that were easy to prepare. Clearly, homemakers were looking for similar things for meal planning to what we look for now.

I thought I’d share a week’s worth of the meals shared to give us a look at what they would have been eating in the early 1950s. I have also provided links for a couple of recipes that I could find.

1950s Meal Plan

A Real 1950's Meal Plan - Retro Housewife Goes Green (2)


  • Skillet Sparerib Dinner
  • Pickled Beets
  • Enriched Bread
  • Winter Fruit Medley (diced apples, grapefruit, oranges, and bananas)
  • Crisp Cookies
  • Tea or Coffee


  • Quick-Fried Liver and Franks
  • Creamed Potatoes
  • Popovers
  • Lettuce with French Dressing
  • Orange Gelatin with Diced Oranges and Chopped Walnuts
  • Tea
  • Milk


  • Casserole of Shoulder Pork Chops and Butter Beans
  • Rye Bread
  • Cabbage Salad
  • Warm Gingerbread
  • Milk



  • Broiled Fish Fillets or Slices with Golden Rice Cakes
  • Broccoli with Mustard Sauce
  • Hard Rolls (heated)
  • Canned Plums
  • Coffee or Tea
  • Milk


  • Beef Stew with Tomatoes
  • Enriched Toast
  • Pickles
  • Coconut Layer Cake
  • Coffee or Tea
  • Milk


  • Baked Ham Slice
  • Iowa Succotash
  • Baked Squash Squares
  • Enriched Rolls
  • Canned Cranberry Sauce in Lettuce Cups
  • Coconut Layer Cake Alamode
  • Coffee

A Real 1950's Meal Plan - Retro Housewife Goes Green (3)

It’s interesting how many elements there were to the meals. Portion sizes were smaller those days but they did eat more items with each meal.

It seems like now we want one-pot meals or at least only a couple of items for each meal. I tend to make a main dish, side, and veggies but from what I have seen from friends this is even more than a lot of people now. Dessert was included in each meal but most are fruit based which I feel like is something we can learn from.

There are a few of these dishes that I hope to try and recreate. I will be sure to share them here if I do. The fish with golden rice cakes is one that sounds very interesting to me.

Trying recipes from past decades is so much fun and I can’t wait to try some of these. If you have some I need to try share in the comments below.

Be sure to subscribe below to learn when I share new posts and get my free meal planning ebook. Andfollow on Facebook for even more 1950s fun.

More Vintage Recipes

Want to see another 1950’s meal plan? My mom created one as well and tried it out. Read it here- Menu Monday 1950s Style and check out my 1950’s Summer Meal Plan for ideas for those hot summer nights.

Vintage Gingerbread Muffin Recipe

Time-Tested Delight: How to Make a Delicious Vintage Brownie Pudding

Creating a Refreshing Old-Fashioned Chocolate Soda at Home

Recreating the Classic Old-Fashioned Chocolate Coke at Home

Previous Post: « Staying Fit Like a 1950s Housewife

Next Post: The 1950s Good Wife Guide: How to Be a Good Wife »

Reader Interactions


  1. Meredith says

    Looking through those retro magazines is so much fun. I love that they have fruit , tea /coffee with each one. I have an old 1930 Good Housekeeping recipe book that my grandma left behind when she passed.


    • Lisa Sharp says

      I bet that is a lot of fun to look through!


    • Audrey Gillis says

      This was really neat. I love the idea they had such full meals every night. One note people must have made a lot more money in those days. They had extravagant meals every night it seems. Each night had an expensive meat of some kind. Otherwise great ideas 🙂


      • Lisa Sharp says

        Food costs were much lower. Also, not every family would have eaten like this. Just like every family is different now they were then as well. This is kind of the ideal.


