Rationing was introduced in Britain on 8th January 1940, just four months after the start of the Second World War and didn’t end until 1954. However, fourteen years of rationing meant that cooks had plenty of time to get creative.
Pickling and preserving became crucial, not just as a means of effective storage but as a way of livening up meals made from the same old rations. Meat was rationed on a price basis so if you could be clever with cheaper cuts of meat, you’d have more to last the week and if you lived in the country, you could supplement the ration with rabbit or pigeon. Baking without eggs or sugar became commonplace, a good pickle or chutney could spice up an old recipe, and foraging could produce some edible, if not always strictly enjoyable, additions to your diet.
Thankfully we are not currently on rations, so there’s no need to go looking for potentially poisonous mushrooms or stinging nettles to eat, but when you consider how much food is wasted in the UK alone (approximately 25% of all food we buy), a little wartime frugality could benefit us all.