It’s been nearly a month on WW2 rations.

Well, I’m nearly 1/12th of the way through this 1940s Experiment. February 9th will be the end of month 1 and quite honestly it’s mostly been plain sailing so far!

Perhaps the only real challenge was my monthly get together with a friend of mine. We take it in turns to spend a few hours at each others houses one evening a month (although mostly at mine right now as I need to be home a lot for personal reasons) and I really look forward to it. BUT those evenings normally consist of crisps, nibblies and a slice or two of pizza PLUS wine! Although I did put some crisps and spring rolls out for my friend, instead I ate lots of delicious veggies/cherry tomatoes/tomato dip and some buttered baked herb bread. I also enjoyed a couple of bottles of ale (the only alcohol I drink in a full month). I gave the leftover crisps and spring rolls to my youngest (Em) once my friend left so there wasn’t any temptation! The only thing I had which was probably very difficult to get during WW2 were some olives BUT hey I had a jar in my pantry (pre-war) and they needed using up. I figured some people would have had olives in their pantry before the war seeing as…

Quote: “Iron Age Britons were importing olives from the Mediterranean a century before the Romans arrived with their exotic tastes in food, say archaeologists who have discovered a single olive stone from an excavation of an Iron Age well at at Silchester in Hampshire.”

I’m really happy how things have gone so far. I’m loving not eating loads of junk food in between meals like I had been doing for many months towards the end of 2022. I’m hopeful and positive what the future will bring.

C xxxxx

28 thoughts on “It’s been nearly a month on WW2 rations.

  1. I love olives, especially the green ones. I really would’ve missed them had I been living in those days on rations.

      • You could make home made crisps! Thinly sliced potatoes coated in a bit of oil and baked in the oven. I’m not a fan of avocado so I wouldn’t miss them. If I was doing the wartime ration diet like you the top foods I eat that wouldn’t be easy to get or couldn’t be got would be my decaff coffee, olives, peanut butter and tahini! I am crazy about tahini. I love making bean dips (hummus with it). Oh and lemons too as they get juiced for the dip.

  2. Congratulations on your first month! I’m not doing anything as focused but am trying to cook more plain meals, mainly meat and two veg with padding to eke out the meat which has soared in cost. I know that when I eat sensibly I have better health and sleep which are key at all times, especially at this dreary and wet time of year! So it’s a return to the meals of my childhood in post war Britain which should benefit my pocket as well as my diet.

  3. Bravo. We all need a treat.

    Been going to the butcher and getting bones for very little money to make stock/gravy for veg soup and stews as I am not using anything to b make gravy (Bisto/ Better Than Buillion) . Potato and some rice. More bread than usual, buy trying for less sourdough.

    Am mostly vegetarian diet, but sppplement. A bit of beans, oats, lentils put in. Going to try soy mince/soy curls, and wonder how it will affect my digestion.

    The way my body works serms to be

    • Instead of soy mince (can’t say I’ve ever tried it to be honest – never had a reason to), try using standard mushrooms (they don’t have to be the expensive posh varieties), chopped to the same size as mince meat. As long as it’s not over-cooked, they’re a very good substitute for minced beef of lamb.

  4. “The only thing I had which was probably very difficult to get during WW2 were some olives BUT hey I had a jar in my pantry (pre-war) and they needed using up. I figured some people would have had olives in their pantry before the war…”

    Hey, nothing wrong with using something in the larder left over before war was declared.

    To be honest though, I doubt the average person back in 1940 would ever have tasted an olive, let alone have an orphan tin of them at the back of the cupboard. Strictly for the upper classes, with an olive plopped into an expensive cocktail while listening to a little Noël Coward on a posh night out in London.

    Talking of olives, ditching modern cooking oils in favour of cooking fats would be a huge wrench for me. One is so used to the additional flavour of olive oil, both straight or flavoured (garlic, chilli etc), only cooking with butter (or ghee) would come close as an adequate substitute. But with only two ounces a week on ration…

    …and let’s not even go down the road of resorting to liquid paraffin as some at the time did!! LOL!!

  5. It would be really interesting to see an ongoing list of the modern food items that you miss on an ongoing basis. I would think that in the war years, fantasy thoughts would revolve around favorite unavailable foods. I would really miss out of season transported fruit. I wonder if what one would miss at the beginning of the war would be all but forgotten by the end.

    • “I wonder if what one would miss at the beginning of the war would be all but forgotten by the end.”

      Or alternatively, be absolutely gagging for it!

      We know through plenty of testimony, that there were kids, who at the start of hostilities had never tasted a banana. Yet by the end of the war, it was pretty-much at the top of their wish list. 🙂

      • Can you not grow watermelons there? I’m in the Pacific Northwest and, while extremely hit-or-miss, a few can be grown here. Sadly, I guess that they would be fairly low on the list for serious agricultural purposes.

      • Yes Maria, watermelons can be grown in the UK, albeit best raised in a greenhouse. Though whether the seeds would have been available at the local seed merchant during wartime is debatable.

  6. Well you’ve already had your birthday, but you could ask for a replacement jar of olives for Easter (instead of an egg) or for Valentines day … who needs flowers when their are tasty treats to be had. 😉

    You’re doing really well, I’ve been watching Rationbook Rebecca on YouTube, she’s just started her next five week rationing cycle and mentioned you on one of her recent videos.

  7. Hi Carolyn….. you seem to be doing really well ! I have enjoyed seeing your meals on YouTube etc….you make everything look delicious and the bonus being that it is all good for you. It gives me great ideas on what I can try.

    Nice that you were still able to have a catch up with your friend and still enjoy some snacks and a drink !

    Mel xx

  8. Just a thought Carolyn, but as you clearly like the odd monthly tipple, did you ever consider making your own for this year?

    A drop of robust home-made potato or parsnip wine was something quite a few did during the war by all accounts.

    Indeed, a few smokers also grew their own tobacco plants alongside the runner beans when supplies became sketchy.

  9. One of the things that I kinda had problems with, trying this, was getting used to the seasonality of foods – no tomatoes or cucumbers until mid summer. It greatly impacted on working around rations. Another issue was custom. It was unusual and unlikely for the average person to eat, for example, pasta assuming you could source it. Macaroni was reserved for milk puddings and little else. Some standard items remained rare or unobtainable such as onions or in quantities difficult to utilise such as bacon. But hey ho that all emphasises the trials and tribulations of the time.

    • Oh, absolutely.

      Pasta existed, but was rarely used for anything other than a pudding, as you mention. We can thank the rise in Italians settling here, beginning with PoWs that widened our views on that.

      Rice is another staple that was largely used only in puddings too, and during wartime was very difficult to get hold of anyway.

      The issue of veg being seasonal seems strange in the 21st century, but was much more the norm back then.

      Things like onions were imported all year-round until supplies from France, Spain and the Channel Islands were curtailed, for the obvious reasons.

      Much the same for tomatoes, which gave rise to housewives preserving things for times when they were short or out of season.

      It’s a fascinating change of circumstances, when realising how complacent we’ve now become regarding the easy availability of any and all fruit & veg at any time of the year.

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