  2. Kathi says

    I was born in San Francisco. My dad was Army so we lived on base at the Presido. One main dish I learned to cook and bring to the table where I now live in Arkansas is fried spareribs. I cut them apart, salt and coat them with cornmeal. Fry them like you would chicken. They are delish! I have served them to a lot of friends and the love them. May I add I was born in 1950. Great year! Slower, kinder times! Try the spare ribs. Don’t buy baby back ribs. They won’t work. Pork by the way.


  3. Mandy says

    I also like that some of the items can be made earlier in the day or are part of leftovers. For example, the bread or items could be started after breakfast and finished in the late afternoon or early evening. If it’s toast, it could be leftover from the previous day’s loaf. Some of the fruit components could also be put together from previous meals (the winter salad for example), or made earlier in the day (jellos and cakes), and the salads, dressings, or raw veggies could be prepped after lunch and stored. This would make actual meal prep go smoother with less pieces to juggle.


  4. yvonne vicars says

    i just want to say that i think it is funny that all that you have on your page is how i have lived my hole life. i did not know that you could get a cake in a box. or cornbread in a box. every meal we made at home we made it. we did all kind of crafts from thing we found at the beach or in the woods. we made our home made wreath out of what the tree lot would cut off and throw away. we would get old clothes and make pot holders and home made quilts rag dolls and such. we made our gifts for each other i love the way i was raised i love the food the taste is so much better. any way i just wanted to thank you for show other a better way to live.


  5. Jean Lobo says

    Hi! I was a kid in the fifties, and the menus sound like what my mom used to prepare. We lived on a farm in Iowa, so a lot of our food my mom raised in her huge garden and canned or frozen. We also walked the countryside picking mushrooms, wild blackberries, gooseberries, and such. It was a wonderful diet, and mom was a great cook. Dad had our beef and pork butchered and frozen at a local business. He sent animals he’d raised on the farm. Thanks for reminding us all of that blessed time and place. Jean


  6. Donna Reagan says

    I enjoy reading old cookbooks and women’s magazines from years ago. My cookbook collection contains menus and recipes for each decade from 1912 to the present. Food patterns are interesting. I went to school in the 50s and 60s and the school menus seem to reflect the same patterns as the one you have here. The biggest change in the old is that there are more carbs served in the 1950s meals than is recommended for today. The 40s and 50s were concerned with getting enough calories into people after the depression and war.


  7. Mrs. Lisa mickey says

    Most did not eat between meals & certainly NO fast food. Over all their diets were healthier then today for most.


  8. Rhiamom says

    Yes, traditional meal planning had bread and a salad with every dinner, with coffee or tea. And it would have a meat, starch, and vegetable in each meal, either individually or mixed together in a soup/stew or casserole. I grew up in those days. Salads and baked desserts were typically prepared early in the day. Bread was Wonder bread style white bread. Iceberg lettuce ruled the salad world. Not all changes are for the worse. The food was bland. I clearly recall a recipe for “Mexican meatloaf” that used 1/4 tsp red pepper to 2 pounds of ground meat.


  9. Ms Ellie says

    Hi, loved this post! I was laughing so hard when I looked at the woman stirring.. I’m a child of the 50s, and no one back then had tan fit arms. I looked further, and realized she was stirring stuff in a colander. A colander! I don’t recall anyone having a wire basket on the counter especially one with wood spoons. I never owned a wooden spoon until the 80s.
    But it was a cute post. None of the meals were anything my mom served us back then. Maybe this was more Midwest style.


    • Lisa Sharp says

      This is simply a stock photo to add visual interest to the post. 🙂


Leave a Reply


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Last Updated: 10/08/2023

Views: 5716

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Birthday: 1995-01-14

Address: 55021 Usha Garden, North Larisa, DE 19209

Phone: +6812240846623

Job: Corporate Healthcare Strategist

Hobby: Singing, Listening to music, Rafting, LARPing, Gardening, Quilting, Rappelling

Introduction: My name is Foster Heidenreich CPA, I am a delightful, quaint, glorious, quaint, faithful, enchanting, fine person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.