Wartime cooking

Windigo

Retired cook
Joined
29 Jul 2019
Local time
8:15 AM
Messages
2,446
Location
The Netherlands
Having a special interest in wartime cooking, centering around rationing and the second world war. I wondered if there are more members here who share my interest and/or have experimented with rationing before to see what it was like.
I'm particularly interested in the British and American rationing system, and own several books on the topic. A typical week's ration for one person in the British system during the second world war consisted of:
57602


as per one of my favorite blogs: The 1940's Experiment .

It fascinates me to see how people coped with these restrictions, and how healthy people generally were through the rationing system. I'm thinking of challenging myself to soon do at least one week of rationing and see where it takes me. It sounds interesting and I could probably learn a trick or two for tweaking my diet towards a healthier baseline.

Books on the subject that I recommend and own are:
We'll eat again by Marguerite Patten
The Victory cookbook by Marguerite Patten
The wartime Kitchen by Marguerite Patten
Rosie's riviting recipes
Grandma's wartime kitchen
Wartime farm by Ruth Goodman

As I have limitations for eating vegetables and whole grains, I would likely have a little less options than most people and have to sub the 'national loaf' for white bread for medical reasons. But otherwise I plan to stick with it to try it out. Once I get to it, I will edit this thread again.
Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your input on the subject.
 

flyinglentris

Disabled and Retired Veteran
Joined
18 Dec 2017
Local time
11:15 PM
Messages
2,198
Location
USA
Having a special interest in wartime cooking, centering around rationing and the second world war. I wondered if there are more members here who share my interest and/or have experimented with rationing before to see what it was like.
I'm particularly interested in the British and American rationing system, and own several books on the topic. A typical week's ration for one person in the British system during the second world war consisted of:
View attachment 57602

as per one of my favorite blogs: The 1940's Experiment .

It fascinates me to see how people coped with these restrictions, and how healthy people generally were through the rationing system. I'm thinking of challenging myself to soon do at least one week of rationing and see where it takes me. It sounds interesting and I could probably learn a trick or two for tweaking my diet towards a healthier baseline.

Books on the subject that I recommend and own are:
We'll eat again by Marguerite Patten
The Victory cookbook by Marguerite Patten
The wartime Kitchen by Marguerite Patten
Rosie's riviting recipes
Grandma's wartime kitchen
Wartime farm by Ruth Goodman

As I have limitations for eating vegetables and whole grains, I would likely have a little less options than most people and have to sub the 'national loaf' for white bread for medical reasons. But otherwise I plan to stick with it to try it out. Once I get to it, I will edit this thread again.
Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your input on the subject.

I had no conception that the lean cooking that people had to do during WWII and perhaps, other wars, was a writer's topic. I knew that people had to endure on less, but it never occurred to me that it was a cook book topic. But why not?

There are other instances in history where people had to do with less, economic collapses, poverty and forced conditions in dictatorships. People find ways to get by and during those times, perhaps, some truly unique meal recipes are created by using what is available, instead of what is required.
 

Windigo

Retired cook
Joined
29 Jul 2019
Local time
8:15 AM
Messages
2,446
Location
The Netherlands
Most of that I'd be ok with, except for one egg a week. That wouldn't even cover my direct egg-eating, let alone eggs that I use as an ingredient. :headshake:
That's for one person. Most households would have at least two eggs if not more.
And you living in rural Ohio would definitely have had more eggs than a townie.

Also, the rations on the picture are the lowest baseline rations, during the war the cheese ration was often more and fish was off ration and available when it could be delivered.
 

Windigo

Retired cook
Joined
29 Jul 2019
Local time
8:15 AM
Messages
2,446
Location
The Netherlands
I had no conception that the lean cooking that people had to do during WWII and perhaps, other wars, was a writer's topic. I knew that people had to endure on less, but it never occurred to me that it was a cook book topic. But why not?

There are other instances in history where people had to do with less, economic collapses, poverty and forced conditions in dictatorships. People find ways to get by and during those times, perhaps, some truly unique meal recipes are created by using what is available, instead of what is required.
Yes certainly, here in the Netherlands during the worst period of the German occupation the ration dwindled to one half loaf of bread and one kilo of potatoes for a week for one person. Many died during that time which we remember as the hunger winter.
 

TastyReuben

Nosh 'n' Splosh
Joined
15 Jul 2019
Local time
2:15 AM
Messages
9,996
Location
Ohio, US
That's for one person. Most households would have at least two eggs if not more.
And you living in rural Ohio would definitely have had more eggs than a townie.

Also, the rations on the picture are the lowest baseline rations, during the war the cheese ration was often more and fish was off ration and available when it could be delivered.
This is a really interesting subject. I just did 15 minutes of internet research (which means I'm like a doctor of rationing now :laugh:) and it sounds like the US never rationed eggs, and from what I can tell, encouraged eggs as a substitute for meat. Sugar seemed to be the big thing.

As far as eggs...we go through a about dozen a week (two people), I always have up to two dozen in the fridge at all times (I've got 16 eggs right now), so O Britannia would have been seriously impacting my cooking and eating! :eek:

My folks have eggs for breakfast every day each week, and sometimes for supper, too (they eat twice a day) - they go through more than we do!
 

rascal

Forum GOD!
Joined
18 Mar 2018
Local time
8:15 PM
Messages
11,184
Location
Christchurch New Zealand
My grandparents lived well after my grandfather returned from WWII when he was a p.o.w. Obviously he was starved and when home enjoyed life. They were very kind to us growing up with them supplying meat and veges including fruit. I couldn't even begin to think what he ate or didn't eat in Germany.
We too like our eggs, always two dozen on the bench. Not refrigerated. :)
Russ
 

Windigo

Retired cook
Joined
29 Jul 2019
Local time
8:15 AM
Messages
2,446
Location
The Netherlands
This is a really interesting subject. I just did 15 minutes of internet research (which means I'm like a doctor of rationing now :laugh:) and it sounds like the US never rationed eggs, and from what I can tell, encouraged eggs as a substitute for meat. Sugar seemed to be the big thing.

