Women in early to mid-twentieth century Australia often seem to follow certain principles; for example, roast on Sunday, leftovers on Monday, perhaps a grill one night and often fish on Fridays. Many women would have had set nights for certain meals, although my mother told me that she learnt during her dietitian's training in the late 1950s that it is poor form to do this.
A standard weekly menu might have looked something like this:
fish cakes made from leftover cooked fish mixed with mashed potato, then crumbed and fried
a pie made from roast leftovers or maybe cold meat and salad in hot weather
rissoles made from leftover meat
soup using stock made from the bones from Sunday's roast
The most common accompaniments to meals would have been potatoes and boiled vegetables. Desserts would have been things like stewed fruit, rice pudding, baked custard, junkets and blancmange.
I think there is much we can learn from this kind of cooking, even if we choose to forego the dripping, overcooked vegetables and general monotony. For example, planning for leftovers and having as little waste as possible both make a lot of sense. Also, spending the bulk of one's grocery money on fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy rather than processed items makes excellent financial and budgetary sense.
My own menu for this week is based on the one above with a few modern twists. Some of this food was already in my freezer, such as the cutlets, chicken breasts and thighs, so didn't have to be bought. I work from 9 until five on Mondays and Tuesdays so I plan the easiest meals for these days, and if I cook a dessert it's usually on the weekend, when I have more time. This is an autumn menu, so uses pumpkin, corn, eggplants, apples, pears and other autumn produce.
Friday (shopping day)
fresh Tasmanian salmon baked in foil with lemon juice and capers
peas and corn
fresh fruit (mandarins, pears, apples, bananas)
crumbed lamb cutlets
crispy sauteed potatoes
apple crisp with custard
hot chocolate (for family movie night)
roast vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, onions)
lemon delicious pudding
cold roast beef
various relishes and pickles
stewed fruit (apples or pears) with cream or custard
macaroni and cheese
fresh fruit (mandarins, pears, apples)
gingery chicken and vegetable stirfry with rice (modern I know but too healthy to forego)
chicken and vegetable curry with rice
(I often cook a curry the the night before I shop as this is a great way to use up the week's leftover vegetables.)