Minimal Effort Cooking

Jiffy Cooking
Better Homes and Gardens
Meredith Corporation

Once again, we are featuring another cookbook from yesteryear. Can you open a can? Can you stir? Do you just want to keep people fed and everyone to shut up about the damn dinner? This book is for you. My mom was that cook and so was her mom. I also carried on the tradition when I was making meals for my family. Is it edible? Probably. Are people going to call you a good cook or ask for the recipe? Not at all.

We have some seriously good “church potluck” type recipes that require ground beef and a can of soup. Standard favorites from the 60s are here: Jello, instant mashed potatoes, mayonaise, canned tuna, noodles, and hot dogs. I am sure your mouth is watering from all the delicious options!



baked bean pie

cranberry star mold

Boston beanwich

Easy Perfection Salad

Saucy corned beef burgers



  1. My mom, too. However, my grandmother was one of those cook from scratch, iron the sheets types… Butter at Grandma’s was exciting – on real mashed potatoes.

    1. I had a similar time growing up! My mother worked and so used a lot of the convenience foods of the time — but never this bad, fortunately. We did have margarine and not butter — my awakening came at a hotel coffee shop with my father when I was probably about 8. I had pancakes with butter and syrup — I couldn’t at first figure out what tasted so wonderful: I thought it was the syrup at first. But it turned out it was the butter! I believe my grandparents used the real basics and cooked from scratch, but my grandmother was such a terrible cook it didn’t matter much. As a child I didn’t like fresh vegetables, such as my grandfather grew in the back yard. Later, when he retired and took over the cooking (yay!) I discovered that the reason they were not as good as the frozen ones at home was that my grandmother had always boiled them till they were brown. And she did make molded jello salads LOL — however, often they were the high point of the meal. Won’t go into what she did to meat…

      1. As a child, I always wondered why people pretended Thanksgiving was a feast with wonderful food. Maybe some of those people had a grandma who did not simply cook every dish, meat and vegetables alike, to a uniform grey mush with no seasoning. Mind you, I’d still rather have Chinese take out than a roast turkey any day, but it didn’t have to be the ordeal it always was.

  2. This style of cooking would have been a step up for my mom. I learned how to cook myself in self defense. I knew how much my father loved my mother when he went out of his way to praise her cooking. (They did love each other very much and were good role models.)

    1. My thoughts exactly. The rest of the stuff here isn’t exactly mouth-watering, but sauerkraut and onions encased in lemon jello, then doused with horseradish, has got to be one of the worst food-related ideas I’ve ever heard.

  3. What is that in the middle of the last picture? It looks like big pickles on sticks sticking out of something purple. Please tell me that’s just the color of the container and they’re being served on ice (kind of weird) as opposed to being embedded in grape Jello (horrifying) or worse. What more could you want at a teen-age party?

    Sometimes I wish I’d learned how to cook passably. Instead, I learned how to cook well and now every meal’s a production whether there’s a reason for it to be or not. If only I knew how to turn it off without the little voice in the back of my head shouting at me for doing everything wrong.

    1. Maybe it’s your screen. I don’t see anything purple, not even the container. They’re stuck halfway down into crushed ice.

  4. Of COURSE there is gelatin. One look at the title and the publication date, and we just knew there would be.

  5. That last picture just confuses the hell out of me. Pickles on a stick? Ice cream cones? A dish drainer full of toasted bagels? And are those canned tamales sliced in half on those “sandwiches” at the bottom? I do not want to know what the theme of this buffet is … or what is in the squash shaped tureen.

    1. Not a dish drainer. A record holder. And how would one eat that sandwich without it winding up on the floor or the front of your dress?!

  6. I was a fortunate child! I was 10 when this book came out, but my mother never fixed meals like these.

  7. The “Baked Bean Pie” sounds disgusting. Not least because I am eating baked beans as I type.

  8. Sauerkraut and pimento gelatin? SAUERKRAUT AND PIMENTO GELATIN? What was wrong with people in those days?

    1. For a brief time, vegetable flavored Jell-o existed. Perhaps the recipe was designed with one of those in mind, and they decided to go with it anyway after the product was discontinued?

    2. It was the 60s. People were smoking a lot of pot. Expect many recipes like this to soon be coming from Colorado. When you’ve got the munchies even Jell-O with liverwurst sounds good.

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