Read A YEAR’S BREAKFASTS & DINNERS of Science in the Kitchen., free online book, by Mrs. E. E. Kellogg, on

What to get for the family meals is frequently a most perplexing problem, especially when one remembers the many important points that should enter into the arrangement of the daily bill of fare. A well-arranged menu should be composed of articles which supply the requisite amount of food elements for proper nutrition, palatably prepared. These should be adapted to the season and also to the family purse. There should be an agreeable and pleasing change from day to day, with never too great variety at one meal, and no incongruous association of foods that do not harmonize, upon the same bill of fare. The amount of time and strength available for the preparation of the meal must also receive consideration. The problem would be easier of solution could one select her menu wholly from fresh material each time; but in most households the odds and ends and “left-over” foods must be utilized, and if possible compounded into dishes that will not have the savor of yesterday’s breakfast or dinner.

The making of a bill of fare offers opportunity for thought and study under all circumstances; but it is often particularly difficult for the housewife long accustomed to the use of foods of a different character, to make up a menu of hygienic dishes properly adapted to all requirements. For such of our readers as need aid in this direction, we give in this chapter bills of fare for fifty-two weeks’ breakfasts and dinners. Not that we presume to have arranged a model dietary which every one can adopt, individual preferences, resources, and various other conditions would preclude that, but we have endeavored to prepare a list of menus suitable for use should circumstances admit, and which we trust may be found helpfully suggestive of good, hygienic living.

We have given meats no place upon these bills of fare, as we wished particularly to illustrate how good, substantial menus of appetizing variety can be provided without their use; but such of our readers as desire this class of foods will have no difficulty in supplementing the bills we have arranged by adding such meats as accord with their tastes and purses, while our chapter on Meats will give them all needed information as to their preparation.

In arranging the bills of fare it has been presupposed that the housewife has provided herself with at least a moderate allowance of canned or dried vegetables and fruits during their season, for use throughout the year. Effort has also been made to suggest an ample variety of seasonable and wholesome articles and to make provision for any probable left-over foods; and to illustrate how by planning and thinking beforehand the same material may be used to form the base of two different dishes for successive days, enough of which for both may often be cooked at the same time, thus economizing in time and fuel.

No particular year has been taken, as we desired the menus to be adapted to all years, and as no dates could be given, we have taken even weeks, ending each with a Sabbath menu, beginning with the first month of the year.

A third meal, if desired, whether it be luncheon or supper, should, for health’s sake, be so simple in character that we have not deemed it necessary to give bills of fare. Breads, fruits, and grains, with milk, cream, and some simple relish, tastefully served, offer ample provision for a healthful and nourishing repast.

No mention has been made of beverages upon the bills of fare. If any are used, hot milk or caramel coffee are to be preferred. Cooked fruit, either fresh, dried, or canned, is desirable for every meal, but the kind as also of the fresh fruit upon the breakfast bill may be arranged according to individual preferences and resources. The use of cream, sugar, and other accessories should be suited to circumstances.

It is intended that croutons be served with the soups, and in arranging the variety of breads, an effort has been made to provide one of harder texture for use with grains and other soft foods. The wafers mentioned are the whole-wheat and gluten wafers manufactured by the Sanitarium Food Co., which by many families are considered more convenient for general use as a hard bread than the crisps, sticks, etc., which upon some of the menus are designed for the same purpose.

Less variety may be used, and changes made to suit the taste and circumstances of those providing and partaking of the meals; but whatever is subtracted should still leave upon the bill of fare the more nutritious articles, like grains, whole-wheat bread, and other foods rich in nerve and muscle forming elements.

Whether the housewife follows the bills of fare given with such modifications as are best suited to the needs of her household, or provides some of her own choosing, she will find it a great saving of vexation and trouble to make them out for several days or a week ahead, at one time, rather than from day to day or from meal to meal. She can then plan her work and her resources so as the more nearly to make “both ends meet,” and can provide a more varied fare, while if changes are needed, they can be easily made by substituting one article for another, as circumstances demand.

In the arrangement of her menus she will find it well to select first the grain and breads to be used, since being among the most nutritious of all foods, they may well form the chief and staple food, around which all other articles upon the bill of fare are grouped. If the grain chosen be rice, farina, or one largely composed of starch, the remainder of the menu should include some foods rich in nitrogenous elements, such as macaroni, whole-wheat or Graham breads, the legumes, eggs, etc.  If the choice of grain be one containing a high percentage of nitrogenous material, less of this element will be required in the accompanying foods.