Tuesday 16 October 2012

You’ve never had it so good, but prepare for the return of rationing Part 1

I thought I would publish an abridged version of this report and think it through over a few days. In case you missed it (normally includes us as we don't buy daily newspapers but this was a free gift from a petrol station trying to close as we pulled up for some milk!) it was in the Sunday Express and written by Geraint Jones. The link to the full version can be found at the end of each posting.

ON July 4, 1954, almost nine years after the end of the Second World War, food rationing in Britain finally ended. The years of scraping together meals from whatever was to be found in an understocked larder were over. The next half century saw nothing short of a revolution in food production and consumption.

Now those years are being viewed as a golden age, when cheap, plentiful supplies of food flooded the market and families had unprecedented choice in their daily diet. Experts say the era of cheap food is over, probably for good, and rising prices will have profound effects on health, particularly of the least well off.

The first thing I thought when I read the title, was GOOD! Maybe now, governments with their food mountains, individuals, shops and catering establishments, who throw away excess food, might get a grip on their common-sense (assuming they have any).

Then there are the numerous programmes on TV that think people stuffing themselves until they are sick, or preparing mountains of food that you just know is going to be thrown away might just change their habitual, disgusting habits, but I doubt it.

No, I thought GOOD from the viewpoint that possibly, just possibly, 'proper' cookery and life style programmes might be made that teach how to shop diligently and understand budgeting. Maybe how to prepare food carefully and then cook it properly (and use up the left overs if there are any).

I suspect that for the poorest of families, not much has changed, but it could. You can eat far more cheaply if you buy the correct things and cook from scratch. Simple changes produce enormous reward. It is a question of a) being willing to do so in the first place. b) learning what to do if you don't know how and c) stop being lazy and making excuses and just get on with it.

The recent difficulties and soaring prices can largely be blamed on climate, with drought in the US and a heatwave in Russia combining with the wettest British summer for 100 years to send cereal production levels plummeting. Wheat yields in Britain fell 14.1 per cent this year and prices rose by 29 per cent compared with 12 months ago.

Cereal prices impact directly on other sectors, especially pig and poultry farmers who are already struggling with higher feed costs,” said Guy Gagen, National Farmers’ Union chief combinable crops adviser.

So now we know and I have to admit it hadn't occurred to me either, why the price of meat is rising quickly. Well, the above is partly responsible but increases in fuel, tax and whatever else isn't mentioned here, also contribute.

Meat consumption has dropped considerably in our household. We eat less now than we did when on our war rations. Many of my war time recipes are beginning to see the light of day once more, especially where meat is concerned.

One example I can give is this. When you have sausages, how many do you have per person? When we were on our war rations, we chose to have (to leave a little for other meats) one sausage, per person, per fortnight.

What, I hear you ask, can you do with such a small amount - well, bend back your ears and I'll tell you. That minuscule amount will produce 2 meals for each person on the week you have them. Yes, you heard me, two meals.

Meal One - for 2 people - Pigs in clover

Turn on the oven to 180 or so. Use an apple corer to and push it through 2 medium/large but not huge potatoes,  sideways in two places. Skin one sausage and use it to stuff each of these hollows. Don't force it in, any that is leftover will be added to meal 2!. Lightly oil and bake in the oven until the potato is cooked and crisp. Serve with vegetables and gravy.

Meal Two for 2 people - Toad in the hole

You will need to cook some vegetables and potatoes to go with these as they don't take long to cook.

Using the other sausage and any left over from meal one, de-skin and roll it into 4 - 6 balls (if you have a few breadcrumbs/onions etc., to add to it then you should get 6 easily!) Pour a small amount of oil into 6 parts of a 12 portion baking tray (the kind used for small cakes or mince pies), warm it in the oven. Then add a ball to 6 of the dips and roast in a 220 Celsius oven for 5 - 10 minutes. Whilst that is happening, make up some Yorkshire Pudding Batter, the recipe can be found here

After 10 minutes divide 1/2 this batter between the 6 balls and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Serve 3 each with the veg and potatoes, plus some gravy and LEAVE THE OVEN ON.

