Click above for great movie clip
So 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..
NOTE: Although the 1940sExperiment is based on wartime rationing in the UK I will be incorporating occasional recipes from Canada/US/Australia etc too.
Here is the weekly ration allowance for one adult in the 1940’s…Rationed food was the food you were GUARANTEED to be able to get. (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 lb minced beef or a couple of chops)
- 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..
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT I HAVE EATEN THE LAST FEW DAYS…
2 slices of wholemeal (wholewheat) toast with margarine and marmalade or marmite
or large bowl of porridge oats (oatmeal) made with water, splash of milk and a little sugar or honey mixed in.
Oslo Meal- [Click here] + a piece of fruit
or I bring in to work with me a huge plate of steamed veggies such as broccoli, parsnips, potatoes, cabbage with a blob of butter on and seasoned. (sometimes with some meaty gravy [click here] over the top ) In addition to that I have a piece of fruit like an apple or a pear.
By the time I get home and start cooking it’s between 6 and 7pm and by this time I am starving! I always eat a BIG meal.
Yesterday– Two large baked potatoes topped with a little bit of strong cheddar, generous serving of meaty gravy, a chunk of freshly baked wholemeal bread, a few spoonfuls of steamed carrots, big mound of steamed cabbage. For dessert I didn’t have anything cooked so had a pear.
Today– A big mound of mashed potato (a blob of marg and some thyme, salt & pepper for seasoning), served with large portions of cabbage and cauliflower and the remainder of the meaty gravy I made yesterday. For dessert I had two freshly baked Rock Buns [click here] and two steaming hot cups of tea!
I like to round off the day with a glass or two of milk (I use soy milk) – usually one small glass of cold milk and a cup of milky coffee. The amount I have depends on how much I have left to use!
Obviously my diet depends on what I have available or what recipes I have been re-creating. I quite often make veggies stews with beans and pulses in for extra protein..
Hope this helps!
PS: I am convinced that the diet industry has got it ALL wrong (actually that is an unfair generalization as things have really changed over the past 10 years)…BUT what I mean to say is
WE SHOULD ALL BE EATING MORE TO LOSE WEIGHT….seriously!
was wondering if you are getting this info all out of a cookbook, if not where did you get the information on portion sizes?
When dieting we must never lose sight of the fact that humans are domesticated wild animals. And wild animals are MEAT EATERS, during WW2 a prisoner doctor in the German Auschwitz death camp (over 1 million dead) studied his fellow prisoners and assessed them for health, energy and appearance, many thousands of them were “at death’s door.” There were some exceptions mostly young people who were determined to live and to survive the camp, men mostly who would eat anything including flies, insects, worms, mice, rats and such like, they swallowed it whole no matter how unappealing it was. This doctor noticed that 2-3 ounces of meat per day was the main key to survival, he reckoned that all other foods apart from bread and potatoes were window dressing items of little value.
I think I must disagree with your assertion and your conclusion. Not every species of animal is CARNIvorous; a great many are HERBIvorous, consuming only vegetable matter. Humans are OMNIvorous and are able to digest and survive either diet or a combination of both. As for humans being domesticated wild animals… I don’t quite understand how you are defining domesticated.
The prisoners of those German camps were fed the most meager of starvation rations. Any, and I do mean ANY, added food of any possible nutritional value, no matter the source, was the key to their potential survival. It wasn’t the fact that it was meat, it was the fact that it was anything at all above what their fellows managed. A hyperbolic, but still correct, example: someone who gets 100 calories more from eating dirt (on top of a starvation ration) would be better off than someone who ate nothing but a starvation ration of meat.
This doesn’t take into account other plant based proteins more available or widely used and known in other countries. Meat is not the only way.
To the point of us not being so far removed from pre-civilization society (which we truthfully are in many ways–although it has only been a few thousand years, humans have been significantly impacted by the rise of civilization from a biological standpoint, in more ways than would be reasonable to list)—- even so, how often do you think homosapians were able to take down wild cattle and cook it in grease? How often were they able to catch any meat at all? Foraging has been a huge part of the life of a homosapian since we came into existence–it has always been a much more reliable and much safer route to obtaining food. You can absolutely get all of the protein you need to survive from only plants–people have been successfully doing it for thousands of years!
I get most of my recipes from Marguerite Patten cookbooks like
We’ll Eat Again
Post War Cooking (still on ration!)
and historical cook books and most will tell you how many it serves..
I try and go by this for the main part of the meal to give me a good idea of portion size and fill up with veggies and potatoes as recommended and encouraged by the media throughout the second world war.
Sometimes I worry that I am eating too much but my weight seems to be coming off steadily (and my diet was terrible before) so I think it’s working Ok for me at the moment although I can see me having to reduce bread and potatoes intake at some stage again..
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Is the Victory Cookbook called The Victory Binding of the American Women’s Cookbook by: Ruth Berolzeimer 1943?
That book does sound great but no the one I am referring too was a more recent cook book published by wartime British cook Marguerite Patten who had a high profile role during WW2 here in the UK, teaching the masses how to cook from scratch and turn their rations into food! xxxx
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I am really enjoying (I know back then it would not have been enjoyable) trying these simple ideas on cooking, as a man in my 40’s i have found the weight just keeps piling on and I eat healthy its just the naughty stuff, lol. I now have an allotment, this is my 1st year, still learning, Having moved onto a Narrow boat this year, so space is limited, So really trying to keep things to a minimum and getting used to how a person survived on rations should help , many thanks for all your tips
Oh wow! What an adventure! What’s it like living on a narrowboat? Best bits, worst bits? I envy you the allotment! Would love to have a veggie garden again one day.
What about vegetables and fruit ? Vitamine supplement ? That is the only thing that I find is missing in your plan. Keep in mind meat, milk, vegetables and fruit do not have the nutrients from previous years. Hence, the importance to include a multi-vitamine to your diet.
Monster, that info is wrong. Even people on a medium healthy diet do NOT need extra Vitamin supplements. Artificially created Vitamins can even cause damage. Unless you are chronically ill you do NOT need to take anything. If you are ill consult your doctor before using any. 🙂
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Did you read the fill article?? She mentioned that fruit and vegetables were not rationed as most households/group of households had an alottment of fruit and vegetables growing as the government was encouraging people to do in wartime due to food supply shortages. And she mentioned vegetables in her meals in which she had eaten over the last few days. Although the fruit and vegetables were grown, they were still eaten in moderation and had to be sparing as what they grew was all they had barring the rations.
Having lived through the war I can assure you that there were no vitamin supplements, the only vegetables are those that were in season and the only fruit, again, was what was in season and grown in UK so no oranges, lemons, bananas or mangoes. We had apples and pears, strawberries, again, in season. No strawberries in December. There was no frozen food ans as we didn’t have refrigerators, food didn’t keep very long.
Its strange how nowadays its only Organic and Farmer’s markets that supply those fruits and veg that are in season!!! From our own country. When I was very young even post war and even after rationing had ended, we’d wait for the “season” to arrive for everything and celebrated the “first eating” of that year. We of course had a garden, and I believe food was much more appreciated in all of its colours, textures and flavours than nowadays
Oh I eat a TON of veggies and fruit and I take a vitamin supplement…
The rations were the items that were rationed during the war such as butter, margarine, meat, cheese, eggs and imported goods…
People were encouraged to grown their own veggies and fill up on them as much as possible and I eat several portions of veggies and fruit a day..
