Questions we get asked as 1940s rationers


My hubbie, 3 kids (aged 8, 6 and 3) and I started using 1940’s rationing experiment on the 19th december 2011… so far so good.
 
We have by no means starved or lacked for anything, we’re making our own food from scratch, baking our own bread, cakes and biscuits and generally benefitting from better health.
We’re also getting the garden ready to grow our own fruit and veg.
A weekly shop for the 5 of us has dropped from about £100 per week to £30 -£40 per week… Ive also lost a stone and thats on a diet of full fat foods like whole milke, real butter and cooking with lard.
 
So if you could save money and become healthier would you try rationing?
 
” Isnt rationing your food boring (due to lack of variety)?”
Ummm so far no not really. We’re not just using wartime recipes… as much as I looooove my Marguerite Pann book (and will soon be expanding my library), we often make it up as we go along, or adapt recipes from other more modern cook books to our 1940’s ration. It keeps things interesting.
 
I suppose an example of this would be sausages… sausages were NOT rationed in the war … with that in mind we do buy the occational pack every now and again… but  they were hard to obtain in 1940, so we wont be eating them on a weekly basis. In fact if we can get away with a weekly menu with out them, we will.
 
“If you cant find the right ingredients for recipes what do you do?”
One of 2 options, change the recipe or adapt it . Quite often the 1940’s recipes call for a specific combination of veg for example, veg we havent bought that week… so we use what we have, and we so far havent been dissapointed. The wartime recipes were actually surprisingly giving and versitile. For a reasonably recent recipe we decided to add a handful or two of pasta shells we had in the cupboard… it spread the meal out and was far more filling.
 
“Do you miss eating meat, chocolate, crisps, fruit etc?”
No…lol… in a word. We do eat meat, but between the 5 of us its only 1kg per week… which is two meals. Just to clarify thats red meat. Ham and bacon was on a different ration, sausages and offal was not rationed and fish, when available was also off ration.
Chicken funnily enough wasnt really on the menu… at the beginning of the war allot of the chickens were culled to save on animal feed… what was left was needed for egg laying. Game was a substitute when available.
 
Veggies of course were far easier to grow than to buy and quite often an undecerning grocer would adopt a first come first serve attitude… which meant if you weren’t at the front end of the line, you may not get it… even if it WASN’T on the ration. This is also why so many grew their own veg.
 
Junk food we dont really miss as much as we thought… with a fare bit of baking going on and 3kg of sweets per month the kids actually havent noticed. I do very occationally miss the odd packet of cheese and onion… but thats where the black market crisps at mams dried fruit comes in. 🙂
 
We do eat quite a bit of fruit either fresh, dried or baked into things… its just bananas and exceptionally tropical fruit with weird names we’re not really eating during the experiment.
 
“Do you save much money?”
Absolutely, a quarter of our income actually goes into savings now… which isnt a fortune but really does add up over time… plus we are now in the fortunate position to have paid off all our debts. So the money coming in, however small, can be set out, saved or spend accordingly.
I was just saying the other day how we have 1 main account, 1 holiday savings account and a bills account in the bank… it makes life and spendin easier know what you see is what youve got… if it say £0 you go home!
 
“Why do you shop at Aldi if youre saving money, with the savings you can buy better quality stuff ?”
We actually really like Aldi, and rarely shop at the bigger supermarket now. I was devistated one day when trying out a new Asda store in our area to discover my £27 shop at Aldi cost £44 at Asda. The quality at Aldi is superb, like most German products and produce the quality cannot be faulted.
 
“As long as you get sufficient nutrients and vitamins, that actually sounds like a really good diet idea. I’m not sure I’d try it personally (there are too many modern products I love, such as Nutella!), but it sounds like a great concept.”
Most importantly there were chocolate spread recipes 😀 Which I’ll be trying out really soo as the kids really liked the shop bought variety before the experiment began.
 The kids (and us obviously) get allot of vits and minerals through the immense amount of fruit and veg we eat with our meals. We aim for at 4-5 (or more if available) veg with every dinner, fruit with the morning porridge and dried fruit/ fresh fruit/ raw veg at lunch and during the day.
 
“Well since things are much more healthier from then and now, and other things, i would, (actually now im considering since your have lost a stone) but anyways, It does sound like an original idea, better than a crash diet that my friend did, and a diet my dad put me on that contained brown bread, brown pasta, brown rice and everything. It only lasted a day because everything was yakkk!!”
As I have put a few time when posting… although we are thrying to improve our health (or prove people in the 40s were healthier) we are NOT attempting to actually diet ourselves and loose weight. Any weight loss is a result of an improved diet and increased activity (not exercise as yet… not if i can get away with it) like walking to town, walking kids to and from school/ afterschool activities and the weekly shop.  Baking bread has also been marvelous for my bingo wings lol.
 
“Personally yes, to some extent. i like the whole saving money and eating more matural home made foods, and home grown goods, but…. there are modern oils available that are locally sourced and more health (less cholesterol)
also variety is very important in the diet and also quite excitiong for childeren to try new and exotic things, so i would always have to substitute alot with natural fruits and vegetables, grains and etc (rice, pasta, grains, beans and any other healthy ingriedients that cannot be home made or locally sourced.)”
We havent really had to loose out on and fruit or veg really, there was a big variety of veg during the war… there was very little tooth decay during the war and very little heart disease (was a fraction of what it is today with our modern oils)… even with our full fat butter, cheese, milk and cooking with lard. Variety wise the kids do enjoy the different foods we try, and although they come from the same country the kids do (UK) they sometimes seem culturally miles apart from modern day fish fingers and spag bol not decades away.
Rice, pasta, grains, beans and many pulses were eaten during the war, some may have been hard to get hold of on occasion… but they were eaten. Pulses were actually part of the 16 points ration. Our diet is no exception. Another good source of nutrients was the national flour during ww2, which (flavour wise and in cooking/ baking) took some getting used to but was far better for you that any ‘best of both’ you can get now.
 
