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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.

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