I LOVE veggies!
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I’m afraid that during the war you would only get the vegetables that were in season, no corn, sweet potatoes or onions, No pulses in the winter, only root vegetables or cabbage and sprouts. No imported fruit such as lemons, oranges or bananas, Apples, pears and strawberries in season. No strawberries in December. Also, no frozen fruit and veg and no refrigerators to keep your foods fresh and vitamin supplements hadn’t been invented.
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“…and vitamin supplements hadn’t been invented.”
Not strictly true Ken.
The first multi-vitamin tablet was marketed and actually available in 1943 (albeit in the USA).
And here in Blighty, one could also supplement the diet with Marmite (Vitamin B). Indeed, it’s supplementary benefits were well-recognised way back, to the point that it was included in the rations of troops during the Great War (1914-1918).
And let’s not forget kids’ supplements. They were allocated condensed orange juice (for Vitamin C), cod liver oil (for Vitamin D), and malt extract, often Virol (for Vitamin B).
So although I appreciate you lived through the Second World War mate, it wasn’t quite a ‘barren wasteland’ for vitamin supplements. 🙂
I have been watching the Coal House, BBC I player, which is about a group of families living in a small welsh coal mining community. Breakfast for them consisted of porridge made with water. They rarely appear to have bread, which is reserved for the miners lunch.
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Of all the rationed items I consistantly find the limitation of fresh (and dried) eggs the most challenging. When you think that the 1940’s housewife had to cook most things from scratch, an egg per person doesn’t go far.
I can now see why recipes like eggless sponge were invented!
Many women in the 1940’s had chickens. The egg ration didn’t effect them. They sold eggs for a meager amount of spending money, and used the (very pretty) fabric sacks for dresses and quilts. I have several antique quilts of my grandmothers with feed sack material in them.
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Thats not right most women in the city did not have chickens and if you did have chickens you had to hand in your egg ration coupon back or you could not buy chicken food and they preserved their eggsin a solution to “keep” them eggs were important and not everybody got enough
Chickens don’t lay all year round , in winter when the days are short you get no eggs at all !
Just realised that not only do I share my birthday with you (a year younger) but also food rationing. It had not penetrated my brain before that it coincided. How spooky is that.
And I tell you what is even spookier….
Guess when rationing in the UK was implemented
8th January 1940
It ended on 5th July 1954
Yes that was what I thought. At least I now know what to counter when people think they are clever to get the Elvis Presley birthday link.
Over here in th uk one of our tv channels has had a series of wartime kitchen and garden programmes and tonight one on rationing. I guess it’s 70th has not gone unnoticed.
Yes I heard about that- wish I could see it!!! That’s one of the things I miss from the UK- those fabby retro cooking/living TV shows. !!
I wonder what the rations would have been for a vegan like me. I know that if you were vegetarian you could get extra cheese if you gave up your meat rations but I think I would have presented a problem. (my mum would say nothing new there) I make some mean carrot cakes that no one believes are egg free, and I use several other egg free cake recipes including a wartime based chocolate one, so I know it is possible to make yummy cakes.
A vegan could have bought dried pulses with points; I read this a long time ago so it may not be accurate, the 16 points would buy 8lb of split peas. One can certainly get calcium and magnesium, the bone minerals, from plant foods, but getting enough vitamins A, D, E, and K would have been problematic as these are all fat-soluble and predominantly found in animal source foods. While it is often said that vitamin A occurs in brightly coloured veggies, especially orange and yellow ones, this is only half true. This form is carotenes, a precursor to vitamin A. Some people don’t efficiently convert carotenes into retinoid forms, which is what our bodies use, and the conversion requires dietary fat. Vegetable oils were hard to get, being low priority for importation. The vitamin K in plant foods is likewise in a precursor form that doesn’t get converted by people who don’t produce the necessary enzyme. Another problem for vegans during rationing might have been lack of medium and long chain saturated fats because foods like coconut oil weren’t available, and this would have impacted heavily on their immune systems and spinal columns. The vegan doctor and researcher Michael Klaper provides some very interesting discussion material here: http://www.indiadivine.org/showthread.php/1177910-Fwd-The-Vegan-Health-Study-from-Michael-Klaper-MD-very-long-email. While not related to WWII, it is well worth reading for anybody of any dietary persuasion who’s interested in health.
Thank you Suzanne for these thoughts and facts and the link! I’ll read that this evening.. I am always looking to read and be informed xxxx C
Chickens don’t lay all year round , in winter when the days are short you get no eggs at all !
I know vegans were a lot more scarce, and during wartime, people were kinda in the mind of “eat what you can.” Vegetarians like me were rare. But vegans were rarer. A lot of the foods we use as substitutes weren’t available to us yet, either. I do know many people had to give up their positions for a bit for self-preservation for a time.
Donald Watson, who founded the Vegan Society, and invented the word VEGAN did this in 1944. It was very experimental at the time, and many made mistakes, ignoring the fact that vitamin B 12 is totally lacking in an animal-free diet.
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Vitamin B12 is found in great concentrations in nutritional yeast and it’s forms, which is the primary ingredient in Vegemite and Marmite. Both were consumed during the war and both are Vegetarian/Vegan friendly foods.
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Unfortunately there is evidence that vegans from 1944 onwards were at risk of B12 deficiency. A study from 1955 entitled Human Dietary Deficiency of Vitamin B12 (available on Google Scholar), which focused on British vegans, found evidence of deficiency amongst the British population.
Animals get their vitamin B12 from the soil they eat from, during the war years when veggies weren’t as sterile as they are today getting enough vitamin B12 for a vegan would not have been as much as a problem. Animals these days are actually fed supplements with B12 as they do not get enough from grazing anymore for it to be present in their flesh/meat. Most vegans make sure they take an all round vitamin which includes B12.
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I use Nutritional yeast as a sprinkle on to get my Vit B12 and Marmite also contains this too..https://www.healthysupplies.co.uk/yeast-flakes-B12-engevita-marigold.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8YD2zaWP2QIVq53tCh2y6AiZEAQYAyABEgLQ3_D_BwE xxxx
In terms of special provisions under the rationing system, none was ever made for vegans. After Donald Watson and co set up the Vegan Society in November 1944, they did ask for special provision but were totally rejected. I think we have to remember that vegans were a miniscule number of people and that nutritional knowledge at that time would have seen a vegan diet as deficient, e.g. pulses were seen as inferior sources of protein. Vegans today benefit from supplements and fortified foods, which ensure Vitamin B12 and help to provide adequate calcium, iodine and long-chain omega 3 (especially DHA). They also benefit from a food system that provides an enormous variety of food all year round – hardly similar to wartime Britain.
For vegans (and the rest of us) you have the bonus of using sausages (the juice from a tin of chickpeas and certain other bean products) which is a great egg replacement in baking – but I don’t think.my mother of grannies knew about that. One off my grannies used to make monster sponge cakes as light as a feather that melted in the mouth.
Noooo… Not sausages!!! Blinking predictive text (I checked everything before posting!). AQUAFABA !!!! Apologies in advance to any Vegan bakers. Two dessertspoonfuls per egg.
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During the war I never knew of any vegans, in fact I don’t think they had been invented. When we had rationing you ate anything you could get, I’m afraid personal preferences didn’t exist
Hi Ken, the Vegan Society was formed in 1940 but only vegetarians were catered for during the war. I agree, you really would have tried to eat anything you could have got hold of.
Yes the dairy proves a problem- did they have an alternative to milk like soy milk then? What about cheese?
I think you would have got by OK as a vegetarian but a vegan would have proved very difficult indeed- certainly to remain healthy with no alternatives to cheese and milk available?
Well, if you stop thinking in terms of direct analogues to milk and cheese, and think instead of the functions they serve in cooking, taste, and nutrition, it becomes clear just how much of our diets are down to habit of thought.
In my first year of going vegan, I decided not to use any dairy analogues, because I didn’t want to become a “junk food vegan” who relied on packaged foods. This was when website were new, and there wasn’t much easy to find info, and yet I adjusted well, simply by experimenting.
Nut milks and “cheeses” were mainstream for centuries – it really wasn’t until really recently that cows were bred for such huge year round milk production, and many people didn’t have fridges, so people generally didn’t use dairy products anywhere near as much as we do now. So nut milks wouldn’t have been unknown, and it’s often just as easy to use water in cooking and baking as milk – I generally use soya milk for my tea, and very little else, even though black tea is really good. There are cheese analogues of varying quality (and some really good recipes, such as those in Stepaniak’s ‘Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook’), but I can’t see any reason to just not do without them – we often go long periods without using “cheez”.
Nutritionally, vit C and protein are cited as the big selling points for dairy products; green leafy veg, potatoes, rose hips and fruit have plenty of the former, and if you’re getting enough food, you’re getting enough protein, though peas and beans are real protein powerhouses (pound for pound, lentils are higher in protein than beef, for example). Nuts are very high in protein, and they provide good, healthy essential fatty acids of the kind people just aren’t getting enough of these days.
Cooked peas and beans are great for baking with, too. You can make excellent cakes and breads with cooked mushy lentils, chickpeas, split peas, navy beans, etc., that people will wolf down (and then be shocked when they discover there’s no dairy, no eggs, and plenty of lentils/peas/beans!!).
So being a vegan wouldn’t be hard, provided you had access to at least 5 portions of fresh/dried fruit, green/root veg per day; 3-4 portions cooked grains or bread (preferably wholegrain); 2-3 portions of pulses (1/2 cup = 1 portion), nuts or seeds (2 tbsp = 1 portion) per day; and a little marge and oil per day.
I’m intrigued by all the rationing points – how much would flour cost? Nuts? Oatmeal for baking and porridge? Your blog has fired my imagination!
One comment regarding dairy milk usage over time. Remember cows or goats in the main have all ways been used for milk and as you point out we did not have the fridge so the milk was preserved in different ways. The milk was not just seen as a liquid product only used to drink or put in tea or make rice pudding with. It was a food stuff like all others and used to get the most out of it. Cheese making was the method of preservation and once made and stored correctly will out last a season. In fact many cheeses are not good until they had aged. Another point with this experiment is that it is not about what the lady IS eating or how much and how often but about what she is NOT eating with regard to modern food habits or junk food is more important in this plan. Question? what food stuffs or processed items do we have today that did not exist in the 1940s?
Rations differed at different times during the war. From everything else I have read, your shilling sixpence will get you a full pound of ground meat. If you get cheaper cuts or offal, you can get more meat.
Watch and read Wartime Farm. Vegetarians were accommodated as well as vegetarians. Vega ism is relatively new and not an issue during WWII.
Where meat was concerned: Even in cities they were allowed to have and were encouraged to have chickens. They could join a pig club to have extra meat. They could raise rabbits and were encouraged to because they could live on only grass. They were allowed to hunt rabbits and pigeons to eat.
They were rationed 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per week but not allowed to make it themselves uses they lived on a farm and then only if a batch of milk went bad. There are several good YouTube videos on Wartime rationing/eating in The UK. Wheat and bread were not rationed until after the war. White flour was non-existant. Points began at 16 and went at times to 20 and 24. If you had two people in a household with 24 points each, you could get 6 cans of spam. There was plenty of fat to go around if you wanted it.
Nothing seasonal was rationed. If it was not available all year, it simply wasn’t rationed.
I became vegetarian at 17 (1952) Rationing continued a few years more.
there were very few vegans at that time, up to 1000, but there were no special rationing provisions.
As a vegetarian I got 12 oz. cheese weekly, to replace all the different ounces of meat/bacon.
The Vegan Society may know about recipes, but using pulses in cakes would be unknown I guess.
Ground almonds, used for marzipan, were replaced by ground apricot seeds, flavoured with almond essence. I remember we sold it. A lot of people would be interested in this product now (containing laetrile), but its not available now- why not?
Nuts were not imported and seeds were not used as food. then.
The first Plamil (plant-milk) was made from cabbage (1964?), but quickly changed to soya.
I remember soyolk (soya flour) in 1957, but don’t think it was available earlier.
In 1957 our 100% wholemeal loaf sold for 10 old pence (controlled price). Most people ate the “standard loaf”, which was 81% , as opposed to 70% or less extraction now. It was illegal to have less than 81% flour/bread, for fear of malnourishment- It’s about time they introduced that rule again with our sickness and overweight ! Rolled oats were sold generally in grocery shops. We sold wholemeal flour, oatmeal, about 1/- (old money) a pound.
Granose (the Adventist factory) produced some peanut based tinned and packet foods.
Few chemicals were used on crops, and the government urged people to leave skins on veggies.
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Wow thank you Mike for a very informative response! I will save this and add it to a permanent page on the website about veggie lifestyles during the war- thank you!
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https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsMilk and dairy provide a source of Vitamin B12 and are a rich source of calcium. They also provide iodine. Other sources are fish and seafood. Dairy is a very important source of iodine in the contemporary British diet. Vegans can get iodine from seaweed but you have to know what you are doing as seaweed can be very high in iodine and too much iodine is bad for the thyroid. Iodinised salt is a convenient source in some countries.
Full fat milk was considered a very important food for children and they got priority in terms of the milk that was available.
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Ive just been looking at your recipe for wartime bread, the little blocks of yeast are avaliable at Morrisons Stores in the UK. Hope this helps. This site is just what i have been looking for.
hi.an 85yearold widowed wiganner living in cornwall remembering wartime in the landarmy in cumbria..and your site bringing memories of food during those years…going to the coop for rations in 1940..when i look at your recipes and memories of dried eggs..oh it certainly takes my mind back.to mother buying a hamshank for a few pence and dried peas soaking overnight .plenty of onions swede potatoes carrots to make pea and ham soup …oh so many more memories..yes they were the good old days with good and sad memories….
have just made pea and ham soup the wartime way …by gum its delicious…..weight loss here i come ..the only true diet wartime diet….karena 5
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Irene my mother used to make pea and ham soup we lived on it mainly in winter here in Australia and I still make that same soup and my family lives on it in winter very cheap a boiler [very very large pot] feeds us dinner for 4 people for about 5 days
Hi Irene- lovely to hear about you and the ham soup!! That is one thing I have not tried making yet!
Mmm maybe you have a recipe for Pea & Ham soup you could share- I’d love to make it!
Thanks for leaving a comment on here and I do hope you didn’t have too many sad memories during WWII…. just can’t begin to imagine what it was like
Yes Irene please if you have a recipe for Pea & Ham soup could you share. Or any other recipes!
