THE FRUGAL MEAL: A 1913 editorial about thrift

home economics

– An editorial originally published in The Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics: 1913.  

FRUGALITY and economy are watchwords of the hour. The high cost of living has become something more than a common saying. “The struggle for existence has become so keen that on every side economy must be practiced.”

The frugal meal is ever commendable. Aside from an economical point of view, it makes for health, comfort and longevity. Thereby labor is saved, waste is avoided and a degree of thrift becomes possible.

But what is the frugal meal? In determining diet, many things must be taken into consideration, such as age, occupation, individual traits and habits, mode of life, state of health, etc. For large numbers of people, however, the frugal breakfast, for instance, might consist of toasted bread or puffed wheat, a baked potato and slice of bacon or an egg in some form, with coffee and rolls, according to convenience and desire. That is, a few articles well cooked and daintily served make up the frugal, as well as the ideal, meal.

In general, not more than three dishes, with proper accessories, can be served at one meal, and commendable frugality be maintained. Only carefully selected and well prepared viands are tasteful and wholesome. [Jenna notes: The definition of ‘viand’ is ‘an item of food.’]

That enduring pleasure and satisfaction are to be derived from the frugal repast cannot be denied or gainsaid. Therefore, we commend the cultivation and practice of the homely, frugal meal, as most desirable in every sense. And in no other wise can the high cost of living be so successfully contended with. In the family, where no extravagance is allowed and no loss is incurred in the kitchen from ill-cooked and wasted food, there thrift and prosperity are wont to be found.

Scanned pages of the original magazine viewable here.


Jenna Beaulieu

About Jenna Beaulieu

Jenna is a writer and fine art photographer who recently moved from the Saint John Valley region to the quiet side of Mount Desert Island. She’s a fan of excellent music, homemade gravy, and colored pencils (also, short books and long books, good pens, flannel, and when the June bugs don’t really come out much that year). For more about Jenna and her work, visit her website at