Woman loses 7st and saves £3000 on World War 2 Ration Diet
Single mother of three Carolyn Ekins has lost seven stone and saved thousands of pounds after putting herself on a 1940s-inspired ration diet for an entire year. She came up with the idea after struggling to pay her bills and lose weight.
A self-confessed World War Two enthusiast, she read wartime pamphlets and ration recipes produced by the wartime Ministry of Food.
She replaced her modern junk food diet with old classics like mock turkey, Spam fritters and Lord Woolton pie – preparing a nutritious meal three times a day.
The thrifty dishes saw Carolyn’s weekly £70 food bill drop to just £14 – saving her almost £3,000 over the 12 months.
And she even noticed a difference in her weight – after her daily 5,000 calorie diet decreased to a healthy 2,000.
How it started
“I struggling financially as a single mum I also had a weight problem that was severely impacting on my life. I’ve always been interested wartime austerity. I am fascinated with the Home Front and the old fashioned recipes in particular. I had been cooking ration recipes for fun and it struck me that it might be an interesting way to get healthy and save money.”
A weekly adult ration during the war allowed 100g bacon and ham, 226g minced meat, 50g butter, 50g cheese, 100g margarine, 100g cooking fat, and three pints of milk.
It also included 225g sugar, 50g tea, and one shell egg or one packet of dried eggs every four weeks.
Every two months, 450g preserves were added, and 350g sweets were a treat every four weeks.
Families would also have bread, oats, fruits and vegetables.
And people could buy foods that were in short supply by using a monthly points allowance. The maximum 16 points would buy one can of fish, 2lb of dried fruit, or 8lb of split peas.
“At first it was strange adjusting to this from a modern diet full of additives, perservatives and flavour enhancers. I was so used to that that it was a bit of a shock to the system at first. All of a sudden I was transported back 60 years to a rations diet that was very meagre and not very flavourful. To begin with I felt it was really bland but after a week or two I really began to appreciate it because my palette had changed.”
How much did it cost?
Some meals cost as little as 50p to make and Carolyn found herself spending no more than £2 a day on food.
“I was extremely surprised. I had been spending between £60 and £70 on just my own groceries, take outs and fast food. But on the rations diet I could feed myself on £1 to £2 a day. It made a significant difference.”
Losing weight on the WW2 Ration Diet
Despite admitting that she wasn’t really counting calories, Carolyn quickly found herself losing weight – slimming from 24 stone to 17 stone during the year.
She admits that she has put weight back on since finishing the experiment, but she hopes to lose a further 100lb by re-starting the ration diet this year.
“On the ration diet I felt well fed and rarely hungry. I really feel that getting back to eating basic, simple foods has helped me to control my cravings and appetite. I found my weight dropping and my blood pressure going back to normal. I’m now able to walk for miles and I feel I am on the way to conquering the weight problem that has hindered my life for the past 20 years.”
Carolyn hopes her story will inspire other families to try some of the long-forgotten rations classics.
“If a family of four ate how I did and they were dedicated to the rations diet, I’d say they could get by on just £5 a day. That would allow them to eat adequately and healthily. I have found that eating a wartime diet had enabled to feed myself and my family in a more nutritious way while keeping the bills down. And if I can encourage people to do the same – especially single mums – and help them in the long run, I would be extremely happy.”