Loving the blog Carolyn! And remember you don’t fail until you stop trying….
Oh and Thank you so much for the 1940’s UK radio link, I am so enjoying the music and the old radio programs. Dick Tracy was on lastnight with the Black Pearl of Osiris.
Congratulations on your previous success and I wish you more in the future.
I have been considering doing this with my family for some time and upon doing research tonight came across your blog.
Only question I have (which I have not been able to locate elsewhere) is in relation to the 16 points that were rationed. How do you know what that equates to with items? Is there a listing somewhere for an example?
Re: The 16 points. The guys from the “On the Ration” website have a list of items relating to the points. Check out their website and you will find the list.
Here’s a link from the “Wartime Housewife’s website – for pea and ham soup. http://wartimehousewife.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/pea-and-ham-soup-or-the-london-particular/
Loved stopping by ….
Kind regards, Bev 🙂
Thank you for all your messages and useful links!!!! Yay!! I do appreciate them!
Good luck with your diet.
Have you come across this 1940s music site?
Quite an interesting place to visit and listen to.
Ebay in Britain has a baker selling fresh yeast. Perhaps in your part of the world someone is selling it. It does make a difference when baking bread. Even the smell as the flour is proving is appetising.
Good luck again and all the best
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I certainly have and I listen to it regularly… infact they kindly asked me to do a radio spot which I am still very keen to do once i have sorted out a few things in my life… 🙂 I’d love to do some 1940s experiment recipes on there as well as pick my favourite music and nostalgic radio clips if they’d still have me…LOL!
Thanks so much Dave for your comment and tip about fresh yeast xxx
I just found your site and its so interesting! I will be checking back regularly for sure. Thanks for all of the information and sharing your journey
You’re welcome and thanks!
What a great blog!I love the HUGE pasties! Would you know what the ration list was like for vegetarians please – my son is doing WW2 at school this year and I think it would be good to stick to rations for a week but he doesn’t eat meat.
Vegetarians in 1940?
I should coco
Cabbage and potatoes with an onion
there were vegetarians in the 40’s 🙂 and what about people who didn’t eat bacon for religious reasons?
I don’t know what bacon’s got to do with anything I didn’t mention it.
Most people who could get to a field tended to get a few bunny rabbits for the pot.
Most vegetarians were middle class ‘toffs’ like George Bernard Shaw who had very strange ideas about everything.
If vegetarians have any principles they should be vegans. In which case no butter, cheese, milk, eggs, fish or anything else to do with animals.
As I say, potatoes, cabbage and onions.
Mediaeval English people tended to eat parsnips and beans. The meat went to the Normans up at the castle.
So add parsnips and beans to the diet. Very wholesome. Bon appetit.
bacon was listed as one of the rationed foods, that’s what it has to do about it – you are very hostile about vegetarians Dave 🙂
Sorry, don’t mean to be hostile.
One man’s meat is another man’s parsnip as they say.
My memories of rationing are of very basic meals, not vegetarian and not for the faint hearted as they consisted mainly of the bits other people throw away.
Salads were a piece of lettuce, a tomato, a couple of radishes, a scallion or two, perhaps a boiled egg and a couple of potatoes. Washed down with salad cream.
Perhaps soup would be a good ‘starter’ so to speak.
Chop a potato into small bits along with an onion, fry in butter or equivalent then add water with salt and pepper. Add some milk when it’s done and to thicken perhaps a bit of flour.
If you eat cheese you could make dumplings by grating some cheddar cheese, mixing with flour and water then dropping lumps of the mix into the boiling soup, put the lid on and simmer.
Impossible to equate the point system with specific products. The advantage of the scheme was that the points required could be adapted so that if a specific product was in short supply, the points needed for that product could be increased to reduce demand. This was a time when we all had to listen to the radio or read the newspapers to keep up with such information
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I stumbled across this sight totally by accident and I’m quite fascinated. I still have my Mums Ration book and never thought of using it as a diet aide.
I too am now overweight (my son was 4.6kg and illness has meant meds that have STACKED on the weight. I too have a passion for the style of the forties but find my weight means the fashions are off limits.
Best wishes to u. I wish u every success
Cheese dumplings! Great idea Dave, thank you!
We have started our weeks experiment – my 8 year old is doing WW2 at school and I think this is a great way to learn, yesterday we weighed out our rations for the week http://www.whataworld.co.uk/?p=196. I’ve used your ration amounts and the same for him (even though I know it should be half as he is a child) but I can’t be that mean! I’ve started menu planning, which is essential with a limited amount of fat but the sugar quantity looks huge to me!
By the way, there’s been an interesting programme on radio 4 each morning for the past week.
It may be on the website to ‘Listen Again’ if anyone is interested.
The programme was about wartime London and mainly about how hotels were exempt from rationing. So all the toffs went to the Savoy and elsewhere and carried on as normal.
So if you ever fancy a break from your rationing regime you could pop along to the local hotel and still be following the spirit of wartime Britain.
Even if the toffs went to a hotel the maximum price of a meal was capped at 25p, approximately three pounds in modern currency. For most people there were British Restaurants where a meal cost a maximum of 9p, the equivalent of one pound in modern currency. it was in a British restaurant I first experienced a curry and have enjoyed it ever since.
oh fab, thanks Dave, I found it, it’s called ‘The West End Front’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01749ry#synopsis I’ll listen now 🙂
Here’s the link to the programme I mentioned above.
In case the BBC moves the link you could always try searching for radio 4 schedules and trace it from there.
Dave, that programme was really interesting, thank you. I’ve just read a ook by Stella Gibbons (who wrote Cold Comfort Farm) called Westworld where a rich person loses a ration book and isn’t too bothered by it, that makes sense now I heard the programme.
Carolyn- are you sure it is 8oz of sugar a week – it seems like loads. We’ve been on rations for 5 days now and have heaps of sugar left, most of it in fact 🙂
Here’s a school site you may find interesting regarding rationing.
By the way, have you tried stovies?
It’s a Scottish ‘delicacy’ made from onions and potatoes and is very filling.
The basic recipe is to fry chopped onions and potatoes together until they go yellowish, top up with water, salt, pepper etc and simmer till everything goes tender and the liquid has gone.
It’s a bit like mashed potato and onions really but quite tasty.
Add more water and perhaps some milk and you’ve got a nice onion and potato soup.
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that is such a great site – the BBC one is good too – http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/subjects/history/ww2clips/sounds/air_raid_siren it is where I got the siren, bombing and all clear sounds for our air raids 🙂 We have a shelter under the table.
Stovies sound fab, thank you again! We ate out today so we have loads of food left despite a large brunch earlier in the day. Only 2 days to go and we will have done a whole week. I’ts been great for my son, it’s lovely to hear him say with feeling that he is lucky and that he is grateful for the things he has. We haven’t been hungry but we have had limits in our food – toast today had a tiny cube of butter ration to go with it instead of a generous smear.
Air raid sirens and a bomb shelter under the table?
What do the neighbours say?
I hope you’ve got the blackout up at the windows and have tape criss crossed on them as well.
Personally I’ve gone on the Winston Churchill diet. Bottle of spirits a day, big cigars and a haunch of venison rotating over the fire. (Sorry for the meat bit)
I think my mother thought the war was still on during the fifties. Me and my brother had a blackout up at the bedroom window every night for years to make us go to sleep. It was like living in a coal mine.
