Three Meals a Day

Browsing antique shops this week was eye opening and educational. Stacks of old cookbooks, some written during the first quarter of the 20th century, proved very interesting. The concept of three balanced meals a day was being promoted by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. In fact, they published cook books centered on eating well. Foods were from four basic food groups: Milk, Bread-Cereals, Vegetables, and Fruit. Imagine that.

Wisdom of olden days can still ring true today . . . but not always. For instance: Use fats and sweets in moderate amounts, and, as your money permits, add eggs, cheese, meat, or fish. Today we are still encouraged to use fats and sweets in moderation. But notice how things we use [meats, eggs, cheese] often weren’t what the menu was built around. Our three meals a day typically feature either eggs, poultry, meat or fish as the basic start. Is it healthier? Definitely, the fat factor pops up in these foods revealing it’s probably good to limit our portion sizes and select lean cuts of meat.

Three Meals A Day

Potatoes were considered a daily menu item. Other vegetables were to include cabbage, onions, carrots, yellow turnips. Dried beans and lentils fell into this food grouping, too.

We eat potatoes; but not daily. There are many choices today that back then would have been limited to seasonal crops, regional, or simply not available. With commerce what it is today, we are blessed with fabulous supermarkets lined with a vast variety of lettuces, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, and the list seems endless. I think back to growing up in my family of origin. There was a scant variety of fresh vegetables beyond iceberg lettuce, carrots, green onions, and celery. Summer’s bounty added tomatoes and butternut squash to the table. Our mainstay veggies were canned string beans, peas, and corn.

Fruit: The wisdom of old was to use citrus fruit or tomato three or four times a week; another fruit, dried, fresh, or canned, on the other days.

There was a big emphasis on tomatoes as a go-to fruit. That suggests to me that tomatoes were plentiful. People were encouraged to choose tomatoes, fresh or canned, and any other inexpensive fruit. Again, money was a big factor in feeding the family back then and it still is today. Old dietary thoughts: Canned tomatoes may be used in place of oranges, even for the baby; use them three to four times a week. I’m forever thankful that our farm had plenty of blackberry bushes to pick from. Quite the yummy time of year. And so much tastier than tomato and more tomato. Don’t misunderstand me. I like tomatoes but not as my fruit of choice. We might not all agree with these suggestions from long ago. Over time knowledge improves and changes mainstream thinking. What seemed good back then wouldn’t be quite the same in our culture.

Take Advantage of Seasonal Ingredients

Buying foods in season makes sense. There are farmer’s markets with endless choices of field fresh produce today. Plan to buy more than is needed for this week. Buy extra to store up for winter. For instance, blueberries freeze beautifully. All year we can enjoy blueberry muffins when we’ve got them on hand. Apples fresh from the orchard make the best applesauce. Spend the day making a large batch of applesauce. Keep the added refined sugar to a minimum. Apples in season have a good amount of natural sugar. Pick a sweet apple rather than a tart one or mix three or four varieties together. The results will amaze you.

Dietitians, medical doctors, and the common man, all agree three wholesome meals a day is common sense. A balanced diet equals fuel to maintain proper body development and function. Will we make choices that contribute to good health or ones that have the potential to bring on health problems? This is a story as old as time. Food is that important to all of us. Let’s challenge ourselves to eat smart.