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Do some families really do this?

BombayUpWithaTwist Sep 13, 2009 11:32 AM

I was watching "King of the Hill"...LOL and Peggy has a set menu every week. Such as Mon...Meatloaf, Tues....Pork Chops etc. Do people really do this? I can't imagine eating or cooking the same things week after week!

  1. linguafood Sep 13, 2009 11:36 AM

    When we were going through a financially difficult time, my man suggested to have a burger day, a pizza day, etc. for set days of the week, just to curb my spending sprees at Wegmans ("oh, but the scallops are on sale!!!"). But it never really caught on. I mostly like to decide what's for dinner spontaneously, which is why I shop every day...

    3 Replies
    1. re: linguafood
      melpy Jan 8, 2012 10:12 AM

      Shopping every st would be so dangerous for me! I can't really leave the store for under 30 dollars and when I meal plan I spend around 80. So I would lose 130 dollars a week that way!!!

      1. re: melpy
        linguafood Jan 8, 2012 10:25 AM

        Oh, easily.

        1. re: melpy
          s
          shygirl Feb 19, 2012 12:40 PM

          I'm the same as you, Melpy - can't get out of the shop for under $30.

      2. s
        small h Sep 13, 2009 11:52 AM

        I remember the old commercial in which Wednesday was Prince spaghetti day, but I don't know of any real life examples.

        27 Replies
        1. re: small h
          nomadchowwoman Sep 13, 2009 12:43 PM

          I could never do this, but as I posted on another thread--sorry to those for whom this is a repeat--my grandmother had only 10 or 12 meals in her repertoire and she served exactly the same thing every Sunday (pot roast), Monday (red beans and rice), Wednesday (spaghetti), and Friday (seafood gumbo and possibly fried fish). She switched up a few remaining dishes on the other days.
          The thing is, no one minded because her food was so delicious, predictable as it was. In New Orleans, a lot of people still eat red beans on Monday (the story goes that in pre-automatic washer days, Monday was laundry day so women could put a pot of beans on the fire and let it simmer all morning while they tended to the wash). Friday=seafood because so many in these parts were Catholic, as was my grandmother. Menus in the more homey New Orleans restaurants still reflect these practices, esp. on Monday and Friday. My grandmother was also Italian so she had to get in her spaghetti and meat sauce one day a week. Oddly enough, she never ever cooked chicken, as she had an aversion to it since growing up w/chickens, when she witnessed their slaughter and had to participate in the cleaning and plucking.
          Such rigidity in my life now would drive me nuts, but I never thought about it that way then.

          1. re: nomadchowwoman
            n
            nmurawsk Sep 13, 2009 01:40 PM

            A lot of Catholic families, at least where I am from on Long Island, do pizza Fridays for the same reason - not being able to eat meat. Any time we would visit my Grandma it would always be spaghetti night. - jarred sauce, yech!

            1. re: nmurawsk
              bagelman01 Sep 14, 2009 08:53 AM

              In New Haven, The Italian Catholics avoided Apizza on Friday. I remember asking a friend why? His reply:
              Most restaurants used bacon or sauage drippings to start the sauce because it was cheaper than oil.

              When I was in college, I worked for a Greek Pizza joint. The owner used to precook a case of bacon at a time, pour off the grease and save it. When it came time to make the sauce, he always started with the bacon grease.
              He usedd to snicker every time a vegetarian ordered a pizza with just cheese and veg. They never asked if there was meat in the sauce, and he nevered volunteered the information.

              1. re: bagelman01
                Kajikit Sep 18, 2009 02:01 PM

                I guess he didn't sell a lot of pizza to Jewish people or muslims...

                1. re: Kajikit
                  linguafood Sep 18, 2009 02:44 PM

                  If that guy didn't have any problems selling carnivorous pizza to vegetarians, why do you think he'd draw the line there?

                2. re: bagelman01
                  mamachef Jan 8, 2012 10:58 AM

                  Wow. That's just wrong. Fortunately, there's a provision for it in Talmud. :) OTOH, if he wasn't advertising as a vegetarian pizzeria, there's something to be said for someone who wants to be completely adherent to their dietary lifestyle doing a little checking themselves, just to be safe.

                3. re: nmurawsk
                  j
                  jarona Jan 12, 2012 06:08 AM

                  Another L.I. Catholic here. However, my dad refused to allow us to have pizza as a meal, so every friday night it was spaghetti with jarred Ragu sauce and Mrs. Paul fish sticks. Sometimes my mother went outside the box and served Mrs. Paul's fish CAKES instead!

                  1. re: jarona
                    m
                    marymanchester Feb 26, 2012 08:03 PM

                    L.I. Catholic too. It was such a treat to have pizza for dinner. Sometimes we'd have scrambled eggs with cheese and french fries. Much better than meat.

                    1. re: marymanchester
                      paulj Feb 27, 2012 10:31 AM

                      Some of the Italian Beef shops in Chicago offered an pepper and egg sandwich on Fridays. (And a pepper and egg and sausage ??)

                      http://www.buona.com/menu.php

                4. re: nomadchowwoman
                  s
                  small h Sep 13, 2009 06:12 PM

                  That's quite interesting. I certainly know about the "no meat on Fridays" rule - plenty of Greek diners where I live still offer fish cakes and spaghetti as their Friday special. But I'm a "no meat ever" gal, and I don't have any trouble mixing things up. I'd love to know if there were other ways women linked their non-cooking tasks with their cooking tasks, as with the red beans on Mondays.

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman
                    John Manzo Sep 13, 2009 10:04 PM

                    fish on fridays hasn't been in force for more than 40 years, but count me among roman catholics who grew up in the 70s and who ate fish (fried, smelts, fish sticks, fish "filets," shrimp, etc) every friday growing up.

                    1. re: John Manzo
                      d
                      dmd_kc Sep 13, 2009 10:21 PM

                      John, how did you have the smelts? One of my favorites, but so hard to find these days. And growing up very much agnostic and landlocked in WASPland, I didn't taste smelts till mom and I got our hands on some when I was 17 or so.

                      1. re: dmd_kc
                        John Manzo Sep 14, 2009 02:23 PM

                        Fried. I hated them.

                        1. re: John Manzo
                          l
                          lagatta Jul 20, 2010 04:50 AM

                          I love fried smelts - did your family do them poorly? We always ate fish on Fridays too, and although nominally Catholic never went to Mass. Just habit, and I've always loved fish.

                      2. re: John Manzo
                        melpy Jul 20, 2010 06:57 AM

                        we did fried flounder and mac and cheese.

                        1. re: John Manzo
                          chef chicklet Jul 21, 2010 02:34 AM

                          Mostly fried fish on fridays during the summer months. Other times it was salmon prepared in cakes, loaf or steaks. Also had tuna casserole and French vegetable soup with french bread. Loved them all.

                          1. re: John Manzo
                            j
                            jarona Jan 12, 2012 06:11 AM

                            ALthough you are right about the fish rule not being enforced for more than 40 years, we still continue to have meatless meals on Fridays--it's funny how certain things are ingrained into your head. Also..during Lent we always tried to make it to the local Hibernian Fish Fry.

                            1. re: jarona
                              Passadumkeg Jan 12, 2012 07:15 AM

                              Potato pancakes or fried fish every Friday. No meat at all during lent. Maybe that's why I still am not crazy about Mac 'N cheese.

                            2. re: John Manzo
                              jmckee Jan 12, 2012 08:24 AM

                              Except during Lent, when the rule continues.

                              Personally, as convert, I wish the rule were still year-round. I think we could do with a little more discipline.

                              1. re: jmckee
                                paulj Jan 12, 2012 09:35 AM

                                You could convert to Eastern Orthodox or even Coptic. :) Then you could fast on both Wednesdays and Fridays, all of Lent, and all of Advent. With in those traditions, fish is a relaxation of the normal rules, something that is eaten on feast days during the abstinence period.

