A Shilling a Day on Food

Found--a cutting of an interesting article from the mid 1920s by Walter M. Gallichan, journalist, novelist and writer on health, sex education and fishing. Undated but probably from the Daily Mail (mention of Woodman Burbidge on the rear of the press-cutting puts in the 1920s when he was chairman of Harrods.) The purchasing power of a shilling (5p) then is about £2.50 now, still a fairly low sum for a day's food.

A Shilling's worth. Full day's Food - by Walter M. Gallichan.

A shilling spent with discrimination will purchase a substantial and savoury meal of non rationed foods. The foods that offer the highest nutritive and force-giving value are still fairly cheap. A shilling may be wasted upon food of an expensive kind containing only a minimum of nutriment. For example, a shilling's worth of jelly may be purchased under the delusion that gelatine is an excellent food, possessing considerable nutritive value. As a matter of fact, the calf's foot jelly commerce and the packet 'jelly squares', thought easily digested and pleasant to the palate, are practically worthless for repairing the waste of the body and giving energy.

A shilling's worth of cheese contains far more nourishment than a piece of beef at the same price. The costly cheeses are not the richest in nutritive matter. A shilling spent on 'Canadian Cheddar' yields more food than a shilling spent on Gorgonzola.

The edible internal organs of bullocks and sheep, unfortunately described as 'offal' are very valuable food, and enter largely into the preparation of 'delicacies for the table'. Heart is a good substitute for the expensive rump steak. Liver is one of the principle ingredients of that luscious Scottish dish haggis. Ox-tongue contains a high percentage of fat. Sweetbreads and kidneys have about the same food value as liver. Brains do not contain much nutriment. All of these articles of food are valuable and a shilling spent upon them is economically spent. Most of the sweetbreads, for one, are easily digested and can be eaten by delicate persons. Innumerably tasty dishes can be made can be made with one shilling's worth of 'offal' by the addition of rice, curry powder and chopped vegetables.

Sufficient food for one person for a day can be bought for a shilling, even at present prices. A shilling day, once or twice a week, need not involve a Spartan self-denial if the most is spent judiciously. The breakfast menu may be a large soup-plate of oatmeal porridge, two slices of toast with a little margarine, and a cup of cocoa, half milk and half water. For luncheon a pint of packet soup, costing two pence, a pound of potatoes, and an apple or orange. The last meal may include a lease-pudding, boiled in a cloth, with a lump of margarine added, bread and syrup, and a pint of cocoa with a dash of milk. Such a dietary, on occasional days, costs no more than a shilling, and is sufficiently nourishing for all persons engaged in light manual work or sedentary occupation.

A shilling spent on fried peas, beans, rices, or maize provides material for several dishes. If any fatty food can be obtained, such as dripping, oil, or suet, a perfectly nourishing meal can be made with one of the pulses as the chief part. It is possible to live healthily for a considerable time upon beans and fat. But a full diet of beans and peas cannot be recommend to persons of weak digestion.

Maize is quite as nourishing as wheat, and we are beginning to recognise its high food value. The belief that maize is indigestible is quite erroneous. It is more digestible than white wheat flour. Cornflour, often given to invalids, is simply a preparation of maize. All kinds of dishes, from porridge to rissoles and fritters can be prepared form maize-meal or flaked maize. This is probably the most economical food that can be obtained at present. Maize is cheap, extremely nourishing, and easily absorbed by the body. It is a far more valuable food than rice. Maize builds up body tissue and provides warmth. Its excellence as a food should be known to every housewife who has to study rigid economy and wishes to obtain the best value in food for the cost of a shilling.

One thought on “A Shilling a Day on Food

  1. Shelley

    Rationing? The only time in the 1920s it was discussed was 1925 around the time of the General Strike. That could be your date. Keep it up.S


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