Don’t forget, walls have ears and careless talk costs lives.
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The neighbours are cool, they swapped 2 eggs for my sweet ration 🙂 We haven’t blacked out the windows or taped up the glass, though round here we have horizontal fireworks all winter so it would probably be a good idea 🙂
I’ve been putting war propeganda into my son’s packed lunch at school – mostly about Dr Carrot but it still isn’t making him eat them. I’m amazed at the amount of people who have said ‘no wine for a week!’ it’s not actually that big a deal but with a lingering cold a bottle of spirits sounds like a very good idea indeed.
Quote “If vegetarians have any principles they should be vegans. In which case no butter, cheese, milk, eggs, fish or anything else to do with animals.”
So, are you a vegan? If not, what makes you think you have the right to tell other people what to do?
I am not telling anyone what to do- I am carrying out my own social experiment for me and YES I currently follow a vegan diet and that is my own choice. I can decide when to follow it and when not to same as you make choices with your own diet… thanks
Are you a troll Coby? She’s not telling people what to do, just suggesting….It’s a ruddy wartime menu. Not much meat was available. Trust me, if the folks back then could get their hands on some animal protein, they grabbed it up. If you don’t like what you see in this blog/site, why are you even reading it? Is your ickle life that …ickle?? Sod off and go bother someone who gives a tinker’s damn.
I have a few questions. I’ve read somewhere on-line that the dry eggs rations would give a person 3 extra egg servings a week. Does that sound about right? Also would you know the amount of extra serving the dry milk rations would give or the weight of the milk package?
I’m going to try this diet more for weight loss but I do find the history of the home front fascinating. I’m amazed that you did this diet for so long. Most of the sites I’ve seen people tried it for a week or so. I love your site and bless you for adding American measurements to the recipes.
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Do you know what sort of nuts and seeds would have been available in the 1940’s? Its apparently the hardest question to google. lmao
https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHello,I was born right at the beginning of the war and remember a great deal of it. As for nuts, we have plenty of nut trees and bushes which naturally grow in the UK and people never allowed to go to waste. There are walnuts, chestnuts,cob or hazelnuts. Wild fruit such as blackberries, plums, damsons, strawberries, cherries and crab apples, to name a few were eagerly picked and taken home to be made into jam and chutney. Wild garlic leaves went into a salad or soup was made with nettle tops and too many other things to mention here. People now have lost touch with their roots and been seduced by the big pharmaceuticals and other multi nationals, which is a shame.
People gathered wild rose hips for the vitamin c and it was made into rose hip syrup to give to the nations children to keep them healthy.
There was no television and the radio was eagerly listened to when childrens hour was on. I must stop as this was a question about nuts.
The one thing I wish for, is that there is never another war. People are too soft and reluctant to help each other now.
I’m not 100% sure is the truthful answer to that… imported nuts such as almonds and walnuts etc were available in limited quantities but were quite expensive..my guess would be that when these were acquired they were probably saved up and used for special celebratory occasions like birthdays and christmas to make extra special food.. 🙂
Hi everyone. I will be updating this page very soon to reflect my new daily eating habits (now being vegan) so if anyone is eating a plant based diet too they can see how I’m getting my nutrition..
Also I intend to make contact with the Vegan Society and hopefully be able to ask questions and receive answers with regards to how vegans ate during the 1940s…I know vegetarians were given an extra cheese ration instead of meat but what concessions for the vegan?
I think this would have been addressed as the Vegan Society was formed during WWII
Hi Carolyn! I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve become vegan. I’ve just stumbled upon this page, and was concerned as to how I could adapt this diet to my vegan lifestyle. It will be a pleasure to see what you come up with and I’d love to follow along. Best of luck to you!
hi carolyn, what do you do for exercise? your weight loss to date is really awsome… im going to try to follow your example…
Hi 🙂 All I do at the moment is walk… walk outside on a nice day and enjoy the fresh air and the smell of the hedgerow, look at the sky, the trees, smile at people 🙂 But I also walk at the sports track when the weather is bad and that is kind of good because I can time myself and know how far I am walking etc. All in all I try and walk 30 minutes of brisk walking 4 or 5 days per week.
Am going to start a little weight training at home with weights to start trying to tone up a little soon but am in no rush.
Just the sheer pleasure of being able to walk comfortably provides all the motivation I need as seriously, it was a painful struggle to even walk a couple circuits of the track (400 m) when I first started walking and was 50 lb heavier..
Personally, I think the key is to do a little of something you enjoy and ensure it becomes a habit- they say even 15 minutes a day walking makes a lot of difference
I found your website a while ago and have loved reading your experiences thus far – you’ve inspired me and I actually think I’m going to give it a go! Going to sit down and figure out my portions/write a meal plan for the next week and see how I get on anyway. I’m mildly (ha) obsessed with all things 1940’s anyway, so this can just fuel the fire.
Did you ever watch that “1940’s House” programme that was on years ago? It was on in the UK but I think PBS syndicated it for the states (is there a Canadian equivalent?) Anyway there are a few good extracts from it lurking around on YouTube…really interesting and enlightening insight into life on the Home Front during the war…
I was thinking the same thing! I caught that series on PBS in So. Cal. it was really great. PBS had a number of shows like that, the Pioneer House, the Pilgrims Life, etc. All very interesting to watch us “soft” folk today try and live like our ancestors.
Just found your web site – it is fantastic – I was not born untill after the war but my parents and grandparents told me lots about it – especially the rationing – my grandmother used to show and do recipes with me and so I have grown up to do them as well – I prefer older recipes than newer ones – I have done eggless cakes and suet pastry with mashed potato – thank you for your web site – I will be visiting quite a lot for any new up dates
Get out! You live in Nova Scotia? What a beautiful place! Can’t wait to start the diet, although I do regret you are Vegan 🙂 as I like to eat things that had a face.
Will look for those cookbooks you mentioned. This is great, thanks for sharing.
Hi I’m vegan but only recently and I’ve cooked many recipes using meat and cheese and still do for my kids xxxxxxx I am re-creating authentic wartime recipes and some of those do contain meat. I just don’t eat the ones that contain meat or dairy anymore is all… or I make them up with alternatives for myself xxxx
I remember my mom’s stories about rationing. I have to say members of my mothers family never went without, as is evident from photographs. Quite the contrary, they were all very “well rounded”. I think they ate very well.
I am about to undertake the same type of experience for at least a month just to get a…taste (pun not actually intended) for what the civilians had to go through during the Second World War. Please feel free to email me any further tips you have to help me along at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Supersizers Go…WWII is another peek into what people went through with rationing. That is where I first got inspired to try this diet. They take a cheeky approach but still very informative. I remember seeing the PBS program years ago but they showed the all around struggles the British faced during the war. I’m just starting this diet and having trouble finding some of the things, apart from veggies, in order to be as acurate as possible so substitutions are necessary.
