There are many many sources of information about
food and family life during World War 2.
Here is a brief summary, with some recommended reading.
Before the first World War, Britain had imported
a lot of food, and when the reality of war and blockades hit,
it was a culture shock to the population. There were food shortages
where previously there had been plenty, and those who could afford
it stockpiled food; those who couldn't simply went without.
At the outbreak of World War 2 the government was
determined that this situation should not occur again. Rationing,
was introduced in January 1940 so that everyone got a fair share
of what was available and they appointed Lord Woolton as Minister
of Food in April of the same year. His background was in business,
not politics, and it became his onerous task to ensure that the
nation didn't go hungry. He introduced food and nutritional guides
and recipe leaflets to help the housewife adjust to the new regime.
Lord Woolton's Pie (a vegetable pie topped with
pastry) was a particular favourite. Food information posters were
distributed freely, and posters of Potato Pete and Doctor Carrot
were widely known. Lord Woolton encouraged the housewife to donate
food scraps to feed pigs, to make the most of the food she had,
and to make soups and snacks from unlikely ingredients. He also
introduced the British public to other sources of protein, such
as whalemeat, dried eggs, and a particularly pungent fish from
South Africa, called snoek, which didn't catch on with the British
If you lived in the countryside you may have had
more access to certain foods, such as wild brambles, hedgerow
fruits, nuts, wild garlic, or you may have known a farmer to get
your milk eggs and cheese from directly, but things were tougher
in the cities. There were food shortages of course, and lots of
people went without certain items, but overall people managed
Experts from the Ministry of Food, such as Marguerite
Patten, were sent out around the country, to demonstrate new recipes,
and better cooking methods to eager housewives. Fuel was scarce,
so cooking methods that used less fuel were demonstrated, and
Allotments became popular, and many people grew
their own food for the first time, with the 'Dig For Victory'
campaign. Vegetable gardening and allotment use is still popular
Rationing continued for some years after the war
Eggs Or Anarchy, by William Sitwell - biography
of Lord Woolton