Friday Vegan Menu: A 1940s-style Dinner

The 1940s were a tumultuous time for many countries. There was war, there was rationing, and for the average person, feasts became a modest affair. Not only were meatless meals common (and necessary) during this time, even ingredients like eggs and sugar were hard to come by.

I decided to make a decade-themed vegan menu because I had a few recipes stowed away that reminded me of the olden days. Of course, these aren’t true old-style recipes, they’re modern versions with modern ingredients, but I kept a frugal eye designing this, because sometimes you want to feast on a budget!

And this really is a feast – most of these recipes yield quite a bit of food, so invite some people over, or just enjoy the leftovers!


Drink: Manhattan

Salad: Wedge of iceburg lettuce with French dressing

Side: Mashed potatoes

Side: Creamed spinach

Entrée: Classic chickpea meatloaf

Dessert: Apple crisp

Manhattan cocktail

This menu’s first recipe is from Wikipedia, and it’s about as simple as it gets in the cocktail world. Manhattans are potent but light and delicious, and only require a few ingredients (vermouth, whisky, bitters).

Wedge of iceburg lettuce with French dressing

This is life’s most basic salad. Cutting a wedge of iceburg takes literally 3 seconds, and homemade French dressing is almost as simple. For the dressing, we’ve got one from Little Dairy on the Prairie – this is the classic, American-style French dressing that most of us have known over the years. This recipe makes a large batch, but leftover salad dressing is never a problem.

Creamed Spinach

This recipe comes from myself and my old food blog. This is a recipe I truly love and don’t make enough. Sure it’s not super healthy with all the butter and cheese (of which I use vegan versions), but if you’re skeptical of spinach being able to taste like the best, most decadent comfort food ever, give this a whirl.

Frugal note: Using cheese bumps up the price of this side dish – to keep things truly affordable, saute some spinach in butter with salt and a little squeeze of lemon.

Classic chickpea meatloaf

This entree is by Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg, and you can find the recipe here. This meatloaf recipe is amazing because it’s so simple – throw things in a food processor, then the pan, then the oven. I’ve seen complicated vegetarian meatloaf recipes and thankfully this is not one of them.

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is a little laborious to make from scratch the same night as all the other stuff, so I would make this a day in advance, and warm it in the oven once dinner is served. This beautiful recipe is by Lauren at Tastes Better From Scratch. Feel free to switch up the fruit to what you might have available – apples and pears are a good choice for November.

Planning and timeline

If your spinach is frozen, make sure to defrost it right away!

As mentioned above, it’d be best if the dessert was prepped a day in advance, to be warmed in the oven once dinner is served.

To efficiently create this menu will take over an hour – mainly because prepping the meatloaf and preheating the oven will take 10-15 minutes, then it’s got an hour in the oven. To simplify, you could always prep the meatloaf filling in the morning, so you can just pop it in the oven in the evening.

Once the loaf is in the oven, whip up the dressing so it can sit in the fridge and develop flavor while everything else cooks.

Prep the mashed potatoes by chopping them up and bringing a pot of water to a boil. They should be cooked and drained by the last 5-10 minutes of oven time.

Start the creamed spinach by doing the sauteeing, which takes about 10 minutes. Then, pop it in the oven during the last 15 minutes of the loaf’s cooking time so they’re done together.

To serve, cut iceberg wedges to your preferred size, place on a plate and dress with the French Dressing.

Happy Friday, friends!


  • flickingthevs

    You manage to make even the dreariest decade of food look delicious. And, oddly, give me a craving for creamed spinach!

    • Allysia K

      Is wanting creamed spinach odd? Ha ha, I love the stuff. But I also love fruitcake and other things people don’t like!