My mum was a teenager in the war, living in the London East End all through the Blitz with her mum. Mum says in the city, it’s all very well looking at the official ration entitlements, but theat was when you could actually get the stuff. When the supply ships were being bombed, there were terrible shortages. Just because you had the relevant coupons in no way entitled you to a particular food if there were none to be had in your chosen shop (you could only buy, say your meat ration at the butcher you’d nominated beforehand – you couldn’t shop around or just walk into any old shop and buy, you had to be a registered customer.) Of course, some things were off ration- but, again, in the towns and cities, only if you could get them at any one particular time. If you saw a queue, you just joined it and then asked what you were queuing for – you simply reckoned on there having been a delivery of something worthwhile at the end. And Mum hated the wartime loaf – the Doris Grant loaf, much lauded nowadays, but then it was made with wartime flour which was a dirty grey. Her fiancee – my dad – was in the Navy. All the food went to feed the men in the forces, so he came home wonderfully well-nourished. Mum ended the war (and the even worse starvation years immediately afterwards, when the country was a couple of days away from running out of food) weighing just over 7st (98 lbs), and that was with Nan often having gone without her own food to let Mum have a little extra as she was still growing and rather poorly. Hard times. Mind you – she’s 87 now, so what doesn’t kill you…
Thanks Jacey for your input!
Yes having watched the 1940s House many years ago I could see how it showed the reality of lack of supplies and often they would go to their local store to pick up some bare essentials and the shelves were bare…. mother and grandmother giving up their own food so the children could eat a proper dinner/pudding..
Given this situation I can see how people just wouldn’t waste food and everything was eaten off a plate..
I had heard about the dirty grey loaves of bread and how unpopular they were- really does sound pretty awful and for all those years!
I REALLY enjoyed reading your comment!!! Thank you 🙂
Can you explain the points system a little better? I’d like to get started on this as well, I just don’t understand it. If I had a rations book I might better understand. Thank you.
The points system (I’m referring to the points system in the UK) was used for food stuffs NOT on ration. Rationed food was food you could guarantee getting and the government set up rationing so everyone could get hold of basic foods for health regardless of wealth or position. In addition there was a points system and each person was allocated 16 points a month to purchase goods off ration. These tended to be convenience foods or foods that had to be imported so they were not always available due to supply ship bombing but nevertheless you could make your choice what to purchase subject to availability…
For instance a tin of spam was normally 16 points, maybe tinned salmon would have been 20 points, and then you had tinned beans, peaches etc
I found an interesting recollection on the BBC website of rationing and the points system during WW2 in the UK, I’ll try and dig that out later and post it here for you
I LOVE the 1940’s which let me to fall upon this blog (which is amazing I have to say, I am stealing some of your recipes to use myself!) but in contrary to you, I’m trying to GAIN weight, I’ve never been above 112lbs until now … I’m 36 weeks pregnant. My midwife is going a bit crazy at me because I was basically on the perfect weight gain until 4 weeks ago when it all slowed down. I physically don’t know how I can gain the last little bit! I really love home cooking and thought with things like spam in the 40’s diet .. just maybe bigger proportioning.. I could gain the weight needed and still feel true to my love for vintage.
After reading the rationing though I don’t think I ever could! How the hell do you survive on only 3 pints of milk a week!? I can estimate that I on my own get through around 5 pints of semi skimmed milk a week.. it could actually be more! Maybe I should cut down on my decaffeinated tea or porridge or warm milk before bed…
Hats off to you, I could not live as authentically as this! I looked at your pictures and you’re looking really great 🙂
I’m now off to Brasso my bathroom taps to make me feel better
H Melissa- thanks for leaving a comment. I’ve been watching some documentaries on line recently and have enjoyed listening to people who find it hard to put weight on and that was very interesting so I can empathize with you as it opened my eyes to the real struggle it can be for slim people and for heavy people…
I actually don’t drink milk at all 🙂 I do take my milk ration in flax, hemp or almond milk but STRUGGLE to use that up. I drink all my tea etc without milk. I just prefer it that way. I do have a hot chocolate at night if I can and do use my alternative milk in recipes..
Ooooo porridge is good! Always start the day with a big bowl of that 🙂
BRASSO!!! I remember that! Enjoy your polishing!!
I was born in 1946 as both my parents were in the airforce, so wartime rationing was too early but I can remember it lasted until 1953 as the country was too skint to import much. In fact rationing just after WWII was more severe. I can remember Mum organizing foraging trips out of london on the tube to the countryside for blackberries etc.
Thanks for your blog, I love it and I’ll definitely be trying out some of the recipes. I just wanted to let you and your readers know about a great series that is currently running on the BBC which gives an insight into how people (and specifically farmers) coped with many shortages during WWII: Wartime Farm. The series led me to google wartime recipes and bought me to your blog. For those outside the UK there are episodes on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/curf2b4. I remember Brasso and I was born in 1975! That said, my grandfather used to iron his socks and pants, so I guess some traditions die hard.
Carolyn – thank you so muich for a wonderful website! I have tried many of your recipes and thoroughly enjoyed them! I was born in 1954 – the year meat came off rationing! I remember my mother making a “chesse soup” or “cheese dip” to use up stale hardened cheeses – she would grate or finely chop the cheese and place it in a saucepan, covering it with a mix of milk and water and then boil it up. The cheese melted and became a sort of rubbery mass at the bottom of the saucepan while the fats in the cheese seperated and floated on the top! So you ended up with a yellowy watery “soup”! I know it sounds disgusting but in reality it was delicous and a good way to use up stale(ish) bread by dipping the bread in it. The rubbery cheese at the bottom of the pan made a wonderfully tasty sandwich! On a good day she would add bacon pieces to the mixture – I have just made some and enjoyed a delicious supper!
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Ummm, I’m not sure what your point is?
Yep, this site is about a 1940’s diet, we can all giggle at the “sexperiment” aspect, I often have!
However, a 1940’s diet worked for millions of people then, and for many of us it works now….
Can you elaborate on your post?
Hello, I wasn’t born until 1965 however I was brought up by my grandmother, who was a chef and lived through the war whilst bringing up 3 children and feeding a husband and refugees from London! As a child she still grew veggies in the garden (a waste of good earth otherwise apparently) and had an allotment. After becoming disillusioned with the way our country is going (food mountains yet huge prices) I decided to to try find out about Wartime food, as we were all slimmer and much healthier…it led me to this site! Great, love it and will continue to follow! but can you please give inspiration for mealtime ideas and not just recipes, as I would like to understand how meals were prepared ie what they ate with what. Am hoping to loose weight to as modern diets just arent helping, thanks
Isabel, menu planning was a skill that wartime housewives had to learn, some didn’t do as well as others. I find the best thing to do is to think about your food in the context of no frozen / and very little tinned or packet goods. And then shut out the fridge, they didn’t have that luxury for the majority of the population, so everything had to be done with a view to eating it up before it goes off.
I plan a meal two days out, and where I have to buy a fixed quantity of something, as shops often sell in fixed quatities these days, I look at what else I can do with that ingredient. Such as meaty gravy, I look at what I can do with the left over meaty gravy, hey presto I look to make pasties or pies with it. Potato pastry of course. And they become the next days dinner or perhaps lunch. And it depends on how many you are cooking for.
I have found it gets a little easier as time goes on! You really just need to experiment as I don’t know of any hard and fast rules and I am thinking that most of us on here are too young to remember it first time around to have that prior knowledge
Hi Sorry this should have been replied to you for the advice! early morning sorry.
Thank you for your advice and how’s this working for you?
