Food Rationing During World War 2

food rationing

One problem that many people have is determining how much food to store.  One source that I have used is information on the rationing in England during World War 2.  I have included a table showing the food rationing in England during World War II.

The average food rationing for one person were as follows.  The quantities are per week unless otherwise stated.

Food Rations

Item Maximum level Minimum level Rations (April 1945)
Bacon and Ham 8 oz (227 g) 4 oz (113 g) 4 oz (113 g)
Sugar 16 oz (454 g) 8 oz (227 g) 8 oz (227 g)
Loose Tea 4 oz (113 g) 2 oz (57 g) 2 oz (57 g)
Meat 1lb3oz 1lb3oz 1lb3oz
Cheese 8 oz (227 g) 1 oz (28 g) 2 oz (57 g)Vegetarians were allowed an extra 3 oz (85 g) cheese
Preserves 1 lb (0.45 kg) per month
2 lb (0.91 kg) marmalade
8 oz (227 g) per month 2 lb (0.91 kg) marmalade
or 1 lb (0.45 kg) preserve
or 1 lb (0.45 kg) sugar
Butter 8 oz (227 g) 2 oz (57 g) 2 oz (57 g)
Margarine 12 oz (340 g) 4 oz (113 g) 4 oz (113 g)
Lard 3 oz (85 g) 2 oz (57 g) 2 oz (57 g)
Candy 16 oz (454 g) per month 8 oz (227 g) per month 12 oz (340 g) per month


1 egg per week or 1 packet (makes 12 “eggs”) of egg powder per month (vegetarians were allowed two eggs)

Arrangements were made for vegetarians so that their rations of meat were substituted by other goods.

Milk was supplied at three imperial pints (a little larger than a US pint) each week for expectant mothers and children under five.  Each consumer got one tin of milk powder (equal to 8 imperial pints every 8 weeks.

See also  Make Your Own Pectin for Canning

There were no ration restrictions on fruit, potatoes, fish, or vegetables.  Most types of fruit and vegetables were hard to find, especially onions. Most fruits and vegetables that were available were locally in England grown, because shipping was limited.  This greatly limited the types of fruit that you could get. Bread was not rationed, but no white flour was available. The “national loaf” of wholemeal bread replaced the ordinary white variety, to the distaste of most housewives who found it mushy, grey and easy to blame for digestion problems.  People were encouraged to dig up their lawns and flower beds to create “victory gardens”, and grow their own vegetables.

Any left over fat or drippings from cooking the meat was spread on bread like butter.  Nothing was wasted.  My grandfather always had a large garden and because of it they got by well. Even so I can remember my mother crying in 1947 when she arrived in Canada and saw all the meat for sale.

The good effect of food rationing was that by the end of the war the poor people of Britain had never been so healthy!


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10 thoughts on “Food Rationing During World War 2”

  1. Very interesting info. If a food was not listed, was there no restriction on it? Were other foods available? I was thinking of grains in addition to wheat, like corn, rice or oats, also dried beans, peas, lentils, that sort of thing? If these other foods were not rationed, were they limited by availability?

    1. I am sure the list is just an example of what was rationed and at different times during the war the rationed items changed. Many foods that were not rationed were limited by availability.

    2. A large portion of the U.S. still had their own gardens back in the day. That does not hold true in this day in time.

    1. Good question! Howard is the founder of this website and wrote over 1000 articles over the years. He retired last year and now I, Noah, am the administrator. I write articles at times and work to get more readers to this site.

  2. my Mother said here in the states when you went to use your “ration stamps” the main problem as corruption of the system. In the small communities the grocer would hold back the items for his friends & extended family to buy. Even though you had a ration stamp it was frequently still difficult to find an item. Mom was a young woman who esp liked shoes so she would trade her coffee stamps for shoe stamps.

  3. is this American rations, my parents were from England and they had half of this rations but were required to grow their own food.

    1. From my research, this was the rations for England. There were discrepancies through the whole war. The U.S. Rations were larger and more access to foods were easier.

  4. Beg to disagree on a few things. EVERYTHING was rationed in the UK during the war. Fruits and vegies certainly were. women were expected to turn in extra cooking grease to the butcher who in turn would give it the the war dept. Also, flower beds were turned into food growing gardens . beautiful flowering gardens were plowed under for vegies. It is true that the populace was much healthier after the austere years of the war.

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