This photograph shows the amounts of milk, sugar, bacon, cheese, butter and chocolate received by two people per week in Britain.
Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Last week’s menu plan included chicken stir-fries, black pudding hotpot, Bolognese sauce and pasta and pesto. The Bolognese sauce, made with 450g beef mince and bulked out with a can of kidney beans and plenty of veg (carrots and one of my last few patty pan squashes) actually made 7 portions – 3 evening meals and one lunch for me. The first night we had it with pasta, and I made enough pasta to turn two more portions into pasta bake the following night. Night three was mince and boiled potatoes. This was followed by two nights of black pudding hotpot, and so there was no need to defrost the chicken for stir-frying, and we only ate half of our meat ration.

Most wartime housewives wouldn’t have made Bolognese sauce, of course, but it’s not far removed from Cottage Pie, or mince and mash, or you could have made a pie crust and had minced beef and onion pie. The big difference between then and now would be the lack of refrigeration – leftovers just wouldn’t have kept, so they would have had to be eaten.

I used some of the butter ration to try making microwave sponge puddings in a mug, an easy and rapid dessert that got the thumbs up from Ryan! It also used one egg; we fried 2 more eggs for lunch on Sunday, which is over our weekly fresh egg allowance. In wartime we would have made those sponge puddings with powdered egg. (During our trial week on rations we didn’t eat any eggs at all, and that’s not unusual.)

We used some of the cheese ration with the pasta, but had some left over. We had some of all the fats – butter, ‘margarine’ and cooking oil – leftover. Even after the sponge puddings, we had sugar left over. We even had milk leftover, but Ryan has his eye on that for a rice pudding….

So we have been well fed all week, it hasn’t been boring (despite 3 nights of mince!) and we haven’t felt deprived.

Onwards to week 2:

  • Corned beef pie (4 portions, 2 nights)
  • Chicken stir-fry (4 portions, 2 nights)
  • Tortilla pizzas (4 portions, 2 nights)
  • Prawn green Thai curry (2 portions, 1 night)

Growing up, my brother really liked corned beef, but I was never a big fan. It became popular in the UK during the war period, as canned corned beef could be used to supplement the meat ration. It seems that, as rationing continued in the post-war period, part of the meat ration had to be taken in (presumably fresh) corned beef. The classic recipe for cooking with it (rather than using it as cold meat) is corned beef hash, where it is crumbled and fried with potatoes, but I thought we would try corned beef plate pie instead, with just a top crust. (The BBC also have a recipe for corned beef and oatmeal pudding).

I’ve also turned some leftover vegetables into soup, and made a loaf, so I am sorted for lunches for a few days!