Hi Carolyn, thank you for your prompt reply! Yes I can remember we didn’t have a fridge but a cellar and cold store and that was the 60’s and 70’s! I do generally cook and shop as you mentioned but just with more items I think but yes you’re right so need to try harder thank you. Am trying to convince my teenage boys to join me with this…. Will let you know 🙂 you’re looking amazing by the way, great pics so keep on with this please, an inspiration….. Or as they say ‘keep calm and carry on’
If you can get hold of one on Ebay the book entitled “Eating for Victory” contains reproductions of Official WW2 instruction Leaflets which includes Meal Plans for both complete main meals and suppers along with a general guide to food during the war. Lots of advice on food storage, bottling, preserving etc, get one if you can as it really is very useful.
Thanks Kate, will check if I can get hold of it….I still have a few of my grans old cookbooks and I have tried lots of these…frugal but fun trying.
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I’m starting my own wartime diet tomorrow! I’ll be blogging about the experience here: http://www.homefrontseamstress.co.uk and I’ve done a lot of research into the different rations available for the points system and children, as well as the standard 1-adult rations you’ve shown above.
Wish me luck!
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Been wondering recently if these days it’d be possible to live on ration amounts as we’re so used to convenience food & ready meals. Think I’ll give it ago.
I love your blog and have mentioned it several times on my blog, CharmoftheCarolines.com. Recently I made the spam hash.
My question for you is… what does your typical weekly grocery list contain? I go to the market and purchase a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies, only to have them ruin days later and there is nothing to eat in the house, so I drive through a fast-food restaurant.
Hi Susan.. I will be updating my blog properly this evening as I’ve a lot to address and get off my chest and will include what I typically buy when I go shopping twice a week xxxx
I think you are a great woman, and your weight loss is amazing, I just want to know an average shopping list for you. Those store cupboard items do you count the ingredients to make bread as rationed. Again you are awesome, all the best from a Lincolnshire lass.
Just found this site and find it really interesting.
I have been eating ‘proper’ food – cooked fresh, from scratch, for several years now. “Never put anything in your mouth that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food”.
i was born at the very end of the WWII and don’t remember much about the food I was made to eat!
I do remember my mother taking the sugar ration to Thorntons and swapping it for their Special Toffee! I also remember us going to ‘the Food Office’ to get tins of National Dried Milk and bottles of condensed orange juice (with a baby blue screw top) – tasted fabulous!
Didn’t expectant and nursing mothers get extra rations? I got Milk Tokens in the 60s and 70s.
When my sister and I stayed with our Grandmother, we had ‘bread and milk’ for supper – my sister loved it, I hated it. Recipe: broken up stale bread in a bowl with warm milk poured over it.
I have my Grandmother’s Radiation Cookery book – 1938 edition. You can still get copies on Ebay – I bought one for a friend, from the year her parents married… an earlier edition than my Gran’s.
Many people, including my grandmother, never broke their wartime habits over food and switching lights off, which is not a bad thing these days. In the 50s, my friend’s parents were still using sweetened condensed milk, kept in their sideboard, for their cups of tea, even though they had a fresh milk delivery!
I remember that I had a small fried egg, a rasher of streaky bacon and half a slice of (un-buttered) bread, every day, for breakfast throughout 50′ and 60s. My Grandmother sparsely buttered bread – small Hovis only for my Grandfather, and white for the family – all sliced by hand, when we went for tea. It was served with home-made jam or lemon curd, or, for a change potted meat or salmon paste, bought by the quarter (lb) from th Co-op. We always had home-made cake – usually a single layer Victoria sponge with white icing made with lemon juice. Mmmmm!
Dried prunes/figs and custard, or ground rice for pudding. Drle Dale Pudding – a frugal version of Queen of Puddings – no meringue: the ONE egg white would be whipped up, on a plate, with knife, then mixed wth sugar and dessicated coconut for teatime Coconut Pyramids! Rice pudding on Sunday, cold on Monday. I still have the large Pyrex dish that my Grandmother made it in.
My Grandmother had a rigid meal plan: roast beef on Sunday, Cold on Monday (wash-day – she had an electric washing machine, with a wringer!), Tueday (ironing day) Shepherd’s pie, Wednesday (Town’s Women’s Guild afternoon) stew, Thursday (baking day) pie, Friday (shopping day) fish – delivered, Saturday lunch with friends at the same restaurant!
As posters have mentioned wartime tinned food was scarce, which accounts for tinned peach halves only being served when visitors came for tea, with tinned cream, and tinned salmon sandwiches. I still love the sandwiches for Christmas Day tea – the ONLY time I eat white bread.
A factory-owning lace manufacturer, my Grandfather also had a plot of land where he grew fruits and vegetables. My Grandmother made jams, marmalade, bottled fruits and pickles, to be stored in the boxroom with apples, and pears – that room always smelled of apples!
We too had an army blanket hung over the bedroom curtains in Winter – still had fairy ice patterns all over the windows in the mornings. Also, bath night (Sunday) was as quick as possible!
My Grandmother knitted all our woollies. My mother (an Airlift widow) sewed most of my sister’s and my clothes. Liberty bodices, for warmth, were bought. Our Christmas presents often included hand-made items – scarves, hats, mittens etc, and one year our mother made us a Treasure Cot each, sewing the drapery and bedding and making the frames from dowelling. Never got bedsocks! Brrrrrrr.
This theme will run for ever! Born in 1937, I can recall quite a bit of the wartime food problems, but mostly it seemed to be a matter of ‘going without’ rather than ‘getting round the problem.’
A few recollections:
No sweets! Perhaps all the points were used up, or maybe there weren’t any to be had. We ‘made do’ by buying liquorice root, which wasn’t rationed.
Grey bread! Someone else has already mentioned this. When white bread reappeared (around 1950?) it looked very insubstantial and unreal.
My Mother made our bread at home. She used to leave the pan in front of the fire to rise. One day, she found our spaniel resting his head on the rising dough – it was nice and soft, and warm in front of the fire! Luckily, she had put a coth over the dough (or so she said) so that was not spoiled.
My Mother used to go down to the ‘Black Market’ (in Bradford) until one night it got bombed out. I don’t know how she managed after that. We were always queuing for everything, and the food shops were perpetually empty.
Chickens to eat were unheard of. We tried keeping our own in the back garden, and one of my childhood memories was watching my Father make the run for them. Alas, he did not make it thief proof! As the chickens were getting near to laying, they all disappeared overnight. We were without both eggs (because you had to give up your points for the chicken food) and the chooks themselves.
Watery milk; lentil Irish stew; concentrated orange juice. Everyone ploughed up their lawns to grow vegetables. No street lights, so you might find that everything had gone by the morning. School milk. And on one occasion, we sat down to the table on a Sunday, and the meat ration was so small that all we could do was sit and laugh at it.
I don’t think it was all healthy, as many of your posters make out. People had hollow cheeks, mothers went without to give their children more, and I am sure there must have been a lot of problems with the cold winters, with clothes wearing out and getting thin, coal tightly rationed, and houses which had very little insulation compared with today.
I for one would not go back there!
I was born in 1935, so was at school during rationing. As we were brought up in that situation we did not, in fact, miss anything. We just ate everything that was put in front of us.
The National Loaf was about 85% of the wheat, as opposed to that dreadful imitation of bread, that tasteless white stuff that so many people eat today, which has to be fortified with chalk etc. to replace the 30+ minerals and vitamins that are lost in the milling.
At age 15, when I grew some common-sense I ate only 100% wholewheat bread, full of all the natural goodness, including essential fibre.
