The types of menu used will depend very largely upon the income of the family. * It is comparatively easy to plan attractive bills of fare if one does not have to consider the amount of work involved in preparing them, or the cost of the materials to be used. With knowledge of food values an expensive dietary may be whole-some, but there is great temptation to overeating and waste of food, and it is wise to keep meals simple for the sake of good digestion. Most families have to consider carefully the cost of food if any money is to be saved for books or travel or emergencies. A dietary such as planned on page 313 will probably cost from $1.50 to $2.00 for the day, or from 1 1/2 to 2 cents per 100 Calories, depending on the locality. Nothing is allowed for waste, which may, if the cook and those who eat the food are not careful, amount to from 10 to 15 per cent of the total cost. It is often estimated that the "average" man will consume about 3000 Calories per day, and the cost may be expressed on this basis as from 45 to 60 cents per man per day; or the dietary spoken of as a 45-cent or 60-cent dietary or whatever the exact cost per 3000 Calories may be. The cost of food for such a family for a year would at this rate be from $550 to $750.
If the allowance for food be placed at 25 per cent of the total income,1 this dietary would be appropriate for a family with an income of $2200 to $3000 per year. The majority of families have to get along with a lower expenditure for food, yet they want to be well nourished and to enjoy their fare. Fortunately there is no real connection between cost and nutritive value, some of the most nutritious foods being among the cheapest. At the same time, we cannot get wholesome food for nothing. There are very few foods which to-day cost less than 1/3 of a cent per 100 Calories, and these are mostly cereal products, such as cornmeal, rolled oats, and flour, or sugars and molasses. These alone will not make a well-balanced, palatable dietary, though they will supply all the fuel needed for an "average" man for a day for ten cents. In many parts of the country to-day it is hardly possible to make a dietary satisfactory week in and week out with an average allowance of less than 3/4 of a cent per 100 Calories, and even this sum will prove satisfactory only provided there be skill in food preparation as well as food selection. With an allowance of 1 cent per 100 Calories it is possible almost anywhere to make a balanced dietary with some attractiveness in appearance and flavor. In
1 The apportionment of the income to the different expenses of living (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) is discussed in Chapter XIX (The Household Budget). It will be found that the smaller the income the higher is the percentage of it which must be allowed for food.
Less than 1 c per 100 Calories
1-2 c per 100 Calories
2 1/2-5 c per 100 Calories
Over 5 c per 100 Calories
Bacon (all fat
32 c per pound
32 c per pound
Eggs under 25 c
Milk, 7 to 13 c
Rump of beef
Milk at 6 c or
less per qt.
Pork, salt fat
choosing foods with regard to cost a table that shows which are cheap fuel and which dear, is a great help. Prices vary so much with place and season that it is difficult to make one which is very exact, and some rearrangement to suit any particular region may be necessary. The table on page 317 will, however, serve as a guide.
Inspection of this table shows that if we can afford only one cent per 100 Calories for food, we must get a large share from Group I, and a few from Group II; if we wish to use foods in Group III, we shall have to do so sparingly, or offset them with some of the very cheapest in Group I, to keep the average as we wish it.
When we plan an attractive menu and find it is too expensive for us, we may often carry out our plan by substituting cheaper foods of the same sort. Thus in the dietary on page 313 we may substitute as follows:
Bananas for oranges.
Top milk for cream.
Oleomargarine for a part of the butter.
Bean loaf with tomato sauce for creamed salmon and peas.
Stewed apricots for pears.
Rump roast instead of rib roast. Doing this, omitting the soup and crackers and the salad for dinner, and increasing bread and potatoes, flaked wheat, and other cheaper foods to prevent any deficiency in fuel, we can still prepare palatable and digestible meals with the right food values, and save perhaps 25 per cent on the total cost for the day.