Cover Image: The Rations Challenge

The Rations Challenge

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Member Reviews

I was looking for tips on how to adapt and find new things to make with what's currently available. Instead, much of the book is focused on fair trade and the goals of the United Nations. Instead of being inspired, I felt lectured -- and since I don't live in the UK, how much of their food supply is imported from overseas really doesn't apply to my household.  The practical tips are as basic and obvious as "don't throw away leftovers" or "use the chicken carcass to make stock."
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My Thoughts
I loved this book. I picked it up because it seemed so apt for the times we are in, and found myself getting more out of the book than I expected. This book is a history lesson, a lesson in rationing (of course), a recipe collection, a memoir of sorts, a notebook to and a reflection of ourselves in today’s global situation.

The author decided to challenge herself to live on wartime rations for six weeks (for Lent). As I read the suggestions, I realized that we already follow many of those in our home. While I am unlikely to do the challenge itself, the book turned out to be a fount of inspiration and information for me.
The first few chapters take us through the author’s personal experience as she took on this challenge. Each of these chapters has one section for each day: diary entry for the week, a then and now section to put today in context with wartime, suggestions for self reflection, and further suggestions and tips for what we can do to as we buy, prepare and enjoy our food.

Another chapter includes personal accounts of people who lived through rationing during various times of their life, specifically WWs, and provides an insight into a life that is still true for so many around the world today. The reasons might be different, but the reality is the same. And help us react accordingly, and with reason.

The next two chapters include wartime recipes and useful tips, and a seasonal calendar. Note that this calendar applies to the UK, but we can always look for what is seasonal and local in our area.

The author’s personal insights are thoughtful, heart-warming, humorous and delightful. I also loved the inclusion of quotes and snippets of information, as well as tips that are sprinkled like mini-appetizers or those tiny desserts that will fill you up as you read them. References and further reading resources are also included, which are sure to be useful for the inspired and curious reader.

Last but not the least, the drawings and photographs (all in black and white) add to the charm of this book.

In Summary
From its introduction to the conclusion, The Rations Challenge is a very timely, beautifully inspirational and truly informative book. A must-read!

“… we are all in this together, and that we can help each other through. That is a beautiful thing.”
<a href="">Check my blog - LadyInReadWrites - for more reviews</a>

Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the digital ARC of the book; these are my honest opinions after reading the book.
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I happily received an advanced copy of this book. It didn't have as much information on cooking cheaper meals and saving money as I had hoped. Her interviews with people who lived through the war was interesting and a nice addition to the book.
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A really creative approach to Lent! Claud Fullwood's writing style is absolutely lovely, really fitting the beautiful cover for this book. I never knew potatoes were such a staple of a wartime diet - or that one could get sick of them, but I suppose after too many portions of 'fadge' (look it up) for breakfast, that might happen! I'd love to see more writing from Claud Fullwood, and she is also really good on her social commentary and reasons behind the challenge. This book deserves to do really well.
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I found that the book had some very interesting facts and statistics  that in some cases were eye opening and it was worth reading the book just for these. I do believe that we would all be healthier if we did monitor our intake more or if we did try this challenge. Currently I go to the butchers to request bones and the carcasses of chickens so that I can use them for stock – but I also should add that I always get enough to make a meat pie from the scraps left on the bones suitable for a family of 4. I like to think that we follow a certain amount of this regime by growing vegetables and fruit in the garden, picking wild berries and fruit from the hedgerows, composting anything possible, freezing herbs and excess milk in ice cubes and in general batch cooking to save money and have meals for a later day when time may be short.
So I have to say that in general I believe that the author has tried to implant sound ideas into the reader.
All the way through I felt that it was a plug for Fair Trade which was slightly offputting and not what I was expecting. I have read many books on the topic of wartime and this being centred on the rations aspect I was very interested. I already have lots of war time recipes books, which I find fascinating and have been to presentations on how they heated food and what provisions that they had to cook with. I totally agree with the stated facts that we should be reducing our waste as I do get horrified by hearing about the  vegetables simply thrown away. Now that we are out of the EU maybe we can start to be in a better position to sell the wonky foods that farmers are currently wasting as supermarkets do not want them. Enough publicity has gone into the TV productions to show that the vast majority of shoppers do not specify the length of thickness of any of our food products. I can still remember as a child laughing at the way that carrots and parsnips grew in very naughty fashion – todays children do not have that experience. The world is a different place now and to try to go back and only use home grown products would be   extremely difficult – for drinks alone no coffee, no tea, no hot chocolate, no citrus squashes – basically water only. We need to encourage home grown products, including all manufacturing of other items. However the cost to the general public would be exorbitant and so people woud think twice about buying items, including food. I can hear the author saying that this is a good thing but the stats quoted in the book on the huge increase in the poverty levels in the UK and the number of people increasing exponentially on food banks would look mild to what would occur if we did try to home produce all our food .  The author so rightly says go to the local store or the farms to buy food and do not go to supermarkets who hold monopolies and hence get large profits it was even quoted that this would be cheaper for the consumer. However I have yet to find any small shop and certainly not the farm shops to even approach the lower prices in the supermarkets and no thought was given to the fuel used to get to farm shops– hence even more people would hit the bread line. This all needs moderation and we need to look at international trade markets, as long as we buy and sell and are not limited to just buying from abroad. Also if  we stopped buying from some of the third world countries then they would also become poorer, I agree that large consortiums do the buying and selling , however the farmers, pickers and packers do get some money but if we stop buying then the consortiums could go bust wih minimal effect to them but the cost to the actual workers would be disastrous. Also it is a very lovely idea that everyone the world over should get the same money for the same job but the cost of living is not the same everywhere. I don’t think that we will ever be able to stop a divide between the rich and the poor across the world either.
So  FairTrade and the total ideas implanted here in this book form a good concept but the author has gone past the basics here.
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An interesting read focussing on living off a rations diet reducing food waste through using food efficiently.
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Really interesting ideas in here especially for current climate. I would love to see finished physical copy because I don’t think the eproof did it justice.
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This book could not have been better timed with the way things have turned out in today's world. Although it is based on WW2 it will be very useful now, with plenty of recipes with limited products that we have right now. There are stories from different people who lived through the war along with history and plenty of information. It is a pity that this book is not available in the shops right now so that everyone can benefit from it now.    I  am giving this 4 stars,  but get a copy as  soon as possible and gain plenty of information and help to survive these awful times.
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For the right audience this is a lovely book(A MUST in physical form!!). It is a combination of a bit of a diary, suggestions, a few interesting facts and pages where one can scribble, take notes, write down ideas, recipes whatever. It's also lovely that while you are provided with a few suggestions, it gives a lot of space and freedom to do as you please, seen that probably there are countless ways to tackle this challenge.

