Taking the 1950s Rations Challenge

Enjoying 50's rations at Beamish Museum - Ration Week (7th July – 13th July) Source: Beamish museum / www.beamishtales.co.uk

Becci Sharrock of the Beamish Museum has accepted a challenge to live on the rations that Britons lived with in the 1950s. She’ll spend the week leading up to the Beamish Museum’s Festival of the ’50s trying to understand what it was like for a family to live on those rations in World War II and on into the ’50s.

Sharrock is the creative writer in residence at the museum. She’ll be allowed only 2oz of cheese and 4oz of margarine during the week. She’ll have to go easy on the sugar and cut back on her tea. In spite of all that, Sharrock says she’s excited to take the challenge.

She said, “I am actually looking forward to it. I worry about being hungry, but I’m pleased that bread and potatoes weren’t rationed. You can also have as many vegetables as you want, especially if you had grown them yourself, so in some ways, I might actually be healthier from it. I’m really interested in finding out about rationing during the ‘50s. Seeing how food and recipes have changed has been really fascinating.”

More information is available at www.beamish.org.uk or Sharrock’s blog http://beamishtales.co.uk.

Mock duck at Home Farm
Mock duck at Home Farm; Source: Beamish museum www.beamishtales.co.uk

The rations began in 1940 and didn’t end until 1954. During that time, citizens were encouraged to “Grow Your Own” fruit and vegetables. Recipes of the time included mock apricot pie, carrot fudge, and rabbit pie. Sharrock has researched cookbooks in the collection at the museum to develop a meal plan.

Chicken, rabbit and game were not rationed. She will, however, be limited to 4 oz of bacon and ham, 3 oz of sweets and only one egg for the week.

She added, “I’m hoping, as well as getting an idea of what it might have been like for home cooks in the ‘50s, that it will make me think a bit more about what I’m eating and encourage me to be a bit less wasteful.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE