We're a weekend away from rationing here at Findmypast HQ, and as general tension/panic-consumption of malteasers rise, we're grasping at straws for any good news vis a vis the 1940s regimen.

Obviously it takes more than a single egg fried in dripping to fuel a nation. Rations needed bulking out, and much like today, bulk meant beige. Potatoes and bread were mother's best friend, and imagination was required to ensure that boredom didn't add to the war's rising casualty toll.

What WASN’T rationed, or, how the British victory was led by bread

  • Bread wasn’t rationed, but eating too much of it was frowned-upon. Bread was sold a day old to discourage “immoderate consumption” as fresh bread was deemed too tempting, and stale loaves were easier to slice thinly.
  • White flour was in short supply, so bread was wholewheat.
  • Offal and sausages weren’t rationed, but sausages would have been poor-quality and bulked out by bread.
  • Meals eaten out weren’t rationed, but they were likewise affected by shortness of supplies. Meat was only allowed in one course, and were limitations imposed to ensure you didn’t eat too much. Portions were small, and you could spend a maximum of 5 shillings (£7.50) per meal. People sought satiation in the bottom of the bread basket.
  • Vegetables weren’t rationed, but they were weighted towards things like cabbages, leeks, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes etc – thing you could grow easily on your allotment or atop your air raid shelter. So people got used to potato bread.

A short video on bread:

A government wartime rhyme about bread:

 “Pat-a-loaf, pat-a-loaf

Baker’s Man

Bake me some Wheatmeal

As fast as you can:

It builds up my health

And its taste is good,

I find that I like

Eating just what I should.

Rationing starts from 00.00 Monday. We'll be posting daily updates on our progress, kicking off with a full brief of our ration rules, plus a few of the ministry-approved recipes we'll attempt to master. Any advice or tips (left in the comments below) will, as ever, be gratefully received!