For me it was just an ok read as I wasn't interested in the challenge per se, but I wanted to read about a particular example(which I guess I could have in her blog, but it seems to have disappeared. Or at least I couldn't find it!) or about example from the war era, and needless to say this book didn't provide any of the things I was looking for. Despite all that, I would buy it as a gift for a friend either interested in some of the things presented in the book(like shopping locally, using seasonal produce) or in need of a challenge.
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This book documents an interesting experiment carried out by Claud Fullwood, with additional contemporary input from self sufficient people and also historic recollections of wartime food.  It is a well known fact that the population were generally much healthier during the war due to a more equitable distribution of food.  It was also generally the case that those living in the countryside fared better than town dwellers.  However, I am sure that most people nowadays would baulk at the thought of using a lot of the wartime recipes included in the book.  It is all very well if you live in the countryside or have a reasonable sized garden so that you can grow your own, but those who live in flats do not have that option.
I am all for reducing food miles and using seasonal foods but am not sure what percentage of the population would be happy to do this.  Those who wouldn't are probably the same ones who prefer to take long-haul flights for exotic holidays rather than exploring their own country and immediate neighbours.
This book is around at an appropriate time and it will be interesting to see what lifestyle changes people make when the coronavirus situation is out of the way.
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Well this was a timely read, especially now in 2020 with shortages of toilet paper, beans, meat, baby wipes in my local grocery store. This author is a British woman who put a twist on Lent and instead of giving up sweets for six weeks, my old stand by, lived by the WWII ration system for six weeks. In 1943 Britain was importing NONE of its food and EVERYTHING was rationed. Everything was saved, mended , reused. 
The challenge was divided up into 6 weeks. You had to plan ahead, make do, eat seasonally. You got (to name a few things) 1 egg a month, 3 pints of milk and 1 lb of meat, 3 oz of cheese, 2 oz of butter, 2 oz of tea, 8 oz of sugar a week, oats and fish were not rationed. People ate a lot of potatoes. You got 16 points to spend on canned food. A can of fruit was 12 points. Meals were monotonous but nutritious. Everyone had an allotment for a vegetable garden. Dig for victory. Women canned and bottled fruits and vegetables. I learned a lot about the Land Girls (now I will watch the TV series), the Women's Initiative which is still active today like our Farm Co Ops are. People kept pigs, chickens and goats then and chickens are becoming popular again today. Family time was precious then and games were popular and as we spend time home with our loved ones during social distancing I know we have started putting large puzzles together. The author wrote one third of all food produced today is wasted which is a travesty with so many hungry people. One trend is buy ugly fruits and vegetables as grocery stores only sell perfect specimens. WWII saw no food waste. Another trend was rationing so everyone one could eat not just the wealthy but the poor too. The government had to get into the nutrition business so the nation would have healthy workers and fighters. We are all in this together!
     This book not only talked about the rationing system, the author talked about buying seasonally, buying fair trade and the impact this could have. The author kept a diary of the six weeks eating the ration diet and ways it could be done. There were also recipes from the pamphlets given out at the time. This weekend I plan to try the soda bread and the black berry bread and butter pudding with custard sauce. There were also interviews of people who lived during that time. I wish there had been more of those. Also included in the book is a seasonal calendar and a list of references and books for further reading. All in all I found this to be a gem of a little book and one I will read again. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a review.
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Claud Fullwood does what many would consider extreme in today's society, living off rations for 40 days. This book will, without a doubt, make you think about how your grandparents or their parents lived with weekly rations during the war.
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This is a book whose relevance has suddenly come to the fore during lockdown because of Covid19. It was probably produced with an eye on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in May this year but it is now significant in an additional way.I have huge empathy with the author who wanted to take a proactive route to understanding food rationing in WWII.We certainly take our present day food availability for granted and I have appreciated that many people have no idea about sustainability and seasonality in Britain today.I used to teach in Primary schools where this period of history was studied and it was amazing just how ignore and/or ill informed the children were about how people survived in this time.Truthfully I didn’t always appreciate some of the facts which were highlighted in this book so it has been an education for me too.
I doubt however that it has tempted me to take the challenge of eating from a WWII ration book for the six week period suggested  but I now realise that I have been at least trying to eat more locally, seasonably and sustainably over the past few years.I too have children now in their thirties who wonder where I get some of my weird habits regarding not wasting any resource especially food.It definitely relates back to my mother who was a young wife and mother in the early forties.
This book in no ways tells you all you want to know about food rationing during WWII and into the early fifties. It’s importance is the fact that it challenges the reader to consider their own relationship with foods available to us today. I didn’t realise just how long it continued after the war had finished.Nonetheless it has peaked an interest to investigate this period of history regarding food and food availability and food poverty.
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I requested this book because of its discussion on making do with food. It’s inspirational as we all are trying to cook more without running to the grocery store every other day. I will try some of the recipes. I also enjoyed the social history of life during the war years.
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This is Claud’s account of following a wartime rationed diet for Lent.
I downloaded this book from netgalley with extra interest as the country had just been put into lockdown due to the Coronavirus and it seemed like half the population had gone mad and cleared out all essential groceries from the supermarket shelves.
It was a good introduction to rationing in World War II although not quite as thorough as it could have been, and parts of it did read like a school text book.
Having said that, the recipe section really reminded me of reading my Granny’s recipe book which was very nostalgic.
I felt the small section of other people’s accounts of rationing was a bit perfunctory and better done in other books, and I think, on the whole, I would have liked a little more of Claud’s actual food diary as this seemed the point of the book, with perhaps a reading list at the back for further information on other people’s wartime experiences.
The interactive element was lost somewhat when read on a Kindle so better as a physical book to make notes in, and easier to leaf through the recipes.

In my opinion this book would be more interesting to someone without any prior knowledge of the subject as it is pretty basic stuff, so middle grade to young adult readers would benefit more than adults, but it was a pleasing, easy read and I’m glad I chose it.
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I loved this book, I chose it because it was seeming very apt at the current pandemic we are having. It’s an interesting read, with lots of facts and statistics. I thought I learnt loads from this about how people used to live. I’m a big fan of using what you can, I hate waste – especially food waste, so this book really spoke to me. 

