Week 2 of 52 on WW2 Rations. What have I spent and how am I feeling?

I have a 6.5 litre slow cooker that has been put through its paces this week. Consequently, my daily meals have mostly been bowlfuls of stew bursting with vegetables and plant based protein as I’ve used lots of dried pulses and legumes and soya mince. Thank goodness for the weekends where I can bake and make pastry, I’ve been craving pastry all week!

I can’t imagine a life without bread, potatoes and porridge oats right now. They definitely are a regular part of my daily diet as well as lots and lots of vegetables. I especially am loving cabbage and leeks right now and tonight I also enjoyed a bowl of lettuce in bed (after I ate my sliced apple).

How are my rations holding up at the end of week 2?

My rations are holding out rather well this week. I reduced my tea to two teaspoonfuls in a teapot which holds 1 litre AND later on I top it up with water and get another mug out of it. So I’m getting 4 or 5 mugfuls of tea from 2 teaspoons of loose leaf!

I’m still only halfway through week 1’s ration of sugar, I’m only using a teaspoon a day in my morning porridge and this week I’ve not made any bread and butter pudding so have used very little. I am absolutely sure in the 1940s household, some sugar would have been set aside every week for use in the summer to make preserves or set aside for celebrations! I have also read that at harvest time, the sugar ration was increased so people could makes their own jams.

My cheese, all 2 oz of it got used up pretty quick. Some tiny sprinkles went in a couple of sandwiches and on top of a stew or two, then that was it, all gone! I’m getting through my milk as I use nearly ½ pint a day in my tea and in my porridge.

All in all, it’s been a good week for rationing, I’ve not even thought about modern food. I haven’t even taken my sweet ration yet as I think it will be easier for me NOT to have sweets in my cupboard right now. There will be plenty of time for eating sweets during the year when I feel ready introducing them back in. I know if I was to do that now it would be a slippery slope!

What have I spent on food this week?

£12.95 in Asda! That’s it!! My food all week has cost so little but that is probably because I haven’t had to buy things like Marmite and milk yet! In the months and weeks leading up to rationing my food bill was around £45 plus per week but additionally I was getting into the habit of buying junk food via Deliveroo (the evils of big town living!) or ordering pizza so add another £25 to that!  

How am I feeling?

This is where I get emotional. It’s been less than 2 weeks since I started living on WW2 rations 100% for a full year. No cheating, no sneaking an extra ounce of cheese or butter, 3 square meals a day and something to nibble on in bed. I’ve really gone back to basics but tried hard to incorporate nutritionally rich foods that are cost effective, lots of greens, pulses, legumes and also wholemeal bread, potatoes and porridge. Someone who was trying to fill a belly during the war wouldn’t have been worried about carbs, in fact the addition of potatoes every day was highly recommended. I never worried about my daily potatoes or porridge and toast for breakfast as a youngster, at those times I was a healthy weight, carefree and active. I’m hoping those days will return. I want the health noise we are bombarded with in the media to dissipate. 

I’ve been monitoring my health data on my FitBit to see if any noticeable changes have taken place. My resting heart rate has dropped from around 70 beats per minute to 55 beats per minute, my night time oxygen sats levels have risen, my breaths per minute during the night have dropped, my pulse rate climbing the stairs has dropped from 130 beats per minute to 95 beats per minute and this week I managed to walk to work and back twice. And today as I write this, I managed to climb the steep hill (very slowly) to the post office and stand in the queue for 20 minutes (although it hurt standing). Yes I still have the crushing back pain BUT it is less severe than two weeks ago! I do believe I am losing weight, will soon find out at my monthly weigh in on February 9th!

Psychologically, I’m beginning to feel a bit brighter. The fog is beginning to lift and I hope over the coming weeks and months to get part of my old self back again.

Bring on week 3!

C xxxx

PS: Thank you for the shout out on your blog post today Angela! http://angalmond.blogspot.com/2023/01/flower-power.html

39 thoughts on “Week 2 of 52 on WW2 Rations. What have I spent and how am I feeling?

  1. Have you considered eliminating dairy products, especially cheese? All milk based cheese is high in fat. Take that away and you can trade those rations for other items.

      • So how do you create dairy free cheese on WW II rations? Do you make plant milk using oats? How about the nuts like cashews needed to make plant based cheese?

    • Hi, I make or sometimes buy Oat milk and I buy dairy free cheese. My meat rations are plant based bacon and sausages and I use soya mince xxxx Obviously these were not around during the war but I’ve used vegan alternatives because of my way of life, just done a straight swap. everything else is exactly the same except I do not take my egg ration xxxx

      • There is no need to use items like soya mince when items like lentils are a much better alternative and were available in the War years. Also plant based cheeses can easily be done without. I stopped using them a long time ago and so not miss them.

  2. You can use a slow cooker like a haybox cooker, if you’re around when it’s in use. I switch mine onto high for about half the cooking time, then turn it off and pile towels and blankets on top. Stays hot for a remarkably long time, cooks well and saves money.

