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World War Two: Meals at home

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Meals from next-to-nothing in WW2 rationing and austerity

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.

Money for food

The Government gave wives of men in the forces a married woman's allowance. So money for food was not a major problem. The real problem was that there was so little in the shops to buy and rationing limited what could be bought anyway.

Guest contribution

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

Complete meals, not side dishes

Do please remember that the meals described on the pages 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.

Guest contribution

Snacks!

It was three meals a day. There was no extra food for snacks between meals.

Anne Jameson

Creativity with left-overs - and Government recipes

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

I understand that the Government helped by publishing 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 bit of food in with another'. While my father was in the army, we were a family of three - my mother, my grandmother and me.

Guest contribution

One bit of food in with another and how it helped

During the war, I was registered for rationing as a vegetarian which meant no meat but extra cheese. But I shared the family's meat in the usual way and they shared my cheese. Small families of course didn't have this luxury.

Neil Cryer

Unmarried women and income

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

And in the years of austerity after the war

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', but I have no evidence on this. Have you?

Text and images are copyright

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.


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