Economical Cookery

On the other hand, Thudicum, in his Spirit of Cookery, refers to "the delusion of economical cookery with scraps costing nothing." He speaks of what is termed "the fearful waste in English kitchens," and says, "When we proceed to investigate the items of the alleged waste, we find them to consist of stale lumps of bread, bacon rind, and bare bones of boiled or roast joints." He quotes with scorn and denial a prominent medical journal which says, "The French cook makes excellent and nutritious soup out of materials which the English housewife throws away as useless; while her pot-au-feu is composed of stray scraps carefully husbanded, which cost her nothing, but which, when skilfully combined, constitute a useful and inexpensive food".

True Cost

Perhaps the truth lies between the two extremes. To set an attractive table costs something in raw food material, in equipment and in service. The snowy table cloth, always spotless, so often suggested in newspaper articles as a substitute for expensive food, means the expenditure of time, money and energy. The soup made from "scraps" involves expenditure of time and fuel, if not of money with which to purchase fresh material. The cost of saving may outweigh the cost of material saved. But that there is much unnecessary waste in the average household can not be denied. Nor is the mere money value of the material wasted the most serious part. The habits of carelessness and extravagance engendered show themselves in a lack of responsibility for material and indifference toward useless expenditure of time and energy as well as money, and in general thoughtlessness.

Conditions Alter Cases

How the money to be expended shall be distributed between different food materials must be largely a matter for the individual housekeeper since conditions vary so greatly. As a rule, vegetable foods are cheaper than animal. This may be counter-balanced by the more easy digestibility of the animal food, as we shall see in a later discussion. Whether one food or another is the cheaper source of a particular food principle depends upon the percentage composition and comparative cost of these foods. As is seen in Table I, potatoes at two cents per pound, i. e., 30 cents per peck, cost almost twice as much, so far as actual food value is concerned, as rice at five cents per pound. When rice is ten cents per pound, as it is in many places at present, and potatoes are one cent a pound, conditions are reversed. Sweet potatoes at five cents a pound must be definitely considered as a luxury when white potatoes may be had for one cent at the same place.

Table I. Some Important Foods Considered As To Their Nutritive And Economic Values

Refuse, per cent.

Water, per cent.

Proteid, per cent.

Fat, per cent.

Carbohydrates, per cent.

Calories, per lb.

Nuts (peanuts, edible portion) ........................

...........

9.2

25.8

38.6

24.4

2560

Sugar (granulated)..........

..........

..........

.........

.........

100

1857

Cornmeal (bolted)...........

...........

12.9

8.9

2.2

75 1

1655

Wheat flour (roller process).

............

12 5

11.3

1.1

74 6

1645

Rye flour.....................

.........

12.7

7.1

.9

78 5

1630

Rice.......................

...........

12 4

7.8

.4

79

1630

Legumes (dried).............

.........

13.2

22.3

1.8

59 1

1590

Meats (as purchased about).

12

55

16

1.5

.........

928

Fish (fresh)..................

30

45

12

4

..........

388

Potatoes......................

15

67.1

1.8

1

15 3

325

Milk..........................

...........

87

3.3

4

5

325

Bananas......................

40

44.5

.7

.5

13.7

290

Fruit (apples, grapes, etc.)..

25

60

1

.9

12.9

285

Wheat flour at 2

cents

per

pound

furnishes

300®

calories

for

3.6 cents

Cornmeal at 3

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

5.4 "

Wheat flour at 4

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

7.2 "

Rice at 5

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

9.2 "

Fotatoes at 1

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

9 "

Legumes at 8

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

15 "

Milk at 2

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

18 "

Potatoes at 2

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

18 "

Nuts(kernels)at 16cent'.

"

"

"

"

"

"

19 "

Cheese (American pale) at 11

"

"

"

"

"

20 "

Fruit at 2 cents per pound

"

"

"

"

21 "

Milk at 3 1/2 (7 cents a qt).

"

"

"

"

32 "

Beef (medium fat)at 15cents (15 % bone)

"

"

"

"

47 "

Beef (sirloin) at 25 cents per pound

"

"

"

"

69 "

Eggs at 25 cents per dozen

"

"

"

"

115 "

(From The Cost of Food, by Mrs. Ellen H. Richards).