                                1. re: paulj
                                  Passadumkeg Jan 12, 2012 12:19 PM

                                  I grew up in the Eastern Orthodox and fasted a lot.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg
                                    j
                                    jarona Jan 13, 2012 07:03 AM

                                    It's like being Roman Catholic--when we were kids we had to fast before going to Communion. Every Sunday. Boy--we used to get so excited about going to the bakery for "rolls and buns" after Mass every Sunday. My mother would put the rolls in the oven to warm them up and the butter would melt so nicely--then we kids would argue over the crumb buns--naturally the huge crumbs were heavenly. Nice memories!

                                    1. re: jarona
                                      Passadumkeg Jan 13, 2012 07:10 AM

                                      Same here.

                              2. re: John Manzo
                                Ruth Lafler Jan 15, 2012 05:58 PM

                                Clam chowder is still the "soup of the day" on Fridays in many places. I suspect a lot of places don't even know where that tradition comes from.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  bagelman01 Feb 20, 2012 03:48 PM

                                  a big joke, considering most 'authentic' recipes for New England Clam chowder start with salt pork.

                            3. re: small h
                              pdxgastro Jul 20, 2010 11:42 PM

                              I love that old ad with Anthony running through the streets of Boston's North End. I say it's Prince Spaghetti day here in the PNW and nobody knows what the heck I'm talking about. Do they still sell Prince's pasta?

                              1. re: pdxgastro
                                buttertart Jul 21, 2010 06:06 AM

                                It seems they do or did in the SF Bay Area, I remember my boss (NorCal born and bred) quoting this in the '80s.

                            4. r
                              rockycat Sep 13, 2009 06:06 PM

                              Absolutely. When I was growing up there was no doubt about what would be for dinner. I thankfully don't remember the exact "order of service" anymore but Monday was hamburger, Wednesday was lamb chops, Tuesday was dairy (in the Jewish sense), Thursday was grocery shopping night followed by fast food, Friday was a restaurant meal - almost always Italian. The side dishes would vary, but that's about it.

                              Needless to say, I never, ever do anything like that in my own house. Never have and never will.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rockycat
                                AmyH Jan 10, 2012 09:09 AM

                                Monday and Thursday were "dairy in the Jewish sense" nights at my house growing up. The other nights were meat. We always thought my dad had gotten this from his upbringing, but my grandmother swore she didn't do that. I think it was my dad's way of insuring that we would have glasses of milk with our dinners at least 2 nights a week.

                              2. pikawicca Sep 13, 2009 06:09 PM

                                In my recollection, this is how most American and British housewives cooked in the 50's and 60's. My mother did not, but she seemed to be an exception. I seem to recall that supermarkets targeted their sales and ads to this mindset.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: pikawicca
                                  f
                                  FrankD Sep 13, 2009 06:21 PM

                                  Certainly, my British grandmother (living in Canada) was this way when my mom was a girl in the 30's and 40's. Sunday was a roast (beef, pork, lamb), Monday was chicken, Tuesday was pork chops, etc. Everything was meat and two veg. My mom told me that until she started dating my father in her late teens, she'd never had spaghetti, pizza, shrimp, or Chinese food. Luckily, my dad was in the navy, and his travels exposed him to different foods that he shared with her. My childhood was much more "houndish"!

                                  1. re: FrankD
                                    pikawicca Sep 13, 2009 06:53 PM

                                    We hounds owe a debt of gratitude to our men and women in arms: They led the way for so many Americans to an appreciation of different cuisines. (While frequently risking their lives in the process.) I have to say, though, that my dad did not come back from Korea with a love of kimchee, which I now adore.

                                    1. re: pikawicca
                                      b
                                      Beckyleach Sep 14, 2009 09:53 PM

                                      Yep. Thankfully, not only was my father stationed in both China and India, and thus brought a preference for those "exotic" with him when he returned, but my mother grew up in the Rio Grand Valley of Texas, and spent much of her wild youth over the border, and learned to make really wonderful and (almost) authentic Mexican food--well, "authentic" for the 1950's and early '60's--and had no fear of garlic, hot spices, etc., either!

                                      Our table was weird by most Southern 1950's/60's standards, what with the tamales and "chow mein" (well, it WAS hard to get ingredients for Chinese food in Kentucky ;-) and the curries and really great Texas chili, and so forth.

                                      Thank god for that! And given that we lived in one of the less blighted regions of the country, as far as cuisine was concerned (Southern cooks never quite sold their souls to the Great God Of Convenience Foods, as did many other parts of the country, during this time) we could add lots of home made treats like chicken and dumplings, red beans and rice, turnip greens, gumbo, pan fried chicken, etc., to the mix, as well...

                                    2. re: FrankD
                                      o
                                      occula Jul 20, 2010 08:13 AM

                                      Although we didn't have a schedule, otherwise this sounds a lot like how I grew up - we never had pasta, 'ethnic food', barbecue, etc ... I remember when I was a teen and my mom and I used to go to a particular restaurant, where I would always get the incredibly exotic spaghetti! It was a real thrill. I grew up in the 70s, btw, but in rural missouri - our cuisine was country/southern/home garden, for the most part. Not that that's bad! Just saying, if spaghetti or Chinese takeout is exotic, well, we could've branched out a little.

                                      My family was weird, though. my sister and I both clearly remember going to McDonald's for the first time on the junior high school field trip and being open-mouthed rubes, studying the entirely new and foreign menu that the other kids were already familiar with. We got our cholesterol at home the old-fashioned way! :-)

                                  2. bagelman01 Sep 13, 2009 06:19 PM

                                    My mother did...........
                                    Growing up in the 50s and 60s
                                    Monday-London Broil (shoulder steak) w/green beans (from a can)
                                    Tuesday-wk 1-Breaded Veal chop with spaghetti in sauce
                                    wk 2-Broiled Lamb chops with creamed corn (from a can)
                                    Wednesday-Fried Flounder with Heinz Spaghetti from the can or Salmon Croquettes with real mashed potatoes-NO green vegeatble
                                    Thursday-Chinese Take out-4-Egg Rolls, Large-Spare Ribs, Qt-Wonton Soup, Lobster Cantonese-white rice-all for $8.88
                                    Friday-Incinerated (broiled) chicken w/rice a roni and frozen broccoli
                                    Saturday-Kids ate deli-corned beef, Pastrami, Turkey Roll-Parents went out on the town
                                    Sunday-whole family ate out-usually Italian

                                    There were seasonal variations-cook out, eat ins on Sundays in the summer, Monday could be Beef Stew or Chicken in the pot in the dead of winter...

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                      f
                                      fourunder Sep 14, 2009 06:46 AM

                                      Sunday-whole family ate out-usually Italian
                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                      Here in Northern New Jersey, all my Jewish friends and families always ate/eat Chinese on Sundays.....back dating to the 60's and still so today.

                                      1. re: fourunder
                                        bagelman01 Sep 14, 2009 08:47 AM

                                        No, Thursday night was Chinese Take Out, and then Mom went to play Mah Jongg from 7:30-10PM

                                        1. re: bagelman01
                                          r
                                          rockycat Sep 14, 2009 10:17 AM

                                          Dad and I would have loved Chinese but my aunt couldn't stand it so we always had Italian. We saved Chinese for the nights she was out at a Hadassah meeting.

                                        2. re: fourunder
                                          Bob W Jul 20, 2010 04:54 AM

                                          We always ate out on Sunday nights (more specifically, early evening, with school the next day) -- generally Chinese or Italian. This being Rhode Island, we almost always ran into someone we knew.

                                      2. s
                                        smartie Sep 13, 2009 06:45 PM

                                        my daughter and I discussed this exact thing last night when we saw an ad for Walmart with a little boy asking his dad for meatloaf because it was Wednesday.

                                        I did not have a same day repetoire but my mum did to a certain extent, it was always chicken on Friday nights, cold chicken saturday lunch, roast on Sunday lunch and shepherd's pie on Monday nights, which left Tuesday, Weds and Thursday for anything else.

                                        1. Kajikit Sep 13, 2009 06:54 PM

                                          I don't. My brain just doesn't work that way... cooking is a matter of impulse and what's on sale that week, not 'what day of the week is it'? There are certain dishes (like hamburgers and chicken) that we eat fairly often but they come up whenever I feel like making them.

