“FIRST: Your rations and allowances. These are the foundation of your fighting diet. Take your full share of them always.
NEXT: Vegetables. These provide many of the vitamins so essential for good health and buoyant vitality.
THIRD: Unrefined or whole-grain foods — flour, oats, etc. These also supply valuable health factors, and, of course, add bulk to build up satisfying meals.”
- The Ministry of Food, 1940
Excitement has been mounting here at FMP HQ in anticipation of our first ever Feedmypast experience.
That said, there have been a few nervous murmurings among the ranks regarding what actually constitutes a week's war ration.
Demurs have been overheard along the lines of "Will I starve?" and, "It's going to be so awful, isn't it?"
But then we all took a deep breath, got a grip, and took a look into what those rations actually were. Armed with a little more knowledge, we feel - though perhaps no more enthusiastic about eschewing Pret a Manger for a week - somewhat calmer, and resigned to the task in hand.
Below is the weekly ration allowance for one adult in the early 1940s. Remember that people were encouraged also to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, but since imports were seriously limited, that would be home-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables - and probably far more roots than fruits.
So no bananas, mangoes, or kiwi… but potatoes and carrots aplenty.
We might get hold of an orange, but they were often reserved for pregnant women or children (cue volunteers to "play pregnant" for the week). Likewise even apples during the war were sometimes limited to one per customer, depending on supply.
About-average* weekly ration for 1 adult
*Rations varied according to availability
- Bacon & Ham 4 oz (150g)
- Meat to the value of 1 shilling and sixpence (equivalent to about £1.32 in today’s money)
- Butter 2 oz (56g)
- Cheese 2 oz (100g)
- Margarine 4 oz (113g)
- Cooking fat 4 oz (113g) – that’s lard or dripping
- Milk - 3 pints
- Sugar 8 oz (225g)
- Preserves 1 lb every 2 months – this equates to about 50g per week
- Tea 2 oz – equal to about 16 tea bags
- Eggs 1 fresh egg per week – unless you had chickens
- Sweets/Candy 12 oz every 4 weeks (or about 75g per week)
In addition to this, a points system was put in place which limited your purchase of tinned or imported goods. Everyone received 4 points per week. Most tinned goods cost much more than this, so if you had your eye on a can of peaches, you'd save your points over the course of several weeks, or pool your allowance with other family members. It's hard to say at this stage how amenable the team is likely to feel regarding a pool-type arrangement. Assuming we opt for an every-member-for-them self approach, here are...
... Some ideas on how to spend our points!
- Dried pulses, oats, rice, & barley were 2 points per 450g
- Dried pasta was 4 points per 450g
- 100ml olive oil was 4 points
- Dried fruits set you back about 2 points per 450g
*Tinned items were seriously points-expensive. You probably wouldn’t be able to buy a tin of anything much beyond baby food on a week’s ration.