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
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I’m not exactly sure what drew me to Claud Fullwood’s forthcoming book The Rations Challenge.  Perhaps it was my general and ongoing interest in how to make even a small contribution to addressing climate change.  Little did I know that this would turn out to be the perfect read for completely different reasons.

As the blurb for this book explains:

“Food is always a hot topic – Food waste, food banks, food miles, local versus imported. As we all need food, we can’t ignore it.  But as some families struggle without enough food to live on, others are challenged to consider how much they throw away, or how to make the food they have go further. Which is why Claud Fullwood set herself the challenge of living on World War Two rations for Lent. It opened her eyes not only to issues of hunger and waste, but also to the many ways in which we have the power to fix our groaning food system, make our families stronger and our communities whole again.  The Rations Challenge takes the wisdom of World War Two and looks at how it can help us revolutionise how we live now. By learning the lessons our parents and grandparents lived by in the ’30s and ’40s, we can build a future that works for everyone.”


It is something of a coincidence of timing that I read this book during this year’s Lent (which ends on 9 April). But no-one could have foreseen the additional relevance of reading this text during a time of a world-wide pandemic and consequent fears about accessing regular food supplies with all the various challenges people are facing during lockdown.

Fullwood presents a book of three parts:  a week by week meditation on getting through a version of her challenge during the Lent period; a range of accounts from people who experienced rationing, or who are trying to find different ways of addressing food availability issues; and a selection of wartime recipes and information about seasonal food.  In doing so, she aims to present:

‘a sense of celebration; a sense that human beings have the wherewithal to overcome hardship and need.  Through community, resourcefulness, and a sense of fun, even living on little can become a joyful thing.’

If I had been reading this just a few weeks earlier, I would have been using Fullwood’s text as a tool to consider how we as individuals can and should change our approach to food, shopping and general living in order to make our own contribution to the current climate emergency.  But when Fullwood writes that ‘food, like any other resource, needs to be approached with moderation and common sense.  There’s only enough to go around if we don’t demand unlimited choice….’, I am reminded only of all the recent panic buying and selfish, irrational behaviour of a relatively small number of citizens, causing such anxiety for key workers and vulnerable people unable to get the essentials they need.

Thankfully, in Edinburgh at least, food supplies are starting to return to normal.  Even so, people who cannot leave home are still having difficulty booking food deliveries.  And of course many people are finding themselves in highly unexpected low-income circumstances, making it all the more important for there to be access to affordable basics.  As a result, we are rightly seeing a rise in information online about how to cook on a very limited budget, with only limited access to everyday foods. With its focus on community spirit; the importance of buying and using only what one needs; and the value of supporting local producers wherever possible, Fullwood’s text turns out to be a very positive contribution in these challenging times.


With thanks to publishers Lion Hudson Ltd for an advance reading copy via NetGalley.
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The author of this book, Claud Fullwood was bored with the usual things they gave up for lent and decided to try living on war time rations for the duration of lent instead. The book lists what the actual war time rations were per adult and per child. I think it would have been even more interesting if it had been a family living on war time rations for the time of lent, as we would have got different generations thoughts on the restrictions as well as the old recipes.

It was interesting to read about the different recipes and I can see where some of them had been handed down from my grandparents to my mum and even down to me. Such as stew & dumplings all in one big pot and literally throwing in whatever you have in the fridge or cupboard. I can remember my mum doing stew and my dad eating the leftovers the next day, saying that stew always tastes even better on the second day! Some recipes that originated back in that era have also been adapted as they have travelled down the generations, for example I remember my mum doing rabbit stew, or putting pig’s kidney in it. Whereas not being a big meat eater I have adapted this and do a vegetable stew.

I really enjoyed the discussion within the book of buying and cooking in season produce, which I am trying to do more of myself. I do always try to buy British, local and in season. With all the talk of climate change if we all bought and cooked in season produce it would reduce the carbon footprint a lot. I have also tried something else Claud did with the “grow your own” unfortunately due to medical issues it became more and more difficult and I had to stop. I do remember my grandparents keeping chickens in their back garden when I was very young. I remember collecting the still warm eggs they laid and choosing which one I would be having!