                                          1. b
                                            boppiecat Sep 13, 2009 06:56 PM

                                            My Mom followed a neighborhood repetoire that was oh so predictable but very comforting for us kids. I've forgotten the other nights but Friday was always fish sticks and canned peas if it was winter and tuna salad on lettuce with corn muffins during the summer. And being this was Boston in the fifties every Saturday night was frankfurters and baked beans.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: boppiecat
                                              h
                                              hilltowner Sep 13, 2009 09:41 PM

                                              Ah, yes. My grandfather called them beans and frankets. Every Sadday.

                                              1. re: boppiecat
                                                s
                                                somervilleoldtimer Sep 21, 2009 05:04 AM

                                                There's the fish on Fridays theme again.

                                              2. BamiaWruz Sep 14, 2009 06:23 AM

                                                I think my grandma did pizza fridays and spaghetti sundays. She also always fried on thursday so there would be fish and cauliflower and other fried foods.

                                                Doubt I could live that way, though it's nice to do a certain amount of cooking preparations on a weekly basis (stock, gravy..etc. ) because it comes in handy for busy days.

                                                1. iluvcookies Sep 14, 2009 06:31 AM

                                                  My mom knew how to cook exactly 3 meals, so while we may not have had the same thing every Tuesday, we did have the same meals week in, week out. Thankfully I got to stay with Grandma and Grandpa over the weekends which meant restaurants on Saturday and a big pot of "gravy" (tomato sauce cooked for hours) with pasta on Sunday.
                                                  Now that I have mastered about 300 recipes I rarely eat the same meal twice in the same YEAR.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: iluvcookies
                                                    f
                                                    fourunder Sep 14, 2009 06:49 AM

                                                    Now that I have mastered about 300 recipes I rarely eat the same meal twice in the same YEAR.
                                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                    I'm curious, do you live by, and cook only for yourself? I'm just asking, because if you made something for me that I really liked and enjoyed, I would be disappointed to have to wait a year to eat it again......:0)

                                                    1. re: fourunder
                                                      iluvcookies Sep 14, 2009 06:56 AM

                                                      I cook for my DH and extended family. We enjoy new recipes and sometimes I will make things over again. I should say that some of the recipes are variations and some of them are desserts... and I meant I rarely eat the same meal more than twice in the same year.... in contrast to my childhood when I might have the same thing twice a week.

                                                    2. re: iluvcookies
                                                      melpy Jan 8, 2012 10:20 AM

                                                      Sounds like me. My mom used to keep a calendar for her meals so she would repeat too close together but she would within a two week rotation or so. I rarely make something more than once. Some things if SO specifically likes I will try to make more often.

                                                    3. j
                                                      Janet from Richmond Sep 14, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                      Growing up we did. My Mom had limited cooking skills and my Dad was routine oriented (unfortunately I inherited the same trait, though I do not serve the same meals each week).

                                                      1. Karl S Sep 14, 2009 07:03 AM

                                                        My mother definitely had a 3-4 week rotation of standard meals. With six kids, it was essential for sanity. The rotation was modulated according to seasonal availability (not just produce, but many things tended to go on sale only at certain times of the year), and it was not inexorable in nature. Thus, a multi-week menu brought sanity to the procurement process; my mother was not just Cook, but also Quartermaster General (my father was Deputy Quartermaster General).

                                                        For my parents' 60th wedding anniversary last year, we videotaped the celebratory dinner, the conversation for which revolved entirely around the standard and exceptional foods of the mid-1950s to mid-1980s.

                                                        Don't knock it. There is much to love about this (so long as your Cook is a good one).

                                                        1. bermudagourmetgoddess Sep 14, 2009 08:20 AM

                                                          I am so glad my family never had a set menu...I do have a friend who's mother still to this day has a set menu everyday of the week...I see her every morning walking to the neigborhood store to get her goodies for that evenings dinner. And being good Catholics it is always Fried Fish on Friday!

                                                          I'm with linguafood, I shop almost everyday because I never know what I am going to do until I see what looks good and fresh from the market

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess
                                                            melpy Jul 20, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                            I would waste so much money doing this! Everything looks good :)
                                                            If it's the farmer's market though I will buy a few things and then plan the week around those.

                                                            I typically spend somewhere between 50-90 dollars a week for two.

                                                          2. PeterL Sep 14, 2009 08:48 AM

                                                            Sure, sundays being fried chicken day.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: PeterL
                                                              bermudagourmetgoddess Sep 15, 2009 11:58 AM

                                                              Now that is one thing I love is a Big Sunday Dinner....And always something Southern...

                                                            2. j
                                                              JaclynS Sep 14, 2009 09:05 AM

                                                              Great topic! I have a close friend who has a weekly schedule that never changes and is based around his workout routine (ie thursday weights and steak)! I dont believe he even changes the side dishes! He also has the exact same lunch every day, down to the number of slices of turkey in his wrap. It amazes me - certainly loves his schedule!

                                                              1. r
                                                                roro1831 Sep 14, 2009 09:16 AM

                                                                As previously mentioned, in New Orleans red beans and rice on Monday was a constant in my house until my mother passed away.
                                                                My father makes a weekly menu, shops on Sunday morning but doesn't really stick to anything as a certain day. He may make something he likes three weeks in a row on a certain day, but then will switch it up.

                                                                1. Karl S Sep 14, 2009 09:28 AM

                                                                  I should add that this idea has pretty long roots. It used to be, at least until the widespread adoption of refrigerators and washing machines, that there was a definite weekly pattern to household activities and food:

                                                                  Sunday (for Christian homes, at least): a day of rest. For the non-strict sabbatarians, roast meats or chicken (chicken was dearer than veal until after WW2 - a chicken in every pot on Sundays evoked abundance). For strict sabbatarians (who were more numerous in earlier eras), it would be foods that did not require heating or that used the residual heat of ovens (like baked beans).

                                                                  Monday: Laundry day - which was the hardest working day of the week before washing machines. Leftovers from Sunday's meal, IF it could be so extended. (The world of Boston Brahmins was memorably referred to as "Cold Roast Boston" because of its emblematic frugality in serving cold roast beef leftovers on Mondays, even though the family and cooking staff were not exactly tied up in laundry actvity as a necessary excuse.)

                                                                  Tues-Thurs: Variations on leftovers if Sunday's meal was particularly extendable.

                                                                  Fridays: For Catholics and Orthodox - meatless.

                                                                  Saturdays: Typically a day full of chores (stores being closed on Sundays), even a half or whole day of work through WW2, so supper was simple (in New England, beans would be brought to the bread baker to cook, and eaten with frankfurters....)

                                                                  1. d
                                                                    DNA481 Sep 14, 2009 11:34 AM

                                                                    It's funny to see this subject. My mother just told me that as kids, we had a 7-day menu schedule that very rarely changed. I never noticed or at least remember this. My Mom is an excellent cook but my Father apparently insisted that she cook to a schedule. She has distinct memories of trying different recipes and my Father reacting very negatively to the meal.

                                                                    He came from a 13 child Irish Catholic family that lived on the edge, so I guess routine was very important to him.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: DNA481
                                                                      EWSflash Sep 19, 2009 06:03 PM

                                                                      not to disrespect your parents, but that would be so depressing and sad- imagine never having a new surprise for dinner.

                                                                      Well, I guess if your cooking parent didn't know how to cook it might have been a blessing, actually.

                                                                      I really do

                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                        s
                                                                        somervilleoldtimer Sep 21, 2009 05:07 AM

                                                                        Rather than depressing, it may be comforting to know what your dinner is going to be, especially if the alternative is not knowing if you're going to have dinner at all! And lots of people in the US do not have enough foo

                                                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                                                                          DallasDude Sep 21, 2009 05:56 AM

                                                                          ok.

                                                                        2. re: EWSflash
                                                                          Sooeygun Jul 20, 2010 06:35 AM

                                                                          As an adult coming from a family that didn't do this, one might see it as 'sad', but unless you have grown up with it, how can you judge it? If it's all that you have ever known, you don't know the difference and it can be far from 'depressing'. Mr S had the weekly menu growing up (I think for 5 days out of the 7) and even now he never complains about it. He enjoyed knowing that Tuesday was spaghetti, Friday was tuna buns, etc. Being a creative cook just isn't some people's thing.

