Rationing Challenge 2019 – Week One

Wow – what a crazy week. This is how H and I fared while surviving on 1942 rations.

This past week was an immensely tense week full of anxiety here at hip roof barn. Not to worry, everyone is happy and healthy but until a few outstanding matters are taken care of, I can’t be blabbing my personal business all over the internet. This chaos did have an affect on how I ate this week but it perhaps also gave me a little insight into what my 1942 peers experienced as their lives were constantly disrupted.

The beginning

This what I started with:

I decided to use up a couple of items from last year’s challenge, namely a tin of Lyle’s Black Treacle and some Bisto. Both of these items were available in the UK during the war and given how expensive they are here in Canada, I don’t want to waste them. I used 4 ration points to buy a pound of dried beans. I had big plans to use them to make baked beans instead of spending 4 points on a single tin of baked beans. I also bought myself a bottle of Heinz Salad Cream, which due to the lack of ketchup during the war, experienced a surge in popularity.

What is missing from the picture of my initial rations are my single fresh egg (because I forgot to include it) my monthly 12 ounces of candy (because I hadn’t decided what I wanted) and my ration of dried eggs. My plan was to use the dried eggs I had left over from last year’s challenge. This was mistake. The dried eggs went bad – really bad. The stench that issued from the jar when I opened it was over whelming. The whole thing went out in the trash. There will be no dried eggs for me this year.

Day One

I was so excited to start this challenge that I made a big pot of Potato and Lovage soup using ingredients from my Victory Garden (the lovage) or that were off ration (potatoes). I also tried to make the National Loaf in my bread maker. The bread experiment was a disaster and I ended up buying a loaf of unsliced 100% whole wheat bread from work. The soup was okay. I had it for lunch along with bread with margarine, a pear from one of my trees and a glass of Elderflower Cordial – a recipe for which can be found in Wartime Farm. Dinner was a bacon sandwich with salad cream, instead of mayo, and mustard with a side of raw carrots and a glass of milk. I had an apple from one of my trees for dessert. I save the bacon fat for later as my ration of 2 ounces of cooking fat is shockingly miserly.

Potato and Lovage soup for lunch and a bacon sandwich for dinner.

Days Two and Three

On Days Two and Three, a lot of crazy personal stuff happened. Judge me if you must but anxiety affects my appetite and makes my stomach wobbly. I had many cups of coffee, toast with jam (X2), and more Elderflower Cordial and that is all I ate. I was sad that my usual comfort foods were not available to me but I probably could not have eaten them anyways. I do not recommend this as a strategy for extending your rations.

Day Four

Whew – the stressful situation was resolved! And just in time for me to head back to work. I took a cheese sandwich made with lettuce and salad cream and a bag of chips with me for my lunch, which I ate for breakfast because I.was.starving.

My boss took a group of us out for dinner at the golf course. My entree came to $13.00, which was below the $18.91 allowed for a meal in a fancy restaurant. I had vinegar on my fries as ketchup was not available in the UK during the war.

Day Five

Things seem to be slowly returning to normal. I had toast with margarine for my lunch at work. We had the rationed pork chops for dinner fried with a little rationed cooking fat and lots of unrationed onions and mushrooms. I roasted the potatoes in the oven after tossing them in the saved bacon fat with a little salt and pepper.

There is currently a glut of plums in my neck of the woods. I put some of this surplus to good use by making Plum Charlotte with Mock Cream 3 using recipes found at The 1940s Experiment. The Plum Charlotte was very good and the Mock Cream 3 was good but a little weird. I was expecting it to have the same taste and texture as Cool Whip. It did not.

Toast, pork chops smothered with onions and mushrooms with Plum Charlotte for dessert.

Day Six

I got off work early, so I took my cheese sandwich to the beach. For dinner we had sausages (off ration) with fried potatoes (also off ration), my remaining bacon ration, and a tin of beans. This means that I spent 2 more of my ration points to split a tin of beans with The Man. I was hoping to make several batches of baked beans with the dried beans I bought on Day One, but it didn’t happen. Oh well.

Cheese sandwich with locally grown plums, breakfast for dinner with leftover Plum Charlotte for dessert.

