Week One WWII Ration Experiment

How did the first week of my month-long WWII ration challenge go? Let’s do a wrap up!

What did I cook?

We keep a vegetarian/vegan household, so doing with less/no meat wasn’t a struggle. I did miss having a couple more eggs as comfort protein. For the first two thirds of the week, I had made vegan dinners, which then became my lunches. I used recipes I would normally prepare, but maybe hadn’t cooked in a while. I also had a leftover red lentil curry from the weekend (compliant to the rules) that we ate up. Here’s what I made:

Bara Brith tea bread

Drew likes a sweet baked good nibble in the morning with his coffee while his porridge cooks. I made Wartime Bara Brith, with raisins and currants I already had on hand. The jar of marmalade has now become my jam ration for the month. Breakfasts for me included toast with peanut butter and porridge with homegrown blackberries.

Blackberries from the garden.
Lentil Stew with Sweet Potato Mash, homegrown greens and homemade whole wheat bread

By Friday, I realized I still had an egg and nearly all of my cheese ration left! I’ve always wanted to try Carolyn’s Homity Pie and, boy, that was lush after simple fare. I still have two portions left.

Homity Pie

I also employed a strategy suggested by the Ministry of Food for every adult to consume 1 pound of potatoes, prepared in any form, a day. I had trucked out last Sunday to our BJ’s bulk food warehouse and bought two, 10 pound bags of taters, one red and one yellow. Husband eats potatoes & beans for his work lunches. So I roasted about three pans of spuds in the course of the week between us two.

Potatoes ready for roasting

What was easy or surprising?

I thought I’d run out of sugar and oil, but I didn’t, there were a few ounces of each left. I liked that there wasn’t a steep learning curve in adopting new recipes. I didn’t feel all that deprived. On Friday, I even had a couple squares of chocolate and a gin & tonic to unwind and it was enough to feel lavish.

We ate more bread. I bake a batch of three whole wheat loaves (a future post on my process for that). We normally go through 1 or 1.5 loaves in a week. We had plowed through two loaves by Saturday. I baked on Sunday. Let’s see how long that lasts!

I was also surprised just now with rounding up the trash in the house – we regularly put out two kitchen bags worth a week, plus whatever goes into the recycling. This past week, we only filled one kitchen can! I think this is due to my not having any takeout or extra processed food containers. I wonder if the trend of less trash will continue.

What was hard?

I did have a planned lunch with a friend – which then rolled into an evening out with hubby. I went overboard with frozen custard in a waffle cone, corn chips, and half a beer. We call that having a snarfle. I bounced right back on Sunday and ate on plan all day. The modern world is still out there to pull us in.

What else did I do?

I banned my phone from the table, which I was successful at about half the time. Gentle nudges from my husband helped remind me to put it down! I read several interesting articles from the Smithsonian Magazine, which is a perennial gift from my parents. I also listened to vintage radio broadcasts from the 1940s, now found on YouTube, and speeches from Winston Churchill or the Roosevelts. I started the summer reading program for our public library, to track minutes of reading towards earning prizes. We tried to analog more – going to the gym, going for walks around the neighborhood, going on a long hike on Sunday. I can feel my quality of life going up.

Getting a little meta here, I figured out why I like lifestyle challenges. This feels like playing a game: there are rules, a set period of time, an element of pretend, reflecting on wins and failures, seeking out rewards, community interaction with other people sharing a similar experience. At the end, you can ‘go back’ to regular life, but you’re never quite the same afterwards. You’ve proven to yourself that you can choose differently and maybe what you did during the challenge is better than your normal baseline life. Do challenges feel like play to you?

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