Monday, 12 March 2018

Living on Rations - Week Four - Day 28 - Final Day - Answers

Well here we are,  our last day of rationing.

This morning it was toast for breakfast, served with a titchy tiny bit of spread ... getting every last bit out of the tub ... but with lashings of homemade orange marmalade. Lunch is a tub of soup from the freezer with toast and our evening meal will be a hotch potch of leftovers to empty out the freezer and fridge shelf.  A jacket potato with vegan cheese, some Shepherdess Pie and the last pork chop.

We did it  :-)

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To finish off the Challenge I promised to answer any questions that you wanted to ask about the Challenge so here goes -

From Winters End Rambler:  It should certainly have proved frugal for your years main challenge if nothing else! x

It has really helped us.  In total over the 28 days of the challenge we spent just £24.49 on food.

From Faith:   Any individual recipes you spotted that you'd like to cook afterwards, even if you're not doing full on rations?

We are definitely going to be having Tomato Macaroni Au Gratin again and again.  Other favourites were Smothered Sausages and Woolton Pie (with a wholemeal pastry topping).

From Sue:  My question is did you get fed up with mashed potatoes?!

No, we surprisingly we didn't get fed up of potatoes at all.  We had them baked, boiled, made into wedges and yes, mashed.  I think we might have a few days off from spuds but on the whole we haven't been put off them  :-)

From Catz:  My question is did you have any serious cravings for food/drinks unavailable to you in wartime?

We did crave fresh salady vegetables.  I had some Iceberg lettuce in the fridge at the start of the challenge and we really made it last as long as we could but once that was gone we missed it.  I did kind of cheat as they are out of season and bought us some tomatoes and again we made these last for quite a few meals.  Of course our onions had to be used very sparingly as well so we missed having onion slices on sandwiches.

Oh, and I missed my copious quantities of sparkling water .... but it was my intention of using rationing to break this habit.  I only used about two large bottles over the course of the month and this was to top up my small bottle for travelling and for drinking at the cinema.

From: Margie from Toronto:  I would like to ask if you got bored with anything in particular and how do you think singletons living in the city would have coped?

The thing I got bored with the most was the lack of spontaneity. 

Usually even if you have menu plan for the week ahead you can chop and change, throw the plan out of the window for a day and raid the cupboard for something completely different if the mood takes you.  With a smaller amount of food in stock this was not really possible, other than switching between the days we had certain things, or changing the way I cooked the vegetables, ... mash instead of boiled potatoes etc.

Singletons living in the city would have had a much harder time of it, and I think they really did in wartime.  Unless they had access to some outdoor space to grow at least a few vegetables to add to their ration it would have been extremely difficult.  Also the points system was not geared very well for single people.  Just 16 points per month was allowed for each person and some tins of fish and meat were a full 16 points.  This is where vegetarians would have been better catered for as they could have bought a lot of dried pulses and things like rice with their points but not meat products like Spam etc.

From Alice via email:  Have you lost any weight during this Challenge?

I seriously doubted that I would lose any weight over the course of the last four weeks as I have literally felt podged,  BUT ... I have lost one pound and luckily according to our WW scales it is one pound of fat ... result.  Alan has lost 4lbs so he is very pleased as at no time has he been hungry.

From Caroline via email:  Have there been any health repercussions during the Challenge due to all the unhealthy carbs?

Actually no not at all, I think because you might be eating more carbs but at the same time eating a lot less protein your body does learn to adapt very quickly.

Our health stats are really quite good.   I have high blood pressure but my blood pressure readings went down by around 20 figures and my blood sugar dropped by point two ... although I am well into the normal range anyway.  Alan who is diabetic found his readings went down by 3.2, still higher than it should be but surprisingly not affected in any detrimental way by the amount of carbs consumed.  

We both lost a little bit of weight and I lost an inch off my waist, which can only be a good thing.

From John via email:  Did you miss shopping and filling your supermarket trolley with anything you fancied?

Yes, I did miss shopping, but luckily the year long Challenge that we were already doing had already tempered my shopping habits drastically before this Challenge had even begun.   I also found that I looked at the vast array of available food, especially imported out of season food in a whole new way.

From Elaine via email:  Are there any changes that you made during rationing that will be remaining with you after your rationing ends?

Yes ... I think we will be even more inclined to eat seasonally and produce as much as our own food as possible.  I will also try and keep up with the menu planning.  It does take a weight off your mind if the meals you are eating each night are at least listed and you don't have to stand at an open fridge every day and ponder.

From Candace:  Did you find anything that you want to eat less of going forward? 

