Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Playing the Rations Game

I spent a good deal of time yesterday finding out what was rationed, what the ration amounts were, what the worst-case scenario was for rationing (the lowest limit), and separating the U.S. from the U.K. amounts.

After gathering all this up, I set to make myself lists in preparation for The Rations Game, where I play along...or at least try to. Right off the bat, I have trouble with food allergies, so I have to figure out what to do about dairy, since I have dairy allergies. The coffee ration would also have to go, since I drink tea. Since we have little loaf bread around here, the jam/jelly ration could also go.

I wonder what the people of the time did with rationing and food allergies, and the whole "special diet" thing in general during the war.

Here's the list of rationed foods and amounts according to several various websites (this was always subject to change depending on severity of need at the warfront--some months more food, some months less food)--I chose the less-food version:

One month rationed supplies for 2 people
Sugar--4 lbs.
Butter--2 lbs.
Cheese--2 lbs.
Fat/Oil--2 lbs.
Fruit/Veg (store-bought canned, fresh in bags, frozen)--16 lbs.
Bacon/Sausage--2 lbs.
Tea--1 lb.
Chocolate/Sweets--2 lbs.
Jam/Jelly--2 lbs.
Eggs--8 (with 24-egg dried egg allowance)
Onions--16 lbs.
Coffee--2 lbs.
Meat (beef)--5 lbs.
Fluid milk--3 gallons
Dried milk--indeterminate amount (says 1 packet, but how much did one packet make?)

There are things on this list we don't/won't eat or drink, so I'm pretending people could make swaps to get more of what they DO use. My altered rationed goods allowance list:

Exchange coffee ration for more tea--+2 lbs. tea
Exchange butter for more cheese--+2 lbs. cheese
Exchange jam/jelly for more eggs--+8 eggs
Exchange 1/2 chocolate/sweets for more sugar--1 lb. sugar
Exchange 1/2 fat/oil for more sugar--+1 lb. sugar
Exchange ham/sausage ration for equal ration of ground pork
Exchange 1/2 fluid milk ration for more sugar--+12 lbs. sugar (1 gallon = 128 oz. converted to lbs., so 1.5 gallons = 192 oz. = 12 lbs.)
Exchange 1/2 fluid milk ration for more tea--+ 12 lbs. tea (that's all we drink)

My new monthly rations list for two
Sugar--20 lbs. (this covers 1 c./day for 2 gallons iced tea, and 1/4 c./day for muffin batter)
Tea--15 lbs.
Eggs--16 + equivalent of 24 dried (for muffins)
Cheese--4 lbs. (for Hubby): 1 24 oz. jar of Parmesan, the rest block or sliced
Fruit/Veg (incl. onions)--32 lbs.
Chocolate/Sweets--1 lb. (in chocolate chips or cocoa powder for muffins)
Oil--1 lb. (I'll take sunflower oil, please)
Meat (beef/pork combined)--7 lbs.

This may or may not seem like a lot of food, but when you add in all the off-ration stuff (provided you had the points or money to buy it, or stuff to barter with), this seems like nothing but a time to get creative and have some fun experimenting. For instance, I see plenty of potential for casseroles when you add in potatoes, pasta, or rice, and this is probably where the invention of casseroles came from. This may also be the birthplace of USDA serving sizes.

Unrationed foods
Potatoes (although in short supply)
Anything grown in your garden
Anything farmed
Anything bartered from a gardener or farmer
Other animal meat (horse, goat, sheep, etc.)
Dried foods (raisins, beans, rice, pasta, oatmeal, etc.--although expensive)
Anything foraged (nuts, mushrooms, dandelions, etc.)
Foods canned, boxed, or frozen beyond ration amount (although in short supply)
Fish (fresh-caught)
Meat (hunted--anything, including birds, deer, rodents, etc.)
Wheat Flour and pre-made bread (although in short supply)
Corn meal and corn flour (used to replace wheat flour)
Vitamins and supplements (other than A and D)--kids were given rations of cod liver oil to supply these, but adults had to make due with the fish they ate, or the milk they drank, unless they could afford vitamin pills

So this is what I have to play with, since there are no shortages (yet)--I will adhere to USDA serving sizes for these foods. Starting in June, I'll start living the ration-al life with the foods listed, but not the rest of the rationing (tires, gasoline, nylons, pots and pans, etc.), because we already cut those down to bare bones, and we already recycle. This should be interesting--how does one make 5 lbs. of beef last a month with a carnivore husband, and how did one make due with multiple food allergies back in those days?

I'm going to find out the hard way. I'm also going to get a stark look at how much of what we're consuming--the exchange list gave me a hint.


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