Gransnet forums


Food then and now

(115 Posts)
Antonia Mon 09-Aug-21 10:54:54

When I was a child, food was definitely less varied. We ate sausages, shepherd's pie, basic salad with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, with a tin of John West salmon. The only dressing was salad cream.
Friday was always fish and chips, and we ate lots of Vesta meals - I remember their chicken curry very well. An actual chicken was a treat, reserved for Christmas, unless you were 'posh' like one of our neighbours, and had a turkey.

Vegetables were always potatoes (no pasta back then), cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and peas.

Among the desserts were rice pudding, lemon meringue pie made from a packet and jam sponge with Birds custard.

We have so much choice today and there is so much emphasis on 'healthy eating' that didn't exist when I was young. The only thing I remember is 'eat up your cabbage, it's good for you.' Plus the annoying 'eat it up - think of the poor starving children in Africa.' I always wanted, but never dared, to point out that whether I ate it or not, it wouldn't affect the starving children anywhere.

I used to spend at least some of my pocket money on 'pick n' mix' from Woolworths, and I'm sure children used to eat far more sweets than they do today. Some of my favourites were Spangles, Rowntrees fruit pastels, wagon wheels, coconut mushrooms, love hearts and jelly babies.

Other snacks were biscuits and crisps. They were plain, and came with the tiny blue twists of salt that you shook over them. I vaguely remember cheese n' onion flavour being a real novelty.

Amazingly, I wasn't overweight in those days. I seem to eat far less today and yet I still can't shift the pounds.grin

What are your memories of food in the past?

Antonia Mon 09-Aug-21 10:57:01

Fruit pastilles...

JaneJudge Mon 09-Aug-21 10:59:43

Lots of 'on toast' dinners too, things from tins on toast

Dottygran59 Mon 09-Aug-21 11:04:01

Fantastic thread - jelly and carnation with condensed milk - jelly took forever to set as we had no fridge in those days! Egg and chips nearly every night for tea and if we had no eggs we had chips in newspaper and sat on the front step and ate them and pretended it was a treat from the chippy.

Eight in our family and we were all very slender

Blondiescot Mon 09-Aug-21 11:05:30

That all sounds very familiar to me too. We ate a lot of salad like that - but usually with ham instead of salmon - especially during Wimbledon when my mum was too busy watching the tennis to cook. She also used to make the lemon meringue pie from a packet - it had a little 'bubble' of lemon for the filling, if I remember rightly. Spaghetti came out of a tin, and Vesta meals were considered very 'exotic'.
Cereal was really either just cornflakes or weetabix, although being Scottish, we usually had porridge instead. I was going to say that I don't really remember a lot of yogurt in the shops either, but I do remember Ski yogurts appearing at some stage.
Everything was made from scratch in our house and my dad was a very keen gardener, so almost all our veg and a lot of fruit came from the garden. Nothing went to waste.

nanna8 Mon 09-Aug-21 11:10:46

Overcooked cabbage , mashed potatoes, corned beef and Irish stew from neck of mutton. Hardly any flavour in the stew, just carrots and onions and maybe a couple of oxo cubes. Later on we had Worcester sauce as well. Limp lettuce with the odd caterpillar thrown in. Have to say my mum’s puddings were nice,though. Eve’s pudding with apples and a nice cake top, lemon meringue pie, rice puddings with rose hip syrup in the middle etc.

GillT57 Mon 09-Aug-21 11:16:07

I remember the lemon meringue pie made from a kit! I still make the creme caramel (Greens) from a kit occasionally! The exotic ski yoghurts in those strange shaped cartons; I made a Dalek from one using the round bit from an egg carton, tin foil, and a cocktail stick.

B9exchange Mon 09-Aug-21 11:25:38

Steak and kidney pie, home made, I have never been able to reproduce my mother's pies. Roast beef or chicken on Sundays, with left overs used up in cottage pie or cold on Monday. Fish fingers for a cheap meal. DH was horrified on one occasion when we were given fish fingers and her dog was given specially cooked breast of chicken! Lamb chops in a hot pot, pork chops with apple sauce and gravy. We never had chips, but new potatoes, baked potatoes, roast potatoes or mashed with everything. Pasta was never seen, rice only occasionally with a chicken fricassee. Lots of fruit puddings, baked apples, gooseberry pie in season. Raspberries and strawberries were a very rare treat, only available for a few weeks a year, but they tasted much better somehow.