                                                                          1. re: Sooeygun
                                                                            buttertart Jul 20, 2010 06:38 AM

                                                                            And ritual is comforting and uniting to a group.

                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                              EWSflash Jan 12, 2012 12:08 PM

                                                                              Very true, I guess I never looked at it that way.

                                                                      2. r
                                                                        ricepad Sep 14, 2009 02:41 PM

                                                                        In the mid-80s, I worked with a guy whose wife had the same rotation every week. All I remember was that Friday was salmon, and one other day (Monday?) was spaghetti - the other five meals/days are lost to the ages. He used to get his variety going out to lunch.

                                                                        1. scubadoo97 Sep 14, 2009 03:04 PM

                                                                          I could never do this. I'm just not that structured to plan meals on certain days. I don't even plan most meals in advance. I come home from work and I hear "what's for dinner" and don't know till I look at what we have to work with at that moment.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97
                                                                            b
                                                                            Beckyleach Sep 14, 2009 09:56 PM

                                                                            I'd just flat out stop cooking if for some bizarre reason a schedule like this was forced upon me. On STRIKE! Forget it. All the fun and creativity would fly out the window and I'd be left with nothing but drudgery. Ugh. I get queasy just contemplating the horror of it. ;-)

                                                                            1. re: Beckyleach
                                                                              EWSflash Sep 19, 2009 06:04 PM

                                                                              So do I.

                                                                            2. re: scubadoo97
                                                                              melpy Jul 20, 2010 10:08 AM

                                                                              I think my problem is I want to avoid that What's for dinner moment. We used to come home and complain because we wanted to know what it was and my mom didn't usually know. If I don't have a plan we usually end up ordering a pizza (from a great local place). I have friends who have to run out to the store some nights to answer this questions. I don't plan what we eat on what day but having a menu for the week at least I know my choices are only the ones I've planned for and usually whatever will last the least amount of time gets eaten first.

                                                                            3. Gio Sep 15, 2009 07:38 AM

                                                                              I do... but it's extremely flexible and unpredictable. For instance:

                                                                              Macaroni Monday
                                                                              Soup Tuesday (during the winter/cookbook during the summer)
                                                                              Cookbook Wednesday
                                                                              Leftover Thursday
                                                                              Vegetarian Friday
                                                                              Cookbook Saturday
                                                                              Cookbook Sunday - usually a roast something.

                                                                              You can see it's really not a structured weekly set menu plan as such but more a guide line for planning. There are thousands of recipes to choose from books and memory so that we hardly ever have the same thing twice. We shop on Wednesday and Saturdays at farm stands, fish monger and supermarket. This gives us an opportunity to buy, especially during the growing seasons, very fresh and mostly local veggies. Once a month we stock the freezer with natural or organic meat & poultry from a local farm. This summer we joined a Community Supported Fishery program which gave us extraordinarily fresh fish. Those "cookbook days" on the list usually mean current or past COTMs which can be made on the days when we have more time to spend cooking. This took shape over many years and has worked beautifully for us. I really can't say I've ever been in a culinary rut.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                Pia Sep 15, 2009 12:07 PM

                                                                                I have been thinking of doing a plan like this too -- as working parents, it's tough to get dinner on the table quickly, and we're not organized enough to plan out the week's menus in advance. I was thinking something like:
                                                                                Monday - fish
                                                                                Tuesday - pasta
                                                                                Wednesday - meat
                                                                                Thursday - leftovers
                                                                                Friday - eggs
                                                                                Weekend - whatever we feel like, since we have more time (and we usually go shopping on weekends so we have lots of fresh produce).

                                                                                Or maybe have a designated crock-pot day each week.

                                                                                Does anybody else do this kind of flexible weekly plan?

                                                                                1. re: Pia
                                                                                  buttertart Sep 15, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                                                  Along the lines of mine, below. Works for us.

                                                                                  1. re: Pia
                                                                                    16crab Sep 22, 2009 12:46 PM

                                                                                    Yes!!
                                                                                    We've now abandoned it, but when baby #1 was born it was just too exhausting to be creative. I had a two-week rotation and since we alternate cooking nights (we still do that part) it took into account whose talents were better suited for that night...rather than set meals, eg 'spaghetti and meat sauce', it was broad categories as you suggest - pasta or risotto, soup or stew, "something asian", and our Friday night go-to, bar food and beer!! (this is where we get to have nachos or burgers or wings). I think we got a little bored with it but it worked for a long time and it is still in the back of my head when I menu plan for the week. I have to have a plan - right now based on the great finds at the farmer's market and during the winter, based on what we have in the freezer and what's on sale. Like most CH-ers I'm sure, I take dinner very seriously and look forward to it...but I hate throwing away produce etc. that didn't get used due to poor planning!

                                                                                2. q
                                                                                  queencru Sep 15, 2009 08:24 AM

                                                                                  My mom used to set a few days a week when we were growing up. Thursday was ham day and I think Wednesday was spaghetti day. I think she only recently moved out of having spaghetti day the same day every week. I think it's easier when you have to take small kids to the grocery store, since they get cranky when parents are pondering everything intently. Having a set menu made the shopping go a bit quicker.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: queencru
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    somervilleoldtimer Sep 21, 2009 05:10 AM

                                                                                    It may take the creativity out of it, but it also takes a lot of the work out of it. I wouldn't do it, but i can see that if the cook is overwhelmed with other work-related or child-related duties, it would bring some peace of mind not to have to think about what dinner is going to be! And grocery shopping would be greatly simplified if you bought the same things every week. This is not a practice I would adopt, but I can certainly see some benefits. The only down side is that you never eat anything new, but for some, that would not be a down side.

                                                                                  2. buttertart Sep 15, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                                                    I am never home form work until 7 or so and have a sort of schedule - I almost always cook something that can be reheated during the week on Saturdays (a curry or braise of some sort) and a roast of something on Sundays (I can't help myself, I'm English Canadain in background), we almost always have "Mexican" on Mondays (tacos of spiced chicken or carnitas, homemade chips, ditto guacamole and salsa) - do not know why we settled on this, but it works for us; the other weekdays are either reheated or retooled stuff from the weekend (roast into Chinese or Thai-styled salad, crepes, etc) or a fresh meat such as pork chops if we're bored with the weekend things, Friday nights are always something relatively quick but nice (steak, venison, lamb or veal chops, scallops, etc.). Have pesto and carbonara makings on hand for "emergencies". This is not an imposed schedule, just something that evolved over many happy years of happy domesticity. On the other hand, my father-in-law once got it into his head that my mother-in-law (who loves to cook and loves menu planning) was overburdened with meal prep and drew up a monthly schedule of dinners (which not coincidentally included ALL his favorite foods) for her to follow. Suffice it to say this did not make my mother-in-law happy in the least and the schedule was never followed!

                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                      ddelicious Sep 15, 2009 10:48 AM

                                                                                      oh yes. definitely. maybe not exactly meatloaf on mondays, but the same 7-10 recipes rotated every week. always chicken on friday, leftover chicken saturday, i think mondays were spaghetti, etc etc. didn't bother us as kids but not sure if i could do it now.

                                                                                      1. t
                                                                                        thursday Sep 18, 2009 03:00 PM

                                                                                        We didn't have an exact menu, but Mondays and Fridays were casseroles made from Sundays and Thursdays leftovers, Wednesdays was very specifically "rice night" - all we had for dinner was rice to show us kids how most the of the rest of the world went to bed hungry. Of course, I often made arrangements to eat at a friend's house on Wednesdays...;P

                                                                                        And Sunday mornings, Dad made pancakes. The only time he cooked except for hamburgers on the grill.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: thursday
                                                                                          DallasDude Sep 19, 2009 05:38 PM

                                                                                          I am divorced now, but when married every Friday was home made pizza night. I have two young girls and they loved making pizzas and inviting different friends over to help. I bought a spectacular waffle iron one year and proclaimed Mondays as Waffle Night. We used all sorts of wacky toppings. That lasted a month, but we revived it once in a while.

