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Our Family Meal Plan - The WW2 Rations Edition

Tuesday 1 January 2013
Last half term my middle daughter was learning all about World War Two, the Dig for Victory campaign and enjoyed various activities and projects which demonstrated to the class what conditions were like under rationing and the threat of air raids.  It was brilliant for both the kids and families to explore that time in history and it quite handily coincided with the War Time Farm series being aired on the BBC. 

We were rather shocked that the weekly allowance for one adult person (converted to metric weights) were as follows:

450g meat
227g sugar
227g butter, margarine or lard
113g bacon or ham (eg 4 rashers of bacon)
57g (approx 15 teabags) tea
57g cheese
1 egg

Rice, canned tomatoes and peas, dried fruit, cereals, condensed milk, sweets, chocolate and biscuits were also rationed.  If like us there are 5 people in your household, two of whom would be considered children under rationing conditions, the extra rations would make meal planning a little easier as the more food rations you have the easier it would be to produce appealing, tasty meals with some variety.

It got me thinking that in the UK we are once again facing a rationing of resources, mostly financial, and the lessons our grandparents learnt during that time of enforced frugality could teach us a thing or two today.  Make do and mend, vintage and thrifty are all trendy themes at the moment.  If you look back further than the past few years to a time when it wasn't trend lead but a necessity, you will find ingenious ways of making food and money stretch further.
Given that we are all watching budgets, as well as trying to ensure the food we feed our families is of good quality, it's worth taking time to Meal Plan and make the best use of the groceries you buy.
Coping with the seemingly weekly increases in food prices means that most households are going to have to shop, cook and live smarter to make money stretch further. Remember that being savvy when shopping and using resources economically doesn't mean boring food or cheap convenience food filled with additives and poor quality ingredients.
I've therefore decided to make our first Family Meal Plan of the year one based on the WW2 rations (approximately) which my family would've been entitled to.  I've used 2 adult ration allocations and 3 child allocations as there are 2 adults, one almost teenager and 2 children in our household.  Children received fruit, the full meat allocation, 3 eggs a week, and the equivalent of half a pint (300ml) of milk per day.
Therefore our rations, without fresh fruit and vegetables included, are as follows:
2.25kg meat
908g sugar
908g butter, margarine or lard
452g bacon or ham (eg 12 rashers of bacon)
228g (approx 15 teabags) tea
228g cheese
11 eggs
8 pints of milk

Some foods such as bread, coffee (hurrah!), potatoes, fruit and fish were not rationed.  Dried fruit and cereals along with tinned tomatoes, beans and rice were rationed so I'm using the amount I think we would be entitled to using the extra ration points our family would've had.  I'm not 100% sure that I 've allocated the rations and/or points accurately but have done my best using the information I could find in books and online.  Please feel free to let me know politely if I have used too much or too little of something in my calculations.  We are using this Meal Plan for a week as a useful life experience for our family that ties in with my 9yo's school topic in the hope it will give us an insight and new respect for those who lived through rationing and those who have much less resources than we do now due to financial/lifestyle pressures.

We help out a friend in her large vegetable plot by buying and sewing seeds and seedlings, weeding, spreading compost and other garden jobs.  We therefore get eggs from her chickens and fresh vegetables in exchange for our labour.  I have included these in the Meal Plan at supermarket prices as most people don't have the access to a vegetable garden and chooks.

So what did we buy on our Shopping List?

The cost of our 30 items from Asda on 29/12/2012 was £51.20.  The same trolley of groceries would've cost £62.40 from Tesco, £67.02 from Sainsbury's or £67.69 from Waitrose.

