top of page

What’s for Dinner? Taking it Old School – 5 Meals from the 1969 Better Homes and Gardens


When I was 20 I was given some new cookbooks and I found that they had great ideas, but often said things like “open a jar and add….”  I wanted to actually cook, not open a jar, where were the recipes!  I remembered the great sweet and sour sauce that my mom made when my brother and I were kids, I could drink that stuff.  I wanted to make things like that. So I asked my mom and she said the recipe had com from the “Old Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook” and I went on a search.  It took a few years, but I finally found the 1969 version at an estate sale and snatched it!  I’ve been cooking ever since.   I gradually moved on to more modern cooking and I’m glad to say that the culture has changed again, moving away from pre-packaged foods to fresh ingredients and there are many wonderful cookbooks out there allowing for great “scrach-made” dishes and there are also wonderful cookbooks for using those jars and adding to it.  I’ve since discovered that there is a place for both.

On a side note, I have 2 moms; my mom and my stepmom.  They are both my mom and have been wonderful about accepting my love for each of them without being jealous, but encouraging my relationships.  What a blessing!  My stepmom mom is the one above, who ironically hates to cook.  Some of my favorite dishes as a kid came from her though and they came from cookbooks that made it simple and fast.  My first mom, on the other hand, loves to cook and is great at it!  So, my other favorite meals come from her.  Her dishes tend to be those down home, southern, comfort foods and I am thankful for them.  Because of her I am a proper southern girl possessing all of the appropriate gear: Cast iron skillet, deviled egg tray, and string of pearls!  Because of their joint efforts I am the woman I am today.  They are very different from one another and I have benefited greatly from this.  I love you moms!

This week’s recipes are all from the 1969 “Better Homes and Garden’s New Cookbook”. Better Homes and Gardens was founded in 1922 by Edwin Meredith, the former Secretary of Agriculture under Woodrow Wilson and continues to help make the lives of women more manageable with great recipes, home ideas, and tips. Check out Better Homes and Garden’s today at  Thank you BHG!

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and strengthen family relationships when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to set the table.

 Note – I am trying to be careful of copyright laws and do not have permission to use the recipes directly from the book, so I have provided links found on the internet which are identical to the original recipes.  It is my understanding of the las that I may use a recipe if it is sufficiently adapted from the original, but that ingredient lists are not copyrighted. However, I didn’t want to make adaptations to the recipes as they were already simple and straightforward recipes.  Thank you.

The Meals:

 Meatless Monday: Speedy Chop Suey

I omitted the pork and added extra vegis to make this a nice vegetarian meal.

chop suey

Time:  25 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  When I was growing up my grandmother made chop suey a lot, but she always made biscuits with it.  I was grown before it occurred to me that the rest of the world didn’t eat biscuits with their chop suey.  Ah well, the rest of the world is missing out.   I think you will find this recipe to be easy to make, however it was a little bland.  I would suggest adding some extra seasonings.  The recipe calls for pork, but I used extra vegetables to make it meatless.  You can serve this with noodles or with rice.

chicken Divan 2

Time: 30 Minutes (plus time to cook chicken. Try boiling, microwaving, or baking ahead of time)

Ease: Simple

Review:  In my second night of cooking through my 1969 Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook I am beginning to see the excitement that must have been held by the original owner of this book.  The dishes are explained in simple terms and really pretty convenient.  Dinner was ready in a flash!  This is a dish my mom made fairly often (first mom) and she called it Chicken Sofa. I’ll wait a minute while you finish snickering.  Another name for a sofa is…you got it, a divan, ergo Chicken Sofa. Ok, Chicken sofa, biscuits with chop suey, yeah I had an interesting childhood! I think you will enjoy this simple dish.

Tip: try adding cheese on top or mixed into the potatoes.

Meat and Macaroni

Time: About an Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: I had to do one 1960’s classic recipe so here it is “Meat Macaroni”. OK, so one thing Better Homes and Garden has improved upon is their titles for recipes. This was an interesting recipe and I couldn’t resist, I mean it has Spam!  That said, it wasn’t bad, as a matter of fact the recipe was pretty good, maybe minus the spam.  I think I’ll make it again and use kielbasa.  Like the other recipes it was amazingly easy.

beans and porkchops

Time: 30

Ease: Simple    

Review: Yummy! I can really get into how quick and easy these dishes are, I wonder if Rachel Ray’s mom used them.  I think if you held all the ingredients in your hands at once to carry to the counter you’d think you were on a her show! Ok, just being silly.  I find myself doing the same thing, but now when I do I think of her.  The one down side to the recipes in this book is lots of canned foods, but that is pretty easy to fix with an easy white sauce and fresh or frozen vegetables.

This was this week’s family favorite!  The flavor on the pork chop was a kind of simple barbecue sauce flavor.  This is one to keep on hand when you just need to throw something together and it would be great picnic food or even company food.

Orange Chicken

Time: 30

Ease: Simple

Review:  There are only a few ingredients in this recipe and the flavor, over all, was very nice.  The only thing I think I would change is the amount of butter.  The end result was a little too greasy and too much butter taste (shhhh, don’t tell Paula Deen I said that, I’d have to turn in my G.R.I.T. card.)  You could probably use half the amount of butter or use olive oil.  The next time I make it I will try just spraying the pan with olive oil and a quick spray to the chicken.  I served it with the awesome Sweet and Sour Sauce my mom used to make.

THE Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe I love this recipe but we always omitted the green peppers and pimiento and often the paprika so that they don’t compete with the flavors of the things I’m going to serve it with.  I encourage you to try it both ways.

I hope you enjoy this step back in time!

We’d love to hear about your experience!

  1. What cookbook did you grow up with?

  2. What is your favorite cookbook now?

Bringing Back Dinner Tip: Make it a Flashback Party

Ask your friends to each bring a vintage recipe from any time period you choose for a Flashback Party.  Everyone dress according to the time period and search for music and trivia from that era and have a blast from the past!

Next week: Picking Meals from Pinterest

Photos by lwburbach please feel free to contact me for permission to use photos.

Follow on Bloglovin
18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page