Thriftlady's wartime experiment

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
829 replies 208.8K views
thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
9.1K Posts
I've been Money Tipped!
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
Grow fit not fat on your wartime diet ! Cut out ‘extras’; cut out waste; don’t eat more than you need.
You’ll save yourself money; you’ll save valuable cargo space which is needed for munitions and you’ll feel fitter than you ever felt before.’

Ministry of Food Bulletin

Well, that about sums up why I’m feeding my family on wartime rations this week and, all being well next week and maybe beyond. I’m not so worried about cargo space, but the rest of the above bulletin is very appropriate.

I’ve always been fascinated by the home front and have amassed a collection of articles and books on the subject. One of the first was an article in the BBC Good Food mag back in 1998 which challenged a family to manage for a week on rations. There was a more recent article in Good Housekeeping doing the same thing but marking the 50th anniversary of the end of rationing. Another interesting article is this one –
Because the amounts of rationed food varied throughout the war it is difficult to be completely accurate and authentic but I’ll do my best. Also sometimes it was difficult to get hold of non-rationed foods like onions, fish and sausages. I won’t have this problem as, let’s face it, it isn’t difficult to get hold of any foodstuff you like nowadays.

These are the weekly rations for one adult
Meat –this was rationed in money not by weight but it was roughly equivalent to 2 lamb/pork chops or 12 oz mince/stewing steak or you could combine rations to buy a decent sized joint. Chicken was scarce. Offal and sausages were not rationed but hard to get. Wild game such as rabbit was not rationed.
Milk (whole only available)- 3 pints
Sugar- ½ lb
Butter – 2 oz
Margarine – 4 oz
Cooking fat (dripping/lard) – 3 oz
Cheese (English hard cheese) – 3 oz
Bacon and ham -4 oz
Eggs -1
Dried egg -¼ packet (equivalent to 3 eggs)
Sweets and chocolate -2 oz
Jam- 3 oz
Tea -2 oz (18 teabags)

There was a points system -16 per person per month –which allowed you to buy tinned goods, orange juice, cereals, rice and pulses.
Off ration were: bread (though not after the war), potatoes, oats, fresh fish, and homegrown fruit and veg.

For our family of 2 adults and 3 children I’ve made some adjustments to the rations –Ok I’m cheating a bit :D

Meat- 3½ lbs
Milk -16½ pints (children between 5-18 got 3½ pints)
Sugar -2½ lbs (I doubt we’ll use all this)
Butter – 30 oz –this is where I’m cheating, I’m taking my marge as butter too. I hate marge and prefer natural ingredients and since the calories are the same it won’t affect the nutritional aspect of the experiment. 30 oz is 3 packs plus a bit.
Cooking fat -15 oz
Cheese -15 oz
Bacon and ham -20 oz (this week we’re having 8 oz ham and12 oz bacon)
Eggs – a tricky one -dd is allergic as you probably know, so the question is, would we have got her ration and divided it between the rest of us or would she have got extra cheese or meat instead ? I’ve decided not to take it or substitute anything else for her as we’re probably going to be cheating quite a bit anyway.
I’m also undecided about taking the dried egg as fresh, because from a nutritional pov there’s no difference in dried egg and fresh eggs. So if I take the 3 dried eggs as fresh we have 16 which I’ll be pushed to use. We’ll see, I don’t really want to make egg dishes for 4 of us and something else for dd.
Sweets and chocolate -15 oz ! this is really more than we have in a week, so no problem.
Jam – 10 oz, that sounds like a lot but ds1 is pretty liberal with the stuff. It’s all hm btw.
Tea – I don’t know if children got this. Even so 36 teabags for OH and self is more than enough.

Things I’m definitely cheating on
Neither of which were rationed, just not as popular as they are today.
Orange and apple juice for the children –they don’t drink much, but I don’t want a mutiny and I know they won’t notice the other wartime strictures –in fact they’ll get more sweets than they’re used to. Maybe I’ll swap sweets for juice.

Resources I'll be using:
We'll Eat Again
The Victory Cookbook
The Postwar Kitchen
all by Marguerite Patten
Good Eating -this is a facsimile book of a wartime cookbook published by the Daily Telegraph. It has some really interesting recipes and includes garlic in a few which I was surprised about.

Shopping - I'm buying most of my fruit, veg and milk from a local farmshop and most of it is locally grown. The kids have to have apples though so they're imported at the moment (roll on August when the first of our homegrown crop is ready) I also rely on frozen peas but at least they're British. Meat is from my butcher and everything else from Tesco or Waitrose.

Menu for yesterday

Breakfast - little pancakes made with sour milk (very wartime) and golden syrup, orange juice

lunch for kids -ham sandwiches, strawberries, carrot sticks and bread pudding
lunch for me -leftover rice and smoked mackerel with salad, apple

kid's snack -leftover choc chip muffins (needed eating)

supper -leftover sliced pork in gravy, leftover spuds + some fresh ones mashed and fried till crisp (yum), broad beans and peas
raspberries with top of the milk.

Today's menu
breakfast for the kids - porridge made with milk, a drizzle of golden syrup, toast, butter and jam and orange juice.

I had a banana with my porridge which is definitely cheating but it needed eating and wasting it would have been worse;)

lunch for kids -cheese and carrot sandwiches, carrot cookies, strawberries

Not sure what I'm having- possibly beetroot soup and bread, but I need some protein at lunch or I get ravenous by 4, maybe I'll have my egg ?
OH has taken a tuna sandwich and an apple.

Supper - final remains of roast pork in a hash with veg or as rissoles with salad and spuds.
Duke pudding for afters (breadcrumbs, carrot and dried fruit- very good)

Kids' snack -apples or raisins.

