Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – Rationing during World War II by Robbie Cheadle

Today author Robbie Cheadle shares some of the hardships endured by the British people during World War II. Food was rationed but in fairness it did produce a generation of very creative cooks.   You can find out more and enjoy some recipes from that era when you buy  While the Bombs Fell which is written by Robbie Cheadle and her mother Elsie Hancy Eaton.


Rationing during the war by Robbie Cheadle

My mother didn’t have a high opinion of her own mother’s cooking. I remember her describing it as bland and unappetizing. During the writing of While the Bombs Fell, I came to understand the extent of the food shortages that were suffered by the British people during World War II. It led me to wondering if it was really my grandmother’s culinary skills that were the problem or whether it was the lack of ingredients to make into tasty dishes.


The British government implemented food rationing at the beginning of 1940 and it only ended completely in July 1954. As a result of food shortages, British families found themselves eating some unusual dishes such as the following:

• Whale meat – this meat was rather tough and had a fishy taste;
• Snoek – a canned fish (barracoota) imported from South Africa;
• Horse meat – butchers had to relabel this meat as fit for human consumption as, prior to rationing, it had been fed only to dogs;
• Offal – the innards of an animal such as liver, kidneys and tripe;
• Sheep’s head – the head itself wasn’t eaten, it was used to add some flavour to a vegetable stew;
• Spam – a canned meat made of pork that came for the USA;
• Dried egg powder – used mainly for cooking;
• Pom – powdered potato which was mixed with water to make mashed potatoes;
• Dried milk powder

Butter was not available during the war, so people spread dripping, the fat from roast beef, on their toast instead. Of course, dripping was only available after the traditional roast on a Sunday and then only if the family was lucky enough to afford a tiny bit of beef.

Interestingly, fish and chips were not rationed.

©Robbie Cheadle

About While the Bombs Fell

What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?

Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.

Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes

Head over and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

One of the recent reviews for Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves.

James rated it it was amazing 25th July 2018

I’m in absolute awe thinking about the creativity within the Cheadle family. Their culinary and literary talents are fantastic. In one of their newer books, Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook, Robbie Cheadle and her children take us on an extraordinary journey to the sugar crystal caves which are in danger of melting. Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet save the day showing us how much they love the world they live in. I need to try one of these recipes in the fall… all the creations look delectable. The stories are adorable. It’s the perfect way to bond with children on a lovely weekend where you stay in to have fun! 

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

Connect to Robbie and Michael


Thank you for visiting and I hope you will head over and buy Robbie’s latest book.. thanks Sally

If you would like to promote your blog or books with a guest post then please email me

106 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – Rationing during World War II by Robbie Cheadle

  1. I didn’t realize that rationing continued until 1954! That was 14 years of rationing! I also wonder how/where/by whom whales were killed to provide whale meat to English families during and after WWII… Sad and fascinating history to remember during this moment in history when almost any food is available any time of year (due to fossil-fuel transportation) — and any time of day (due to some food stores being open 24-hours a day) if one has enough money…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I never ate whale-meat and didn’t like spam fritters. My mother cooked for us (in between shifts at the munitions factory where – all five foot two of her – she learned to weld, and work on army lorries in Fords Motor works.) We were allowed home to Essex during lulls in the bombing…otherwise we lived with an aunt in Wales. She kept chickens, so that helped the egg ration, and was a dab hand at cooking puddings and pies (the aroma of blackberry & apple tempts me still…) Mum also made apple dumpllngs (filling), and ordinary dumplings in vegetable stews; also used bread in imaginative a fill-up. We didn’t have a car and saw very few over-weight people in those days (We never missed out on love and fun though… Hugs x