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 88p
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g) £1.28
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
2x ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £2.56

Dairy and Eggs
4x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £4.00
1x ASDA Free Range Medium Eggs (12) £1.98
1x Stork (1Kg) £2.00
1x ASDA Chosen by You Lancashire White Cheddar (250g) £1.50

Fruit and Vegetables
2x ASDA Spring Greens (500g) 97p
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 90p
5 ASDA Swede by Weight (100g) 42.5p
4x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £3.00
20 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) 90p
1x ASDA Celery 89p
1x ASDA Trimmed Leeks (500g) £1.00
2x ASDA Spinach (350g) £3.00
2x ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg) £2.00
1x ASDA Parsnips (750g) £1.00
1x ASDA Extra Juicy Oranges (1.8Kg) £2.00
2x ASDA Pears (600g) £2.00
2x ASDA Garlic loose 30p

Meat, Fish and Poultry
2x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g) £4.00
1x ASDA Pork Chops (1.05Kg) £6.00

1x ASDA Chosen by You Haddock Fillets (400g) £4.00

The prices and special offers reflect those from Asda on My Supermarket and are correct as of 29 December 2012.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Our WW2 Rationing Inspired Meal Plan for this week 

Breakfasts will be porridge (made with 50/50 milk and water) with apple and pear compote. 

Lunches will be soup with homemade bread rolls.

Snacks will be fruit, muffins, scones, vegetable sticks (carrot and celery) and homemade yoghurt.

Dinners will be Woolton Pie, Toad in the Hole with greens, Twice baked potatoes with greens, Oven Baked Fishcakes with Potato Wedges, Spinach and Bacon Quiche with Root Vegetable Mash, Sausage Casserole and finally Pork and Apple Casserole with greens.


Carrot and Coriander Soup

1 large onion, diced
1 large sweet potato or potato
500g carrots
1 Tblsp ground coriander
400ml milk
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 400ml boiling water
1 Tblsp vegetable oil or margarine
Ground black pepper and salt to taste

Peel and chop the sweet potato and carrots into smallish chunks. Saute the onion in the oil for a couple of minutes until it’s softened. Add the ground coriander and stir for 1 more minute. Put the carrots and sweet potatoes into the saucepan and add the stock and milk.

Bring everything to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. When the vegetables are tender blend the soup with a stick blender until smooth and then serve with homemade bread rolls.

Root Vegetable Soup

1 onion, diced
1 Tblsp oil, butter or margarine
1 potato, peeled and diced
4 cups chopped vegetables (or a mixture of vegetables)
stock or water to cover
alt and pepper

Saute chopped onion in oil in a large saucepan until soft but not browned. Add around 4 cups of peeled chopped vegetables and the chopped potato. The starchiness of the potato improves the overall texture of the soup.

Gently cook the vegetables in the saucepan with the lid on for about 5 minutes over a moderate heat, then add water, stock or a combination of both to just cover the vegetables.

Simmer with the lid on until the veges are very soft, then process using a stick blender until smooth.  Add extra liquid to adjust the consistency of the soup.  Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

2 cups of red lentils
2 litres vegetable stock
1 onion large, diced
3 sticks celery, finely sliced
3 carrots, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp oil or margarine
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cups root vegetables (pumpkin, potato, swede), peeled and diced
fresh chives, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil or margarine in a large saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion, celery and carrots for 10 minutes, you want them softened but not coloured.

Add the spices, lentils and stock with the diced root vegetables.  Bring everything to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and very soft.  Serve the soup chunky or blend until smooth with a stick blender but be sure to taste the soup and adjust the seasoning before serving.


200g self raising flour
50g butter
125ml milk

Preheat oven to 220C or gas mark 7.

Sieve the flour into the mixing bowl. Rub the butter in to the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in any extra ingredients such as raisins/dates or cheese/herbs, if you want to. Gradually stir in the milk to form a soft dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 2cm thick.

Cut the dough into rounds or squares and put onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper. Collect any dough trimmings together, roll them out and cut them out again.You should be able to make around 10 scones from this recipe.

Brush the scones with a little milk and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the scones have risen and turned golden.


