Remembrance Day – Food from a bygone era

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to live in an era where food was rationed and supplies were scarce? 2014 marks the centenary of the First World War and Remembrance Day is a perfect way to remember the people who have been lost in wars, and to reflect on a generation affected by wars.

As well as the terrible situation out in the trenches, women and children faced many sacrifices at home, with food being a major factor. During the Second World War predominately, rationing was a country wide initiative to end starvation as imports into the country came to a standstill.

Food rationing occurred between 1940 and 1954, finishing nine years after the Second World War ended. There were many different food stuffs affected such as bacon, sugar, tea, and butter. Lots more foods were rationed as the years progressed including eggs, which were rationed at one per week in 1941. However it was not only foods that were rationed but clothes, paper, petrol and soap were also rationed. Shopping was also very different from nowadays for example you couldn’t go just to one shop for everything, and shopping was a daily occurrence due to no one having freezers. This affected many things for people back at home, as they had to improvise with meals due to the rations leading to many common meals during the war being unrecognisable to the modern era.

The following recipes give a very small taste to what it would have been like living in wartime Britain.

The first is Woolton Pie:


  • In season veggies enough to fill your pie dish for example: leeks, swedes, carrots, onions, and broccoli.
  • potatoes for mashing
  • 60g butter extra for mashing
  • 60g flour
  • 400ml milk extra for mashing
  • cheese for grating
  • seasoning to taste


  • Preheat the oven to around roughly 220C. Peel, wash and dice potatoes and add them to boiling water until thoroughly cooked
  • Once thoroughly cooked mash the potatoes with the extra butter and milk till smooth and fluffy
  • Peel, wash and dice all the veggies and add them to boiling water until half cooked then drain and put them at the bottom of your pie dish
  • To make the sauce, add the butter and flour to a small pan until completely mixed together. Then add the milk and whisk until a smooth and thick in consistency sauce is completed
  • Pour this sauce all over the veggies until they are covered
  • Then place the mashed potato over the top of the dish and grate the cheese over the top, and put this in the oven for around 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbling underneath
  • Secondly an eggless sponge cake was a very common recipe used in wartime Britain:


    • 175g plain flour
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 70g butter
    • 60g sugar
    • 150ml milk
    • jam or buttercream for the filling


  • Preheat the oven to 190C and grease two 20 inch cake tins
  • Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
  • Add the flour, baking powder and milk in small quantities and alternatively until the mixture is smooth and well combined
  • Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  • Once out of the oven and cooled completely serve sandwich together with a filling of your choice
  • As you can see foods were very different than nowadays so if you feel like going back in time to remember the fallen then try out some wartime food favourites!