The Social Experiment

This blog is about understanding and exploring what my Grandmothers experienced by living on the home front during World War II. I am going to be living, as best as I can, to the US rationing standards of 1945. This is a social experiment, not only to connect to my families past, but to explore new way to live environmentally and socially responsible. I hope to show, that by living as our grandparents did, we can reduce the amount of waste that our society throws out and live healthier and more simple lives.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rationing and Diets!

 Pumpkin and beans I froze this fall
This February I joined a “boot camp” program at my gym.  It is a fun program that combines fitness work outs with developing new eating habits.  Part of this program is following the “Mayo Diet.”  I was not sure how WWII rationing would blend with the Mayo Diet.  To my surprise… it blends very well.

The Mayo clinic encourages people to eat 3 or more servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables each day.  They want people to eat whole wheat, and only two servings of lean proteins and dairy.  They encourage people not to eat out or to watch more TV then the amount of time they spent working out.  Pretty similar to what the government encouraged people to do during the War.

Rationing automatically required people to use more fruits and vegetables to stretch the meat rations.  They encouraged women to make their own bread (hearty whole wheat’s were encouraged to help workers have the energy they needed to make it through the day).  Homemade bread offered the smells of comfort and home to a busy household that found themselves in a constant state of stress and change.  Exercise was also encouraged by the government to help relieve stress and to keep workers (women) healthy and happy with their selves.
Making Whole Wheat Bread

I was surprised how many WWII recipes fit perfectly into the eating habits.  I have made “California Chicken.”  A lovely recipe that creates four filling servings of vegetables in a cream sauce with 6 oz. of tuna.  The white sauce is made with flour and the water from the can of tuna.  Tuna was not always available during the war – but was a great source of meat when it could be found.  I had a stock pile of tuna from pre-rationing times that I could dip into.

Vegitable  burgers in the Muffin tins
The vegetable burgers I make often.  They stretch a half a pound of beef into six servings by adding lots of grated vegetables.  A healthy serving of chili powder makes them extra tasty and they don’t need any ketchup (which is rationed).  I make them in muffin tins and take them to work on a bed of cooked green beans.
7 layer hotdish ready to cook

A 7 layer vegetable hot dish stretches ½ lb. of beef into 8 servings.  The flavor is amazing with sliced potatoes, celery, onions, green peppers, and tomatoes.  It makes a meal that is wonderful to eat every day and gives you two servings of vegetables for the day.

The part that I have loved in this eating style… is the aspect of no sugar.  This has helped me stretch my sugar rations and I have started using fruit to sweeten baked goods. 

7 layer hotdish ready for lunch...
I have figured out that most recipes from WWII are pretty healthy except for the use of oil.  If the oil is cut and whole wheat is used – it is wonderfully healthy and rations friendly (the less canned food the better).  I would like to know if I could grow lettuce and spinach indoors in window boxes – it would help my grocery bill during the winter months.


  1. Katie, you definitely could grow those two in your house on the window ledge. Enjoy. diana

  2. I don't know if it is readily available in the US, but if so, try to substitute wheat with rye for making bread. Sourdough bread from whole rye is more filling, you can store the bread longer and IMHO it's also tastes better and is healthier. Sourdough you can also make yourself from flour and water (and patience ;-) ). I can give you more details if you're interested.