WW2 Food Rations

The thing about this list below, is to have a look and compare it with what you eat yourself per week and compare, a couple of things that do stand out is the lack of sugar, because this sugar would have to be used in your tea/coffee and for cake making. Also the lack of flavouring as any herbs would have to be provided by yourself. Imagine having this for food, and still having to go out and do a full day’s work.

Issued by the Ministry of Food – The following listing is for one adult (children receive half) per week

Bacon and ham (3-4 slices/rashers) 4 oz

Other meats – 2 small chops

Butter 2 oz

Cheese 2 oz

Margarine 4 oz

Cooking fat 4 oz

Milk 3 pints

Plus 1 packet dried milk per month

Sugar 8 oz

Preserves every two months 1 lb

Tea 2 oz

Egg (shell egg) 1

Plus 1 packet dried egg per month

Sweets 12 oz

Other foods such as canned meat, fish, rice, canned fruit, condensed milk, breakfast cereals, biscuits and vegetables were available in limited quantities on a points system. An adult’s monthly allowance might provide a tin of salmon or fruit, and half a pound of dried fruit. Bread, flour, fish (if available), offal, game (including rabbit, venison, etc), sauces and pickles were not rationed, but were not always available. This was why the government at the time ran a campaign to grow your own veg, if you could grow your own in your own garden it could supplement your meagre rations, this also saw the boom of allotments. Also we shouldn’t forget the black market, just like in Dad’s Army, people like the character Walker could always find something on the side for you.

Rationing was designed to provide minimum standards of essential consumption for all members of society, to reduce waste, reduce trans-Atlantic shipping usage, and make possible the production of more war supplies with less variety. The theme of equality of sacrifice was paramount.

Just before the war began Britain was importing 20,000,000 long tons of food per year, including about 70% of its cheese and sugar, nearly 80% of fruits and about 70% of cereals and fats. The UK also imported more than half of its meat, and relied on imported feed to support its domestic meat production. The civilian population of the country was about 50 million. It was one of the principal strategies of the Germans in the Battle of the Atlantic to attack shipping bound for Britain, restricting British industry and potentially starving the nation into submission.

To deal with sometimes extreme shortages, the Ministry of Food instituted a system of rationing. To buy most rationed items, each person had to register at chosen shops, and was provided with a ration book containing coupons that were only good at that shop. The shopkeeper was provided with enough food for registered customers. Purchasers had to take ration books with them when shopping, so that the relevant coupon or coupons could be cancelled.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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