When I was a child in the 1950s, my mom cooked dinner when she came home. Both mom and dad worked. I was a latchkey kid. My dad didn’t cook, but loved to BBQ. That was his realm. He took an old kitchen stove and set it in concrete and boulders in our backyard for weekend cookouts. But during the week it was different. Mom did the cooking . . . no matter how tired she was. We had a breakfast nook in the kitchen and a dining room with a black walnut dining room table that we rarely . . . and I mean rarely sat down at to eat.
. . . Swanson introduced America to its “TV dinner” . . . at a time when the concept was guaranteed to be lucrative: As millions of white women entered the workforce in the early 1950s, Mom was no longer always at home to cook elaborate meals—but now the question of what to eat for dinner had a prepared answer. Some men wrote angry letters to the Swanson company complaining about the loss of home-cooked meals. For many families, though, TV dinners were just the ticket. Pop them in the oven, and 25 minutes later, you could have a full supper while enjoying the new national pastime: television. – smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/brief-history-tv-dinner-180976039/
In 1950 only 9% of homes had TVs, by 1955 it was 64% and by 1960 it was 87%.
Frozen TV Dinners and pot pies became a staple in our home. The TV dinners cooked in about 25 minutes. I remember dining on folding TV trays and eating in the living room while watching old Boston Blackie or Charlie Chan mysteries on our nine inch Bendix console model TV. We were the first home on the block to have TV and probably the first family to dine on TV dinners as well.
TV Dinners usually had a main course: sliced roast beef and gravy, sliced turkey with dressing and gravy, or Salisbury steak and gravy. There were two vegetables: usual green peas, and corn or carrots. There were other exotic entrées as well, but we stuck to the basics. Chicken Pot Pie with toast was a nice alternative.
Today, the frozen food selections in our grocery stores offer a multitude of choices. From frozen fish to dishes from China and Southeast Asia, you can have soups and appetizers to full dinners and desserts.
I don’t recall having a frozen dinner lately, but occasionally I’ll buy us some pot pies. I love home baked pies and casseroles, but sometimes Peg and I are just two busy to bother. We just dine at our little breakfast nook and relax and talk about the past, the present and the future as we finish work for the day.