                                                                                          1. re: DallasDude
                                                                                            Becca Porter Sep 20, 2009 05:18 PM

                                                                                            Monday in Louisiana is traditionally wash day/red beans and rice day. Not that I follow it or anything...

                                                                                        2. a
                                                                                          Afar Sep 21, 2009 08:44 AM

                                                                                          Ditto rockycat "Absolutely!" For many of us that were present at the family table through the 1940's and 50's predictable chow was a consequence of the depression. Planned regular meals meant a fixed budget for food. And, if Mom was a good cook (Dad's in our neighborhood never cooked in those days) most of the meals were something to look forward to; in fact, my Mom taught my wife a lot about how to prepare those routine meals. I would have hated to have finished my life without eating those "favorite" meals from time to time. Those early decades were a good time to be alive. Yum.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Afar
                                                                                            a
                                                                                            Afar Sep 21, 2009 07:13 PM

                                                                                            When I was a kid I loved to watch the Ice Man come up our little dead end street with his horse drawn cart. Soon refrigerators had electric motors but they were unreliable. No one knew what a freezer was in those days. Obviously, food choices were very limited compared to the choices people have today. Saving money was an obsession for most families. Before spending money there would be long kitchen table meetings to be certain of the wisdom involved in the decision. Everyone worked hard. Children cut grass, shoveled snow, cleaned cars, ran errands, and waited anxiously for their first real job, often in one of the new big supermarkets that were bringing an unheard of variety of food to the neighborhood. In the late 1950's life began to change rapidly at the dinner table. Everything about life began a rapid change. Yet, for most of three decades, the family meals were as predictable as the sun rising. And, wow, were they good.

                                                                                            1. re: Afar
                                                                                              carlee134 Feb 19, 2012 08:18 PM

                                                                                              thank you for sharing!

                                                                                          2. e
                                                                                            Erinmck Sep 21, 2009 07:35 PM

                                                                                            When I was younger, my mom made a weekly menu, but it was not a set schedule where we had the same thing week after week. The main purpose of her menu was to stay in budget for grocery trips and get everything needed in one stop, as opposed to forgetting things and having to go back, or thinking of things the day of and having to make a grocery stop at 6:00. I, too, try to keep an idea of what we have to eat during the week. I don't like to make multiple stops to the grocery.

                                                                                            1. c
                                                                                              cher99 Sep 22, 2009 11:22 AM

                                                                                              Friday night in our house was always pizza night, Mom got a break from the kitchen and us kids got a treat. Sunday was spaghetti night with Dad making the sauce loaded with onions, peppers and lots of garlic. My brother and I are both in our late 30's and not long ago I called him on a Sunday and we laughed over the discovery that we had each made "Dad's Spaghetti" for our families for dinner. Some things never change!

                                                                                              1. s
                                                                                                soapbox Jul 20, 2010 04:19 AM

                                                                                                Not sure how many people are familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, but as far back as I can remember, the weekends were all about cooking up a big pot of soup such as Pho or Bun Bo Hue, Hu Tieu, Banh Canh. I guess it was due to the fact that friends & family members would always show up at our house on the weekends or the fact that weekends meant relaxing or doing chores and making a big pot of soup freed up time that was otherwise spent on cooking 3 different meals for the day.

                                                                                                1. k
                                                                                                  Krislady Jul 20, 2010 04:55 AM

                                                                                                  Friday night is always pizza night at our house. Tuesday mornings, I feed the sourdough, then when my husband gets home from work, he makes the dough, and it "rises" in the fridge until Friday.

                                                                                                  After all, it's Friday. We drag out the tray tables, load up the pup's Kong toy, and enjoy our pizza and a movie, with the "nom nom nom" and "slurp slurp" coming from the other end of the living room. (The dog is kind of a piggy eater!)

                                                                                                  1. melpy Jul 20, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                                                                    Yes but mine isn't one of them. My SO had the smae things every week just on different days but I know people who do this.

                                                                                                    I barely make the same dish twice let alone once a week.
                                                                                                    I do meal plan to curb spending and look at circulars to decide what is on sale etc.

                                                                                                    1. o
                                                                                                      occula Jul 20, 2010 08:07 AM

                                                                                                      My family didn't really do this growing up, but I feel sure that my husband's family did, at least to a certain extent - his mom is very organized and frugal, and he's mentioned that his father insisted on fried chicken on Sundays, for instance.

                                                                                                      I was going to flat-out deny that my own cooking reflects any kind of pattern, but truthfully, husband and I tend to eat out and also grocery shop on weekends, and my husband tends to have band practice on Wednesdays or (if postponed) on Thursdays, on which day he just has a frozen dinner (his choice), so I do have a pattern of cooking the most perishable produce and the more complicated or time-consuming things earlier in the week and trying to time leftovers so we're not stuck with something on practice day or on the weekend that is getting too sad to eat if it sits in the fridge another day or two.

                                                                                                      1. r
                                                                                                        runwestierun Jul 20, 2010 10:22 AM

                                                                                                        Woo hoo! Today's Taco Tuesday!

                                                                                                        1. Passadumkeg Jul 22, 2010 05:35 AM

                                                                                                          As both parents worked 2 jobs (mom taught and went to night school at Rutgers often carrying 9-12 credit hrs.) to put us through college we had a few nightly specials, fish on Fridays and usually a western egg sandwich on a Kaiser roll on Sun. evenings. What was usual, was a big pot of soup, stew, spaghetti sauce, Russian food, etc, for the week night meals according to the season. Mom was a good cook and starting in 5th grade, I being the youngest, was taught to cook. After dinner, my brothers and I would go down into the cellar and play ping pong to see who did the dishes. I did A LOT of dishes, but became a pretty respectable ping pong player. I regularly beat my high school students. Thanks mom & dad for all you did for us. RIP.

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                            SAHCook Jan 8, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                                                            I love this story!

                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                              64airstream Jan 12, 2012 01:03 AM

                                                                                                              I also loved this story! Thank you for sharing it!

                                                                                                              1. re: 64airstream
                                                                                                                Passadumkeg Jan 12, 2012 07:17 AM

                                                                                                                I'm now teaching my 24 year old daughter to cook by telephone. The 4 boys are all quite good cook; one professionally.

                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg
                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                  Cheez62 Jan 12, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                  Can you also teach ping pong by telephone?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Cheez62
                                                                                                                    Passadumkeg Jan 12, 2012 12:20 PM

                                                                                                                    Sorry, no.

                                                                                                            2. m
                                                                                                              MonMauler Jan 8, 2012 11:50 AM

                                                                                                              When I lived at home my parents had a set of around 20 solid meals they'd rotate through almost exclusively. However, there were only two days with strict meal plans: Friday we would go to a local bar for fried fish sandwiches, and Sunday we would have some type of meat, often grilled or roasted, with potatoes (such recipes comprise the bulk of my parents' repertoire.

                                                                                                              Now that I'm on my own, I have retained the Friday tradition. My friends and I go to a bar for a few pitchers and some fried fish then go to someone's place to play poker into the wee hours. And Sunday's, I still often join my parents for dinner, but at least half the time I now prepare the meal, and I'm much more culinarily adventurous than my parents. There have been some flops, but overall I think they've enjoyed trying new things.

                                                                                                              The rest of the week I usually just go on impulse and rarely have the same meal over a two or three week span. Except pizza. I do homemade pizza not quite once a week, but close.

                                                                                                              1. r
                                                                                                                RedTop Jan 8, 2012 12:10 PM

                                                                                                                Growing up in my family in the 50s and 60s, you could tell the day of the week by what my Mom served for dinner! Absolutely no variance (well sometimes for Sunday dinner when my Dad cooked).

                                                                                                                Wednesday was Spaghetti, of course; Friday was Tuna cooked in Campbells Mushroom Soup, served over toast. Monday was hamburger--without the bun, and served with boiled potatoes and frozen lima beans, Tuesday, French Toast & sausage links, Thursday, Chun King Chow Mein, with rice, and Saturday, Meat Loaf. That was the ironclad rotation...

