WWII Rationing Challenge: Looking Back


Now that the WWII Rationing Challenge has ended, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at all the best bits of the challenge! There were 90 participants in total this year, with many of you sharing your thoughts, recipes and advice throughout the 4 weeks.

The beginning of the challenge started with our launch night! We had Monica Askay, a food historian, who gave us a talk and a hands-on demonstration about food during rationing and Carine Henry, a dietician, who spoke to us about the effects of rationing on nutrition. There were also war time recipes for people to try which went down a treat! Thank you to everyone who joined us for making the night a success!

We published a blog post with handy tips about making your rationing allowance go further in preparation for the challenge beginning, and food writer and chef Clare shared her advice from the 2015 Rationing Challenge, and links to lots of amazing recipes that can be eaten during the challenge. Ellie Reed wrote an excellent blog about her experience of trying some Woman’s Weekly recipes! Ann also gave us a great summary of her first day trying the challenge, including her first successful rationed meal of cottage pie and veg, with stewed fruit for pudding.

We also shared the Woolton pie recipe in our bi-weekly emails, which Annie made to great success!

The second week of the challenge began as we learnt more about the Dig for Victory campaign that was launched a month after WWII started in an effort to encourage and increase homes to produce their own vegetables.

Our intern Izzie tested out a foolproof recipe for bean burgers, which uses cheap ingredients that can all be locally grown and no meat or dairy – great for the Rationing Challenge. Christian Reynolds wrote a very informative piece on how our sustainable our modern diets are compared to that of the wartime, and just how much of an effect what we eat has on our planet.

Lynda wrote about her experiences so far for the challenge, learning how to cook for her whole family and her efforts to buy ingredients locally; her purchase of a free-range organic British chicken was made use of in four meals! Right down to the bones used to make a stock.  Sarah Foster also wrote a blog post for us, taking a different angle on the Rationing Challenge by discussing the increase in the use of plastic in food packaging since the war. Her article is well worth a read to see how the effects of the war on our plastic production and consumption can be seen in today’s world.


Week 3 marked being over halfway through the challenge! Our email focused on the alternatives to meat and cheese that were used during the war to make food go that little bit further, accompanied by some excellent wartime Spam adverts. If Spam didn’t quite get your taste buds singing, there were plenty of other links to suitable recipes, including ones on our recipe page!

Our emails also touched upon the sustainability side of reducing your meat and fish intake, with helpful information about the amount of climate and health impacts attached to different animal products. Alongside this, Annie wrote a brilliant blog about everything she had learnt during her time doing the challenge, with helpful tips and advice for fellow participants, and Carine’s blog post informed us how to get enough protein with a diet that is low in animal products.

We also had a closer look at the approach to food and household waste during the war, and the efforts taken to keep waste to a minimum by the government. Certain measures to prevent food waste can used just as effectively today. Check out our Waste Less Save More campaign in partnership with Sainsbury’s to find out how you can prevent food waste at home and around your local area. Leading by example, Lynda Bryers showed us all how she made strawberry jam with her rationed sugar allowance and leftover Pick Your Own strawberries from Lidgate Farm.


Week 4 meant the challenge was coming to a close for most people, and we delved deeper in the sugar crisis we are facing today and the lessons we can learn from the war time when sugar was rationed. One such tactic was to use carrots as a substitute for sugar due to the nature of its sweet taste, which can be seen in the recipe for Mock Apricot Flan. With the level of obesity in Britain rising (1 in 4 children starting primary school are overweight), it is more important than ever to better understand the presence of sugar in our diet and take tips from the past to make sure we have a healthy diet.

And so the end of the Rationing Challenge was in sight! To sum up her time, Ann wrote a great blog about her experience, including all her successful rationing recipes, including this delicious homemade pizza! It was great to hear that Ann is planning to continue with some of the lessons of the challenge, by limiting the amount of animal products she buys in her weekly shop and planning out meals beforehand to make sure her family uses all of their ingredients and waste less food! Equally, Lynda’s final piece included the lessons that she will take away from the experience, such as her awareness of buying local and sustainable produce, and how much she enjoyed her time taking part in the challenge!


We hope that you enjoyed gaining an insight into how people lived during the Second World War, and that it helped you consider how we can make our food more sustainable. Thank you to everyone who took part in our 2017 WWII Rationing Challenge, and to all those who contributed to our emails and blog posts!