The Shift to Thrift.

The 4 Week Meal Plan.

My mother’s employment, occupation, profession and calling was to be a wife, mother and keeper of the home. Very early in their marriage my parents decided that my father would do the outside work on the farm and my mother would manage the home. For both of them it was an herculean task. Money was tight, there were few mod cons and there was lots of work to be done. Life was not flash nor was it exciting but these generations had something, in fact many things, we do not have today. One thing they had was a routine and certain tasks occurred weekly on certain days. For instance there was a day to change sheets and have a monster washing day, days to clean and mop floors, days to bake etc.

Creamed, Canned And Frozen: How The Great Depression Revamped U.S. ...
Image :npr org.

In our home Saturday was a big washing day, baking days were Tuesday and Friday; on these days biscuits such as munchies, a type of biscuit made with rolled oats, ginger nuts or jam drops, slices such as raspberry slice, chocolate slice or fruit slab, cakes such as patty cakes, fruit cakes, pumpkin fruit cakes and scones, usually pumpkin, would be made. All these were baked in a wood fuelled oven. On Fridays special cakes were made and put away for Sunday night supper which we shared together after coming home from church. There were even days when you knew there would be a roast or silverside or casserole and with these meals there would be a plum pudding and custard with the roast, a steamed pudding with syrup and custard with the silverside and with the casserole a slab of butter cake with stewed fruit and custard. There were other desserts such as bread and butter pudding, baked rice and lemon sago. I could rattle on for ages but my point is there was a routine and a rhythm to life and in this routine there was stability.

About three decades ago when my life was turned upside down and stability stripped away (sounds a bit like now for many people) I followed the example of my mother and with my children devised the four week meal plan for both stability and economy.

  • Firstly I had the children write down some of their favourite meals and then worked that into some sort of table. The meals were supported with lots of vegetables and salads, plus pantry staples. But as you can see I could buy 2 kg of mince and divide that into 4X 500gm lots and Monday night tea for 4 weeks was covered. The roasts were used in lunches and dinner the next night. Bacon went into Thursday meals so again buy in one lot and divide and freeze. Friday nights required canned tuna and some frozen fish fingers and so on.

Week 1Spag Bolz
Roast ChickenFried Rice with veges chicken and baconBacon & Egg QuicheTuna, Corn Cheese CasseroleMac Cheese
Week 2Meat Loaf
Roast LambStir Fry veges with Lamb stripsZucchini SliceFish cakesNachos
Week 3Lasagna
Roast BeefShepherd’s PieLoaded PotatoesTuna BakeHot Dogs
Week 4Rissoles
Roast PorkSweet and Sour Pork with RiceBLTsFish Fingers.Pizza
The menu plan was posted in the kitchen, we all knew what we were eating and when and the meal plan informed and simplified my shopping.
Sundays were a bit of a free for all. On Sunday night we made pancakes with loads of fillings and toppings.
DessertsWe also rotated desserts and each week baked goods
Week 1Custard and fruit for dessert and Jam drops / raspberry slice for baking
Week 2Ice cream for dessert and Chocolate slice for baking
Week 3Bread and butter pudding and ANZAC biscuits for baking
Week 4Yoghurts and Banana cake for baking.

After the four week cycle the menu plan could be rejigged; some dropped and other favourites added, silver side, corn and silver side fritters, chile con carne, Mum’s McDonalds, sausages with mash. This menu plan is for your family so it can be whatever you want it to be, the important thing is that is does simplify and economise life and provide some stability.

Homemade Pumpkin Scones recipe – All recipes Australia NZ
Image : All recipes Australia

Just as a side note my mother passed away 45 years ago this June but the older I get, the more I appreciate what she taught me in both word and deed. I enclose her pumpkin scone recipe.

Mum’s Pumpkin Scones.

  • 3 cups SR flour sifted
  • 1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tabs sugar
  • 1 tab butter
  • pinch of salt
  • a little milk
  • Beat sugar and butter together, add egg and remaining ingredients, mix and knead together gently and pat out, cut out with scone cutter or a glass. Place scones touching together on tray, brush with milk and bake in quick oven.
  • Remember my mother cooked in a wood oven. Set yours around 200 C.


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