Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sixteen Points

By December of 1940, store shelves were getting  bare. Most shops had run out of items such as tinned (canned) salmon, meat, and fruit. But the Ministry of Food had a plan:  Ration points. On December 1, 1941 (a week before the US enters the war due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor), if you had a ration book, you would receive sixteen points per month to spend on any food items you liked (and were available).

The first items up for grabs with ration points were canned items: fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit.  Soon other items were added as they became more scarce, such as condensed milk, cereals, crackers, cookies,  and sweets. There was a catch. The prices in “points” varied depending on the availability of the items. The Ministry of Food had been stockpiling items months before so the program would have an initial success and the stores would have full shelves.


Grocers had a lot of tinned items to sell with points when the program began. There were two major drawbacks to the plan: 1) as certain foods became popular, the price in points would increase. What was 8 points one month, might be 12 or 16 the next month. The newspapers listed items for sale in the shops and their points value. 2) There were long lines. One would have never left the house without your ration book and coupons! My grandmother said to me about shopping during the war, “If you saw a line you got in it.”  You usually then found out what you were in line for when you got closer to the counter. A positive note in wartime was instead of just getting your monthly rationed items, you could actually feel like a shopper again. SPAM© became very popular in the UK. The American brand of processed and spiced ham was made available through the Lend-Lease Act, and became a wartime staple on many British tables. In wartime Britain, a 10-oz (284-gram) tin of SPAM cost 1 shilling and sixpence (about 20 cents), and sixteen points.

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RECIPE-Oatmeal Cheese Rarebit


Oatmeal Cheese Rarebit

  •  1 oz. Grated cheese
  • ½ oz. oatmeal
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 oz flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Toasted bread

Make a sauce by combining the flour and water; stir until smooth and add the cheese, oatmeal, salt, and pepper. Cook for a minute or two over medium-high heat until cheese is melted and sauce is somewhat smooth. Pour on to toast. Place under the broiler until brown. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.

Category: Recipes, Uncategorized

RECIPE-Lord Woolton Pie

Lord Woolton Pie

Frederick Marquis, Lord Woolton,  was appointed Minister of Food in April 1940. Lord Woolton was a former managing director of Lewis,  a  chain of stores in northern England. Lord Woolton created “The Kitchen Front” radio show, and he became very popular with the public while stressing the importance of meat-free dishes and making desserts without sugar (grated carrots were used as a sugar substitute to provide sweetness). The Official recipe for Woolton Pie was reported in “The Times” on 26 April 1941. The pie was the invention of Francis Latry, the head chef at the Savoy Hotel in London. This was one of many recipes introduced to the British people by the Ministry of Food to ensure that a nutritional diet could be maintained despite so many food shortages. People either hated or loved it!  Note: Swedes are rutabagas, and spring onions are scallions. Kitchen Bouquet can be used in place of the “vegetable extract.”  The crust can be made of mashed potato or an easy pastry (a wartime pie crust)  of 8 oz of wheat flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 3 oz of margarine (or butter if you have saved your ration),  and enough water to make the dough roll out easier. A moderate oven is about 350-375 degrees.

Lord Woolton, Minister of Food

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The Ration Allowance

The distribution of ration books, and depending on the category in which a person was classified,  determined how much food was allowed. By 1943, typical rations for one adult for one week included:

  • 2 pints of milk
  • 4 oz  meat (chicken and fish were not rationed, but availability could  be scare)
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 fresh egg per week or 1 packet of dried eggs (equivalent to 12 fresh eggs) every 8 weeks
  • 2 oz butter
  • 4 oz of jam (usually one jar per month)
  • 2 oz of cooking fat (lard or suet)
  • 4 oz cheese
  • 4 oz or about three “rashers” of bacon
  • 2 oz of leaf tea
  • 8 oz sugar


Fruits and vegetable weren’t rationed, but a person was usually limited to about two lbs per week. What one could get from the grocer also depended on what was available. Citrus fruits and bananas were scare as the enemy was sinking almost any ship; a lot of food ended up at the bottom of the ocean!

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War Cookery Leaflets

The Ministry of Food had to get their message of rationing out to the British public. Another method besides radio, food demonstrations,  and film shorts shown in movie theaters,  was the War Cookery Leaflet. Various leaflets were published and focused on a particular food, such as cheese, dried eggs, salads, green vegetables, cheaper cuts of meats, and sweets.  The leaflets helped readers learn about frugality and healthy eating, while providing hints on food storage and preparation. The leaflets used practical language and the recipes were realistic. They proved to be very popular and successful in the Ministry of Food’s mission of providing useful information and promoting the war effort.

cheaper cuts of meat

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Signing Up

To implement rationing, the British government began issuing Identity Cards through National Registration on September 29, 1939.

UJ identity card from World War Tworation-books-lg.jpg

All persons had to be registered, and once registered, they would return to their local neighborhood office or village hall to receive their ration books. Ration books came in three colors: tan for adults; green for pregnant or nursing women, and children 4 and under; and blue for children 5 to 16 years old.  The ration book color scheme insured that each person got the right amount of food for their age or health condition.

Once the family’s ration books were issued, it was required that the household had to register with their local stores: the butcher for meat and the grocer for general foodstuffs. The shop owners could refuse you, especially if your weren’t inclined to pay your bill on time!

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Rationing in Britain

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Rationing in Britain began January 8, 1940. Ration books were issued to all persons, young and old alike, so everyone got their “fair share.” Children got extra rations that included additional milk, orange juice, and cod liver oil.


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