All of this contributed to improved health, as claimed by the official medical authority:
We certainly did not see all those fat and obese people we see today. We cannot only blame parents, as manufacturers and government have permitted a free for all, where manufacturers pad out food with rubbish, paying little attention to food value-; they’ve always done that. Look at the recipes of old tins of soups, made thick with starch, with few proper natural ingredients.
I remember queuing for 1 sweet a day after our mid-day meal!
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I appreciate your candid recollections of life during WWII. I’m fascinated with this era and eternally grateful to all the people, especially the military, who have earned the title “The Greatest Generation.”
The civilians, in my opinion, were an interesting class. Not necessarily military, but none the less vitally important to the war effort and with their own set of sacrifices and hardships.
I live in a 1920 Craftsman Cottage and my central heat is set on 65* which is quite chilly considering I still have single paned windows that are nearly 100 years old and most of the heat escapes. Still, I am grateful for this luxury considering I didn’t have to chop wood for a fire or stoke coals in a furnace under the house or go without. And all this is on a full belly! What would life be like with rationed food and fuel?
What would be the reaction today if we were asked to make similar sacrifices?
One other thought to share. I just discovered the Mass Observations diaries and I’m completely entranced in their pages. “Nella Last’s War” was the first one I read and now I’m half-way through Olivia Cockett’s diary “Love and War in London.” i highly recommend them!
Hi – Read abt you on the DM.
Congratulations on your achievements!
I just love your website! I am fascinated by the 30s & 40s and am currently working on downsizing my life, including my weight, and getting healthier. I am planning a garden, where I can grow most of my own food and your site will be a huge help to me.
Thank you so much for providing all of this wonderful information and inspiration!! You are a treasure 🙂
We had 2 pet rabbits. Came home from school one day in 1943 to rabbit stew, and 1 less rabbit. Have never, ever eaten rabbit since.
Lived with grandparents during war. Gramps saw it coming so stored jars of jam, bags of sugar, jelly crystals and flour under my bed. We ate that jam after 3 years storage, but had to scrape the mould off the top first. Eggs were preserved in a big stone crock in eisenglass. Our concrete bomb shelter was in the dining room. You didn’t see any fat people in those days though. Gramps used to send me to the co-op for UTC butter. That stood for under the counter – no ration coupons exchanged hands. The manager was his friend of course. We kids learned to eat cauliflower stalks raw from the allotments. Still like munching on them.
These rations look very small, it must have been very hard for the housewives to keep their families fed properly during those times. It makes me respect the generation who survived the war even more.
Simon Garfield has compiled three books of diaries from the Mass Observation Project – in chronological, not published order they are: We are at war (the year preceding the war to just after the declaration of war), Private Battles (4 diarists accounts of the war years until just after VE day) and Our hidden lives (the post war years to 1948).
It is easy to forget that the war did not end for Britain with VE day, that the rationing continued through to 1954 until the last of it ended (for meat). The diarists in the Our Hidden Lives are still struggling as much as they were during the war and the harsh winter in 1946/47 with the accompanying power crisis did not help. Power to homes was restricted – often down to 19 hours a day, coal couldn’t get through to power stations and much of it was exported, there was the threat of food shortages and of course once the country began to thaw out a whole host of other problems occurs.
We are lucky we are able to experience some aspects of their lives – such as rationing – without the other attendant stresses that went with the time.
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In fact whjen someone doesn’t understand after that its up to other people that they will assist, so hrre it happens.
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Wht is a meal for a family of 4 in world war 2 during rationing
I started at the beginning of this blog and if you scroll back and meander through you’ll find all the answers you need and some you didn’t realise you needed
I started at the beginning of this blog and meandered my way down to here – you do the same and you’ll find all the answers you need and perhaps some you didn’t know you needed!
sorry, it took so long to download I thought I had not sent it properly!
You had to be one tough son of a bitch living during ww2.
Hello. I’ve just started trying to live by ww2 rationing, and just weighed out 2oz of butter. It seems quite a lot when it’s in my little bowl.( I keep my sugar , tea, jam and butter away from my husband s) am I just mad?
i am restarting my diet too. it is difficult to keep track of your “rations” sometimes. my partner will always nick things i have made such as rock cakes and he is always mixing up the sugar and milk. good luck x
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You need to bear in mind that the 2 oz. had to serve for everything; cooking as well as spreading on bread.
Your weekly ration list doesn’t include flour, oatmeal or other grain. Granted you could grow fruit and vegetables in the family garden (my family did!), cereal grains can’t be grown very effectively at that level. How much wheat, bread, or oatmeal was available to a person per week?
Your weekly ration list does not include bread, oatmeal or other grain products. How much of those were available per person per week?
These items were not rationed. For short period, after the war I think, bread MAY have been rationed.
I’m from the suburbs of Montréal, Canada.Thank you for your website, your “conversion” of measurements (our smaller tablespoons) and all your recipes and comments. I was curious about Marmite, so I look up the ingredients and availability here in Canada. I will do without since it’s yeast and salt laden and would keep me bloated. I don’t drink beer for that reason. I know it’s not fat but water retention, but I REALLY want that weight off! 😉
Been looking all over the internet, I don’t suppose you know what the rationing for children was? just out of interest as there’s loads of rationing for adults but I personally cannot find anything which says what the allowance was for children
The rationing for children was no different than that for adults.
Sorry if this has been answered but how would I find out what things cost in points
Hi. Really enjoying all your recipes. Thanks for sharing. I have a teenage boy and a little 2 year old girl and have been struggling to find reliable info as to children’s rations. I’ve seen some sources say they got half an adult’s allowance but others saying that they were given full rations and for parents to make sure they had their meat allowance in full as they needed more protein. Any info would be much appreciated.
Don’t know if anyone will find this helpful but The National Archives have data on the National Food Survey. Here is the link: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130103014432/http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/foodfarm/food/familyfood/nationalfoodsurvey/
If you click on 8th download on list you get a spreadsheet showing how much of different food stuff was consumed over the years 1942 to 1996 for each individual year. It was very interesting to see how things have changed over the years (i.e. meat consumption increase, sugar increased then decreased, etc). What really suprised me is how bread and cereal consumption has decreased quite dramatically – interesting when carbs are being demonised.
Still haven’t managed to find much on how much rations children got though.
Just in case anyone was interested, it looks like children over the age of 5 had full adult meat ration and extra milk and children under 5 got extra eggs: https://barstew.wordpress.com/food-rationing-in-britain-ww2-3/.
I’m presuming this means that children got the same rations plus extras.
How much were kids allowed in a week?
https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHI great site. Hope yopu have a break for Xmas. On the subject of break; do you know much about “surrendering egg shell registrations” in the post war rationing process? Who did one give these to, inorder to get a ration of balancer meal [ for laying fowl/hens]?
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First of all, thank you for sharing all of this very interesting information. Has anyone here seen the guidelines recently released to slow global warming and aid the task of feeding the world’s population? Sounds a bit familiar – less than 50 grams per day eggs, sugar, meat etc..
Ho, I remember a friend helping her ten year old son with History homework.
They learned how terrible rationing was, and to talk about a time they could not get what they wanted.
I told him rationing was not terrible; that being in Germany or Japan and not having anything to eat because you had no food, had even eaten your dog last month, not being able to feed him.
That is terrible.
(Faddy eating is terrible too).