The second world war era is one I do find fascinating, from the stories of those fighting, and resisting oppression to the women taking on “men’s jobs” and the land army. The role of the housewife had not really been high on my list as to read about during this period of history. Having said that I have always been curious about how people managed on such restricted supplies. It also makes you think how society would cope in the present day with war time style rations. How did/would dietary requirements affect the people and rations. I guess there would be no “I don’t like this or that”. It would be put on the plate and on the table in front of you and you would eat it or do without. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sections where Claud added the stories of those that lived, and worked in this era too. 

Will I take anything in particular from the book? Yes, I am definitely going to try harder to buy, cook and eat in season produce, as well as continuing to reduce waste too. I think there is also the aspect of appreciating how much different food we have available and the you don’t know how much you eat/use something until there is a shortage of it.

I would like to think that I can have the “rations challenge” attitude to baking/cooking now. That if I don’t have exactly what a recipe calls for I won’t straight away rush out to the shop to buy that specific missing ingredient, but I will look and see if I have anything similar that I could add and use as an alternative first. 

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that we were in an eerily similar situation now with food shortages, although it is being blamed on people buying much more than they need.

To sum up I did enjoy the book, but I can’t help thinking it would have been an even better read as a physical book, so you could flick back and forth easier between rations and recipes. The author also refers to “space” left in the book for you to write in. I think the interactive parts and following recipes would have been so much more fun, had they been more visual too as in an actual book rather than an ebook. I think pictures would enrich the experience of this book even more too.
The current situation in the world and the “panic buying” due to the Covid-19 virus it certainly brings home the necessity of certain food/grocery items and you learn what the “luxury” items are. It certainly makes you understand why rationing had to be brought in during the war so that everybody received their fair share. Though during the war there was the black market for extra items for those that had the money to purchase them. I suppose there is our own version of the black market with those that have bought and hoarded and have tried to sell on at a profit. Taking advantage of the ones who bought sensibly and thought of others.
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I love the premise of this British book (the author challenged herself to live on wartime rations during the 40 days of lent) but it wasn't that helpful or interesting to me personally. It turns out I already cook for my family very similarly to wartime rations with a few exceptions. We eat from scratch meals that are gluten free and generally vegetarian and organic. We forage and grow a lot of our foods and put them up (canning, freezing and drying), so I have an extensive pantry to work with at any time. For the most part, the foods that would have been limited are already ones we limit. We do use quite a lot of eggs since we buy them from a lady we know who keeps chickens (even during the pandemic, my husband made the drive to her country house and picked up 10 dozen cartons she'd left outside for him last week, leaving the $20 for her by the door). Since we live on a very tight budget and buy organic, I am used to stretching foods to make tasty, healthy meals.

I was hoping for more recipes and fun ideas, but hers were the basics that will be helpful for folks who are new to this kind of thing and not so helpful for me (think how to make homemade jam with just raspberries and sugar, uses for potatoes, etc.).

The book is black and white, and cheerfully illustrated with 1940's era drawings, a few charts, and a very few photos. There is a small section of memories from people who lived through rationing, and there are lots of notes on things like gender equality, food waste, and important issues that relate to food even though it's not always apparent. It is broken down by weeks with her diary at the start of each week and then little essays on various topics. The end section has some recipes and also some fun little touches like seasonal items to look for on nature walks, ideas for seasonal feasts, and so on. There is a lot of focus on making the most of foods, stretching meats, and so forth.

All in all, this is an interesting and fun little book. I would have probably really enjoyed it when I was young and newly married (either time, LOL), teaching myself to cook and preserve. While it wasn't a particularly good fit for me, I do recommend it.

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.
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A decent introduction to wartime cooking, from the perspective of someone who has gone back in time to experience rationing with a contemporary view. The values of buying local that are important to some people today were vital to the survival of people during the war, although in modern times, it's about feelgood, reducing food miles than doing your part for the home front, it still has importance. 

This book has a collection of childhood experiences, for people who had memories of rationing as well as a diary account of the author eating rather a lot of fried mashed potato. Further reading on this topic can be found at the IWM as well as experimental archaeologists Ruth Goodman et al. on their book Wartime Farm.
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