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: RedTop
                                                                                                                  r
                                                                                                                  ricepad Jan 8, 2012 10:07 PM

                                                                                                                  I've heard of people having pancakes for dinner, but this is the first I've heard of French toast for dinner.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                    RedTop Jan 9, 2012 04:19 AM

                                                                                                                    Always had eggs in the house, almost never, Bisquick.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                                      Savour Jan 10, 2012 10:57 AM

                                                                                                                      It's a great quick meal for young kids. I like to make a savory version with cheese in the batter (gets super brown and crisp) and serve it with ketchup instead of syrup. Haven't done it in a while, but the 2 year old loved it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ricepad
                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                        ecclescake Jan 12, 2012 05:39 AM

                                                                                                                        We occasionally had French toast for dinner when I was young. It was always savory though (and with brown bread), I only found out that most people think of French toast as a sweet dish when I was in my mid twenties.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ecclescake
                                                                                                                          AmyH Jan 12, 2012 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                          What was it served with? Syrup or some sort of gravy?

                                                                                                                      2. re: RedTop
                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                        marymanchester Mar 2, 2012 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                        One of our "standard" meals was hamburgers - cooked under the broiler served without a bun, frozen french fries cooked in the oven, canned peas and the infamous canned fruit.

                                                                                                                      3. s
                                                                                                                        sueatmo Jan 8, 2012 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                        I have heard of this in my parents' generation. My mother is in her nineties. I don't know if boomers do this.

                                                                                                                        1. pdxgastro Jan 8, 2012 01:09 PM

                                                                                                                          That system would sure makes it easier shopping for & storing food. A lot less waste too, I'm thinking.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                                                            Bada Bing Jan 8, 2012 02:07 PM

                                                                                                                            My first thought, too: you could shop once or maybe twice a week and know exactly what you needed, and waste very little. Not to say I do that myself, but the efficiency of the system is not to be scoffed at, especially if people enjoy the foods.

                                                                                                                          2. jmckee Jan 10, 2012 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                            I taught religious ed program (REP) at my parish every Tuesday evening for eight years; my son was in a class at that time as well. Most Tuesdays we'd have mac-n-cheese and kielbasa. We both left the program five years ago, but that meal is still called "REP Tuesday" at our house.

                                                                                                                            1. monavano Jan 10, 2012 09:16 AM

                                                                                                                              Growing up, my mom had a cooking routine of sorts. I don't remember her being strict about adhering to a weekly, rotating menu, but she did have a cadre of recipes that seemed to repeat itself pretty regularly.
                                                                                                                              I've often thought about trying out a system like this. It goes against my nature, but the discipline and streamlining would be great.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano
                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                mpjmph Jan 10, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                Our family dinners were like that as well. There wasn't a set schedule, but my mom had less than a dozen standard dinner menus. The only set in stone menu was "Sunday night rules" - everyone got to eat anything they wanted for dinner, as long as it was already in the house. This was mostly my mom's way of using leftovers, but it meant I occasionally had ice cream for dinner.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mpjmph
                                                                                                                                  monavano Jan 10, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                                  Love that! We were allowed to eat franks and beans and canned ravioli when Mom and Dad had liver.
                                                                                                                                  After she passed away, I went through all the recipe clippings she had stuffed in her cookbooks. She had big plans, but I think routine and practicality won out for the working mom!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano
                                                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                                                    mpjmph Jan 12, 2012 05:45 AM

                                                                                                                                    I took over a lot of the cooking duties when I was a teenager. I enjoyed it and it fit my schedule better than my mom's. When I moved out for college, she suddenly had to start cooking again, and adjust her cooking style to serve two. She started slowly, but now is quite impressive with her repertoire. She still gets flustered in the kitchen sometimes, especially if there are multiple dishes going at one time, and she still defers to me if I'm visiting, but it's really cool to see how much her cooking has evolved.

                                                                                                                              2. danna Jan 10, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                                                                                We have pasta every Friday night, without fail. It's because we do 4-5 hour mountain bike rides on Saturday, so we're fueling up. Now I realize we could fuel up with rice or various other carb-y things, but ...we do pasta.

                                                                                                                                So, although I'm sorta horrified by the idea of a set menu every week, I can understand the appeal of having a no-brainer dinner plans, at least one night a week.

                                                                                                                                Oh wait...come to think of it, we have "i don't cook" on Saturday night. So that's 2 night with a set menu ;-)

                                                                                                                                1. p
                                                                                                                                  PotatoPuff Jan 10, 2012 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                                  While we don't have a set menu, there are certain meals that are ONLY for the Sabbath in our house. Basically we eat frugally all week, and save nicer stuff for the Sabbath. For example,we only have meat as a Sabbath treat, unless we are lucky enough to have some leftovers for the rest of the week.

                                                                                                                                  1. l
                                                                                                                                    laliz Jan 10, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                                    yea, we did a version of this up to a point in my family. My father was in SE Asia on a ship during WWII and I grew up never ever having rice or any type of lamb (mutton) or asian food of any type. (Didn't have Chinese food until I was in California in college)

                                                                                                                                    He worked swing shifts so he was in charge of meals two out of three weeks and it would be the same rotation : beans w/sausage; spaghetti (Chef-boy-ar-dee in a box); pancakes w/sausage; salmon patties; hamburgers; chili (from a can w/crackers); fish sticks with french fries; navy bean soup (always served over white bread w/ketchup) and we got either cheeseburgers with good skinny fries (instead of those horrid baked dry things we got with fish sticks) and we often went out to dinner on Sunday ~~ I usually got fried chicken (which we never had at home unless it was a Swanson frozen dinner). Every once in a while he would cook Porterhouse steaks (!?!?) never ever on a grill, always under the broiler~~and they were always delicious, hence my love of a good steak.

                                                                                                                                    My mother worked and was not much of a cook, her rotation was creamed salmon on mashed potatoes; meatloaf; stuffed pork chops w/scalloped potaotes; my fave ~~ city chicken which was veal cubes on skewers; And of course tuna noodle casserole or the day before payday famous (ugh) creamed peas on toast)

                                                                                                                                    She would sometimes serve TV dinners (OK with us kids) and once in a great while she'd get adventurous (oh no) and we'd get "boiled dinner" or (horrors) her version of fried green tomatoes and pork chops (dry dry dry) or stuffed green peppers (beyond awful; no mom, please don't make me eat it). She never heard of shake n bake and I was jealous of other kids. Sometimes we could order pizza from the local place (TDF) or meatball sandwiches, heaven on earth.

                                                                                                                                    Salad was always iceberg w/tomatoes (which we could easily pick out) and Miracle Whip as the salad dressing (I guess she took it literally) there were NO bottles of salad dressing in our refrigerator only Miracle ugh Whip. When I discovered Catalina, Thousand Island, and French bottled dressings it was a revelation.

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                      paulj Jan 10, 2012 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                                      There was a tradition, in England more so than USA, of building a weekly sequence of meals around the leftovers from the Sunday Roast. I can't offhand find such a list, but it included dishes like shepherds pie (with the leftover meat and potatoes), and bubble and squeak.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                        mpjmph Jan 12, 2012 05:52 AM

                                                                                                                                        I'm fascinated about the rice. My grandfather also served in SE Asia, and refused to eat rice (or spam) for the rest of his life. I've never heard of anyone else with such a strong post-WWII rice aversion. My poor grandmother LOVED rice, and for 60 years could only eat it at restaurants. When my grandfather died, my grandmother's only solace was being able to cook and eat rice any time she wanted.

                                                                                                                                        As a side note - there is a chalkboard menu outside the mess tent in the HBO mini series The Pacific - rice without fish, rice without chicken, rice without beef...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                          EWSflash Jan 12, 2012 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                                          Why the bias against rice and other SE Asian food? I'm almost afraid of the answer- prejudice against the people in general that were our enemies or godforbid looked somewhat similar to our enemies?

                                                                                                                                        2. b
                                                                                                                                          bitchincook Jan 10, 2012 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                          It's amazing that some many of us who grew up eating the same boring and uninspired food over and over again turned out to be chowhounds.

