There a lot of things you can do when economizing – food isn’t one of them!
If you come to a stretch when you have to get all the meals yourself (in 1937 many households had at least two staff), get them as inexpensively as possible and do it with air and no-one will ever know you are cutting back.
Nothing can duller than uninteresting food on the table and beans on toast and all though lovely does get tiresome after a while. But there is a vogue for simple yet interesting (in 1937 and again now) – anything served with chic, can seem like some thing copied from the smartest house. It can also served unattractively seem like poor pickings.
The trick is to have a little knowledge about food and service, to put imagination into your meals and to organise the time you spend on them. If you haven’t got the first head to the smartest magazines and books (all available to borrow at the library), and spend some time reading and getting ideas from them. When you got out shopping spend 15 minutes in the linen, china and glass department of the stores you visit to see how they display things and what ideas you can borrow.
See where you can find simple pieces of white inexpensive china – add vintage glasses or plates, find unusual napkins or buy remnants of fabric – sew the edges or fray them if sewing is too much for you. Flowers and leaves from the garden or small bulbs in pots look lovely on a spring table. These are minor extravagances, small orchids on you budget and the type of thing you need as stimulus to keep up enthusiasm seven days a week which isn’t easy but can be done.
One obvious bit of advice is go to market – the farmer’s market or foreign store – don’t be too set about taking a list – see what’s available, browse around and buy in season. Look out for interesting spices and sauces that can make food something a little different.
Keep a well stocked larder of essentials that can be whipped up into a meal in a few moments.
Learning to make a few signature dishes that you do well, will soon get you a reputation as a great cook.
A simple but stylish dish – a curry made from a lesser cut of meat, cooked slowly in spices, add a heaped bowl of rice in a lovely vintage dish and served with some or all of the following condiments – chopped onions, tomatoes, boiled eggs (white and yolk separate), green peppers, grated coconut, fried onion and mango chutney – serve these in a mixture of vintage dishes and plates and it makes the most basic meal feel chic.
If dress the table and use your best china and table linen for everyday simple meals it makes it all seem a lot less as though you are economizing and dinner time a little more chic.