From the foods we have been eating during rationing my first thought would be to eat less bread going forward ... it really seems to bloat me ... maybe I'll go back to eating just a couple of slices a day instead of a third of a loaf   ;-)

From what we have learnt during the rationing period I would also say that except for maybe a splurge on salady things for a couple of days now that rationing has ended,  I think we will be eating much less out of season foods, and also things that the supermarket may  call food but are in fact manufactured, processed items.

From Liz Bloyce: Hi, have you come across what the rations were for toddlers?

Children under five (along with pregnant women and nursing mothers) had a green ration book and would be entitled to the first choice of any fruit available, a daily pint of milk and a double supply of eggs.  Children between the ages of five and sixteen years of age had a blue ration book which gave them choice of available fruit, a full meat ration and half a pint of milk a day.

From e: I am wondering how this experiment will influence your portioning, shopping and savings habits going forward and also if you feel healthier or are any lighter since this began?

Now that rationing is over I will be going back to our regular portioning sizes and mostly using our smaller sized plates.  Some rationing portions were huge and some tiny it was very strange.  I will continue with our Challenge year shopping using money from The Purse until it runs out.  We only buy what we can't produce ourselves usually so that will continue, but I will perhaps push myself to produce even more for ourselves.  I need to get better at  successional sowing of seeds and not having gaps, between one crop and the next, and I should try to reduce the 'hungry gap' even further for next year.

I don't feel any healthier, in fact I feel quite lethargic at the moment, but that is perhaps due  to the fact that the weather has been dire and I have not done much outside work to off set the amount of stodge I have been eating.  But now even if I don't get outside much over the next week or so I can at  least go back to eating more salady based meals and smoothie type breakfasts.

Somehow I have lost one pound of fat and an inch off my waist though ... so that is good  :-)

Musings from me:  

On the whole we loved doing this challenge within a Challenge.  It reinforced in our minds that the way we live is by and large a good one for us and would be our salvation if anything awful were to happen in the world in the future. 

It showed us that what we are doing here on our own five acres of Welsh hillside, producing our own fruits and vegetables, raising the hens for eggs, using wood from our woodland for the log burners, having solar power and a rainwater harvesting system and living simply is a good way to live and one that a lot of people aspire to. 

Even now at the end of a very changeable Winter I could go out and from our own land scrape together the makings of a meal with no help from supermarkets.  The veggie patch and the tunnels would supply the means for vegetable stews, soups and warming casseroles.  Of course the hens supply us with eggs each day so that would be breakfast taken care of.  There are enough pheasants roaming the woodland to give Alan the taste of meat in his portion every now and then, and soon rabbits will be making an appearance ... although if he shoots the Easter bunny I will be very unhappy. 

When we started this way of living it wasn't meant to be any kind of survivalist way of life but I think living on rations even for such a short time has proved to us both that we could scrimp and scrape a life on very little money here on our small homestead if we had to, and that of course is just what we are doing this year while we save like mad to pay off the final bit of our mortgage.

So now it's time to rip up the ration books and get back to the main Challenge ...

Digging for Victory on a Welsh Hillside

Rationing is over  :-)

Sue xx


  1. I salute you both, although I have not followed the rations to the 'nth degree this has altered my food choices. I too have saved a significant amount of money, sadly I have not lost any weight but do feel healthier. Iam certain that you will be as successful in the main challenge of this year.

  2. Well done Sue, it's been very interesting reading.

  3. Well done to you both!.I have been reading your blog for a while now and found this challenge really interesting.I told my 85 year old Mam about it and she was telling me her memories of those days,adding that she can never remember being hungry! Although saying that she can remember not having many clothes and having to get certain tops dry over night so that she had got them clean for the next day.It was very make do and mend.I think that todays young ones havent got a clue what it was like and maybe try something like this,if only for a month!!,Best wishes to you and thanks for all the information on how to live an even more frugal lifestyle.Debi,xx

  4. Well done!! Can I ask if you posted the recipe for the tomato and macaroni dish anywhere as I'd really like to make it. Thank you

    1. It's on the 'Recipes I Use' page at the top of the blog, along with lots of others. Click on the photo to be able to read it clearer.

  5. really enjoyed following your challenge and seeing what meals you cam up with each day.

  6. Congratulations Sue, you've done a great job on the challenge! And on documenting what happened each day and making it interesting. (I've had a family member in the hospital last week, so I still need to read some of the posts). Deb in Ohio

  7. It's been fascinating to read about rationing and realise that some of the way we eat was shaped by it.

    Both my parents were evacuated from Liverpool. My mother went to family and was well taken care of. My father, on the other hand, stayed with a family that took in children for their rations. When his mother saw him 6 months later she took him back to Liverpool rather than leave him to starve. At seven he had learned to fish and clean the fish in order to survive.