Just before you serve, put a little oil in the 6 unused tins, get it hot, then add the remaining batter. Now you also have some for a pudding. Serve them with golden/maple syrup, jam or honey poured over.

That is just two examples on how to use 2 sausages, there are many more ways to eek out meat.

I'm not here to preach or solve anyone's problems, just bringing ideas to your attention. All I would say for this first part (and probably those that follow), is this - we all need to learn how to ration what we have, whilst we still have it. That goes for everything, water, heating, fuel etc.

Know one knows what the future holds, who will have a job or how much everyday living will rise.

Do you really want to be getting further into debt and possibly lose everything you have now because you can't be bothered or one or both of you won't reign in your spending?

The full version of this post can be read at:  http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/351988/You-ve-never-had-it-so-good-but-prepare-for-the-return-of-rationing  


  1. Since I became a vegetarian and started cooking everything from scratch, my food bills have dropped enormously. A tin of chickpeas for 32p can do two meals, which is cheaper (and better for you) than meat. So I agree with you that people need to start looking at what they are eating and how they are cooking it. PS I love Toad in the Hole but with veggie sausages and eggless batter now! xxx

    1. Eggless batter, now that sounds interesting!

  2. Very interesting. I know food costs are rising, but when I see the difference between the way some people I know shop/cook/eat and the way I do, it doesn't surprise me that some are struggling. It is about making sensible choices, not worrying about having the same things a few nights on the run and not expecting to eat gourmet food every single day!

    1. Well we have just made a huge pan of food that will do us for 2/3 meals, one night after the other or else we'll freeze one and re-flavour another depending on how we feel.

  3. This is a really interesting post. Your reaction of ' good' is echoed by me. Shortly we will reach the season of excess and gluttony otherwise known as Christmas, when people load their trolleys with food and booze, and then repeat the whole process a few days later ready for New Year. I know of people who buy things that nobody in their family likes just because 'it's tradition' - dates spring to mind - and nuts in shells. A friend of mine bought dates every year even though nobody liked them, and then threw them away, just because her Mum used to buy them every year. Another bought nuts in shells, and then couldn't be bothered to shell them so threw them away.Christmas cake was another thing that my work colleagues regularly threw away. J's Mum used to have a cabinet groaning with chocolate that would still be there at Easter, by which time it was covered in a white bloom and nobody wanted to eat it. Last year I bought a turkey crown, a piece of pork, a ham and 2 gateaux as extra to my normal shopping. Every scrap was either eaten while K and A were with us, or turned into dishes which were then frozen.I could go on and on about food waste, people wearing shorts and t-shirts in Winter and then turning the heating up full blast, people at the allotment who don't have water butts and then water their plots using a hosepipe at mid-day - arrrggh. I am beginning to turn into a grumpy old woman and am in danger of writing an essay!

    1. Essay away my dear, essay away says I. It's not rocket science yet people still refuse to face it head one, preferring instead to bury their heads in the sand. Some think it is okay as they can then declare themselves bankrupt, with little idea of what that means for them later in life.

  4. Interesting post. I work in a small family bakers shop and I'm always amazed at how much rubbish young mums feed their kids. It usually starts first thing in the morning on the way to school or nursery with a sausage roll for breakfast then back in again on the way home at lunch time for a sandwich and crisps then in again at 3pm for cakes and bottles of fizzy pop!! no wonder these kids are fractious and having tantrums, their basic diet is sugar and fat, never mind how much money they seem to spend. When I ask them why they don't cook from scratch and make cheap nutritious meals and porridge for breakfast, the reply is always the same "cos they wont eat it, they don't like it" and I can't be bothered!! I have to give up before I get cross. Dont even get me started on the subject of waste lol our shop waste is appalling..............

  5. I can imagine. We were once parked at the back entrance of M & S when they started to FILL one of those orange industrial waste tipper carts. Most food was still in date - hundreds of sausage rolls, yoghurt's, potatoes and other veg, bread etc.

  6. Most of the food here in the States is collected by food banks and distributed to food pantries and homeless shelters. I can only think the mark up on the food being thrown away in the u.k. is huge.

    1. How I wish that were true over here. It just seems to be a bad habit that they are slow to deal with.


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