In 1944 the weekly ration for an adult was:
3 pints Milk
2-4oz/ 50-100gm Cheese
1 Egg (if available) or a packet of Dried Egg every month
1lb/450gm Jam every 2 months
4ozs/100gm Bacon or Ham
1 shilling and tuppence worth of Meat - that's 1 pork chop or more of a much cheaper cut ie. stewing steak or offal
3oz/75gm Sweets (that's about 5!)
Fats and sugars featured highly as people needed the energy from these foods to work and keep warm. During the war people walked or cycled pretty much everywhere and had very manual work to do. Whether it be as a housewife (remember there were no washing machines, microwaves or hoovers back then), in a factory making war munitions or on a farm growing food. Sugar was also an important preservative, and people would keep a bit back so that had enough to preserve fruit and vegetables. Making pickles and jams meant they could store and eat these foods over the winter time. People boosted their rations by growing all that they could at home. Flower beds and lawns were dug up and turned into vegetable gardens, and people kept rabbits, chickens, goats and pigs if they had the room.
The reason food was put on ration was that before the war (as now) we imported much of our food. After war broke out in 1939 German submarines began attacking our ships, including those with food supplies. So, in order to ensure that there was enough food for everyone, rationing was introduced. Each person was given a ration book which listed exactly what they were entitled to, and items were ticked off as they were bought. This made sure that no one could hoard food by buying too much at once, and that everyone could afford to eat.
Surprisingly food was rationed from 1940 up until 1954, long after the war had ended. Even in the 1960s when I was little, people were still growing their own veg and making war time recipes such as faggots, rissoles and stews full of vegetables rather than meat. We all ate a lot less back then, and plates, dishes, cups and glasses were much smaller than anything we see today. It is said that the war time diet was far healthier than the one many people follow today.
Why not pop into yay retro!'s online vintage shop now for a browse for vintage china and homewares from the 1940s to the 1970s?
Photo was taken at The Brixham Battery Heritage Centre, you can read about this war time museum here.