Advice and recipes for invalid and convalescent cookery in Australian cookbooks 1860–1950

Peter Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: The aims of the present study were to assess the prevalence of recipes about invalid cookery in Australian cookbooks published from 1860 to 1950; describe the dishes regarded as suitable for invalids and summarise the advice about how best to feed invalids or convalescents in the home. Methods: Using published bibliographies, the Trove database, and the author's private collection, all available cookbooks published in Australia up to 1950 were reviewed and all recipes and advice about feeding invalids were recorded. Results: Eight hundred and eighty-nine book titles were examined and 25% contained some recipes specifically designed for people who were sick or convalescing. One thousand, four hundred and seventy-one different recipes were recorded with more than half for beverages, desserts and soups. The most common recipes were for beef tea, barley water, gruel and meat broths. Advice about feeding focused on the food requirements of invalids, safe and appealing meal service, cooking methods and suitable food choices. The recipes and advice did not appear to change substantially over the nine decades and most did not appear to be based on any clear scientific evidence. Conclusions: Many of the general principles of invalid cookery in these books are similar to the requirements of the light diet, commonly used in Australian hospitals up until the 1980s. Further research into the source and rationale for the advice in these books would be worthwhile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


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