A glance in history: What people ate during war time

FORGET kale, saffron and quinoa.

This stuff did not exist back in the wartime when grilled tomatoes and green peas were considered luxury items.

Women's magazines in 1942 were filled with recipes using the basic staples including meat, bread, sugar, eggs, milk, fruit chutney and potatoes.

But if potatoes were not available, you could have used beans bound with flour and formed into cakes which were then baked, fried or toasted.

And if there were no onions? Bacon rinds, tied in bundles for easy removal.

These were all suggestions in the September 12, 1942 edition of the Australian Women's Weekly.


The magazine also said salmon puffs would go nicely with grilled tomatoes and green peas, "if the budget permits".

Curtin University of Technology historian and researcher Michal Bosworth said Australians were pushed to save and grow food, raise chooks and behave as if "every morsel was valuable" during the war years.

Tea, sugar, butter and meat are readily available in supermarkets now but imagine if you actually had a limit on what you could use.

Ms Bosworth said people went to great lengths to make their tea last as long as possible: wet tea leaves were dried and re-used, tea was made with sugar, left in the pot and then bottled and diluted so it would go further.

Tea, sugar, butter and meat were rationed during the Second World War to manage shortages and control consumption.

According to the Australian War Memorial, rations aimed to curb inflation and was hoped to cut consumer spending to lead to an increase in savings, which could in turn be invested in war loans.

People were allowed about 22g of tea every five weeks, about 1kg of sugar and 45 g of butter every fortnight, and 1kg of meat every week. 

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