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Rationing for Victory: WWII vs. Today

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Site Lead, 1930s George Ranch Home

In 1940, England began rationing food to assist their soldiers with supplies. The following year, the British government requested that the American government also conserve food to help the Allies overseas; other non-food items were also rationed soon afterward, including nylon, tires, gasoline, silk and shoes. All of these items could be re-purposed to help with the war effort.

Food Rationing Timeline

January 1940: Bacon, ham, sugar and butter
March 1940: Meat
July 1940: Tea, margarine, cooking fat and cheese
March 1941: Jam, marmalade, treacle and syrup
June 1941: Eggs
November 1941: Milk
July 1942: Sweets

This photograph from our collections is dated 1942, when food rationing was in full effect. It features four young women sitting on the cement ledge of the bridge over Dry Creek on FM 762.  The George Ranch house can be seen between the trees in right center background.

Every person was given 16 points per month to buy things like meat and dried fruit. Any food purchased was not allowed to go to waste. Vegetable ends and skins could be used to make broth – and so could bones found in meat. Egg shells could be used in boiling coffee and also could provide calcium to garden soil. Since food was such a high commodity, any food wasted could result in legal actions.

In today’s world, especially with the pandemic we are currently experiencing, grocery stores have now put certain products on ration-like quantities. Prohibiting people from buying too much helps keep food from going to waste. Soap, toilet paper and hand sanitizer are also in high demand but are also limited by purchase quantity. Like the families on the homefront in World War II, many families today are coming up with in-home ways to make it through this epidemic by making their own face masks or hand sanitizer.

One thing that truly makes the COVID-19 pandemic similar to events during the World War II is togetherness. People around the globe are helping each other and joining together in the effort to end this crisis.

Cooking for Victory

In the meantime, while we’re all home doing our part to maintain social distancing, here are some recipes from Cooking for Victory: Celebratory Food on Rations by Marguerite Patten O.B.E. Cook up a little history in your kitchen this week and let us know how it goes!


Beans on Toast: Heat canned beans (of your choice) and serve on hot toast. Can also be topped with fried egg.

Tomatoes on Toast: Halve, season, and fry tomatoes, put on to hot toast and top with grilled or fried sausages. Or eat plain.


Fish Roast
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 4-6


  • 2 lbs cod or any white fish
  • 8 oz (1 whole tomato) tomatoes, or spring onions in place of tomatoes
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) cooking fat (any type of grease left over from cooking) or (butter, olive oil, lard)


  1. Make 4 shallow cuts across the top of the fish. Insert some of the tomato (or spring onion) in the pockets in the fish. Season the fish lightly and brush with the melted fat (or items listed above in replacement). Put into a roasting pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Bake for 30 minutes, occasionally basting with liquid from pan. Add leftover tomato or spring onion into pan 10 minutes before finished.

Cold Meat Pasties
Prep Time: 25 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Makes 4 Pasties


  • Pre-bought puff pastries
  • 8 oz (1 cup) cold meat, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced or chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cooked carrots or other vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons gravy or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg to glaze


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Grease baking tray.
  3. Roll out the pastry and cut it into four sections. Brush edges with water or a little beaten egg. Mix the ingredients for the filling together and put in the center of each section. Bring the edges together, pinch well.
  4. Make a slit in the side of the pastry with a pointed knife. Brush with beaten egg, if liked. Place on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.

Vegetarian Meal

Cheese, Tomato and Potato Loaf
Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 35 minutes | Serves 4


  • 1 lb cooked new potatoes
  • 12 oz (one and a half cups) tomatoes
  • 1 oz margarine (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) flour
  • 7 and a half oz (little less than a cup) milk or milk and vegetable stock
  • 3 oz (6 tablespoons) cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • To coat the tin: ½ oz (1) margarine
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) crisp fine breadcrumbs


  1. Cut the potatoes into slices about ⅓ inch thick. Cut the tomatoes into slightly thicker slices.
  2. Heat the margarine in a saucepan, add the flour, then milk, or the milk and vegetable water, stir or whisk briskly as the sauce comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from heat, add the cheese and seasoning.
  3. Grease a loaf tin or casserole dish and coat with bread crumbs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.
  4. Arrange about a third of the potatoes in a neat layer in the container, cover with a little sauce and half the tomatoes. Put in half the remaining potatoes, with the rest of the sauce and tomatoes. Add final layer of potatoes.
  5. Cover the dish with parchment paper and bake for 30-35 minutes.


Marmalade Pudding
Prep Time: 25 minutes | Cooking Time: 1.5 hours | 4-6 helpings


  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) margarine
  • ½ pint (1 cup) milk
  • 4 oz bread (1 cup) bread
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) of self-rising or plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 oz (2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons marmalade
  • 1 egg


  1. Heat the margarine with milk. Crumble bread into a bowl, add the hot milk and melted margarine, blend well and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bread mixture, then add the sugar, half the marmalade and the egg. Beat well until you have a smooth mixture.
  3. Grease pudding cups or bowl, put the rest of the marmalade at the bottom of the cups or bowl, then add the pudding mixture. Cover with parchment paper and steam for 1 and a half hours.