This last week of our 2019 challenge found both H and myself on the road. In addition to talking about how we made the most of our rations while travelling, we will also discuss what we learnt from living like it was 1942.
Even though it was not part of this year’s challenge, we both conserved valuable resources by carrying our own reusable coffee cups / thermos and water bottles. Regardless of what decade we are living in, we both feel that it is important to cut back on the amount of garbage we produce and the resources we consume.
What We Ate
Even though we traveled down very different roads this week, H and I experienced similar challenges while traveling. According to our rules, when eating at less expensive diner / cafe style restaurants we were limited to spending only $3.00! As a result, “We drank mostly coffee and lived on french fries lol. ”
I was thrilled when I stopped at Tim Hortons when they had their breakfast sandwiches on sale for 2 for $5. At that price, I could share with The Man and stay within my $3 budget. It was only after I devoured my sandwich (travelling can make you hungry!) I realized that Tim Hortons Breakfast Sandwich was not ration compliant. According to WorldWar2exRAF.co.uk :
Cafes and Restaurants however had to comply with the Ministry of food regulations in that no one could be served at one meal with more than one main course of either Meat, Game, poultry, Fish, Eggs, or cheese.
As you can see in the picture below, a single breakfast sandwich contains a serving of meat (in our case off-the-ration sausage), cheese, and an egg! Pure decadence and definitely not permitted under the rationing rules imposed on British Restaurants.
There were a few differences in the way H and I approached our rationing challenge this week. H took the healthier approach by packing her own ration compliant snacks, such as apples, to nibble on while driving. I had ever intention of doing the same but I left my carefully curated container of fresh and dried “victory” fruit, cheese and carrot biscuits behind in the fridge. Needless to say, I used this as an excuse to indulge in the finest cuisine found at the gas stations where we filled up. After all, road trip = junk food, right!
In keeping with the spirit of this challenge, I decided to explore some of the goodies available during the Second World War.
The first thing I picked up was a bag of potato chips. The production of potato chips was briefly halted during the war as they were seen as unnecessary. However, due to successful lobbing efforts in North America, potato chips were soon back in production. Sugar rationing meant that potato chips became a popular “feel good” snack food. Golden Saratoga potato chips even included collector cards featuring Allied Aircraft in each bag of chips to boost moral.
On the other side of the ocean, potato chips, or “crisps” were also very popular during the war. There is a rumor that women working in the Smith factory would slip their name and addresses into the bags of crisps sent to the men on the front.
The next thing I picked up was something sweet to balance the salt in the chips. I still had some of my candy ration left, which meant that I could treat myself to another Mars Bar and some M&Ms. According to Wikipedia:
The candy originated in the United States in 1941…The candy-coated chocolate concept was inspired by a method used to allow soldiers to carry chocolate in warm climates without it melting. The company’s longest-lasting slogan reflects this: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%26M’s
What We Learnt
As a result of this challenge, H and I were reminded of the importance of planning ahead to cut down on waste and make the most of our resources. In 2019, we had an important tool that we could use to make the most of our rations – our fridges. In 1942 Britain, home refrigerators were pretty much unheard of adding an extra layer of complexity to menu planning when dealing with limited resources.
H talked about the creativity of our foremothers. There are so many recipes for “mock” dishes that made the best use of whatever was on hand. This time around, I made Mock Cream using margarine and corn starch. Last year I tried a recipe for Mock Duck, which may have tasted like duck, but was very tasty. H has been meaning to make to make a batch of carrot fudge but it didn’t happen this time around, maybe next time.
H lost 6 pounds as a result of participating in this year’s challenge. I know that I also lost a little weight but I’ve lost my scale so I don’t know the exact amount. All I know is that my clothes are a little looser. Despite being very carb heavy, rationing was responsible for improving the health of an entire nation. I think it would be interesting to extend this challenge for longer than a month.
I have often wondered about the long term effects of living on the ration. In Britain, rationing was in effect from 1940 to 1954. That means that for 14 years, women on the homefront had to carefully feed their families. H had a small taste of these long term effects after spending only a month on the ration and remarked that she was, “…meal planning and still thinking in the back of my head if this fits into the ration.” I can only imagine how 14 years of food restrictions and shortages would affect your relationship with food.
We both deeply appreciated when others provided us with our food. I was treated to dinner by my boss and H had dinner courtesy of the military. She was doubly blessed as she was able to bring home leftover and stretch her rations even further.
One thing that I really noticed this year was how use we are to large portions. When following several World War 2 recipes, I was a little worried that the small amounts called for in the recipe would make a meal large enough to feed us. Despite my worries, we always had enough. There is a lesson there that is still important in 2019.