    Liked by 6 people

  3. A great post, Robbie. I have often wondered at the bland British food but perhaps it was because spices and herbs were not available at that time and an entire generation grew up without them. Food rationing must have been difficult but women can be very creative and frugal with their cooking.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I can remember my mother telling me stories of going to the grocery store for her mother (as my grandmother had mobility issues) and how she felt embarrassed using her “coupons” but at the time, she was quite young and didn’t realize this was simply life for everyone. Still, she raised us to appreciate the bounty available and to do our best to never waste anything. For she was always haunted by the times when there was never anything to waste. And we were raised on Spam!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for sharing this post, Sally. I am so pleased that people are interested in this period in history. My mom has, unfortunately, gone down quite ill with a chest infection. It is a worry in an elderly person. I had had a day of organizing a nebuliser for home and home visits from a physiotherapist. I have managed though so things are looking up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fascinating post, Robbie. It is hard to imagine making a meal with such limited ingredients, especially one that the kids and teenagers would enjoy. That’s pretty cool that you included some authentic recipes in the book. Great guest post, Sally. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. When we visited Coventry Cathedral, the new and the ruins of the old, it was very moving, but also fascinating as a little display showed fake food of the exact rations – as I pointed out to Cyberspouse ( and have never ceased to point out since ) he would demolish them in one sandwich!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Before we wrote this book together, I never thought a lot about the hunger that prevailed among people during the war. My mom said that the children often went to bed hungry as the available food just wasn’t enough. I just didn’t realise that before. That is one of the reasons I wrote this book, so that people can know and remember the horrors of war.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve watched recent programmes where a modern family goes back in time and relives the food of past decades.
    The rationing era was awful really. The diet was minimal, but it was possible to get creative occasionally.
    I look forward to reading this book Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I now have your book on my kindle, Robbie. My family were Italian, and my grandmother used, it seemed, all parts of everything. Once I went down to the kitchen to dress by the electric bar heater and there floating in a huge metal pot was a sheep’s head looking up at me. She roasted them for my grandfather who did eat them. A delicacy, he said. Perhaps it was. Today beef cheeks and pig cheeks are quite trendy! I so look forward to reading your book. Best wishes! A great post, Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. These would be some tough ingredients to work with, Robbie. Your book sounds so interesting. I’m sure your mom had many things to share about life in England during the war. World War II had a big impact here in the U.S., because so many men fought in the armed services, but, aside from Pearl Harbor, Americans were much more removed from the threat of an attack on our land. I can’t imagine growing up and worrying about air raids. Great post and congratulations again!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Before World War 11.
    I’ve always….been interested in food and – if you had work (Dad was a ‘Lighterman’ on River Thames) pre-war, you ate very well.Sunday was THE day of plenty. A full, fried breakfast (best mushrooms), and dinner was a roasted joint: (pork, beef, lamb) crisp potatoes and carrots/peas/beans from our garden. And Mum made the best Yorkshire puddings ever! Desserts were varied: fruit & rice puddings,jellies & ice cream, apple pie. Meals during the week (Mum cooked EVERY night) were usually cold cuts of meat and left-over veg and pots OR fried potato cakes on Mondays, shepherd’s pie/sausage & mash with onion gravy (yum), home-made soups, and meat stews (before rationing) with dumplings.And we ate every type of fish and fish roe on Fridays or Saturdays. As Mum had experienced the Great Depression, she was happy as a proverbial sand-girl! And so were we…PS Mint sauce/Horseradish sauce/apple sauce always accompanied relevant ‘partners’ but we didn’t have Chinese or Indian food until the end of the war. I have little faith in the additives so regularly used in foods nowadays, and pesticides, especially in the US have a lot to answer for!! Robbie’s book should be most interesting for those people who knew little about the 30’s and 40’s. I wrote my recollections in 2012. Hugs. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is fabulous Joy and mirrors my own mother’s recollections as she was born in 1917 and went from very tough with a war widow mother for 7 years to plenty when her mother married the village butcher. They had an orchard with apples and pears at the back of the house that I was born in and lived until I was five.. The neighbour down the road had chickens and I can remember one of my first ‘chores’ was popping down to help collect them and bring some home. If ever you feel like sharing those posts again over here in the Posts from Your Archives series just let me know.. ♥

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – New Look – Amazon Shenanigans and Great Guest Writers and Authors | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  13. What a fascinating post, Sally and Robbie, and a great introduction to Robbie’s book which I’m sure will be a fascinating read. The war would have been a difficult time for everyone involved. There was even rationing over here, though we were so far away from the attack and fighting zones. I’ve seen the ration cards that my mother was issued. My father fought overseas as well and had many stories to tell.
    I understand your mother questioning her mother’s culinary skills, Robbie. My mother was a great cook but having a large family and not a lot of money she had to be quite inventive. While I found many of the meals rather bland, repetitive and unexciting, she did well to feed us all. My uncle referred to her as Mary Marvellous for her skills.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post. I have read about the period and have talked to relatives about the rationing here in Spain during and after the Civil War. We should not forget (although yes, some of the current health problems did not exist then). Thanks, Robbie. I hope your mother is better. And thanks, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

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