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Living with Wartime Rations – Day 4, Ministry of Food Guidelines & a cake 

During WWII that old saying ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper’ was adhered to, at least according to the Ministry of Food leaflets ( and if you were a rich pauper).

breakfast guidelines from the Ministry of Food

 What we call lunch was dinner in wartime Britain- the main meat meal, eaten at 1pm. The Ministry of Food leaflets gave not only menu ideas and recipes, but guidelines on how to have your meal ready by 1pm.


    Ministry of War Menu Plan and Method with timing

Ministry of War Menu Plan and Method with timing

 Dinners (lunches) and suppers (evening meal) both included ‘fillers’ at the end, usually either more bread or a ‘pudding.’

 I don’t know how a woman would have time to make it all, and then wash up afterwards, let alone eat all that food! Breakfast for us is usually toast OR cereal, not both. Our children don’t get lunch provided at school, and just take a sandwich, or sometimes a thermos of soup. They tend to have another meal after school for afternoon tea – another sandwich or beans on toast, a glass of milk or cup of milky tea and some fruit. So I suppose this would count this as their high tea, and the evening meal would be their supper. It all actually sounds like a lot of food to me, but they are all meals you sit down to – there is no grazing. You actually realise you are eating a meal, and if you are full, then you don’t need the ‘filler’ at the end.  This must be so much healthier!

Anyway, today we had the usual porridge for breakfast, with 1 teaspoon of sugar each. The kids get a cup of milk at breakfast and can use part of it on their porridge. Fussy Miss Ten had a bowl of yoghurt (she did vomit last night so I was kind).

For lunch at home we had the leftover scotch broth, blended, left over roo stew, and a salad. 

left overs and salad for lunch for two

We were out of bread, so I made the kids potato patties from the leftover roast potatoes from a couple of nights ago. I used a Ministry of Food recipe, but did add one egg, as I wanted them to stick together in their lunch boxes.  

fromthe Ministry of Food Leaflet on potatoes, this made 6 patties

Irish potato cakes make from left over roast potato

Irish potato cakes make from left over roast potato


I made two loaves of ‘national loaf’ today, with 85% wholemeal flour and the juice of one orange for sweetness and to help rising. Seeing the oven was on, I thought I’d try my hand at a cake. Which recipe to use? This one from the Ministry of Food?  

Or the exciting eggless, milk less and butter less recipie from the Weekly? 

the eggless, milkless,  butterless cake with lots of sugar

the eggless, milkless, butterless cake with lots of sugar

As two cups of sugar was all of our rations, I went with the Ministry of Food recipe. Quite yummy! 

ingredients for a plain wartime cake

ingredients for a plain wartime cake


Afternoon tea for the kids, homemade wartime cake, milk and fruit

I tried hard to find a wartime recipe for mince and cabbage, ingredients I know were used at the time, and that I also use on a weekly basis in an Asian flavoured dish. I found a great recipe, from the Ministry of Food leaflet ‘Making the most of meat’, for ‘Mince in the hole,’ which uses mince but no cabbage, but would go well with coleslaw, or cabbage soup.
Mince  in the hole recipe from the Ministry of food

Mince in the hole recipe from the Ministry of food

This recipe is for four people, which means one ounce, or 28 grams, of meat per person! I also found an article with some of the most bizarre wartime recipies I have come across. The mincemeat spaghetti cassolettes just looked like too much work – spiral the spaghetti, really? The savoury cabbage mould looked promising, but I’m all out of pigs cheek, same with rabbit, and I don’t have oysters for the cauliflower oyster flan or kidneys for the Spaghetti Supberb. Drat!

In the spirit of wartime cooking, I made the mince in the hole and coleslaw, rather than my usual easy stir fry. For five of us, I doubled the batter recipe, and actually used nearly 500gm of minced lamb, nearly 100gm each (less than half of Australia’s average daily amount), intending to leave three serves for the children’s lunches the next day. The batter is very runny but was firm after cooking for about 45 minutes.

Not bad and quite filling – The kids loved it and we actually ate the whole thing! But no pudding.


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.

6 responses »

  1. I’m loving reading along. I pick up mid century Australian magazines when I can find them and it’s just fascinating comparing how we live today to then. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  2. You are so industrious. I’d be both happy and disappointed about the Mince in the Hole casserole being eaten up. I can’t tell you how many times I double a recipe, thinking I won’t have to cook the next day, but my very hungry twenty-something eats it up. Sometimes he eats it for breakfast.
    I referred to you in my blog. Hope folks come over and see what you’re doing.

    • Thankyou so much! My 20something is coming home this Saturday for his uni vacation for a few months – we’ll probably have to live ion rations for real then, as the national loaf and oats may actually fill him up!

  3. I remember loads of meals in the 1960 that were based on mince and cabbage, especially a dish one with curry powder and rice added. It was always stodgy but as a kid I love it. I’m always bemused to see the quantity of food that was eaten in the past, but then I guess, life was very physical, even for the housewife. I’m really enjoying your daily diary of living on rations. ….


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