The 1940s Experiment- Get healthier and save money starting tomorrow!


Tonight I’m eating a great big vegan pizza because tomorrow it’s back to living on the 1940s Experiment 100% again to lose the final 80 lbs I have to lose. In 2012 I lost 80 lbs on a culinary social experiment following a British WW2 Rationing allowance for a year and saved a LOT of money (I was morbidly obese and flat broke).

The first few weeks were time consuming, hard work and difficult in the respect of the detox that took place. I’d been filling my face with many highly spiced and processed foods like crisps (chips) and very fatty foods like huge amounts of cheese. I also turned vegan but as you’ll see it’s easy to adapt many wartime recipes and a very high percentage were infact meat free!

I’m really happy to see so many people willing to give this a go tomorrow and have fun with it. It may not be for everyone but it’s been working for me and at the same time helped addressed the financial issues I’ve had, living below the poverty line in the latter part of 2012. My food bill was a fraction of what it was in 2011…

So if you are joining in tomorrow (or at anytime) here is your weekly ration… in addition make sure you fill your plates with fresh vegetables especially lots of leafy greens and try and eat at least one raw serving of veggies and salad every day.


Here is the weekly ration allowance for one adult in the 1940ā€™sā€¦ (remember that in addition to this people were encouraged to incorporate lots of fruit and veggies into their diets and grow even more in their back gardens!)

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.



To help you get started here is a typical days menu for me. Most of the time, for easiness, I tend to have the same breakfast and lunch Mon-Fri but vary my evening meals and then at weekends I’ll have different breakfasts and lunches too..

1/2 cup (40gms) dry organic porridge oats (coarse oatmeal) made with water and sweetened with a little sugar. (calories 200 – cost 10 p)
Piece of fruit (calories 100 – cost 20 p)

Oslo meal or large leafy green salad with kidney beans and homemade dressing (Oslo meal calories 500- cost 40 p/ Large salad with kidney beans 70 p)

Main Meal (Calories and cost vary but most meals are between 700-1000 cals and cost between 25p and 75p to make)
Always ensure that your plate is half full of healthy vegetables which include greens and cook as lightly as possible. Shop for in season veg to keep cost down

Select a recipe from here for main meal and dessert if your rations allow.

Tip: I always have some vegetable/lentil/split pea stew or soup ready made so if I get really hungry I can enjoy a bowlful and an extra piece of bread with it should I get really hungry in the evening!

25 thoughts on “The 1940s Experiment- Get healthier and save money starting tomorrow!

  1. Thank you for this Carolyn – what happens if you are a Veggie? I know people were encouraged to grow mushrooms – but do we just do without the meat ration?

    • Good point! I need to elaborate on that… there is not much info on veganism during the war but there was a vegetarian option… I’ll add that onto my post but essentially vegetarians took an extra cheese ration. I’ll triple check and add the info in

      C xxx

    • As a vegetarian, you were allocated additional cheese. However, the cheese was made with animal rennet, so it wasn’t actually vegetarian. It seems that many people took the rations, and traded them with friends/neighbors for other food items they could use.

  2. Thanks for yet another inspiring post. I am trying to eat more wartime meals and cutting out as many processed foods as possible. I had the Oslo Meal for the first time today, I had round lettuce instead of my usual iceberg as it was local British produce but I found it has a strange taste to it despite washing it beforehand. Anyone else found that? Besides that I would happily have the Oslo meal regulary.

      • Tomatoes were scarce – both fresh and tinned. I’ve decided to only allow myself fresh product that’s both local and currently being harvested (so not hot house anything, essentially) and tomatoes are not yet in season here. Boo!

  3. Onions were scarce too as they were imported but many people grew their own veg including onions and tomatoes… buying in season and local makes this a much more environmentally friendly way of feeding oneself too.

    I can’t wait to grow a wartime kitchen garden šŸ™‚ Nom nom!! šŸ˜‰

    • Unfortunately, I completely STINK at growing anything other than herbs and tomatoes. There are some tomatoes in season right now, but the peak is really June onward, then I’ll be drowning in tomatoes. And loving every single minute of it.

  4. Ok so vegetarians could swap their ham/bacon allowance for an extra 3 oz of cheese and in addition to this it seems the other meat allowance (to the value of 1 shilling and sixpence) could be exchanged for other items such as extra butter..

    I’ll post more information as I come across it…


  5. Well here goes!
    It is the 13th now here down under, and for some weird reason I was awake at 0445h. I am actually a little excited about joining you on this Carolyn and everyone else who’s going to “muck in”.
    Fortunately i still seem to have tomatoes growing in the garden and spring onions as well as some beans and beetroots and corn. But that will all prob last about a week.
    Time for porridge and to look forward to everyone’s posts on here about what they have and do for their daily diets.

  6. Since D day starts tomorrow I have been doing a lot of research on rationing. I noticed that everything seems to be the same amount for ration sizes except for the meat which varies from 1/2 – 1 lb 3 ozs. I was just wondering if you had a Web Site you used for more info. I was also wondering if you found any site that had the points for other groceries, this is the one thing I can’t find.

    • The weight fluctuated simply because it was the monies worth of meat you could buy so one week it may have been 1/2 lb of mince, the next week a lb of scrag end.. all down to availability and price fluctuations but it seems, as an example, 1 shilling and sixpence of meat was about 1/2 lb of good mince… maybe more.

      Points for groceries is really hard to find out much about- all I know for sure is that stuff like good quality tinned fish or meats would use your sixteen points up in one go. I think I’d have taken the dried fruit or the split peas!! šŸ™‚

      • Most of the point values are not available online to the public. Some university archives do have information on them, if you’re willing to deal with such things. There are several books that contain the information as well. The reason that there is so much variation in the information available online is simply because the point values did change regularly during the war years, depending upon availability. Points themselves went from 16 up to 24, depending on the period, and point values could vary as much as 2 points up to 8, and back down again for a pound of something.

  7. LOL šŸ˜‰ I have found a few points that some people might find useful….. Per pound for rice, tapioca, dried beans, lentils and split beans are 2 points.

    • Hi Sue Ann – the thing to remember is point values changed during the war years several times. There were times when rice/sago/tapioca were 2 points per pound, but there were also times when they were 4 or even 8 points per pound. Additionally, they weren’t always available. Same for oats (with point values changing), dried pulses and everything else. Even canned good values fluctuated. At one point, tinned salmon had a lower point value than spam, which wasn’t selling at all. So the government cut the point value of the spam, increased the point value of the salmon – and lo and behold, spam was a hit. The 1940-1945 values varied quite a bit – just something to keep in mind.

  8. I have been planning what to do tomorrow and got so overexcited that I made a cottage pie using up the veg I wouldn’t have had easily available in wartime, red peppers for example. I chucked in lots of chopped celery/leek & mushrooms to make the mince go further. My 10 yr old made rock cakes too.Family loved it! Tomorrow I will be baking bread… I’m so excited, even for the weigh-in part…thanks Mama Hobbit!

  9. Carolyn, I was wondering, seeing as I am diabetic, how the ration allowance changed for diabetics? I know that bread, potato, and vegetables are limited but how would that impact the diet with the reliance on the home loaf and root vegetables?

    • Hi Cathy – NPH insulin became available in the 1940s, so that alone had a huge impact on the diabetic community. Special information/dietary guidelines were sent to every doctor in the country, in an attempt to help diabetics make proper dietary choices on rations. Only about 1/3 of those eligible for them in the diabetic community applied for special rations during wartime. The special rations consisted of an extra meat ration, in exchange for the sugar ration. Additionally, artificial sweeteners, which were fairly scarce, were largely reserved for the diabetic community. The thing to remember about rationing is that people still had to pay for their food. A lot of diabetics wouldn’t have been able to afford additional meat, nor would they have been able to afford proper treatment for their diabetes – as this was before socialized medicine in the UK.

      Hope that helps!

  10. Does anyone know whether haggis was available during the war? I was just wondering because it uses offal and pulses.

    • I just asked my Father who is part Scottish(Donald Anderson is his name!) and he says it was available as it was offal and porridge oats in a sheeps stomach therefore not rationed. Prob expensive mind you

      • Thanks Louise. Tempted to buy one from time to time. Maybe this can be a once per month treat? Plus my 6 yr old loves it, so it will keep her happy!

      • I’ve never been very keen myself but each to their own…veggies look away! Lol!
        My Father thought it very strange that I rang them to ask if haggis was ever rationed-my Mother says it should be banned as its disgusting :-0 Good luck x

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