As far as eggs...we go through a about dozen a week (two people), I always have up to two dozen in the fridge at all times (I've got 16 eggs right now), so O Britannia would have been seriously impacting my cooking and eating! :eek:

My folks have eggs for breakfast every day each week, and sometimes for supper, too (they eat twice a day) - they go through more than we do!
I am less familiar with US rationing, I only have two cookbooks not history books on it. I've never seen eggs mentioned as rationed, so you're right. Sugar was rationed indeed, as was meat but the ration was far more generous than the UK ration.

I have the same issue with eggs, I use about 6 a week so going to 2 would be a challenge. But interesting too.
 

Burt Blank

Guru
Joined
25 Jun 2020
Local time
8:15 AM
Messages
3,262
Location
Split Croatia
The end of the war saw additional cuts. Bread, which was never rationed during wartime, was put on the ration in July 1946. It was not until the early 1950s that most commodities came 'off the ration'. Meat was the last item to be de-rationed and food rationing ended completely in 1954.
I was born in 1951, the UK after 51 was still in an economic mess until we joined the EEC in 1973. Through the 50s and early 60s most foods were in short supply. Imported fruit was hard to get and expensive. Eggs and meat were okay for us as my Dad bought a small piece of land where an ex German pow reared pigs,chickens, ducks, and geese. My Dad had his eardrums damaged in the war and also most of his Polish relatives died in the camps. He helped Wolfgang to remain as he would have been sent to his home in East Germany. This terrified Wolf. My Mum spoke German so she would spend time learning what he went through. At first I could not understand why my Mum and Dad helped him, but gradually I understood he had been as much a victim of Hitler as my parents had been. In my youth the UK was a very grey country. Immigration changed it for the better. At the age of ten I went to stay with our relatives in London for the summer. The joy of eating foods from around the world in restaurants shaped my interest in cooking.
 

Windigo

Retired cook
Joined
29 Jul 2019
Local time
8:15 AM
Messages
2,446
Location
The Netherlands
The end of the war saw additional cuts. Bread, which was never rationed during wartime, was put on the ration in July 1946. It was not until the early 1950s that most commodities came 'off the ration'. Meat was the last item to be de-rationed and food rationing ended completely in 1954.
I was born in 1951, the UK after 51 was still in an economic mess until we joined the EEC in 1973. Through the 50s and early 60s most foods were in short supply. Imported fruit was hard to get and expensive. Eggs and meat were okay for us as my Dad bought a small piece of land where an ex German pow reared pigs,chickens, ducks, and geese. My Dad had his eardrums damaged in the war and also most of his Polish relatives died in the camps. He helped Wolfgang to remain as he would have been sent to his home in East Germany. This terrified Wolf. My Mum spoke German so she would spend time learning what he went through. At first I could not understand why my Mum and Dad helped him, but gradually I understood he had been as much a victim of Hitler as my parents had been. In my youth the UK was a very grey country. Immigration changed it for the better. At the age of ten I went to stay with our relatives in London for the summer. The joy of eating foods from around the world in restaurants shaped my interest in cooking.

Yes, the duration of the rationing is part of what makes the UK rationing system very interesting. For the Netherlands, rationing also ended in the 1950's and not before, while our country was liberated in 1945.

Interesting to hear your experiences, I am sorry your family had to go through this.
English food has the reputation of being drab and grey, much like Dutch food. But both of those reputations are based indeed upon the time things were hard to get , which indeed was after the war and for the Netherlands until about the 80's when things really started changing. Like the UK, the Dutch food scene has immensely changed due to immigration and international trade.
 

caseydog

Legendary Member
Joined
25 Aug 2019
Local time
1:15 AM
Messages
5,111
Location
Dallas, TX
I am very interested and cooking during wartime, if we are talking about World War II. And also and cooking during the great depression.

A lot of good food was created in war time, and during the great depression, when you had to make do with what you had.

I have always had a fascination with cooking good food and minimal conditions. my many years of wilderness camping kind of Had something to do with that, but my wilderness camping cooking was voluntary. I have long been looking at what people had to live on involuntary.
 

caseydog

Legendary Member
Joined
25 Aug 2019
Local time
1:15 AM
Messages
5,111
Location
Dallas, TX
Again, I am using my iPhone to post. Even when I don’t screw it up, it seems that Apple computer finds a way to change my words,
 

Morning Glory

Obsessive cook
Staff member
Recipe Challenge Judge
Joined
19 Apr 2015
Local time
7:15 AM
Messages
38,992
Location
Maidstone, Kent, UK
What is the allowance for grains, pulses, veg and fruit? Sorry if I misread but I couldn't see that.

Checked out the link briefly - from the January entries it seems more like a vegan food blog (certainly not 1940's!). But there are useful resources elsewhere on the site relating to war-time rationing.

I've got various vintage war-time recipe books. One big issue with all the recipes I have seems to be an almost complete lack of spices and herbs other than small pinches of dried herbs occasionally. Bland food - there was a good TV series about this subject as part of the excellent 'Back in time for dinner' series. Its a documentary series where a real life family is transported back in time and live and cook under replicated conditions.

Further Back in Time for Dinner, Series 1, 1940s ... - BBC Twowww.bbc.co.uk › ... › Series 1 › 1940s

Apologies if some members cannot access the clip.
 
Top Bottom