logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as an older child

Meals from next to nothing in 1940s and 1950s Britain



World War Two poster on not wasting food

Poster encouraging everyone not to waste food. Photographed in Bushey Lincolnsfields Centre.

This group of pages is about how women - yes it was always women - managed to produce meals for their families from meagre rations and severe shortages during the Second World War and the years of austerity afterwards.

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Complete meals, not side dishes

Do please remember that the meals described in this section are invariably complete ones, not side dishes. Gastronomic delights were not possible because so many ingredients were unavailable or in short supply.

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Creativity with left-overs, and Government recipes

Women needed to be creative with what few ingredients they could get hold of and good managers at creative ways to use up left-overs.

I understand that the Government helped by publishing recipes recipes from available ingredients, designed to fill the family up. However, as a child growing up at the time, I never saw any of them. I suspect they were of most value for large families, as my mother often complained that it was easier for them as they could use what she described as "one thing in with another". While my father was in the army, we were a family of three - my mother, my grandmother and me.

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Managing the housekeeping money

I never heard anyone talking about money at the time, but I suspect that it was short during the war - not that there was much to spend it on anyway, apart from having enough to eat.

Married woman's allowance in World War Two

When a man went into the forces he was paid the regular forces pay. If he was married, his wife would get a Married Women's Allowance plus a small amount for each child. This was sent to her directly.

Peter Johnson

During the war, women without young children and below the age of retirement took the men's places, and women were never paid as much as men, even for the same job.

My father's pre-war job was kept open for him during the war, and he went back to it when he was demobilised - 'debobbed' as it was called. I assume that forces pay in war-time was not as much as what most men earned in what was called 'in civvy street'.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is Pat Cryer.