The Rations in my cupboard (part 1)

rationbookSo I have been asked exactly what I can and can’t eat on 1940’s wartime rationing..

When rationing was introduced in England on January 8, 1940 (incidentally that is my birthday…the January 8 bit NOT the 1940!!) it was to ensure that food was distributed fairly and that the dwindling food supplies lasted. However, rationing did vary slightly month to month depending on the availability of foods increasing when it was plentiful and decreasing when it was in short supply..

Here is the weekly ration allowance for one adult in the 1940’s…

Weekly ration for 1 adult

  • Bacon & Ham 4 oz
  • Meat to the value of 1 shilling and sixpence (around about 1/2 lb minced beef)
  • Butter 2 oz
  • Cheese 2 oz
  • Margarine 4 oz
  • Cooking fat 4 oz
  • Milk 3 pints
  • Sugar 8 oz
  • Preserves 1 lb every 2 months
  • Tea 2 oz
  • Eggs 1 fresh egg per week
  • Sweets/Candy 12 oz every 4 weeks

In addition to this a points system was put in place which limited your purchase of tinned or imported goods. 16 points were available in your ration book for every 4 weeks and that 16 points would enable you to purchase for instance, 1 can of tinned fish or 2lbs of dried fruit or 8 lbs of split peas.

Does this sound a lot or little to you? When you try and produce all your own food from scratch using the above ingredients and realize just how precious or even how difficult it was at times to obtain other necessary food stuffs like flour, oats etc it really makes you appreciate how difficult and how IMPORTANT the role was of the 1940’s housewife to feed her family and keep them healthy. It was for sure a long and hard job..

So why the heck am I putting myself through this silliness? Because I have to know what it was really like, because I believe that we can learn a lot environmentally from this period of time, because I’m fat and because one day I’d like to get glammed up in 1940’s style just for the hell of it…..!


Coming in part 2– veggies

9 thoughts on “The Rations in my cupboard (part 1)

  1. This is beginning to remind me of the local food movement that is happening now. Some people are experimenting with eating within a restricted mile radius. One couple who come to mind are the Canadian couple who wrote the book Plenty about their adventure eating food that only came from within 100 miles of where they live in Vancouver. They had to eat very low on the food chain until they could figure out where to acquire most of the things they needed. Most people doing a local diet have a hard time finding grain and meat.

    So… one egg per week. Do you think some of these folks were able to acquire a live chicken or two? If you have eggs, you don’t need nearly as much meat for your protein. I don’t see any veggies on the list, I guess people were expected to grow their own??

    I’m still going to hassle you about the margarine, lol! I see cooking fat on the list. Was this lard or vegetable oil. If it is oil, you could ration yourself a healthy liquid oil to use first, next use the butter and drippings and then use becel as a last resort. Olive oil and flaxseed oils are great on bread and can be used in baking (come visit my blog to see how I use oil in many baked goods and pancakes)

  2. Hehhe- veggies- yes. Look out for rationing part 2 tonight. Veggies were a HUGE part of the 1940’s diet.

    Becel- that is one change I have made from the 1940’s ration allowance that isn’t authentic. I have replaced all the saturated flats (such as butter, margarine and lard (cooking fat) with this HEALTHY margarine..

    Becel has NO trans fats, is a great source of Omega 3, made from mostly sunflower and canola oil and is a good margarine that helps lower cholestral..

    So I use this, it’s much healthier and only the dripping when that runs out..

    I will check out your blog!!! (please let me know what the URL is!!)


    C xx

  3. I think since we’re both on WordPress you can get there by clicking on my name in your comments section but in case you can’t:

    If you decide you want to try sourdough baking, search for sourdough on my blog and you’ll see all of my crazy baking experiments. There is also a link to how to make a starter using commercial yeast. If you want a more natural approach go to my bloglist and go to Chef Michael Ruhlman’s blog. He has a post about making a starter using red cabbage.

    My cooking style includes whole grains, either less sugar or natural sugars such as honey or maple syrup and olive oil. I don’t use artificial sweeteners or much in the way of processed food (which has been a weight loss challenge during my last little bits of losses but it is worth it. I see a lot of people doing Weight Watchers who do it by eating low caloried processed junk. I decided to lose weight for health not for how I would look).

  4. My son is currently doing a WWII project for home ed and we have been doing some war time cooking, he loves food so this sparks his interest. If you don’t mind I will copy these rationing details you have blogged so he can see the the cheese pudding we made for lunch yesterday was ‘extravagant’.

  5. It’s great that they do this stuff at school and what better way than to bake something out of rations! Sure- juts copy away- anything you like!

    C xx

    • No, no he is not at school…good grief they would never do anything like this at school lol. Having said that my daughter is in school and is looking forward to making bread pudding today.

      I home educate him because he can’t cope with school, autistics are rarely treated well in Scottish schools!

      Thanks for letting him use your stuff. He is down for having a chat with a local here sometime regarding their war experience as ‘country child’ as apposed to his Grandmothers city (London) experience, and what the ‘books’ say. AND off his own back he has been comparing the WWI to WWII.

      I just love autonomous learning!

  6. Hi.
    I am doing a project at school on world war 2.
    I have homework – to make a recipe from rationing ingredients.
    I was wondering how much oil was rationed through WW2?
    Thanks please reply as soon as possible as it is due in on Wednesday. Thanks
    Emily xx.

    • Dear Emily- most folk would have used lard or margarine/butter for cooking… I will double check on this for your and get back with the most accurate answer I can. Do you live in the UK? Please let me know and that’s fantastic you are doing a project on rationing during WW2 and making a recipe! Well done!!! 🙂 C xxx

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