1950s Food in Australia

3 Nov 2010

First , thank you all for your wise words and kind advice.
I know many of you have already experienced what I am going through and I value your willingness to share and to care for me and my family. 
Thank you.
Now here is a post that I was going to write last week but life stepped in and took me down another path.

Some time ago I copied these notes out from a book I found at the library. 
I think it was aimed at school children and was part of a series taking them through various aspects of each decade of the 20th century.
Unfortunately I didn't keep a note of the book's title and I don't remember how closely I copied the words so my apologies to the author. 
Also as I wasn't born until 1959 I can't say how accurate it is but it seems quite similar to how my family ate in the 1960s.
Of course this is for an Anglo Saxon family, other nationalities would have different food memories from  1950s Australia.

1950s Food in Australia

Dinners usually 2 or 3 courses.

In Winter: 

start with soup such as vegetable soup with barley or pea soup with bacon bones.

                Main course - grilled sausages or lamb chops with vegetables, or stew with potatoes or corned beef with white sauce and carrots.

                Desserts - rice or macaroni custard puddings served with stewed fruit, cake like puddings served with custard or golden syrup dumplings.

In Summer:

Main course - salad with hot or cold meats and some vegetables

         Dessert -  fruit salad and ice cream or trifle or jelly.

Bread and butter on the table for every meal.

On weekends hot dinner was eaten in the middle of the day.

Sunday dinner was usually roast lamb and vegies and then cold meat and salad for the evening meal.

Breakfast was usually porridge or cereals such as weeties, corn flakes or rice bubbles, and toast with butter and jam or marmalade etc.
Some people ate a cooked breakfast of eggs and bacon or omelettes.

Afternoon tea was quite formal. Sponge cakes, lamingtons, scones and jam and cream were eaten.

Take away - fish and chips or  Chinese food.

I have no notes about lunches but I imagine school lunches and work lunches were sandwiches, a piece of cake or biscuits and a piece of fruit.
Milk was supplied at school in the 1960s but I am not sure about the 1950s.

How does this compare to your 1950s childhood?

How does this compare to how you eat now?

Do you think in general we eat a more or less healthy diet now?

11 Responses to “1950s Food in Australia”

  1. We probably eat less healthy and a lot more food. :)

  2. I'd say this was more or less ditto for what we ate in 50s Britain although I notice baked beans on toast is not included (always a list toper over here and still is!) This is the kind of diet hubby and I were brought up on and its pretty much the stuff we eat now. Give him spud, meat and two veg and he's a happy man. Very few people were overweight back then and it wasn't anything to do with food being too expensive or in short supply. Our government is recommending that people return to this type of diet but it won't happen. 'Buy one get one free' or 'buy two for the price of one' are supermarket offers that drive me crazy. It's not the healthy stuff on offer just the 'must have more' stuff like chocolate, cakes and biscuits. All very tempting but I'd blow up like balloon if I bought it all. I love the pics in your post, especially the man up the ladder wearing collar and tie and a trilby hat....absolutely typical of Brits also. Eli x

  3. Hey Jenny, I hope you are feeling better today and benefitted from a little 'you' time. It sounds like things are not the easiest right now, I'm thinking of you and sending some love across the airwaves. 1950's food reminds me of my Nan's house, and the smell of lamb chops! I can remember too, the sound of the horse & cart dropping off the milk in the early morning. That would have been in the late 60's though. Lovely post, take care xo

  4. I think many Australians ate like that right up until the 1970s. Some still do, and some are turning back to that wonderful, thrifty way of eating.



  5. This brought back good memories, Jenny. It was exactly what my mum served up. We did have little bottles of milk at school in the 50s. I also remember drinking straws full of chocolate and strawberry that the lucky kids had to drink their milk.

    We still eat like this, although we've added asian meals and don't have meat at every evening meal. I can still remember taking the saucepan to the chinese takeaway before we knew about plastic containers.

  6. I too tend to like this style of eating. It seems more satisfying in general. Tracy :-)

  7. Was away from the computer and just caught up on your blog. I hope your a little caught up on the recentering of your days. Don't feel guilty, it's a normal reaction to your life being turned upside down.
    As for childhood in the 50s, mine was filled with wonderful memories of my mom in the kitchen. Even though she was not a stay at home mom, and worked full time. She had no choice, and feed us wonderful meals. I grew up in a temperate climat, so summer and winter were not to much different.
    Cold or hot cereal for breakfast, sometimes pancakes or fried mush even during the week.
    Lunch was usually sandwiches fruit and of course the milk the school supplied when we brought our milk money :). Dinners were sometime a vegitarian meal, or a simple with a meat and a veggie with salad always.
    Weekend were more special, Roasts, cookouts with chicken or steak. Potatoes and gravy and two or three kinds of Veggies. Tacos were a family favorite we all got to help chop, grate and sort the pass alongs. While mom made the meat and the tortilla shells. We had lots of grains and fresh veggies in our meals. Vegitarian for the most part by choice even way back in 1955. I grew up in the late 50s and early 60s in the United States. No tea Sigh:(. When I was old enough to read I wanted to have tea in the worst way.

  8. I was born at the beginning of the 70's and that menu describes precisely the way my family ate. Of course, your menu didn't indicate the boiled-to-death vegetables that went with the sausages or chops! I also remember very plain food, as a child. No spices or herbs or other condiments. No dressings on a salad.

    I must confess, that while we tend to eat hot food in cooler months and cold or bbq'd meat and salads in summer that is where the similarities end for me. My tastes are more adventurous than my mother's cooking ever was and perhaps more influenced by the many and varied food cultures that have found their way to Australia. We enjoy a wide variety of all kinds of things that include Asian, Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean as well as specific authors and cooks like Maggie Beer, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver.

  9. Yes, free milk was supplied at schools in the 1950s, and how I loathed drinking it in summer time. By the time play-time came, it was lukewarm, and sometimes worse:( There was no escaping it, not with a gaggle of grim-faced nuns standing guard to see that every child got their ration!! It mattered not if you chundered it all up; the point was, that you could NOT waste it! How does my diet compare now with my childhood food? Well, after 30 years of gorging and experimenting on the plethora of foods once considered exotic, and, as a result, stacking on a load of weight, I have reverted to my childhood foods, using the Australian Women's Weekly Cookery in Colour (1960) as my guide. In a month, I have lost 6 kilos, and without any violent exercise, or slogging on the treadmill! Even better, Old Oz ( as opposed to Mod Oz) is cheaper and easier to prepare, and just as nutritious. I have not once felt hungry or deprived, and have no desire whatsoever to snack between meals.

    1. That's so interesting. I have the Women's Weekly New Cookbook from the 1970s, I wonder how it compares

  10. Hi there Jenny, I loved this post. As we are trying to cut the cost of living, I had just googled 'dinner in the 1950s Australia' and up you popped!!! My thought process tonight as I cook dinner is that surely meat and three/four veg has got to be cheaper. I guess in the 50's with most homes only have one income, the women made do with what they had. Im a 70s model and often feel I was born in the wrong decade.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.