cheap eats

I giggled when I read the food-related comments to yesterday’s drive-in movie post. My younger sister’s memory of taking our own popcorn and ice water to “a show”–a very rare occurrence–was followed immediately by Randy Stafford’s recall of finally having money for a ham sandwich at the concession booth.

Spare cash was hard to come by for a lot of southern Iowa families in those days. At the time, it could leave a kid feeling different from and less than. But 50 years later, I’m realizing that learning to make spending choices early is a remarkable gift that guides our decisions and thus defines our lives.

I still pick up the sidewalk penny with a smile and a wish.

But, back to the cheap eats. Thanks to our plan-ahead, kitchen-savvy moms and aunts and grandmothers, limited resources never meant a lack of refreshments.

Marilyn Snook Walker reminded me a few months ago of the cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk my mother packed for our annual excursion to the Iowa State Fair. Jonathan apples were ever present when our family made road trips of more than a few miles. Mom told me, just last week, how she and my dad, as newlyweds, would buy a red-waxed circle of colby cheese in Corydon each Saturday,  then break off bites during the drive back to the farm. And if you’d like to stop by later, I will share with you the recipe my sister Marilyn and I perfected over many summers for frosting-filled graham crackers. [Just don’t use the blue food coloring.;-) ]

Curious…what penny-wise snack was part of your growing up years?


5 Responses to “cheap eats”

  1. I started working in the school cafeteria in 3rd grade. I don’t know whether it was to save 25 cents/day or to get more food to eat! Fortunately thanks to our parents, we were raised “broke” not poor!!! Broke was/is a temporary condition!! Poor is/was a state of mind!! Unfortunately it sometimes gives us to much drive and ambition!!

    Our mother’s strength and attitude when Dad had his Heart attack was an outstanding example for all of us! Today very few of us are unable to obtain the material things we desire to have. Far different than “needing” things that were unavailable back in the 50’s and 60’s. The frugality we were forced to practice still greatly impacts me to this day!! I keep reminding Jacque & Chris that I am just being frugal and not trying to be cheap!

  2. Up until the nuclear testing and fall-out sensation by the media, mom would go outside after a fresh snow, scoop up a large bowl of snow bring it in the house and we’d have snow ice cream. I think that stopped around 1959-1960. In the summertime it was kool-aid poured into ice cube trays, frozen, with tooth picks for handles and that was our popsicles.

    No one in southern Iowa in the 50’s & 60’s had much money, but as kids, we didn’t notice because we were all in the same situation.

    Hope it snows soon.

  3. Like Gary said, we weren’t poor….just broke for awhile and didn’t know any different. If we didn’t have anything ready to butcher, we never bought good meat. When a calf or hog was ready to butcher, the freezer was full of good meat. Add the veggies from the garden and you have a feast. When the freezer was empty, we would eat lots of hot dogs. Mom would slice a couple of dogs thin and make hot dog gravy. A couple of hot dogs fed the whole family this way. Again, add the veggies and maybe some mashed potatoes or just bread and voila….a meal. I think we always had the essentials to bake something. I became a “baker” at a young age. Often, after an early supper, I would bake a cake (we’d eat it warm without frosting), cookies or I learned to bake pies at an early age, too, and had dessert before bed. When the grocery store at Powersville, MO, had ice cream on sale, Dad would take us and let us buy several cartons….each carton a different flavor. That was a huge treat.
    Hadn’t thought of these things for a long time. Carla, thanks for the memories.

  4. My favorite was a pat of butter in the middle of a plate with cane syrup poured over it, sopped up with a hot biscuit.

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