Welcome to our World War 2 Rations Challenge. We have decided to live off World War 2 Rations for one week only. We’re a family of 5 with 2 small children and a teenager and it will give us the opportunity for a trip back in history ahead of Sunday’s Remembrance Day.
My Grandparents had a very big influence on my life and how I have turned out. They taught me not to take things for granted, that family life is important, that home cooking from scratch is the best type of cooking and many, many stories of war time rations.
My maternal grandparents got married and had their eldest daughter (my aunt) during the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany, with my Grandad being born towards the end of the First World War. They also had their next 2 daughters while rationing was still a part of British life.
My paternal grandparents were a little younger and were experiencing their childhood during the Second World War, plus with rationing lasting so long, when they got married rationing was still a part of day to day life.
Both our sons are named after my Grandads. My eldest son carries my Grandads middle name “Thomas” and my youngest son has the Portuguese spelling of George (the Portuguese spell it Jorge) as his first name.
But like most kids we always had story after story of the war and a new story would always begin with “During The War”. I loved listening to my Grandma sharing her amazing stories of rationing during the Second World War and beyond.
Even when her memory was not very good during her old age, I still loved listening to her stories of handsome soldiers and how they would share their rations with my aunt.
It is 20 years ago this year since my Grandma passed away, 25 years ago since my Grandad passed away and it got me thinking.
Their daughter was 3 years old (the same age my daughter Sofia is now) in 1945 when war ended but rations did not. It felt like the perfect time to run our own rationing week with our daughter.
To teach her about the Second World War we visited Eden Camp with her this summer and now today we took her grocery shopping with World War 2 Rations in mind.
World War 2 Rations + Eden Camp
This summer we had a day out at Eden Camp. I wanted to teach my kids more about the Second World War and as we are located in Portugal very little is taught about the 1939-1945 Conflict With Germany.
The museum hadn’t changed since I went there with school in 1992 and it was a fantastic insight into the Second World War.
The food in the café though was awful and Dominic hasn’t forgiven me yet for making him eat there. With complaints of dry, burnt food that he said had been cooked by non-professionals and how our teen could do a much better job!
But it got me thinking that instead we should be cooking all this delicious food ourselves in our own war time style kitchen!
What Were The World War 2 Rations?
But first I am sure what you want to know is what rations you were allowed? Well here is a breakdown based on what we would have been allowed for a week as a family of 5. Remembering that we are 2 adults, a teenage son, and 2 under 4s.
- 225g Butter
- 225g Lard
- 450g Margarine
- 225g Hard Cheese
- 9 Eggs
- 11 Litres Milk
- 1125g Sugar
- 450g Jam
- 450g Bacon
- 350g Sweets/Chocolate
As well as this you had the points system. There is a lot of conflicts as to correct points and what you could get back in 1945. My grandma always said it was a tin of meat and some tinned fruit. But this also came down to what fruit and what meat and if it was available or not.
I have read many forum arguments over exact points systems and I think very few really know what they should be.
As well as this most would grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables in their allotments. My Grandad was incredibly fond of his allotment and grew a lot of different things.
Based on this we did the following grocery shopping:
- Apples = 1,98€
- Courgettes = 1,17€
- Peaches = 1,15€
- 9 Large Eggs = 1,26€
- Carrots = 1,65€
- Total = 7,63€
- Chocolate = 5,78€
- White Sugar = 0,74€
- 11 Litres Milk = 5,61€
- Dried Milk = 4,39€
- Butter = 2,29€
- Margarine = 1,29€
- Lard = 0,49€
- Frozen Peas = 0,99€
- Wholemeal Bread Flour*2 = 3,16€
- Plain Flour = 0,37€
- Pork Shoulder = 5,19€
- Beef Frying Steak = 2,21€
- Pork Chunks = 1,68€
- White Cheddar Cheese = 1,94€
- Coffee = 3,24€
- White Potatoes = 5,97€
- Broccoli = 0,53€
- Cauliflower = 1,12€
- Leeks = 2,28€
- Tomatoes = 0,75€
- Fresh Parsley = 1,19€
- Total = 51,21€
- Bacon = 5,00€
- Swede = 1,50€
- Corned Beef = 3,50€
- Total = 10€
This brought our total cost for groceries for the week to be at 68,84€. I am not very impressed with how much it has cost to cover ration cooking. I am in Portugal, so I am paying a premium for British products + some of these products don’t look so nice.