    One problem with seasonal foods is that they aren't obvious any more. A few prices go down in the summer, but around here in Virginia prices are pretty much year round. For the longest time I didn't buy apples and oranges after about June because they had been stored since the autumn and tasted like they had been stored for six months. In the last couple of years I have started to see southern hemisphere fruits in the summer which taste so much better.

    I look forward to seeing who the rest of your challenge develops during the year.


  8. It's been such an interesting month, thank you so much for posting about it so often and giving us all the details. I should imagine you are pleased to get back to normal again but with some extra knowledge and recipes up your sleeve. And that money saved - fantastic!
    J x

  9. Am interesting posting a project. You've given this suburban woman some ideas for change, Thanks.

  10. What a successful challenge! It's been really interesting reading about it, so thank you for sharing. Quite glad I'm not doing it myself though...

  11. Well done! I've really enjoyed reading about this one Sue - and yet again I'm feeling the stirrings of being inspired to do something similar at some stage!

  12. Well done so you are an inspiration to us all. x

  13. I just started following you. I have the cookbook that you mentioned last week. After reading some of the recipes, I don't know how you did it. Congratulations, that was quite some challenge. I don't know if I could have done it; that shows how spoiled I am.

  14. I admire your determination - I know I could never be as cosistent as you have been through all your (self set) challenges. Have you planned any other mini challenges during this "Dig for victory" year?

    1. No, I think we will just stay with the basic theme of the blog from now on :-)

  15. Thank you so much for answering all our questions - this has been such an interesting series to follow.

  16. Well done! I'm a bit sad the challenge is over. I had so much fun checking in every day. I'm sure you're happy to have it over with, though. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. I'll be back tomorrow as usual :-)

  17. Well done! I do admire your determination and I've really enjoyed reading.
    Hope you enjoy your salads!

  18. Congratulations on setting up this challenge and following through so well. It is something we all should at least think about as there tends to be so much waste today. I still have some ration books my mother saved even though I was born after the war both of my brothers had ration books. I'm not sure what the differences (if any) were for rations in the US. I know my mother had a garden and chickens even though she lived in the city and I'm sure that helped. I always enjoy reading your blog!

  19. I have really enjoyed reading following this challenge, Sue, you have done amazingly well. Enjoy your salad stuff :)

  20. It's been a very interesting read these past few weeks. Many thanks for sharing your experiences.

  21. Well done Sue and Alan on seeing the Challenge through to the bitter end. I'm not sure I would have. I'm a grazer and pick.

  22. I enjoyed following this challenge as well as the main one, both are inspirational. And I found some really interesting books thanks to you! :)

  23. Hi Sue, have enjoyed your challenge in a challenge very much. Thank you for sharing it with us. Good luck with the rest of the year, I know you can do it! Babs

  24. Bravo. Thank you for the time you have put into documenting the last month. I am looking forward to the ongoing challenge and the inspiration you provide.

  25. Well done, Sue. Thank you for posting frequently and sharing not just the pictures, books and recipes, but also a lot about your thought process while living through this Challenge month. Though we won't be doing such a challenge, I've become more aware of waste in the kitchen and am determined to reduce it. Also, to be more aware of which veggies and fruits are actually in season and to use them more when available in our area. Thanks so much and success in the rest of your challenge year! Diane in Michigan

  26. The comments above echo my thoughts too. THANKS FOR YOUR HONESTY. It's been really good to read not just what you ate, but how you felt about it [and how you occasionally 'cheated' just a tiny bit] Thanks for your Humour. I'm sure that's what helped keep so many families going during the genuine ww2 privation. GREAT POSTS. I look forward to whatever it is that you share next....

  27. It was so interesting to read your daily posts on this challenge. I learned quite a lot, and I tried the mashed potatoes in pastry crust (to top a chicken pot pie) which both my husband and I thought was very good. Your challenge also prompted me to ask my mother about rationing here in Nova Scotia during the war. She enjoyed reminiscing about it, so thank you for that as well. You must feel a great sense of accomplishment after meeting this challenge!

  28. I think you will need to wait until Oct 1st for any pheasant as that is when the season begins again,

    1. Ah but the two males that occasionally visit our chicken feeders don't know that 😉

  29. What an interesting exercise it has been. I think there would have been many smiles when the ration books were no longer needed back in the day.


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