We never had custard, everything served plain or with cream. My mother used to make her own ice creams once we had a freezer bit in the fridge, lemon and sherry and rum and raisin being her specialities, with sometimes freezing problems due to the amount of alcohol!

I hardly dare mention that when living with my grandmother, the bread would arrive daily from Mr Stephenson in the little green Harrods van, he also brought hot cross buns and birthday cakes!

Redhead56 Mon 09-Aug-21 11:30:56

What a nice thread this is memories of food. We never got chippy food like fish and chips mum couldn’t afford it. Her chips were everything but nice made with lard.
We got a lot of Scouse sometimes it was blind without meat. We had lamb neck soup oxtail soup and roasted hearts. Every meal was with over cooked cabbage as my dad grew veg. I inherited that from my dad I love my veg patch.
We loved frozen rissoles and cod bites and faggots and we used to get beef curry in a tin. One end was rice the other the curry. Fray Bentos pies were a favourite the one with mutton and carrots. Vesta meals were liked by all of us and tinned tomato rice soup was a lunch time must have for me.
We picked fruit in the fields where we lived right where I live now. On Saturday my mum and dad would fill the kitchen table with pies and crumbles with the fruit. Something I still do forage everywhere and anywhere I can.
I loved winter candy and anything with aniseed in and sherbet sweets no wonder my teeth were bad.

May7 Mon 09-Aug-21 11:30:59

We ate a lot of Offal - Tripe, oxtail, liver, hearts, kidney, and boiled bacon ribs. All cheap meals that cost a fortune these days

Dottygran59 Mon 09-Aug-21 11:32:38

Oh yes, for Monday tea we had fried left over mash and cabbage and carrot with an oxo cube sprinkled in on white bread and butter - delish

Eviebeanz Mon 09-Aug-21 11:37:34

I remember toast and dripping after the roast on Sunday
Or sometimes cockles and winkles from the stall outside the pub with bread and butter

Auntieflo Mon 09-Aug-21 11:37:56

Oh I remember mum's meat pies, made with a tin of John West? stewed steak. Her pastry was always good, and we had it with very dark greens and mash. I think it was my favourite meal.
Loved bubble and squeak with cold meat and pickles on Mondays.
Our puddings always came with custard. Treacle(golden syrup) suet pud, or spotted dick.
I still love custard with puddings, and my daughter buys a carton when we go there for C.......s dinner. It's not the same without custard.
I can never remember going hungry, although money was tight at times.

Blossoming Mon 09-Aug-21 11:39:59

We wouldn’t have been able to avoid Vesta meals for our large family grin

I remember lots of homemade soup, favourites being leek and potato or pea and ham. We also ate a lot of fruit and vegetables as my father was a greengrocer. Bacon butties were a Sunday morning treat. Sunday roast followed by Monday stew.

rafichagran Mon 09-Aug-21 11:47:37

Antonia that was what we ate exactly, bought back memories, along with Angel Delight, which I hated.

Nannagarra Mon 09-Aug-21 11:54:45

I had virtually the same diet as you Antonia. We had a predictable pattern of meals: if it was Tuesday I knew what we’d be eating. I supposed overall it led to a balanced diet but Fridays held considerable dread for me as I don’t like white fish. Fish fingers (?) weren’t an option.
Beef dripping spread on toast is now a distant memory of deliciousness. Ooh, the thought of it!
Lucky bags, jubblies, and dandelion and burdock were my treats.