Woolton Pie

400g diced squash/pumpkin, peeled and diced
450g diced carrots, peeled and finely sliced
200g diced swede, peeled and diced
300g diced parsnips, peeled and finely diced
2 onions, peeled and diced
2 tsp vegemite or vegetable bouillon
2 Tblsp rolled oats
1 Tblsp fresh herbs, roughly chopped (I used parsley and sage)

Saute the onion in a little oil/butter/margarine until it softens.  Add all the vegetables, vegemite and just  enough water to cover the vegetables.  Cook the vegetables until tender.  Let the vegetables cool then put them in an oven proof dish.  You can cover the pie with shortcrust pastry or mashed potato.  Bake at 180C until the top has turned golden.  Serve with gravy.

Toad in the Hole

6 sausages 
2 onions, quartered 
2 Tblsp olive oil 
150g plain flour 
2 tsp mustard 
2 eggs 
300ml milk

Preheat your oven to 200C.  Put the sausages and onion wedges in an ovenproof baking dish. Drizzle over the oil and cook for 20 minutes.

While the sausages are cooking, put the flour and mustard powder in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the eggs and milk to make a batter. Take the sausages out of the oven and pour the batter into the dish. Put back into the oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the batter is crisp and golden.  I usually serve this with mixed vegetables and gravy.

Twice Baked Potatoes filled with bacon, a little cheese, spinach and grated carrot.

Oven Baked Fishcakes and Potato Wedges

4 potatoes, peeled
4 fillets of skinned and boned fish
1 Tblsp lemon thyme leaves
2 Tblsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup homemade breadcrumbs
A little milk
A little oil or margarine

Potato Wedges
4 more potatoes, unpeeled
1 tsp oil or melted margarine

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Peel the potatoes, dice then cook as you would to make mash.  

Whilst the potatoes are cooking put the fish onto lined baking tray and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until cooked through.  

Once the potatoes are tender drain and mash with a little margarine and milk. Set aside to cool. Once the fish is cooked flake it into the cooled mashed potatoes, add the fresh herbs, season to taste and mix gently to combine all the ingredients.

Form the mixture into fishcakes then press them into the breadcrumbs and chill in the fridge to firm up while you prepare the potato wedges.

To make the wedges:

Give the potatoes a good wash then slice them into thin wedges.  Put them onto a lined baking tray.  Gently toss them with olive or melted margarine and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

While the chips are cooking, heat a little margarine a large frying pan and cook the fishcakes over a moderate heat for about 3 - 5 minutes each side or until the outside is golden and the inside has warmed through.

Crustless Bacon and Spinach Quiche

1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 free range eggs, beaten
500ml milk
75g butter or margarine, melted
200g bacon, rind removed and diced
2 onions, finely diced
2 handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp fresh chives, finely sliced

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Saute the onion and bacon in a little oil or margarine until the onion has softened and the bacon has started to go slightly crispy.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, milk and butter. Combine to make a smooth batter then stir through the cooked onion and bacon, spinach, cheese and chives until they are just combined.

Pour into a large ovenproof dish which has been greased or lined with non-stick baking paper. Cook at 180C for about 45 minutes until the quiche is set.  We're having ours with mixed root vegetable mash.

Sausage Casserole

6 fat pork sausages
25g butter or margarine
2 large onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large leeks, washed and sliced thinly
2 apples
1 Tblsp plain flour
2 Tblsp cider vinegar
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tblsp dijon mustard

Brown the sausages in a large pan then set aside. Add the butter to the pan containing the cooking juices from the sausages and saute the onions, garlic and leeks for five minutes until the leeks soften and the onion becomes transparent.

Peel the apples and cut into 8ths. Add the apple pieces to the onion mixture and scatter the flour over everything, stirring well to thoroughly coat the vegetables with the flour mixture.

Add the cider vinegar and use it to deglaze the pan. Add the stock and mustard then bring to the boil.

Add the sausages and drained tins of beans to the casserole. Cover and bake at 180C, or simmer on the stove for 40 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper then serve with greens and some crusty bread or mash.

Pork and Apple Casserole

2 cups mixed root vegetables, diced
4 large pork chops
2 apples
1 cup apple juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put the pork chops in a plastic bag and cover with the apple juice.  Leave to marinate for a couple of hours. 