                                                                                                                                          My mom had a very limited repertoire of things she knew how to cook, though for the most part no one meal was assigned a particular day of the week. During the school year, it was an excellent bet that dinner would come from the following list:

                                                                                                                                          "mama mia" pot roast, which was made with tomato sauce and a dash of cinnamon. The meat and sauce were tasty, but the mashed potatoes were instant and the vegetables were ghastly boiled mushy frozen gore.

                                                                                                                                          bone-in chicken breast halves coated with either barbeque sauce or "low-cal" Italian dressing and baked to death. The side dishes were the same as above.

                                                                                                                                          meatloaf, baked potatoes and the same sorry vegetables.

                                                                                                                                          Pork chops, instant mashed potatoes and yes, boiled mushy frozen mixed vegetables.

                                                                                                                                          baked swordfish served with baked macaroni and cheese and salad. This was my favorite meal by far, and I left the chemical dressing off my salad.

                                                                                                                                          During the summer things changed dramatically. We literally had the same meal every night, but I didn't mind, as it was good. Beef top round cooked on the hibachi and served rare on the inside, charred on the outside. Corn on the cob from the farmer's market and picked and bought that afternoon. Salad made with ingredients from the farmer's market, including tomatoes still warm from the sun. If I left off the foul-tasting margarine and salad dressing, these dinners were quite tasty.

                                                                                                                                          1. alliegator Jan 10, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                                                                                                            My dad was the the cook in my house, and we did not use that system. His cooking skills were somewhat limited, but he did like to try new things. He did, and still does shop every day. Now I do the same. He always said it would be impossible to know what he was hungry for in advance, and I agree. We also ate out a lot. I did not grow up with a belly full of gourmet goodies, but I was fed with love.
                                                                                                                                            My grandmother and mother were both housewives and notoriously bad cooks. I'm trying really hard to break the family "crappy female cook" spell. But, I'm currently preparing for my grandfather to come live with us, and I have a hunch there will be a lot of roasted meat portion, potato, veg and a roll type dinners in my future.

                                                                                                                                            1. a
                                                                                                                                              AverageJo Jan 12, 2012 12:51 PM

                                                                                                                                              Sure, our family had rotating meals over and over. But what I remember best are the fixed breakfasts my dad always ate!

                                                                                                                                              M,T, Th, Fri: Shreddies or, in winter, Cream of Wheat/oatmeal
                                                                                                                                              Wednesday: Boiled eggs with toast -- every Wednesday, without fail, was "egg day"

                                                                                                                                              Saturday: Scrambled eggs w/bacon & toast
                                                                                                                                              Sunday: Pancakes

                                                                                                                                              Dad never varied from this breakfast routine, even after he retired. Funny, the things that we remember so clearly.

                                                                                                                                              1. e
                                                                                                                                                elenacampana Jan 13, 2012 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                When my daughter was very young and I was home tending the hearth & all, I found the rhythm of loosely planned meals very comforting - and it turns out to be a great memory for my daughter. I didn't plan very exactly, but Friday was always Soup Night, even in high summer, when we made great cold soups to eat out on the porch. I shopped once a week, on Saturdays, so the most perishable food was eaten first: fish Saturday, chicken or other meat Sunday, and Mon-Thurs usually went beans-&-rice, pasta, something-curried, beans-again-but-different... Since Friday was usually bread baking day (except in summer), there was always good fresh bread for the soup. Great flexibility and room for experimenting inside all those categories, and I actually appreciated NOT having to make nightly decisions or special shopping trips. I know I should probably shop every day, but my life just doesn't work that way!

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: elenacampana
                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                  julesrules Feb 28, 2012 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I think the shopping every day thing is overrated. It really depends on the time of year and where you live. In Canada in the winter... the imported veggies are not farm-fresh. Any local produce is stored anyway (apples, turnips etc) so it hardly matters. And the selection rarely changes.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules
                                                                                                                                                    CallAnyVegetable Mar 2, 2012 04:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Very true, no point in shopping for a few apples every day when most of them are months old anyway!

                                                                                                                                                2. Cherylptw Jan 15, 2012 02:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Wow! This thread really brought back memories for me! In 60's NY, I remember my family definately having a loosely scheduled menu. Friday was fish; my mom walked to the fish market in the morning to see what was good. She hardly ever bought fileted fish, it was usually something whole to fry, head and all like porgies, spots, etc. For us kids, she'd have Mrs. Pauls fishsticks on hand just in case.

                                                                                                                                                  The rest of the week, we'd have spaghetti with meat sauce, meat loaf, fried chicken, pork chops, franks and beans, Campbell's chicken noodle soup and sandwiches on Wonder bread with Miracle Whip(usually Saturday); don't remember which days these would make an appearance but they usually did. Sometimes they were varied with a pot of chili (my mom made the best chili; so thick you could eat it with a fork) and we'd crumble Nabisco saltine crackers over the top. My dad, who didn't cook much, sometimes made his pot of Navy bean soup, which was also delicious.

                                                                                                                                                  We kids sometimes got a treat with Swanson's frozen dinners that came in the aluminum tray and took almost an hour to heat in the oven; we got to eat those on TV trays while watching our favorite shows. I looked forward to those nights. Does anyone remember those cereal packs that had about 4-5 small boxes of different varieties of cereal where you could cut open the box, pour in the milk and eat out of the same box? I loved those!

                                                                                                                                                  We didn't go out to restaurants but we did go to White Castle to get take out. I still love White Castle to this day, although the burgers are not the same as the old days....

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                    small h Jan 15, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                    <Does anyone remember those cereal packs that had about 4-5 small boxes of different varieties of cereal where you could cut open the box, pour in the milk and eat out of the same box? I loved those! >

                                                                                                                                                    Most definitely, and they're still around:

                                                                                                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Kelloggs-Cereal...

                                                                                                                                                    We ate them on camping trips. The Sugar Pops went first, and it was a sad day when we were down to Raisin Bran or worse, Special K.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: small h
                                                                                                                                                      buttertart Jan 15, 2012 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Boy do I, the pinnacle of the cereal experience! And right on the mark, small h.

                                                                                                                                                  2. prima Jan 15, 2012 06:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I'm not organized enough to have a set menu each week, but it's always fish or shellfish on Friday.

                                                                                                                                                    Growing up, it was fish on Fridays, and Chinese food on Sunday nights.

                                                                                                                                                    1. p
                                                                                                                                                      PenskeFan Jan 15, 2012 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                      For a long long time, it was shake and bake chicken every Sunday night and we always looked forward to it.

                                                                                                                                                      Wednesdays was usually leftovers. Friday was often fishsticks.

                                                                                                                                                      Part of it was most of the time my mom was a single mom and working full time. We were lucky to have food on the table, and she was exhausted. Plus she had already done her time cooking dinner for her dad and 3 brothers growing up because her mom worked night cleaning offices, so she was pretty tired of it especially after working all day.

                                                                                                                                                      1. j
                                                                                                                                                        jbsiegel Jan 16, 2012 11:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Other than Sunday nights (grilled salmon without fail), we don't have any kind of set schedule.

                                                                                                                                                        Growing up, my family didn't have a set schedule, but my mother DID make certain things very frequently. Somehow I never seem to repeat anything - always trying out new recipes. In a way, though, I'm afraid that my kids miss out on having those "favorite meals that Mom always made." Lately I've been thinking about trying to repeat some things more frequently. Our dinner menus do seem to be dictated to some extent by the kids sports schedules. Certain nights have to be crazy quick meals...

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jbsiegel
                                                                                                                                                          gingershelley Jan 17, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                          My mom was a great, creative scratch cook even in the dark, dark culinary days of canned & frozen foods in the 60's. She always used fresh veggies and served a varied selection of meals.

                                                                                                                                                          The only 'routine' we truly had is that they table was always set with real cloth napkins - we each had our own different napkin ring, and when anyone's got too soiled, it was traded in for a fresh one, usually every few days. We also always had candles lit at the dinner table, and you HAD to be there for dinner.
                                                                                                                                                          A nice, interesting huge green salad was served after dinner every night, and we couldn't leave the table until Dad was finished eating salad; sometimes 3 plates full! Looking back, it was a great way for us all to stay connected, tho of course when a teen I was itching to leave the table!

