During and immediately following the World Wars Canadians were on special food rationing. The troops that were sent to fight overseas needed to be fed high caloric diets to maintain their ability to fight. This meant that foods normally destined for grocers and eventually Canadian families were diverted. This meant there was less available for the general public to purchase.
In order to avoid massive shortages and to ensure that all Canadians were able to be fed, the Governments of the time, passed legislation limiting how much each person was entitled to each week. Now it wasn’t the same across the board. Those who worked in the factories making war materials had different allotments over those that weren’t. As well pregnant women and children also had their own category. To keep everyone honest, the penalties for hoarding and violating the rationing rules were very strict. With document citing a Fine of $5000, jail time or both.
Is it time for Government Mandated Rationing?
Personally, I believe that yes the time has come and passed for the government to implement rationing with severe repercussions for those who hoard and violate the rules. The general public, at the outset of the pandemic here in Canada, showed that they cannot be trusted to self regulate. With store shelves being stripped bare of necessities within hours. Leaving many Canadians struggling to acquire the basic necessities of life.
So without direct Government intervention, what can we do? For those willing to self-regulate, and for those who have no choice, there are many options. A quick google search of War Rationing brings up a whole host of information. From simple recipes, to how to use various cuts of meats that you may not be used to buying. In this article I’m going to cover some of these great ideas.
Another wonderful idea is the concept of a victory garden. Created during the World Wars, a Victory Garden is home garden that produces a lot of the everyday vegetables that you would normally buy at the store, this allowed the produce from farms to be exported to Britain and supplied to our troops. Creating such a garden is quick and simple. The majority of these vegetables are very hardy and will grow most anywhere. During the pandemic these types of gardens offer not only a way to be self reliant and save on produce expenses. But they are also a way to relax and to focus on something other then what is going on. Tending to a garden has shown to have many positive effects on a person’s mental health. So really it’s win win. And whatever expenses you incur will be recouped when you don’t have to buy expensive foodstuffs at the grocer.
What to do about Meat?
One of the things that has become scarce these days is meat at the grocery store. However, it appears that some local butchers are not in short supply. Also if you buy at a butcher you may be able to get cheaper cuts of meat that are just as tasty.
One ration book from the wars goes into great detail about meats, you can find it here. It describes various cuts and how to properly cook them. There are even some very nice recipes. Such as :
Pot Roast of Beef (edited for modern language/techniques)v:
- 3-5 lb roast
- pepper as much or as little as you like
- fat aka Lard (or butter)
- salt as much or as little as you like
- Oven @ 325 degrees
- In a bowl combine flower, salt and pepper
- Coat the roast with the seasoned flour
- Using a frying pan (cast iron is best), brown all sides of the roast in hot fat
- Cover the roast with tinfoil.
- If using cast iron stick the whole thing in the oven, otherwise place the roast on an oven tray
- Roast for 40 min per pound, making sure to rotate the roast
- Add root vegetables with 1 hour remaining (Carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions and celery)
The booklet even goes into detail on what to do with your left over bits. Nothing goes to waste.
Making from scratch vs buying it pre-made
Now days we have mixes for everything. Cake mix, pancake mix, cookie mix. Just about anything you can think of eating you can find it pre-made and pre-packaged. But this convenience has a cost. That is, it costs more and may not always be available during shortages. One of the skills that has gone by the wayside in “modern times” is cooking and baking from scratch.
Sure a box of cake mix at Walmart.ca is less than $2 and that makes 1 cake. Just add water and voila. And to be honest the cake isn’t that bad. But how long will that supply last. Cake mix isn’t exactly high on the priority list of things to make. Also it’s only good for one thing. Making a single cake.
A 1 kg bag of all purpose flour is just $3 at Walmart. With it you can make multiple cakes, bake loaves of bread, make multiple batches of cookies and still have enough for a Pot Roast or two. So which is the more efficient use of your money. Sure making things from scratch is time consuming. Especially when compared to using mixes. But this time can also be used as a benefit. If you have children, you can involve them in the process. Young children especially love to help out with the baking and cooking. Doing this you aren’t just making food, you are making happy memories and teaching a valuable life skill. And lets face it, it’s not like we are doing anything else at the moment.