Though the worst thing must be shopping at a British supermarket and having to pay a high price for English bacon. That same money in a Portuguese supermarket would get us 3 whole chickens or 9 large chicken legs.World War 2 Rations Challenge @recipe_thisClick To Tweet
I have also had to make a few adjustments:
- We can’t get large marrows, so we are going with lots of courgettes instead
- The sizes of rations don’t match so we have reduced our jam ration and increased our chocolate ration
- Lots of products we just can’t get
World War 2 Breakfasts
Let’s start with the breakfasts and what we plan to start the day with. I have found my favourite World War Two staple is the cheap wholemeal loaf. We are basing it on our Wholemeal Bread in the Bread Maker recipe.
Then for breakfast Monday to Friday we can have bread with some jam and a little bit of butter too. Then on the weekend we can mix things up a bit.
On Saturday during our rations we had Corned Beef Hash, then on Sunday bacon butties. Using most of our weekly bacon allowance on these, because bacon butties are so worth it!
World War 2 Lunches
Because its summer and college is out and because we work from home, this means that we don’t have outside the home lunches. All meals are cooked from scratch for the five of us.
For lunches during our World War 2 Week we had:
- Potato & Bacon Soup with Wholemeal Bread
- Chip Butties
- Courgette Soup with Wholemeal Bread
- Vegetable Soup with Wholemeal Bread
- Potato Cakes
- Lord Woolton Pie
World War 2 Dinners
We love to have our dinner at the table as a family of 5 and were really looking forward to World War 2 ration style dinners. Or the challenge of filling up a 17-year-old boy and telling him there was no leftovers!
For dinners during our World War 2 Week we had:
- Vegetable Soup
- Leftover Pot Roast Shepherd’s Pie
- Stuffing with Potatoes & Peas
- Vegetable Pie with Roast Potatoes & Peas
- Sausage Meat Stew
- Pork Stew & Dumplings
- Mashed Potatoes & Beef Gravy
World War 2 Best Meals
Firstly, the corned beef hash was amazing and with us having it at 10.30am on the Saturday morning, it filled us up until late afternoon. We then had a fruit salad to keep us going until dinner time.
Secondly, must be what we ate on day 6. To save on time I prepared the meals for lunch and dinner at the same time. Then fridged dinner for the evening so that it could just be warmed up in the oven later.
Then for lunch that day we had leftovers from the Sunday dinner the day before, made into a pie and then covered with leftover mashed potato. Swap the pork shoulder for minced lamb and it would have been a shepherds pie.
World War 2 – Reflections
The biggest takeaway that I must use is the cost involved in completing my World War 2 food challenge. The majority of the people I knew that went through rations were poor.
This meant that even though I could have had all the above in 1945, many families simply couldn’t afford it.
I worked out that the meat rations based on 1945 with inflation to 2018 and then exchanged into Euros was worth 10,20€.
From this I purchased beef frying steak, pork shoulder, pork shoulder chopped into chunks. This worked out at 9,08€ and still under my amounts. Back then people often said that they could only afford meat once a week, yet here I am with 3 lots. As well as this I also had sausage meat and filled it out with a lot of bread to compare to the over breaded sausages of war torn Britain.
But my Grandparents had a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. This was because my grandad was a fisherman and also had his own allotment. I am not willing to pay fish prices of today, but I can imagine what he would have made with it.
Overall, I am so glad I did it. I loved my grandparents cooking, I love World War 2 meals and it proves that you can live off rations if you want to and it is a great way to reflect on British history.