Making one of my Gran’s recipes that she used during the war, yesterday, made me reflect on how much food most of us live on now compared to then. I am brilliant at making meals out of nothing but, looking at what people were allowed each week makes even me feel scared. However, the physical health of people during the war was a lot better then it is now, and there were not the obesity problems.
The weekly rations per person fluctuated during the war but was as follows in 1943:-
- Butter: 50g (2oz)
- Bacon and ham: 113g (4oz) About 4 thin slices
- marg113g (4oz)
- Sugar: 225g (8oz).
- Meat: To the value of 1s.6d a week. (About 227g (8oz) worth)
- Cheese: 2oz (57g) Eggs: 1 fresh egg a week.
- Jam: 450g (1lb) every two months. Dried eggs 1 packet every four weeks
- 350g (12.4 oz) sweets every 4 weeks.
- 113g cooking fat
- 57g tea.
- 3 pints of milk
You also had 20 points to spend on a few tins as well. Bread, fruit and vegetables were not rationed and every one was encouraged to grow food if possible.
To make it even harder there were not freezers for storage as there are now. Other methods of preservation were used. People cooked from scratch and didn’t eat loads of convienance food with additives in. Most women (as it was women then) had being taught by family how to manage a household and make ends meet. Now often both parents are working and still struggling to pay the bills, through no fault of their own.
With rising prices more and more people are wanting to learn how to make simple recipes and cook from scratch. Suddenly it is fashionable to be frugal and live simply again. Some people have had to learn a whole set of new skills, often from the Internet, as convienance food became fashionable in the 70s and so two generations have not had to cook from scratch. I feel lucky that I was born in the generation that was taught at school to cook cheaply and from scratch. I feel like I have been practicing for this economic crisis my whole life through survival skills I have learnt, and through living frugally. My habits are ingrained. Tasks like making bread, gardening and foraging feel normal to me, and money saving ideas feel like common sense as I have got used to adapting to living on very little money.
It worries me that as a society our expectations are so high now and, for many, take aways are the norm rather than a treat, even in poorer households. Snacks are expected, as are complicated or convenience meals. I don’t think that we appreciate how lucky we are, food wise. Although a lot of us feel like we are struggling, most people have a long way to go until we feel the deprivation of the war years. During the war the Ministry of Food used to publish leaflets all the time, teaching house wives how to make do and mend, or cook cheap recipes from scratch. Waste pieces of land were also turned over to growing food. It is a pity that the government is not being proactive and helping people in this way now. That is one of the reasons I started this page. It is important for my generation to share any knowledge we have before it is lost. When I look at the small rations I know that I still have lots to learn, and I hope that I never have to find out what it is like when food is rationed.