Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Cor, it's been a while...

Hello lovely readers - if there are any of you left that is, after such a long break.  I've decided to pop back for a bit to help document a project I'm working on.  A big thrift project to dig me out of some lingering debt.

I’ve recently been reassessing my financial situation and have had to make some tough decisions.  This means no new clothes until the end of the year (ouch), cutting back the wine consumption from the decent stuff to the cheap stuff – and much less of it (can you hear me weeping from where you are...), joining the library rather than spending so much on ebooks for my beloved kindle and...well...cutting the food shop down drastically. 

I spend a fortune on food, seriously.  Working full time I seem to have fallen into the picking up bits at the Tesco Metro on the way home trap.  Not the cheapest way to live.  I also throw a shocking amount of food away. I’ve decided then, that I’m going to give ration book shopping a go.  This means that my diet is going to be limited (roughly) to the amounts and products available to those living through WWII in the UK. 

For ration amounts I’m roughly going by Marguerite Patten’s recommendations in her fabulous book “Feeding the Nation” which I’ll discuss in a later post, tweaked a little to represent what was available in 1940.  

Here are the average weekly rations for a single person (numbers did change throughout the war)
  • Bacon and ham - 100g/4oz (around 4 rashers)
  • Meat (other) around 500g a week of minced beef or equivalent cost (according to mysupermarket at time of posting – around £4)
  • Butter - 50g/2oz
  • Cheese - 100g/4oz
  • Margarine - 100g/4oz (I may swap this for butter as I feel margarine represents a health risk and apparently these items were interchangeable at some points during the war)
  • Cooking fat - 100g/4oz
  • Milk - 3pts/1800ml
  • Sugar - 8oz/225g
  • Tea -2oz/50g (around 15 bags a week)
  • Eggs - one shell egg a week if available was typical but I’ll not be rationing eggs as they weren’t on ration until later and I’m aiming for a 1940 rationing system
  • Sweets -12oz/350g a month

Items that were not generally rationed in 1940 but may have been hard to get hold of so I’ll be restricting consumption:
  • Cereals
  • Sausages!
  • Canned / bottled items
  • Fish
  • Offal
  • Vegetables (these I will try to eat seasonally)
  • Jams and preserves (not rationed until 1941 – hurrah!)
  • Fish and chips from the local chippy (never rationed)

Often, people who worked could use the tea, milk and sugar  available at their work place to see them through the days and also had a works canteen or went to a café for lunch and so I will occasionally be buying the odd sandwich when I haven’t had time to make something. 

I am going to try and recreate some recipes of the time but am not going to stick to them slavishly.  Don't get me wrong, I'm doing this far more from a need to teach myself to manage money than from an urge to immerse myself in history, and frankly I can’t imagine a life without the odd Thai curry.  I may even have a pizza occasionally providing I make my own dough and stick to my cheese ration…. but I’m going to try and eat as frugally as possible until the end of the year. 

I’ll be sharing recipes along the way. This week is my prep week, so I’m eating my way through the non-wartime things I have frozen and stockpiled (the aforementioned Thai green curry, chickpea dhal, marinara sauce) before getting ready for 1940 to begin on Sunday. 


  1. Yay! Helloo again! Good luck with the thrifting... I did 40 days of no shopping bar food/hygiene and that just about did for me! Ha! But I saved loads.

    Remind me, I have a 'quick suppers' book from the MoF designed for working women, I can scan/copy/lend it if you get short of recipes! :)

  2. Lovely to see you back!
    Good luck with the food rationing, I have a couple of books of recipes I am more than happy to email you scans or whatever though I am pretty sure they are the ones that are fairly easy to get hold of anyway!

  3. Yay, so glad you're back! I hope you don't only blog about this project but also about your daily life again!! This rationing idea sounds really interesting (and relevant for a uni student! :P) x

  4. Oh this sounds great! I might try it myself. Are you thinking of growing a bit of veg too? x

  5. Hullo Again!
    Good to hear you are still around : )
    Good luck with the rationing too- I'm sure will be fine, once you have got used to it that is!
    tupps x

  6. Brilliant idea - good luck with it - nice to see you back :o)

  7. Hello lovelies. Sadly I don't have a garden so I won't be growing veg. I have recently started foraging though, and have some damsons and elderberries ready for jam and jelly making as well as some homemade chutneys I've already made up in the stock cupboard. If anyone does have any books / recipes they are happy to share I'd be a very grateful recipient.

  8. Welcome back! That sounds like a brilliant idea, I look forward to seeing how you get on.

  9. Good to see you posting! This sounds like a potentially really tough but interesting project, I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes. Best of luck!

  10. good luck. i have a ration recipe book which is ace. onoin soup taste's great and its only a few onions stock and butter. i have tried some lovely things from it and ever so simple. maybe see if the library has something similar then get them copied haha

  11. Welcome back. We live near a Tesco local and I find their reduced shelf at the end of the night is good - especially for veg to boil up into a massive vat of soup... so I guess I'm the opposite! I don't spend enough!

    Well done on the no shopping, I did it up until last Christmas and felt so good. It made me feel dirty shopping after that though....

    Good luck anyhow! x

  12. YAY! YOU'RE BACK! *claps*

    The Victory Cookbook is great for recipes - I use it all the time. I also invested in a small chest freezer (i say invested - it cost me £30 from preloved.co.uk) and it is fabulous. I bulk make soups, pasta sauces, cook meat joints, portion & freeze. Saves me a fortune :D

  13. Lovely to have you back, good luck with the project. I think I could do with learning from you, I spend so much on food.

  14. Food facts for the Kitchen Front is another really handy book to have. It's bursting with recipes and information and was first printed in 1941 (but has been reprinted recently.

  15. Sounds so interesting! Good luck! Personally, I think I'd have to substitute my lb of mince with lb of something else sometimes. Beef shin for a stew?

  16. Glad to have you back!!!
    Good luck with your food rationing it sounds like a great way to save the pennies and no doubt the pounds too!
    You definitely need a copy of Marguerite Patten's Victory Cookbook as Land Girl says, its packed with mostly wonderful recipes. The Woolton Pie recipe is a firm favorite in our house, its a great way to use up veg, get your 5 a day and also just stodgy enough so that you don't feel too deprived not having any meat, though there is always enough left over to make a healthy side to sausages the next day!

  17. ~ holy cr@p ~ I was wondering if you'd ditched this blog altogether!! & best of luck on your rationing plan...I can't stand cooking and don't really know any recipes, (and am not that interested in food, having the interest conditioned out of me at a very young age, here) I find it's about as cheap for 1 bachelor girl to eat out a lot of the time as it would be for me to buy ingredients and make stuff. Of course, your fridge looks very odd inside, and your cabinets will be pretty bare..*hahaha!! DON'T MIND ME - the crazy girl is the exception, not the rule.
    Either way, stick around, won't you?

  18. Interesting take on the frugal living idea.
    Good luck.

  19. I just stumbled upon your blog (found you through By Gum By Golly) and I'm enjoying working my way backwards. :) I love your rationing exercise. Have you read How to Cook a Wolf, by MFK Fisher? Fisher is an American food writer who was witty and ahead of her time. She wrote this book to try to show people that they could eat well despite rations or high food costs. Check it out! Even if you don't try the recipes, it's a good read.