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Dinner is Served, 1950’s Style

My first week as a 1950’s housewife went by so quickly! If you are new here, or just as a recap. I am diving head first into recreating the 1950’s housewife’s typical day. But, because becoming the ultimate 1950’s housewife is a huge undertaking,  I will be writing about one specific aspect of the Challenge each week. I will write weekly about my progress or resistance and share it here every Tuesday evening. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram for peaks into my day throughout the week, or sign up to my email list to get my weekly updates delivered directly to your inbox!

Serving Up Vintage Style Family Dinners

I decided that the family dinner was the first topic I was going to delve into here because I feel it is the cornerstone that family relationships are built on, and yet this meal time ritual is quickly slipping away from our society.  It’s estimated that only 30 percent of families regularly eat meals together.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Family dinners build relationships, yet this daily tradition is slipping away from our society. ” quote=”Family dinners build relationships, yet this daily tradition is slipping away from our society. “]

We live side by side with our family, yet it is not uncommon to have no idea about what’s going on in their lives. There’s been at least a million articles written about technology’s impact on our relationships, and they all seem to come to the same conclusion: technology isn’t, bad but the way we use it is. All our tweeting, likes, and follows connect us to people across the world, but also at the same time distance us from the person sitting right next to us, like our families.

This part of the 1950’s housewife challenge was about more than just the food, although I did try to create traditional family meals. I wanted to recreate a nicely set table, and a beautifully prepared meal that would encourage lingering around the table, conversation, and a break from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The ritual of family dinner is worth preserving” quote=”The ritual of family dinner is worth preserving”]

I decided we needed to lay some ground rules for our family dinner.  I know, it sounds rigid and not fun, but the ritual of family dinner is worth preserving, and honestly no one balked at the rules and expectations, it just wasn’t a big deal.

  • No Devices: no TV,  cellphones, tablets, or any other device that beeps, tweets, or rings.
  • Begin with grace. If you’re not religious, have everyone share something that they’re grateful for that day.
  • Family news: everyone takes turns sharing something positive and negative that has happened to them during the day.
  • Contribute to the conversation.  I consider this a life skill, and one day my children will thank me.  Each person is expected to bring something interesting to the table that they’ve read or heard during the day.
  • Help with cleanup. Again, this gets everyone involved and contributing to the family dinner. Why should one person do all the work?
  • Compliment the cook Ok, so this may be a little self-serving, as I am the cook, but when my kids go to a friends house I want them to be in the habit of doing this, and good manners start at home.

Admittedly, planning meals is a habit I have yet to perfect. It’s not that meal planning is hard, but you need to actually sit down and do it for it to be effective 🙂 To make this easier for me I picked Sunday morning to be my meal planning time. I sit down with the Sunday paper inserts and check the sales for good deals on meats and fresh produce, and build my meals around sale items, and things already in my freezer. I also clip any coupons that are of interest to me. I have found sitting down with a cup of coffee, and leisurely going through the circulars is much more enjoyable than trying to scribble down a list right before I run out the door to the store. 

Here is what dinner looked like as my first week as a 1950’s housewife, along with a few observations:


Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Roasted Carrots. Brownies for dessert.

Dinner went as planned, with the exception of dessert, I had planned on cherry pie, but I couldn’t shake a general worn down feeling. In fact, mid-afternoon, while my roast was in the oven, and my husband was watching college basketball, I dozed off briefly.  I should have known at that point something was brewing and went to bed early, instead, I plugged along, and stayed up late to do the laundry that fell behind while the kids were on winter break. Needless to say, the brownies were not homemade, but I am feeling good about this portion of the challenge!


Baked Split Chicken Breasts, Garlic and Herb Couscous, Green Beans.

I had intended to make my children breakfast before they went to school, but the lurking feeling of unwellness from Sunday had turned into the full blown stomach flu. My oldest daughter stepped up without even being asked and cooked ham and eggs! After a day of rest, and because I had planned ahead (so much thought wasn’t needed) I was able to cook dinner but opted out of dessert.

On a side note, all the confidence I was feeling Sunday was slowly starting to slip away today. I have thrown a couple of loads of laundry in and kept up on dishes, but that is about all. When I am feeling better and completely ready to dive into the 1950’s housewife challenge I am going to have my work cut out for me.


Meatloaf, Homemade Mac-n-Cheese, Beans

Another easy peasy meal, we are enjoying family dinner night, and each other company around the table.


Hot dogs, grilled veggies, potato chips

Thursday is traditionally my shopping day, but I am switching it up this week because I had a hair appointment this morning. So I made a meal plan for next week and did my shopping after I visited the hair stylist. If you have questioned my commitment to this challenge, let me lay your concerns to rest, today I had 3 inches of hair cut off so I can properly style my hair because no 1950’s housewife would leave her house unless her hair was perfectly coiffed. My hair was way overdue for a trim, but it has not been this short (above my shoulders) in a very long time, I haven’t broken out my hair rollers yet and attempted a vintage inspired style, but when I do I will be sure to share photos.


Homemade pizza, tossed salad, angel food cake.

Today I really started to get back into my groove after my stomach bug. I deep cleaned both my bathrooms, worked on laundry, and made an angel food cake for dessert.


Beer Battered Fish Fry, cole slaw, oven baked french fries, Lazy Daisy Cake.

#FishForFriday, it’s a thing, and so easy to do at home!


Cabbage Rolls, tossed salad, Italian Bread

My mother made a batch of cabbage rolls, and graciously delivered a huge pan to us for dinner! There are plenty of leftovers so we will eat those Monday for dinner also.


Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots, & Potatoes, with Rye Bread. Brownies for Dessert

Sunday was the family fun day, my son had a friend over, the girls and I watched a movie, and we spent a lazy afternoon at home. It was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of youth sports, and all the accompanying running around.

Of all the aspects of the 1950’s housewife challenge, reinstituting (or in my case becoming more structured) with the family dinner possibly pays the biggest dividends. After only one week I feel my family is more connected. I know there are many challenges that stand in between any given family and a sit-down family dinner, but I do believe if you can overcome those obstacles you will find family dinner is the time to relax, reconnect, catch up on the day’s ups and downs, all while developing a sense of who we are as a family.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Family dinner is the time to relax, and reconnect while developing a sense of who we are as a family.” quote=”Family dinner is the time to relax, and reconnect while developing a sense of who we are as a family.”]

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[…] source: The Vintage Housewife […]

Nina obrien

Wednesday 28th of April 2021

I had to laugh reading this article, I agree and do all including grace. Being a nurse my shifts are all over the place, so when it comes time for the family sit down dinner, we enjoy the conversation and family time. Although my son is 16, he would much rather have hot dogs and family time at the dinner table, then anything else and I love it.

Family Dinner | Traditional Mom Life

Sunday 26th of April 2020

[…] found this video on a typical dinner in the 1950’s (from a fellow blogger -that I want to credit for their site) . Please watch it below. I know some of you may think, this […]

Jean |

Sunday 19th of March 2017

Jen, this is wonderful! I don't understand why anyone would NOT have family dinner every day. If my dysfunctional family of origin could do it, ANY family can! And I've continued it all my life. Dinner together at the table - with no electronic intrusions - is the only way to go. I love your "ground rules" as well; your children will thank you one day.

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