This week my eldest son, Bryn, and I are finishing our dig for victory project by spending the last week of term living off war time rations. I believe that the best way to learn and to really understand what life was like for families during world war two is to spend a little time living in their shoes.
These post will be rough, unedited thoughts on events as they happen every day. Next week I hope to write a more thoughtful blog post about our experience.
Facts about rationing:
Rationing in the UK began on January 8th 1940. It was introduced earlier during the war than necessary, as in WW1 it had almost been too late and people were starving.
Rationing ended at midnight on 4th July 1954.
These are adult rations for the week:
4oz of bacon/ham
2oz cheese (This is killing me already!)
4oz Cooking fat
3 pints of milk
3oz of sweets
1lb of jam to last 8 weeks
As my family are vegetarian we are swapping our meat rations for meat substitutes (e.g.: Veggie sausages and mince) and as we live in the countryside we are also receiving eggs from the village chickens!
As well as this people were given points to spend each week on things like tinned goods, cereal, dried fruit, rice, sausage meat and plain biscuits. Some items required more points than others.
Today’s menu: My son has been scoring my efforts out of 5!
Breakfast: Toast thinly spread with margarine and Jam ( and tea for me)
Lunch: Wartime loaf (4.5/5) and garden soup made with whatever veg I found in the garden, onions, carrots, potatoes and beans plus one OXO cube. (2/5)
Dinner: Veggie Sausage, Mashed potato, baked beans and a few runner beans from the garden. (4.5/5) Strawberries for pudding.
We also ventured off to the sweet shop today to get our rations weighed out. I’m not sure who was most disappointed!
I thought I was prepared for today. Yesterday I went to the supermarket and bought all of the supplies that I would have had in the cupboards if I were a mum in WW2, things like OXO cubes, porridge oats, dried fruit, bread flour and yeast.
As I wandered around the supermarket I was suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of food that is now available to us. Food from all over the world, food for every taste, every budget. If I’m honest it made me feel a bit nauseous. So much food, so much choice. How necessary is it really? I will ponder that answer at the end of the week.
So I was prepared for today in a practical sense. I even had a menu written out and I had cleaned every utensil I own in preparation for lots of cooking! What I wasn’t prepared for is how much food would dominate both my time and thoughts today. From the second I woke up I was thinking about food. Have we got enough? Has Bryn eaten enough? What are we having next? How do I cook it?
I have spent most of my time today in the kitchen.
However, I have also felt a little bit of relief. Food is usually a real issue in our house. Bryn is a really fussy eater and all three children like different foods coked in different ways. A symptom of too much choice perhaps? Today was the first time ever that I have seen Bryn eat every bit of food on his plate and the first time he’s actually said to me “I’m hungry.” Maybe threats of a visit from the ministry of food looking for waste were what was required all along!
I’m now sitting on the sofa with a yummy hot chocolate. I’m really craving sugar!
I’ve been starving today and thinking lots about food. I ate everything I was given, which I never usually do.
Our sweet rations are a tiny bit disappointing (I hardly got any!)
I don’t think it would have been very nice to live off rations all the time, but I think that tomorrow will be a bit easier because we will be more used to it. I’m looking forward to pancakes for breakfast!