Hope that's of interest, feel free to ask questions:)



  • Penelope_PenguinPenelope_Penguin Forumite
    17.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Best Buy Bear
    Hi, thriftlady, great thread! Especially intersting about the sweet ration. I understood that a lot of people kept a pig and some hens for more meat and eggs, and dug up gardens for veg growing. Do you know how common that was? Pigs are known to be the best *recyclers* of kitchen waste.

    My FIL's mother lived in rural West Berkshire, and her father *aquired* venison, rabbit, hare, partridge, pheasant, etc. She often complained about how often she had to eat game :D

    Penny. x
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • GreenNinjaGreenNinja Forumite
    601 Posts
    Love this thread, the carrot cookies sound nice! do you have the recipe?

    During the war my Dad (just before he was called up) kept rabbits which he sold to the butcher. His older brother was in the Merchant Navy and managed to get some tinned food and stockings on the quiet and bring home.
  • catzninecatznine Forumite
    3.2K Posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    :T Well done Thriftlady! I am going to enjoy reading this thread. I have a copy of the Stork Wartime cookery book (I am using it for a WW11 project of my own at the moment- just collecting recipes) Seemed to be a lot of offal recipes though! including quite a few using tripe :eek: Is that something you would consider cooking? Personally I would be happier using the corned beef or tinned salmon recipes.

    If you want me to type up any recipes from the book just ask.

    Catz x
    Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.

    Jan grocery challenge £35.77/£120
  • Linda32Linda32 Forumite
    4.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    It certainly is of interest and I will follow this thread.

    I expect I'll have lots of questions.
  • Mrs_DawnMrs_Dawn Forumite
    206 Posts
    This is a great idea, especially in the throw away society we live in now.
    I will certainly be checking out your thread as you progress.
    Good luck.:T
    DFW Nerd 410:T
    Proud to be dealing with our debts:j
  • thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
    9.1K Posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    I understood that a lot of people kept a pig and some hens for more meat and eggs, and dug up gardens for veg growing. Do you know how common that was? Pigs are known to be the best *recyclers* of kitchen waste.
    I think the gardening was very widespread, I'd certainly do it under those circumstances.

    Chickens too were pretty common, but I think you had to swap your egg ration for chicken feed. It still meant you probably had more eggs though.

    I know there were 'pig clubs' in some areas where a street would club together to buy a pig and collect waste veg peelings etc to feed it.

    In fact feeding animals was a problem as dogs and cats didn't get a ration book:D . A really informative book is The Wartime Kitchen and Garden by Jennifer Davis. It covers food, growing and looking after animals in wartime, it has recipes dotted about too.

    catznine I'm not sure I'd try tripe, it's probably the only thing I'm a bit squeamish about and my kids would never eat it:eek: I like tinned stuff like corned beef, Spam and tinned fish though and liver and kidneys are delicious (although the kids don't like them unless well disguised). We also like rabbit so that's firmly on the menu, and I've got some pigeon in the freezer that needs using up.
  • droniddronid Forumite
    590 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Combo Breaker Photogenic
    What a coincidence! I'm just about to do much the same thing myself. Will watch with interest! I think the Dried egg eas supposed to last a bit longer than a week. I'd just make sure I'd track the number of eggs I'd use and ensure it stayed below the limits. A bit horrified by the amout of sugar but then they didn't have anything sweet and it was helpful to make more jam and cakes/biscuits as the diet could be quite bland.

    I could make it better myself at home. All I need is a small aubergine...

    I moved to Liverpool for a better life.
    And goodness, it's turned out to be better and busier!
  • Linda32Linda32 Forumite
    4.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Hi Thriftylady,

    I've just thought of a question and its possibly one I've been meaning to ask anyway, if you don't mind.

    But regarding Jam making, does it still work out economical to buy in the fruit, I assume you can't grow all of your own all year around.

    Or do you justify the cost, when you compare home made with the cost of "finest" ranges.

    We never have Jam you see so it would be an extra cost alround for us.
  • Plum_PiePlum_Pie Forumite
    1.3K Posts
    Oooh, I've just started 'The Night Watch' by Sarah Waters. It's brilliant and I love the descriptions of all the scrimping that had to be done.

    I shall enjoy your thread.
  • thriftlady_2thriftlady_2 Forumite
    9.1K Posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    Dronid I think one of the biggest sugar-eaters was all the cups of tea the nation got through in those days. I don't know anyone who has sugar in tea but I think it was pretty widespread then and that's when so many of the older generation gave up sugar in their tea.

    Good luck with your project -please swap notes :)

    Carrot Cookie Recipe

    This is adapted from We'll Eat Again by Marguerite Patten (national treasure;) )
    It's not really a cookie, more of a mini rock bun type thing. My kids haven't had them before so I'll let you know how they went when they get back from school. I thought they were quite pleasant but not the sort of thing you have to scoff the lot of -this is a good thing for me ;) as home baking is my down fall.

    1 tbsp marge or butter
    2 tbsp sugar
    a drop of vanilla or other flavouring if liked.
    4 tbsp of grated carrot (that's about half a big carrot-I used the rest in sandwiches)
    6 tbsp self-rasing flour

    Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy, add carrot and flavouring. Work in the flour. At this point the mixture was really stiff and dry so I added milk to make a sticky dough. on reflection I think I added 6 oz of flour not 6 tbsp :doh: so you may not need the milk.

    Drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking tray (save your butter papers for greasing;) ) and bake in a 'brisk oven' for 20 mins. Makes 12-15.

    No, I didn't know what a brisk oven was either :D , I decided it meant moderately hot and baked them at 190c.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Latest MSE News and Guides

PCR tests to end for fully vaccinated

Travellers returning to England in Oct

MSE News

Free Homebuilding & Renovating Show tix

London, Harrogate & Shepton Mallet

MSE Deals