We’ve been living on wartime rations for the last two weeks in our household.
It’s a family living history project, but it’s given me new insights into the cost of convenience and feeding a family.
Like many households, World War II shaped our family’s older generations.
My parents lived with rationing in Britain. My dad was evacuated from London. My grandparents were soldiers, or guarded the home front walking their air raid patrols.
So it’s been two weeks of eggless ginger cake, cottage pie, apple crumble, root-vegetable soup, porridge, potatoes with everything, and lunches of ‘‘National Loaf’’ rolls made to the wartime recipe dubbed ’’Hitler’s Secret Weapon’’ by the longsuffering British public.
My two girls (aged 10 and seven) were reluctant war-babes until informed they’d get a sweet ration, which is a big deal in a household which always skips the You can eat for less Productive gardens make economic sense
Keep calm and shop wisely
supermarket confectionary aisle.
Meal planning had to be carried out with scientific detail.
Recipes came from one charming Canadian’s wonderful blog, but when you have a limited amount of meat, cheese, butter and margarine, every gramme has to be counted up when planning meals.
Our wartime weekly shop was cheap, around $40 less than usual, as cheese, margarine, milk, and meat were bought in muchreduced amounts. Veges were in abundance, and we supplemented them out of our vege garden.
Processed foods, which are often laden with hidden sugar were largely absent, except for Spam, which made one household member cry it was so horrid. It was literally against the law to waste food in Britain during the war, so plates had to be cleared.
What sugar there was came in granular form, and we got more than we could use. You literally watched every grain of it go in.
There was hardly any packaging meaning almost no recycling or rubbish.
Big savings were made, and clears lessons learnt on how much of our normal weekly shop could be done without, and actually, wouldn’t be much missed. Even living on the wartime diet for one week in every four would result in us saving $500.
The cost of making National Loaf, or eggless ginger cake, is about two-thirds of the cost of buying bread and cake.
The difference is the price of convenience, and probably obesity, as wartime recipes were light on sugar compared to modern shop-bought cakes. I spent a lot more time in the kitchen than in a peacetime fortnight.
A household coping with wartime rations needs a ‘‘housewife’’ to do the planning, kneading, peeling, boiling, mashing, weighing and baking.
Despite that, National Loaf, cottage pie, eggless ginger cake and mince slices were so liked they are set become household staples.
With two in ten New Zealand families living on ‘‘Struggle Street’’, there’s a lot of ‘‘rationing’’ going on today. Tragically, scarcity of resources these days is associated with high sugar intake and obesity.
There were few fat people in wartime Britain (rationing never applied to Churchill). Unlike wartime Brits, we have no Ministry of Food to show how to live well on little.
Piccadilly Circus on VE Day. There’s not an obese person in sight.