Day Seven

I don’t remember what I had for lunch, probably toast. For dinner we had chicken (off ration) and an A to Z salad made with local zucchini, apples, and onions and a dressing made out of salad cream and vinegar. I enjoyed every bite.

Chicken with A to Z salad.

H’s Experience

H has been a real trooper. She jumped right in and has done very well living on 1942 rations.

For dinner one night, she made the Lentil Cutlets from Victory in the Kitchen. She said they tasted like hash browns and were a hit in her household even though they did not form into cutlets. Her son loved them.

What this week taught us

H found that if she stuck to the recipes as they were written, the resulting foods were bland. We had a discussion about how closely a recipe should be followed. On the one hand, we want to be as authentic as possible but on the other hand, women did not suddenly forget how to cook when war broke out. I argued that if an ingredient was available to the 1942 British housewife, we could use it. After all, if our foremothers had herbs growing in their gardens or an extra bit of onion, they would have added it to their dishes to make the best of the limited ingredients they had.

We both found that meal planning was essential. It was so important that we did not waste any of our precious rations. I found this to be very true as a little better menu planning may have lead to me eating more on those two bad days. In the days of limited access to ready made meals and kitchens devoid of refrigerators and deep freezers, I wonder what women on the home front did to feed there families in times of extreme chaos and confusion.

If you want to join us in our Rationing Challenge, please do! You don’t have to commit to the whole month if you wanted to keep to 1942 rations for a week, a day, or even for a meal. We would love your recipe recommendations and see pictures of your meals. You can leave a comment at the end this post or post something to the hip roof barn facebook page or to instagram using the hashtag #hiproofbarnrationing

See you next week.


  1. wow, you and H are off to a great start!
    It’s amazing how unexpected lumps of stress can add an entire new and lovely layer of $%@!$ to an already full load of life stuff, isn’t it? Glad things seem to be back to everyday normal for you.
    Once again I am amazed at the level of sugar, jam and candy available on rations. I realize that sugar is/was a shelf stable form of cheap, high calories and energy as well as a mood enhancer all very much needed then, but startling to me as my siblings and I do not possess much of a sweet tooth. It does, however shed a new light on my parents voracious appetites for sugar in all forms. Perhaps their tastes were fulled by the wartime rationing and previous depression diets? Something to ponder…

    Anyway, may I suggest a few food and menu extending tricks i have experimented with?
    Cast iron pans are a great help when you have very little fat or need to reduce the amount in your cooking.
    By their nature, cast iron pans need to slowly heat up, as they retain heat so well, and properly seasoned they are almost non stick, so put them over a low flame when you start food prep. Once they are hot throughout you can put in the tiniest bit of fat rubbed onto the bottom [it won”t scorch this way] and then add your food. Food will fry well at this temp without scorching or you can raise the heat a little if necessary. You may need to add a bit more fat depending on what you are cooking,but you can get a great crust and flavor without using up so much of your ration.

    Texture and color are very important! Toast all of your bread. It makes a big difference for both eye appeal and taste and can make the most of less than fresh bread.
    I imagine would have been a great help with the national loaf back then.

    Think of each food item as more than one small, sad portion on a plate. ie: shredded carrot and apples/pears in a salad with crumbled bacon and salad cream- lovage dressing placed on toast fingers or triangles is more visually appealing and takes longer to eat than a sanwich.
    Small bits of rationed cheese, or more of non rationed chicken can be substituted as well, even rinsed canned beans. Any bits from your garden can be incorporated.
    Grated cheese, apple/pear and carrot mixed with a little salad cream on a toasted bread sandwich will add nutrition, taste and further stretch the scarce ration.
    Fried potatoes with a very thinly sliced pork chop on top….maybe a quickie pear and jam compote on top…
    While it seems more time consuming, it is much more fulfilling to eat and really stretches rations as you tend to feel less deprived.
    …ok..I’ve babbled on again…sorry…

    Keep calm and ration on!!
    looking forward to your next installments.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks Jill. Once again, you are a wealth of knowledge. If rationing ever happens again, I’m inviting myself over to dinner.
      I do cook with cast iron and maybe that is the reason my fat ration lasted as long as it did this week. I am also going to try your sandwich idea. It sounds really tasty. Thanks again!


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