                                                                                                                                                          The only 'standard meal' we had was Sunday evening's, we always had grilled cheese sandwiches (or for my sister, grilled peanut butter and banana), and each could have his favorite campbell's soup. Mine was chicken noodle or tomato, sister was bean with bacon (yuck! to me), and dad's was chili-beef... funny I don't remember what mom's soup was. We all sat in front of the tv and watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on tv trays, with our soup and sandwiches, and then Wonderful World of Disney was on next.... a great memory!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley
                                                                                                                                                            Munkipawse Jan 27, 2012 12:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                            That is a great memory GingerS. I used to know a family whose kids my grandmother would watch and she would do something similar but it was potpies and pudding she'd make in tiny dessert cups for them. I was always disappointed my grandmother didnt do the same for us when we stayed with her. We ate a lot of ham n' beans or tuna salad made with deviled egg served on white bread. :-/. Not really the same in terms of kid excitement...

                                                                                                                                                        2. Jay F Feb 20, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Growing up, we had a very regular menu. My mother hated to cook until I left for college, and she discovered Julia Child. I never knew anything different, so I had no reason to complain.

                                                                                                                                                          Sunday: roast something (meat), instant mashed potatoes, some frozen or canned veg.
                                                                                                                                                          Monday: something leftover from Sunday, often croquettes; or else chili.
                                                                                                                                                          Tuesday: a pressure-cooked concoction called "casserole," with some kind of meat on the bone, tomato sauce, and rice.
                                                                                                                                                          Wednesday: pasta
                                                                                                                                                          Thursday: leftover pasta, or steak or fish
                                                                                                                                                          Friday: Fish, mac & cheese; or pizza when we got older
                                                                                                                                                          Saturday: steak or fish

                                                                                                                                                          With each of these meals, we would have "salad," a quarter wedge of iceberg with Kraft Catalina.

                                                                                                                                                          1. eclecticsynergy Feb 26, 2012 11:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                            To this day, as far as I know, my former wife makes pasta every Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                            1. m
                                                                                                                                                              maxie Feb 26, 2012 03:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I like that this thread keeps springing to life.
                                                                                                                                                              I know two instances. First, mother of BIL. She shops from the exact same list every week regardless of season. For her it provides comforting consistency and is a huge time saver. She worked outside the home, as well as at the at-home dairy, and raised five kids. She didn't have to waste time thinking about what to buy or make. It was all part of her system. She is a good cook, despite her limited repertoire. Second, childhood friend of SO. As of 10 years ago, still ate on a weekly schedule. Also from semi-rural community with home farms. Wegman's had a hand in shaking that schedule up.

                                                                                                                                                              1. s
                                                                                                                                                                San Antonio Sam Feb 28, 2012 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                We did not adhere to an exact schedule but my Mom was a pretty limited cook and only had so many dishes. I have probably had my Mom's "Mexican Lasagna" over 1000 times. It is actually not lasagna at all . .it is baked rotini with cheddar, ground beef and a packet of taco seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                                I actually believe this contributed greatly to my being a foodie today because you will never truly understand a dish as well as one you've eaten 1000 times. You learn about the differences that small variations can make in a way you never will if you cook adventurously.

                                                                                                                                                                To this day my Father can roast potatoes inexplicably well. It's astounding, actually. It's as if the oven responds differently to his touch than mine . . like he has some "secret 350" that I don't know about.

                                                                                                                                                                I call him "The Master of Simple Techniques". You can only roast potatoes this well after you've done it thousands of times. That is what drives me as a foodie - absolute perfection of simple concepts.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: San Antonio Sam
                                                                                                                                                                  CallAnyVegetable Mar 2, 2012 04:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  My MIL fed takeout from the same diner to her kids every Thursday all their lives. Granted not the same thing always, but still. No, she isn't a good cook.

                                                                                                                                                                2. j
                                                                                                                                                                  julesrules Mar 2, 2012 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I can see some reasons for it. There's the Meatless Mondays movement which I think is great. Having a designated day would help me remember to plan something veg. Same would hold true for those trying to work in more fish. External factors too... my kids always seem to get pasta lunch from daycare on Thursdays, so I try to do pasta another night. My cafeteria at work does weekly specials that are decent, a Carribean chicken soup and a saltfish & bake breakfast (the chef is Trini and thank god for that, we get something edible) - so I sometimes plan around that a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules
                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                    seanelle2 Apr 17, 2012 11:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    We grew up poor but no scheduled meals. However, going to elementary school in the 60's, it was still "meatless Friday" time. Even though I'm jewish, i loved the school cafeteria mac and cheese and fish sticks! (real cooks back then, not preheated tv type dinners!) Still like mac and cheese and fish sticks on Friday!.

                                                                                                                                                                    That being said, there is one thing to be said for a routine when dealing with someone with partial memory loss. My grandmother broke her hip, her only surviving child, my uncle, died a few days later. I intended to bring her to my home to care for her, but before she was done with her re-hab, i sustained a terrible triple fracture to my ankle. I couldn't walk for almost 2 years ( was on Medicaid, should have had surgery, they didn't, the cast was put on wrong, and the bones never healed right). By the time I got to a decent orthopaedist, he told me he'd have to refracture the ankle, put in numerous pins and a plate, and i just decided to live with it. By the time I healed enough to bring my grandmother home, there were other complications.

                                                                                                                                                                    I finally got her to my home (where I am proud to say she never suffered another bedsore like in the nursing home, there weren't feces under her fingernails, her hair was clean, etc). She did, however, have some memory loss as well as mental health issues from losing everyone- her husband and her two sons, all in 4 years). A wonderful man, who was a psychologist, had a parent in the same nursing home. He helped keep me sane through several years of problems at the nursing home and was instrumental in helping me get her out of there.

                                                                                                                                                                    At any rate, he told me that for people with memory loss, besides the "sundown effect" (less cognizant after 4 p.m.), that the lack of a routine on weekends can be confusing. One of his suggestions was that I follow a "routine" of sorts, including having the same meal on Friday nights and for each weekend breakfast. I made fish (broiled) for grandma every Friday night, and pancakes on Saturday and French toast on Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                                    It worked! When she woke up on the weekend, and I would say, Grandma, I'm making pancakes today, what day is it? She WAS able to incorporate this "new " information- and she always answered correctly- well if it's pancakes, it must be saturday, or if it's french toast, it must be sunday. Didn't mean it lasted all day, but the routine certainly helped. Followed something similar with clothing colors- a little harder to do- during the week- can't remember now, Alev HaShalom, she's been gone for 15 years ... but something like dark blue for Monday, pink for tuesday, tan/brown for Wednesday, dark blue for Thursday, red/magenta Friday- something along those lines- so routines can be comforting/assuring at the end of life as well as growing up as a child- it may be "boring", but in some ways it's better to know that wednesday is always spaghetti day instead of wondering if there will be any food on wednesday!

                                                                                                                                                                    As for myself, due to limited food assistance budget (I'm prematurely disabled), I buy what's on sale, and plan menus around that. Aldi's has really good produce/fruit sales, so many dishes depend on what veggies are on sale. Fortunate to have 2 refrigerators- old Avocado Green Sears in basement, landlord supplied one upstairs kitchen. Virtually all meat is frozen and most is bought "reduced and immediately frozen. Got green peppers 2 for 59 cents at Aldi's this week- part of one is going into macaroni salad, another one will go for Chinese pepper steak, the remainder i might just eat plain... I keep a couple Banquet meals/ pot pies/chef Boyardee mini ravioli for those times I don't feel well enough to cook and/or i'm out of leftovers-

                                                                                                                                                                    On Fridays though, I prepare chulent in crockpot for Sabbath lunch and also make up some tuna fish salad for supper later before sabbath ends since can't cook/re-heat/nuke until Sabbath over. So some routine.. but up here near Amish country in Ohio- mondays are soup days (for laundry days)- wash day soup recipes are common- you add ingredients as you are doing various things(or the amish are)- like adding blueing to overalls etc)-- thought of this about the southern laundry days recipes for mondays

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