31st January 2011
Megan McCardle casts her mind back.
“Food prepared in the home” consumes less than 10% of the average family budget; in 1950, that figure was almost 30%. It shows in the cookbooks. The Betty Crocker is full of economizing tips: ways to stretch ground beef by adding Wheaties; noodle and rice rings that artfully disguise the fact that there isn’t much protein to go around; “one egg” cakes praised for being economical. This was not a handout for welfare recipients; it was expected that the average housewife would be anxiously counting the cost of the eggs and milk used in her baked goods, and looking for ways to stretch out even cheap cuts of meat at the end of the month. Now, I’m sure there are still people in this country who worry about the price of adding an extra egg to their cakes–but they are not the average, or even close to the average. Cooking is both much better, and much easier for those who choose to do it, than it was when my kitchen was built. And the dishwasher knocks twenty or thirty minutes off the time cost of that cooking–not a small improvement.