Preheat your oven to 170C.  Put the diced root vegetables and apple into the bottom of a roasting dish.  Put the pork chops  on top of the vegetables, pour over the apple juice marinade.

Season with salt and pepper then bake for 35 – 45 minutes until the pork is cooked through.  The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the pork chops.  We’ll be serving ours with steamed greens.

My Meal Planning Top Tips

Make a list of the meals you like to eat - you'll be much more likely to stick to a meal plan if everyone likes what's on it.  It will take a bit of negotiation and compromise to sort out a menu that sticks to the budget, has variety and is nutritious.  Trust me, it is worth it!
Use up what you have first - do a stocktake of your store cupboard and formulate a meal plan around what you already have, just shop for the few extra ingredients you need.
Make use of leftovers - plan how to use up leftovers by reinventing them for dinner the follow night or taking them to work as a tasty and filling lunch.  Some dishes taste even better the next day because the flavours have extra time to develop.
Eat less meat - meat is usually one of the most expensive ingredients in a meal. Why not plan vegetarian meals for a couple of nights? Beans, legumes, pulses and frozen vegetables are all budget-friendly ingredients. Use tinned beans to stretch meals, make dips and reinvent leftovers too.

Cook in batches - Cooking extra helpings for lunches or extra meals to freeze for later uses up ingredients which cuts down on wastage and making better use of your oven also saves money on energy bills.

Use special offers to your advantage - check out which vegetables, meat, poultry or fish are on offer that week and then formulate your Meal Plan taking advantage of special offers.
Make a shopping list and stick to it - List all the ingredients you need for your meal plan and use it to shop online or take it with you when you go shopping.
Shop online to avoid temptation - You can't be tempted by items you don't see in the aisles in front of you if you shop online.  Most websites also have a handy running total which should help you stick to a set amount.
Use price comparison sites - I use My Supermarket to compare the cost of my shopping to find the cheapest supermarket to purchase my groceries from.  There is quite a difference in price between the supermarkets depending on what you are buying.  There are also tools on the site which let you know whether specials are actually decent discounts or not.


  1. That looks really interesting, I'm sure most people ate much healthier back then but the issue was lack of variety as there was little choice week after week. I'd be interested to see if you feel you are eating enough...

    1. I think we will find it difficult as the quantity we think we need and what we actually need are two different things. My 3 girls eat like extra hungry termites most of the time so this week will be a challenge. Having said that fruit isn't rationed so I may have to barter baking for some fruit from the neighbours ;)

  2. Wow what a brilliant and comprehensive write up of your weekly shop/meal plan. I wish I had your discipline but in my defense I do not just grab things willy nilly and take my time to do the maths as the supermarkets are constantly trying to trick us as to what size is cheapest! Over Christmas we saved loads of money as the Gammon I baked gave us 16 portions of soup stock along with the left over vegetables, we had bubble & squeak patties with leftover cheese and Turkey Coronation amongst other things - none of it planned but just evolving as I'm the take one day at a time (give or take a couple of days)type of gal!

    1. Your gammon sounds delicious and very frugal Camilla, I am jealous! We had roast lamb and used leftovers for sandwiches, shepherds pie and the bones for stock to make pearl barley and veg soup. Your philosophy is rather like the lovely Nigel Slater :) I am slightly obsessively organised lol The fact I blog my Meal Plan does make me more disciplined than I might otherwise be.

    2. You compared me to my idol, I'm so happy:-)

  3. Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.

  4. I love reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks
    for allowing me to comment!

  5. Hi, I'm new to this page. I'm trying hard to cut down on my spending, and have been intrigued for some time now with the idea of trying to live like peeps did in WW2 ie. on rations. This is very helpful.

  6. I found this very helpful i am helping someone at one of the schools to put together a menu that would be used during the war

  7. Made the Red lentil soup yesterday. Delicious and more than enough for my lunches all week! Trying the bacon/spinach quiche tonight. It's nice having a few different recipes in rotation!


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