World War 2 Rationing in Britain: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about rationing during WW2 in Britain.

  • Rationing was officially started on 8th January 1940. It was meant to ensure a fair distribution of food, in short supply due to enemy ships attacking merchant ships, preventing them from bringing supplies (such as sugar, cereals, fruit and meat) to the UK.

  • Ration books were issued to every person (to be stamped by a local shopkeeper when the goods were collected), and a typical weekly ration (for one person) inlcuded: one fresh egg, 2 oz butter, 2 oz tea, 1 oz cheese, 8 oz sugar, 4 rashers of bacon, 4 oz margarine.
  • Cheaper cuts of meat became popular, and people could save their rationing points to purchase other items such as cereals, tinned food, biscuits and dried fruit.
  • Vegetables were not rationed, and the people of Britain were encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Dig for Victory

  • Many families reared there own pigs, chickens and rabbits so that they would be able to eat more meat.
  • During WW2 luxury items were in very short supply in Britain. Petrol consumption was limited, and the design of furniture and clothing became much simpler and plain during this period.
  • Things like razor blades, baby bottles, frying pans were almost impossible to get hold of in some areas, even though they weren’t rationed.
  • Due to timber rationing, many houses went without a Christmas tree during WW2.
  • The Ministry of Food was set up to help families make the most of their rations. They provided recipes and advice, demonstrating, for example, how to use powdered eggs and be creative with what was available.
  • Babies, pregnant women and sick people were given additional rations of milk, orange juice and cod liver oil.
  • Rationing continued until 1954, years after WW2 was over.

What next? Discover more about World War 2 by visiting our WW2 resources page.