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Living on Wartime Rations – Day 1 & The National Loaf

    Yesterday was Saturday, the first day of our week of living on wartime rations. Given that the children are meant to be having around 7 slices of bread a day, we had toast for breakfast, from day old bread, with a little butter and plum jam that I made last Summer.  The children had one glass of milk each and hubby and I had a coffee with a spoon of cream.

    Day old national loaf, homemade plum jam and almost a weeks worth of butter for five


    Toasted national loaf, a smidge of butter and jam and coffee with 1 tbsn cream


    bean and grated carrot sandwiches – I love my ‘new’ vintage op shop cloth ($1)!

    We ate sandwiches
    with homemade bean paste and grated carrot for lunch with a glass or two of water each, followed by a small locally grown mango each.
    I usually bake a loaf of bread every second day – grain and wholemeal – so the kids are used to it for their school lunches. It won’t be a shock like it was to millions of white bread eating Britons when the mainly wholemeal National Loaf, was introduced. Bakers were banned from making any other type of bread except the national loaf, made with national flour, and many people hated it.  But being high in vitamin B, wholemeal flour was nessessary for people eating smaller amounts of meat and eggs.
    why eat wholemeal bread

    from The Australian Women’s Weely, November 1944

    Recipe: The National Loaf (makes 2 loaves)

    • 1 ½ lb national flour (wholemeal with 15% white or potato flour)
    • 1 ½ tbsp salt (this is a LOT but it helped to preserve it)
    • 1 ½ tbsp dried yeast
    • 1 dsp honey or treacle
    • 450 ml tepid water With 1/2 vitamin c tablet dissolved

    1) Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).

    2) Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins, allow to rise for a further 2 hours.

    2) pre-heat oven to 200°c then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap. if it sounds hollow they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

    (I often use the juice of half an orange in my mix instead of the vitamin C tablet, it helps the bread to rise and means less kneading, and provides the sweetness for the yeast instead of the honey. My mix is usually two cups wholemeal, one cup grains, 1/2 cup rye and 1/2 cup white and just a pich of salt which makes 1 loaf. I find a tablespoon of oils helps the bread keep and makes it softer. Sometimes I leave out the grains and do a different shape, like ciabatta, or rolls, just to mix it up a bit!)


    the wholemeal grain loaf, this one didn’t rise very much!

    We had an exciting afternoon tea – left over bread with jam, no butter, for the kids, who also had milk in their tea, and just black tea for us grownups. I have just been rewatching the first episode of ‘the 1940s house’ and have been inspired watching the ladies go without so the kids can have more! I am pretty sure my son sneaked a mandarin as well.


    the world’s most exciting afternoon tea

    Dinner was a stew – kangaroo. We don’t have rabbits here in Queensland, but kangaroos are plentiful, and although it has only recently hit our supermarket shelves, country people have been eating ‘roo’ for decades. My stew recipie is based on the brown stew guidelines below, from my new goto book (which you can find as an ebook on Amazon).


    my new go to book, Eating for Victory


    tips for good wartime stews

     I used 500gm kangaroo for the meat and added one clove of garlic and some dried oregano for flavour. The tomatoes were a gift from a neighbour and the veggies were scrubbed instead of peeled for less waste and more vitamins.


    Kangaroo stew ingredients, including 1 clove of garlic. Note the flour, I had just kneaded the bread and didn’t want to waste it!

    Being Saturday I did have one cocktail, but the rest of the night was water. We had a square of dark chocolate each and an after dinner coffee for the grownups.

    Not a bad first day, and I also op shopped, gardened, put up a new fence for the ducks and did laundry. And finally found my elusive tape measure and measured vintage tablecloths for the Etsy store. Yeh me!


    About thewartimewoman

    I love history, fashion, art and design, especially of the 1930s to the 1960s. I am also a mother, wife, interior decorator & a treasure hunter who wishes she could drive a 1933 Delage. I studied Architecture at Melbourne university, briefly, and completed a Diploma of Art in Interior Design at the Melbourne College of Decoration in 1991. I have worked on an off as a decorator ever since, in between stints as a florist, balloon artist, having my five children and helping my husband in his law firm. in my spare time I love researching history, blogging and gardening.

    11 responses »

    1. Roo stew? Well that I’ve gotta try. There’s no Roo meat over here so have an extra bowlful for me.

    2. Hi I hope that you can please help me. My name is Michael and I have taken up writing as a hobby since being forced into early retirement. The story I am writing at the begins in March of 1942 and ends in May of 1946. While I can find exteriors from the period, I can’t find anything that shows me what the interiors would have looked like. I have been to antique shops and found what I think my characters would have in their rooms but I could be wide of the mark. Could you please let me know if there are any books I can refer to in order to get a point of reference. The information on your site has been invaluable to me and I thank you for the assistance you have thus far provided me. Kind Regards

      • Hi Michael, what an exciting project! I’m so glad I am helping soMeone! Most of my information comes from magazines, which show how real people lived. What country are you in or setting your book in? Australia was a bit behind Europe and the U.K. in fashion and home decor. I don’t know of any books off hand, but I will check through my library. Meantime, I suggest you go on YouTube and watch “the 1940s house” – there is a tv show and also some rooms from a museum. ” wartime farm ” and “Coal house at war” are also great. Once I have done my week of rationing I will do some posts on interiors in Australia and the U.S., So I hope that will help! Happy writing!

    3. What a terrific project, it will help put our modern life into some perspective I’m sure..

    4. Hello,
      I just founf your blog through Va Va Voom Vintage and am loving it! I’m wondering if you grease the baking tin for the National Loaf? My guess would be no, but wanted to check for sure, Also, have you ever seen Supersizers Go Wartime on Youtube? It was a fun episode.

      • Hi Melinda, thanks for reading. To be honest I usually squirt a bit of olive oil in my bread tins before baking, although they are seasoned and probably don’t need it. I have seen all of the supersizers, love it and want to rewatch soon. Also just watched ‘back or time for dinner” which starts with rationing in the 50s post war – very interesting.

    5. I’ll have to try the bean and carrot spread. We are vegetarians, so wouldn’t have had much trouble doing without the meat. Would peanut butter have been available in Oz? Peanuts (groundnuts) are very high in protein – and fat – and we practically lived on it when we were kids. And “store-bought white bread” isn’t allowed in the house. I make all of our bread – some white, but mostly whole wheat or rye.

    6. Back again. What is a “dsp”? It’s funny – both honey and treacle (molasses, I think) are more expensive now that plain white sugar.


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