“How much more are you spending in fuel? I trust you are using the regulation 9” of bath water which is shared?
Mind you don’t get scurvy – vitamin C was very hard to come by in the war. Rose hips were crushed to make a drink I believe.
I couldn’t do it because I love tea.”
Fuel wise we’re very ecconomical… we no longer have a car and walk most places (no more taxis to town), we live in an eco house so our bills are small , and it was 5 inches of water, per person per week… in our case we add all our baths together (25 inches worth lol) and divide it over the week… then we share… cleanest first and so on. we get about 3.5 inches a day if we spread that ration out. (SAVING —> just got a £70 check from the water board… not often they pay you is it)
 
Vitamin suppliments weren’t readily available no… but the wealth of vits you got through your diet then more than made up for it… to add to that children under 5 and pregnant/ nursing mothers received a vit rich fruit cordial every week aswell. Which miss E shares. 🙂
Rose hips probably would have been used… my father drank it daily when i was a child to help bring up his sugars after a long day. I loved it aswell and drank litres of it in the summer holidays.
I love my tea aswell… luckily i havent had to accept what would be my sad 16 bag per person per week ration, MrC drinks coffee (unfairly unrationed… something that wasnt widely drank then) and the kids dont drink it as they would have done in the 1940s… so i get 5 peoples worth.
My kids dont drink tea, but i did as a child…. if this was 1940, no doubt i would have done what allot of people did then a swapped my spare tea bags for other precious rations.
 
Any other questions for us? Please leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them ASAP.
 
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12 responses to “Questions we get asked as 1940s rationers

  1. Am really interested in this and so pleased that its working for you. I wondered though if you think this diet would do for me – I need to eat low fat. I think fat was in short supply during the war wasn’t it? I would very much love to try it 🙂

    • There was a certain amount of fat in the wartime diet, but the right type and in moderation. Yes it was rationed but it was thought of as very important that everyone at their full ration as certain fats are needed for basic body function.
      For example we only use full fat butter (no marg except for baking) we use sugar not sweetners, we use full fat milk and lard to cook…
      BUT
      we only consume 1kg of meat between the five of us per week (red meat) and eat 4-5 veg with every dinner as well as a good portion of potatoes (in whatever form) the veg supplies the much needed vits while the potato fills you up and supplies the slow release sugars you body needs. The meat works out as … 2 deck of card sized portions per person per week.
      The low meat, high veg, high good carb, low sugar, low process food (v. important) makes for a naturally low ‘bad’ fats diet.

  2. What I love most about this is the sense of history, as well as good old commonsense. I’m not a believer in fads and miracle foods and diets, and yes the generation brought up during the war years is the healthiest ever – todays kids living on macdonalds and cheap fish fingers/chicken nuggets/crisps etc will not live as long as the 1940s kids or be as fit in old age. It’s a great idea and thanks for the blog. I’m not a cook LOL and I like your easy to follow recipes.

    • I totally agree about the health of that generation, you only have to look around a playground now to see the effects of 1 too many McDonalds happy meals.
      I wouldnt consider myself a cook either but as my mother in law always says… if you can read then you can cook, and so far… she hasnt been wrong 🙂

  3. I found you through a tweet by The1970sdiet. I’ve been trying to cut out all processed foods for ages and I just wrote a post about eating less. I find this fascinating and it totally makes sense. I’m now following you.

  4. I think everything posted made a great deal of sense. However, what about this? what if you were to create a awesome post title? I am not saying your information isn’t good., however what if you added something that grabbed folk’s attention? I mean Questions we get asked as 1940s rationers Rationing Revisited is a little vanilla. You should look at Yahoo’s front page and watch how they create article headlines to get viewers interested. You might add a related video or a picture or two to grab people excited about what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it would bring your website a little livelier.

    • Thanks for the advice/ opinion and yes, livelier post titles are something to work on/ consider. I do put a photo in with most posts, since most posts are reecipes at this point. The photos give people an Idea of how the recipe could turn out.

      The experiment is only in its 2nd month, hopefully the 3000 visitors we’ve had so far will forgive our lack of experience in blogging and enjoy the information and perhaps take something away from it.

      Videos wise…. hmmm thats something we’re working on. However there are limitations to technology when living on a rather small budget, as we dont own anything with viedo ability (we dont own mobile phones, thats not part of the experiment, phones are just very expensive to run and buy).

      Again I can only thank you for your advice on our blog as its honest opinions that help us improve the delivery of our experiment. As to the particular ‘vanilla’ flavour of it all… The blog posts are designed to deliver information easily, plainly and without overdressing.
      It would be pointless making them something theyre not… the blog title ‘Questions we get asked as 1940s rationers’ has recieved 800+ hits in 3 days and the title of our blog is … well… what it is…Rationing Revisited.

      • I like the format, its simple and easy to follow, but I do agree that pics help. When I copy your recipes I like to know that the stuff on the plate looks vaguely liek it’s supposed to LOL

      • Thanks. 😀 Thats how i pick my recipe books … based on good instructions and photos…. harder with wartime recipe books as they dont all have pictures .
        Still the proof is in the taste, so im not so worried if the dishes look doesnt win any awards lol

  5. I am a high school teacher and I teach my kids about rationing. They are reading parts of your blog as proof that people can and still do ration. Have you ever considered making a short youtube (or something similar) video? To show students the food, recipe books etc so that they can get a visual of what rationing looks like.

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