When I listed all my rations earlier this week on the blog, I thought it didn’t sound too bad. After all, there was meat, bacon, butter, cheese and even preserves listed there. But then I decided to weigh them all out to see what they looked like – and to ensure I don’t eat what I’m not supposed to – and that came as a bit of a shock. Once I’d measured out the five thin rashers of streaky bacon, 3 pints of milk, the 56.7g of cheese and butter etc. it didn’t look like much at all – as you can see in the photo which includes most of my rations.
It seems strange that there is so much sugar, given all the warnings about dental health that we’re used to, and as I don’t tend to have it in my tea or my cereal I’m not sure what to do with it. I guess I’ll have to make a cake – if there’s enough butter to do so. Plus one issue for me is that there are so few teabags. I counted out 17 of them to make 2 ounces (56.7g). I am a tea addict, so making my teabag ration last over seven days (that’s 2.4 teabags a day) is going to be interesting. I will have to reuse them or make up a thermos in the mornings. Coffee wasn’t rationed during the war so that’s one alternative, although it was scarce in supply. But I am very much a tea drinker rather than a coffee drinker. I made my tea from a cold reused teabag yesterday morning and while it was ok, it wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t disgusting but just isn’t quite as refreshing as usual.
But my heart really sank when I weighed out the sweet ration which had sounded quite good on paper. One small Galaxy Caramel bar and 10 mini chocolate eggs made up the 3 ounces a week (12 ounces a month), so I’m eating one mini-egg a day at the moment to eek them out. In Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book The Ministry of Food she mentions a boy who used to shave his Mars Bar into strips to make it last and I can see why. At least I won’t get fat.
One (real) egg certainly isn’t going far, either, so I haven’t dared eat it yet. I am wondering about ordering some dried egg over the internet and trying it out, although it seems a bit expensive. Unfortunately our hens still aren’t laying at the moment, despite my entreaties to them to get a move on. However, my neighbour is overrun with eggs and said she might try and drop some round, which would be a spot of luck.
I was reading that the Ministry of Food hailed porridge oats as a miracle food, so I decided to have some for breakfast. But I was concerned about using up my milk ration too quickly, so I used half milk and half water. It wasn’t as bad as having it with only water, which I find pretty tasteless, but it was still a bit bland although very filling.
It’s odd not eating much pasta and rice, too and I’m realising how much our diet has changed since the war years. These items would have been imported and weren’t popularly eaten in those days either. The point of wartime rationing was to ensure everyone had a healthy diet because of the shortage of items that were imported. The shipping fleet was being attacked by the German U-boats and the losses to food cargoes were averaging 400,000 tons a month in 1940.
Flo left a message pondering what life was like for vegetarians during the war. I was surprised to find out recently that the Ministry of Food specifically catered for vegetarians and vegans during rationing. Vegetarians were required to register with their local food office and were given special rationing books and extra rations of eggs, cheese and nuts to replace the meat. I’d had the idea that vegetarianism and veganism were lifestyles that became popular more recently that that, but I was wrong.
So far I am finding the whole exercise strangely reminiscent of doing Weightwatchers. It’s all about planning my meals, weighing my food and being aware of every single thing I eat, from the cooking fat I use to make a meal, to the marmalade on my toast. I’m going to experiment with some wartime recipes, so I’ll let you know how I get on with them next week.
Could you live on wartime rations? Can you recommend any good wartime recipes? Leave a message and let me know.
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