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1950s Ration Week With Beamish

I’ve been living in the 1950s this week.

Ahead of Beamish Museum’s Festival of the Fifties, I took part in a 1950s-style Ration Week. The premise being – live off rations as they were divvied out in the period after the Second World War. I’ve had no internet either – times are hard.

Of course, I like to eat probably more than most people, so harking back to when I did the Live Below the Line challenge…I do wonder sometimes why I restrain myself like this…

Anyway, going from historical records, this is what one was rationed:

  • Bacon and ham 4oz / 113g
  • Meat 4oz / 113g
  • Sugar 8oz / 226g
  • Tea 2oz / 57g
  • Cheese 2oz / 57g
  • Butter 2oz / 57g
  • Margarine 4oz / 113g
  • Cooking fat (lard) 4oz / 113g
  • Milk 3 pints
  • Eggs (number) 1
  • Sweets 3oz / 85g

Just for reference, this is a weeks worth – 57g of cheese. I’d call that fun-sized. Apart from that, and the minuscule quantities of eggs and butter one is allowed, I thought I’d be OK.

57g cheese ration

And then these lovely things were never rationed, meaning, free-for-all:

  • Bread, potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Preserves
  • Seasonal, homegrown veg: carrots, turnips, cabbages, spring greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower , sea kale, peas, French/runner beans
  • Offal, sausages [4oz] and fish [6oz] (in fairly short supply).
  • Chicken, rabbit and game
  • Fish: not rationed but hard to find
  • Rice OK but rare
  • Instant coffee OK

Doesn’t sound too bad…?

My Ration Week food diary


  • Tea & toast & marmalade (thank you preserves)
  • Mountain of kale chips
  • Bacon w/ peas, cabbage, potato


  • Toast, jam
  • Tinned fruit
  • Sausages & mash w/ cabbage


It’s easy to get used to toast and or porridge for breakfast. white starchy carbs aren’t the most nutritient-filled things in the world, but it’s not far what I live off anyway ?


  • Porridge
  • Bread w/ my 1 egg
  • Pan haggerty

rations pan haggerty

Pan haggerty rocks. People don’t have it often enough, and while I’d usually have a lot more cheese, more bacon, and more lovely bits, it always manages to hit the spot, even in mid-summer. Filled it out with carrots here, because you have to when that’s all you’ve got.


  • Toast & jam
  • Canned fruit leftovers
  • SPAM, french beans, potato

I don’t think I’ve had SPAM for about fifteen years, and though I can’t say I’ve missed it, it would be amazing come WWIII, and barring all those preservatives, it’s not as bad as it’s preceding rep.


  • Porridge
  • Bread, chicken with herbs
  • Potato & veg (common one this…)


  • Toast & MARMITE
  • Smoked mackerel/pickled carrots
  • SPAM hash & veg


  • Porridge
  • Chicken & potato
  • Leftover veg soup (mmm)

rations veg soup

Yum ? Actually it tasted a lot better than it looked – and pretty nutritious, given that it’s basic stuff.

Love for potatoes

Two other food lovers and great bloggers, Becci and Anna – also took part. Becci works as resident writer at Beamish she definitely managed some prettier looking food than me. It did of course usually centre around the humble spud…

becci's #rationweek hash

Anna has some chickens, and much like in 2016, it would be great to have an endless supply of eggs! Potatoes and egg is always a winner – as anyone who is old enough to remember Potato Pete can attest to.

They reckon the nation was at our healthiest during rationing, but I’d beg to differ. I think you end up eating more veg because, hey, what else is there, and potatoes are good for VitC. But the endless amounts of bread and potato didn’t make me feel so great. Crisps are my vice, so I wish I’d thought of doing this – i guess I was dubious that it’d turn out as well as they did ??

becci homemaede crisps

So, “you don’t know you’re born”, “we’ve never had it better”,  and all that. On 4 July 1954, meat and all other food rationing ended in Britain. I’ll be the first to say, I’m so thankful for that! Could you survive your own #RationWeek?

See the 1950s “remaking” of Beamish soon – check out the website for updates.

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