Sunday, 18 November 2012

Rationing and Food in WW2.

As my second WW2 book Hannah's War, is coming out later this week I thought I would post about food in the war years.

At the start of the war ration books were issued and by March 1940 bacon, sugar, butter and meat were being rationed. By the following July, jam, cheese, canned foods and other groceries were added to the list of food that was restricted.
Tis meant housewives had to be ingenious if they wanted to provide nutritious and appetising food to their families. It was easier in the rural areas as families could grow their own vegetables and keep a few chickens. Often there was a ‘pig club’ where several families fattened a pig on their leftover food scraps and then shared it between them when it was slaughtered. Unfortunately the War Ag took half the meat so the families had only one side to share.
The War Ag’s effort to keep the nation healthy paid off and by the end of the war people’s health had improved despite the severe shortages. Farmers produced more food than at any time – before or since – and were able to prevent the population form being starved into submission.
Potatoes weren’t rationed so they became a staple part of the wartime diet. Here is the weekly allowance.

Bacon and ham:
4oz (100g)
To the value of 1s.2d (6p today).Sausages were not rationed but difficult to get; offal (liver, kidneys, tripes) was originally unrationed but sometimes formed part of the meat ration.
2oz(50g) sometimes it went up to 4oz (100g) and even up to 8oz (225g).
4oz (100g)
2oz (50g)
3 pints(1800ml) occasionally dropping to 2 pints (1200ml). Household milk (skimmed or dried) was available : 1 packet per four weeks.
8oz (225g). There were one or two ways we could make this go further. 
1lb (450g) every two months.
2oz (50g).
1fresh egg a week if available but often only one every two weeks. Dried eggs 1 packet every four weeks.
12oz (350g) every four weeks

Woolton Pie was popular. It was invented by the head chef at the Savoy and named after the Minister of Agriculture. It consisted of vegetables cooked in pan until soft and then put in a pie dish and covered with potato pastry. Yum! Yum!
There was a recipe for ‘mock goose’ which involved pork stuffing and other vegetables shaped a goose and parsnips stuck on the side for legs. Spam fritters were another favourite as was stuffed marrow and stuffed cabbage.
Amazingly many products around today were also available in the war. HP sauce, Bisto, Birds Custard, Marmite, Smiths Crisps, McDougall’s Flour, Nescafe, Bournville Cocoa, Ovaltine, Weetabix, Kellog’s cereals and Quaker Oats  to name but a few.
Sweets were rationed but some things were still sold – but hard to find unless you could afford to buy on the black market. Cadbury’s chocolate, Terry’s chocolate, Mars, Crunchie, Quality Street, Cadbury’s Milk Tray, Rowntree’s Smarties, Kit-Kat, and Rolo were all around and many with the same wrapper as today. There were also ration bars of Cadbury’s chocolate for 2 1/2d.

There was a war time food experiment done a few years ago where a morbidly obese woman ate only war recipes – the before and after pictures are amazing. She is now an attractive , slim, young woman. There was less fat and sugar in the diet and this was obviously healthier.
 Spam fritters and Mock goose just don’t do it for me.
Fenella J Miller


  1. I still have my Mother's ration book and lots of photographs as her uncles house was used for billeting Americans during the war. They held a thanksgiving. This was in Ireland where in fact near to the border with Eire rationing was almost a joke.

  2. I can just remember rationing - and pea-souper fog. I think sweets were the last to come off rationing.