Appetisers (premade pastry shells filled with what looks like some sort of processed cheese-like product, such as Velveeta or Cheez Whiz)
Mashed potatoes (instant, made from a boxed mixture)
Green beans (from a can)
Dinner rolls (ready-made dough, just needs to be placed in oven)
Lime Jello-O (from a box) with Cool Whip imitation cream (from a can) – quick setting due to being made in individual glasses rather than a bowl
Rory’s dinner is clever because most of the ingredients are processed, with each of the food items being available during The Donna Reed Show era of 1958 to 1966. From a practical point of view, it means that Rory, who can’t cook, didn’t have to do a lot of actual food preparation – frying the steak was the only part that required any real kitchen skill, and is pretty basic.
On a deeper level, it is showing the artificiality of the era, and the “fakeness” of being a perfect 1950s/1960s housewife. Obviously any woman who, like Donna Stone, has to provide extraordinary amounts of food, as well as keeping the house spotless, doing the laundry, child-raising, volunteering, and looking immaculate at the same time has to rely on processed and convenience food to save time. It’s unlikely Dean picks up on this sly comment, however.
Unlike the dress, the ingredients for the dinner are easily explained – Babette told Rory there was tons of food in the house, and implied that she could help herself.