Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Cor, it's been a while...

Hello lovely readers - if there are any of you left that is, after such a long break.  I've decided to pop back for a bit to help document a project I'm working on.  A big thrift project to dig me out of some lingering debt.

I’ve recently been reassessing my financial situation and have had to make some tough decisions.  This means no new clothes until the end of the year (ouch), cutting back the wine consumption from the decent stuff to the cheap stuff – and much less of it (can you hear me weeping from where you are...), joining the library rather than spending so much on ebooks for my beloved kindle and...well...cutting the food shop down drastically. 

I spend a fortune on food, seriously.  Working full time I seem to have fallen into the picking up bits at the Tesco Metro on the way home trap.  Not the cheapest way to live.  I also throw a shocking amount of food away. I’ve decided then, that I’m going to give ration book shopping a go.  This means that my diet is going to be limited (roughly) to the amounts and products available to those living through WWII in the UK. 

For ration amounts I’m roughly going by Marguerite Patten’s recommendations in her fabulous book “Feeding the Nation” which I’ll discuss in a later post, tweaked a little to represent what was available in 1940.  

Here are the average weekly rations for a single person (numbers did change throughout the war)
  • Bacon and ham - 100g/4oz (around 4 rashers)
  • Meat (other) around 500g a week of minced beef or equivalent cost (according to mysupermarket at time of posting – around £4)
  • Butter - 50g/2oz
  • Cheese - 100g/4oz
  • Margarine - 100g/4oz (I may swap this for butter as I feel margarine represents a health risk and apparently these items were interchangeable at some points during the war)
  • Cooking fat - 100g/4oz
  • Milk - 3pts/1800ml
  • Sugar - 8oz/225g
  • Tea -2oz/50g (around 15 bags a week)
  • Eggs - one shell egg a week if available was typical but I’ll not be rationing eggs as they weren’t on ration until later and I’m aiming for a 1940 rationing system
  • Sweets -12oz/350g a month

Items that were not generally rationed in 1940 but may have been hard to get hold of so I’ll be restricting consumption:
  • Cereals
  • Sausages!
  • Canned / bottled items
  • Fish
  • Offal
  • Vegetables (these I will try to eat seasonally)
  • Jams and preserves (not rationed until 1941 – hurrah!)
  • Fish and chips from the local chippy (never rationed)

Often, people who worked could use the tea, milk and sugar  available at their work place to see them through the days and also had a works canteen or went to a cafĂ© for lunch and so I will occasionally be buying the odd sandwich when I haven’t had time to make something. 

I am going to try and recreate some recipes of the time but am not going to stick to them slavishly.  Don't get me wrong, I'm doing this far more from a need to teach myself to manage money than from an urge to immerse myself in history, and frankly I can’t imagine a life without the odd Thai curry.  I may even have a pizza occasionally providing I make my own dough and stick to my cheese ration…. but I’m going to try and eat as frugally as possible until the end of the year. 

I’ll be sharing recipes along the way. This week is my prep week, so I’m eating my way through the non-wartime things I have frozen and stockpiled (the aforementioned Thai green curry, chickpea dhal, marinara sauce) before getting ready for 1940 to begin on Sunday.