recklessgran Mon 09-Aug-21 11:55:22

Fabulous thread - thank you!
Childhood dinners I remember.
Cadburys smash. My mother made a cottage pie with this on top of a tin of mince and gravy for us 4 children to have for dinner. It was followed by instant whip.
We always had roast lamb on Sundays as it was cheaper than beef or chicken which I can't remember ever having. Always with roast potatoes and cabbage. We never had more than one vegetable at a meal apart from potatoes that were served at every dinner. We never had rice or pasta - in fact I didn't know there was any such thing!
Stew and dumplings followed by rice pudding. We weren't allowed jam on the rice - that was reserved for scraping thinly on bread only!
Steamed steak and mushroom pudding with boiled potatoes and cabbage.
Birdseye fish fingers, chips and tinned peas.
Sausages - sometimes with mash and sometimes with chips and beans.
Sunday tea was half a slice of ham 2 slices of tomato, cucumber and beetroot, 3 crisps [a whole packet had to do all of us] and half a slice of bread and butter. This was followed by tinned peaches and evaporated milk.
Other teas would be bread and jam or an apple with a spoonful of sugar to dip it in served on a side plate with half a slice of B&B.
Sometimes we had swiss roll - that was about as exotic as it ever got!

luluaugust Mon 09-Aug-21 12:04:56

No Vesta meals at our house but certainly basic salads, sausages, a steak pie, a roast, fish at least once a week and my dad called tinned peaches sunshine fruit. Puddings were mostly pies of all kinds and later maybe a crumble. No rice other than in rice pudding and no spaghetti at all unless it was a tin of Heinz. I had one bar of chocolate to last all week. I suppose in a way I still cook all the above plus the rice and pasta perhaps that accounts for my extra weight?

b1zzle Mon 09-Aug-21 12:09:09

Rissoles! (Ugh!)

JaneJudge Mon 09-Aug-21 12:13:12

what were rissoles? My grandma used to make them and they were full of gristle

I still cook mr brains faggots blush everyone loves them

DanniRae Mon 09-Aug-21 12:15:39

We had most of the above and I loved it all. Sunday tea would be lettuce, celery, tomatoes and Dairylea cheese triangles. If it was pilchards in tomato sauce I had to have mine in a different room because I detested it.
My mum's roast beef dinners were the best I have ever had - her yorkshire puddings were divine.
When I came home to lunch sometimes she would do tinned tomato soup with a boiled potato in it - actually nicer than it sounds.
In my memory we always had a pudding and I used to complain like mad if it was stewed apples as it was 'boring'

JaneJudge Mon 09-Aug-21 12:17:56

I still do this but sliced cucumber and onion in malt vinegar in a glass dish with the Sunday tea bits

JackyB Mon 09-Aug-21 12:17:56

My mother was a very good cook and managed to make repetition even seem interesting. I don't remember her ever referring to a recipe.

We had a huge garden and always had fresh vegetables. She would bottle tomatoes - there were usually about 40 kilner jars on the shelves by the end of the summer.

She turned out wonderful meals whether at home, on a boat or in a tent.

We did have the odd Vesta ready meal or Fray Bentos pie, but generally she was wary of anything exotic and cooked basic British cuisine from scratch.

Redhead56 Mon 09-Aug-21 12:19:00

My mum made tapioca and rice pudding in a big bowl in the oven until a thick crust was formed I still make it exactly the same.

Ladyleftfieldlover Mon 09-Aug-21 12:19:03

My mother was a very good cook, and in fact had trained as a baker before becoming a nurse when I was a teenager. I don't remember any ready meals but bought myself Vesta paella and chicken supreme when I was in 6th form! Mum's roasts were the best and my children couldn't understand why I couldn't cook vegetables like grandma. Her cakes were legendary and I still remember the sponge with cream and jam that was sooo light. When more 'international' foods started to appear, she made the best spag bol with incredibly long spaghetti from those dark blue packets. If we were hungry between meals we either had a slice of bread and butter or fruit. My grandparents had an orchard with apples, pears and plums so there was no shortage of fresh fruit. They also had a vegetable garden, as did my father. In fact I don't remember mum buying fruit or veg, or eggs for that matter. We kept chickens and when they stopped laying dad would dispatch them and mum would cook them. Sweets were rare unless we bought them out of our pocket money. Toffee wrecked my teeth! So, we ate three good home-cooked meals a day, and stayed slim and healthy. I only knew one overweight child at school and he had a thyroid problem.