      • I have never tried, I did see your recipe yesterday and thought it looked interesting. I rarely make cakes, because frankly I don’t need the calories!

      • I my opinion using modern conveniences is a form of cheating. Either one is following a certain era of cooking or they aren’t. How much better would the WW2 families have benefited from slow cookers, microwave ovens, etc. How much further could their rations have stretched with these appliances. The point is one is either on the journey of the time or one isn’t. There is no in between. 

        Gary W Allen, PhDLTC, US Army (RET)

    • Gary, for me this is an experiment on rationing, as much as I’d love it to be a living history experiment too I just don’t have the utensils, cookware, old range, etc. I’m completely happy with doing it this way and I do realised I am very lucky to be doing so. C xxxx

      • Gary Allen, in fairness to Carolyn, what she’s doing is exercising a weight-loss regime in a novel and interesting way (i.e. war-time diet), rather than adopting an uber-accurate life-style choice for twelve months.

        It should also be mentioned that it’s nigh-on impossible, eighty years later, to 100% accurately recreate the exact experience of ordinary people and their culinary preparation of the first half of the 1940s.

        For example, it’s impractical to rip out one’s modern cooker and replace it with some ancient coal-fired range (assuming you could find a usable period one and have access to the coal), or a paraffin kitchen stove (again, long confined to the past).

        Also worth mentioning, is that many people supplemented their basic rationing by making use of staff canteens at work, or the British Restaurants on the high-street. Neither of those exist these days. How would you figure those into a mega-accurate dietary experience?

        Using modern kitchen gadgets or techniques to achieve a largely authentic wartime diet is, in my opinion, absolutely fine, given the actual reasons she’s doing it in the first place. It doesn’t have to be accurate to the n’th degree to be relevant.

    • Thank you, its all very encouraging indeed! I can’t wait for the pain to completely disappear though. from past experience when I get down to around 275 lbs I begin to notice I’m not in pain anymore xxxxx

  3. Carolyn, I am utterly amazed by how quickly your body is adjusting to this healthy way of eating! Wow. You’ve convinced me to give up junk food, but not quite ready to cut out the bit of sugar in my tea….

    • Thanks, I was eating horribly though in the weeks and months leading up to this, very high sugar and salt and saturated fats xxxxx Plus Christmas and alcohol during the Christmas period too! xxxx C

  4. Quite a change there in two weeks. I think it is because you are now eating predominately wholefoods/minimal processed foods. I have read articles about processed food and seen documentaries and the evidence was quite strong that they are behind the rise in obesity. People in the mid 20th century ate a lot of potatoes and bread, but were much thinner on average than people in our era. The explanation for this? Probably because the bread they ate was home baked (no additives) and the potatoes were fresh ( not take away fries).

    • Yes less highly processed foods, less fried foods, less sugar and salt and as you say lots of wholefoods, leafy greens, veggies. Great thoughts there xxxxx C

      • This is how I eat mostly all the time: wholefoods/vegetarian (almost vegan because I am lactose intolerant) and also gluten free ( so I have gluten free bread sometimes). My dinner today was nut roast, I bought from the Lidl (https://www.ocado.com/products/artisan-grains-cashew-cranberry-nut-roast-mix-294782011 ), Tescos roast potatoes, steamed sliced carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and petit pois peas, home made white bean dip (it contains olive oil, fresh lemon juice, mixed herbs, tomato ketchup and tahini) and some grated Applewood vegan cheese sprinkled on top with some Alberts Victorian chutney.

        I baked a gluten free flapjack in with the nut roast and potatoes to maximise the oven use. I had a bit of Asda’s gluten free muesli, so I added oats, ground mixed spice, sultanas, ground almonds, flax seed, apple juice, Tesco vegan olive margarine (half a desert spoonful) and a sprinkle of coconut sugar. Mixed it all well and baked it in a silicon baking dish. I have more ingredients to hand than in war time, but to be fair, I’m not trying a war time diet, just a natural wholefoods, veggie diet and inspired by some 1930s recipes (at times).

        If you have oats and dried fruits maybe you could bake a flapjack too! I have LOADS left in the fridge. It’s great for breakfast or supper xxx

  5. All sounds tasty and probably a damn site more colourful than my stews have been this week! (the only downside to using the slow cooker!). Love flapjack and have made it from a WW2 recipe book before but trying to keep off anything sweet right now because of my sugar addiction. All your veggies and meals sound so nice C xxx

    • I guess the easiest description would be like a pea and a peas inside a pea pod. Legume is a pulse with its pod and leaves/stems, the pulse is the edible seed. C xxx

      • A near perfect definition of the legume and the pulse Carolyn, well done, and, as a point of interest, peanuts are legumes too – not nuts.

  6. Well done Carolyn.
    It has been horribly cold this week. I have had to do my walking in the local Sainsbury’s and Asda superstores when it is quiet, up and down all of the aisles in the warm without the fear of slipping on the ice.

    I was thinking about how long shopping used to take as each customer went into their grocer or butcher, with her list, and waited in turn to be served, then each item was weighed and wrapped. Families would have several ration books and the right coupon needed cutting out of them all for each item. No wonder women had to queue for hours.

    I use the pressure cooker like my Granny and Mum did, for cooking soaked pulses, and quick stews using cheaper cuts of meat. I have used a hay box for a covered cast iron saucepan of soup and one of rice pudding. They cook for hours in their own heat without going dry.

    I like the idea of using a slow cooker to get a stew thoroughly hot, then turning off the power and wrapping it up very well to keep on cooking.
    We use the technology available. We don’t have the option to use domestic coal in ranges since its use has been banned in England.

    We are a month past the Winter Solstice so the days will be getting noticeably longer at last.
    Best wishes,

    • “No wonder women had to queue for hours.”

      As I understand it, the worst of the queues was when something off-ration (but in short supply) appeared in one of the shops, often prompting housewives to join a growing queue on the high-street without any knowledge of what it was they were actually queuing for!


  7. I loved the 1940s House when the mother carried on shopping most days even after the experiment had finished. She liked visiting the smaller shops picking up her food daily, it became part of her routine. I can see how important rationing must have been, we only have to look at during the height of Covid when our nurses, police, firemen had to shop after their shifts and there was little left on the shelves by the time they had finished work for the day. I’m sure it would have been the same for many full time workers during the war unless there was someone at home to go out and do the daily shopping.

    I used to have a coal range, when I lived rurally but that was about 25 years ago! Always remember having black soots up my nose as it was always me who had to tend the fire and keep it ticking over for the heating, and cooking. I did love doing it but don’t miss the soots!!

    Loved reading your comment! Great idea about taking exercise inside the shops! I remember when I lived in Canada we had a big indoor mall and the seniors would meet up early in the morning before it got busy and do their laps early in the morning then have a get together at the coffee shop, thought it seemed like a great idea!

    C xxxx

  8. I found The 1940’s House for the first time, on YouTube. I am half way through episode 1, where the poor Granny dropped the bowl of pudding she was making, wasting precious eggs and butter! The boy asked if it meant bread and jam again, but there was no jam left!

    My husband slipped in the garden and dropped the two eggs he was carrying. He wasn’t hurt, and with the three hens it is a bit like The Magic Porridge Pot, more eggs keep on coming.

    I had to pause at the scene with the air raid siren when the narrator said the two houses opposite had been bombed. It felt as if someone had walked on my grave.
    Dad was evacuated to an Aunt in Wales after the first night bombing raid in Birmingham, aiming at the car manufacturers but hitting homes.

    We have broached the emergency tin of shortbread the neighbours gave us at Christmas, in return for a few eggs whenever we have some to spare, but it will not be replaced.

    • I remember the scene well! They did a great job with that series. I bet it was a great learning tool in schools too using a family like that. Can’t even begin to imagine how awful it must have been to lose everything to a bomb. When I see that happen on the news in Ukraine 🇺🇦 I just can’t even begin to imagine the devastation it must cause. Have you seen an old film called “Hope and Glory”? It’s one of my favourite slice of life movies made about London families during WW2. Xxx Hope your husband is OK xxxx

      • Dear Carolyn,
        He’s fine and Daisy Dog had the broken eggs.
        I enjoyed the film Hope and Glory. Goodnight, Mr Tom, and the series, Foyles’ War are among my favourites.
        Talking Pictures TV shows a lot of vintage black and white films and public information broadcasts. I get an e-mail of what is on each week.
        Best wishes,

      • I was always enchanted by the sit-com Goodnight Sweetheart.

        I thought it was rather-well made and reasonably accurate, despite some criticisms at the time relating to the moral aspect of the overall storyline.

  9. A couple of thoughts: One: all vegans need to ensure adequate Vit D and B12.
    The Rations included Butter, milk and cheese as well as meat, bacon and egg.
    So need to compensate here.
    Two: During WW2 rationing the average calory intake of poorer people INCREASED.

  10. Caroline, such wonderful news! I’m with you : I’ve long since stopped paying attention when a food is picked out and becomes the new Great Evil, just as I don’t believe hypesters when they flog The Next Wonderful Thing ™. Inevitably, a few years down the road, it always turns out that the Evil Thing wasn’t so evil after all, and the Wonderful Thing wasn’t so good, either.

    IMO, it’s all about moderation and eating real food, not overprocessed substitutes.

    Last but not least, I think one of the commenters missed the point. It’s not about trying to recreate the technologies that were in use at the time, it’s about recreating the diet and experiencing the effects. Keep on keeping on! Sounds like it’s working!

    • “IMO, it’s all about moderation and eating real food, not overprocessed substitutes.”

      Absolutely! Modern pre-packaged food is now so processed, people too often miss all the unnecessary added stuff (sugar, salt, colouring, artificial preservatives etc) in there, that can affect both what and how much we eat.

      Mind you, processed foodstuffs were prevalent during the war too (e.g. powdered egg and milk), though in fairness, these were used more out of necessity than anything else.

Leave a Reply