A woman lost seven stone and saved thousands of pounds, after putting herself on a 1940s-inspired ration diet for an entire year.
Single mother-of-three, Carolyn Ekins, came up with the experiment after struggling to pay her bills and lose weight.
A self-confessed World War Two enthusiast, the 48-year-old read wartime pamphlets and ration recipes produced by the wartime Ministry of Food.
She replaced her modern junk food diet with old classics like mock turkey, Spam fritters and Lord Woolton pie – preparing a nutritious meal three times a day.
The thrifty dishes saw Carolyn’s weekly £70 food bill drop to just £14 – saving her almost £3000 over the 12 months.
And she even noticed a difference in her weight - after her daily 5,000 calorie diet decreased to a healthy 2,00.0
Carolyn, a social media administrator from Nottingham, said: “I struggling financially as a single mum I also had a weight problem that was severely impacting on my life.
I’ve always been interested wartime austerity. I am fascinated with the Home Front and the old fashioned recipes in particular.
“I had been cooking ration recipes for fun and it struck me that it might be an interesting way to get healthy and save money.”
A weekly adult ration during the war allowed for 100g of Bacon and Ham, up to 226 grams of minced meat, 50g of butter, 50g of cheese, 100g of margarine, 100g of cooking fat and three pints of milk.
It also included 225 grams of sugar, 50 grams of tea and one shell egg or one packet of dried eggs every four weeks.
Every two months, 450 grams of Preserves were added and 350 grams of sweets were a treat every four weeks.
Families would also have bread, oats, fruits and vegetables.
And a monthly points allowance allowed Brits to buy foods that were in short supply. The maximum 16 points would buy one can of fish, 2 lbs of dried fruit or 8 lbs of split peas.
Carolyn said: “At first it was strange adjusting to this from a modern diet full of additives, perservatives and flavour enhancers.
“I was so used to that that it was a bit of a shock to the system at first. All of a sudden I was transported back 60 years to a rations diet that was very meagre and not very flavourful.
“To begin with I felt it was really bland but after a week or two I really began to appreciate it because my palette had changed.”
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Carolyn searched the internet for recipes as well as searching out old pamphlets, and recipes from Marguerite Patten, who was employed by the Ministry of Food to suggest inventive ideas for rationed food.
Every recipe was followed to the letter to ensure sure they were historically accurate - Carolyn even shunned modern kitchen appliances, like the electric whisk, for added authenticity.
She said: “It takes more time to cook from scratch but it is possible to put aside an hour in the evening to cook instead of watching the television.
“Most of my cooking was done exactly as it would have been done then, which gave me an insight in to how time consuming food preparation was - but it was totally worth it.”
Despite the meagre resources, she was able to combine the ingredients to create 130 different dishes - from Anzac biscuits to vinegar cake and carrot rolls.
Some even went down well with her children Jess, 25, Josh, 21 and Emily, 16 - although they couldn’t be convinced to try the experiment full time.
She said: “It was a really interesting experience. A lot of the ingredients didn’t look particularly appetising.
“There’s a lot of green and a lot of brown. Without a variety of brightly coloured vegetables - like peppers - everything looked a bit beige.
“But, I was often quite pleasantly surprised by how delicious they were.
“A lot of the recipes included vegetables like leafy greens, suede, parsnip and potato. There was also a lot of cabbage - which isn’t everyone’s favourite but I adore it so it was really good for me.
“One of my favourites was Lord Woolton pie - named after the Minister of Food. It had a lot of root vegetables, seasoning, margarine and either a potato or pastry top.
“It was created by a chef at The Savoy Hotel in a bid to get people excited by their bland rations food.”
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She added: “There were some unpleasant looking dishes though. Some really looked so disgusting I wouldn’t have eaten them in a million years.
“I have to admit I didn’t recreate some recipes - like ox tongue - because I just didn’t fancy eating it.”
She added: “My children were very curious about some of the concoctions. They did taste many of the recipes and were pleasantly surprised but were put off by most of them because they included a lot of vegetables.
“I made a strange beef and prune hot pot, and a bizarre mock apricot flan that was actually made out of carrots.
“I also made a carrot curry, which I wasn’t very keen on. Curry powder back then wasn’t very flavourful so I wasn’t very excited by it.
“There was no cream or coconut milk - seasoning was stock or marmite so it ended up being very bland.”
Incredibly, some cost as little as 50p to make and Carolyn found herself spending no more than £2 a day on food.
She said: “I was extremely surprised. I had been spending between £60 and £70 on just my own groceries, take outs and fast food.
“But on the rations diet I could feed myself on £1 to £2 a day. It made a significant difference.”
And, despite admitting she wasn’t properly counting calories, Carolyn quickly found herself losing weight - slimming from 24 stone to 17 stone in just one year.
Although the admits she has put weight on again since finishing her experiment, she hopes to lose a further 100 lbs by re-starting her rations diet this year.
She said: “On the rations diet I felt well fed and rarely hungry. I really feel that getting back to eating basic, simple foods has helped me to control my cravings and appetite.
“It really does work for me. I found my weight dropping and my blood pressure going back to normal.
“I’m now able to walk for miles and I feel I am on the way to conquering the weight problem that has hindered my life for the past 20 years.”
During the year, Carolyn kept a blog about her experiences - called The 1940’s Experiment - and it is now so popular it can get up to 20,000 hits every month.
Carolyn said: “It’s amazing. People who are 60 or 70 years old message me and tell me that they remember their mother making one of the recipes or tasting it when they were very young.
“People love a bit of nostalgia.”
Since the success of the blog, Carolyn has been approached by publishers keen to put her rations experience and recipes in to a book.
And she hopes her story will inspire other families to try some of the long-forgotten rations classics.
She said: “If a family of four ate how I did and they were dedicated to the rations diet. I would say they could get by on just £5 a day. That would allow them to eat adequately and healthily.
“I have found that eating a wartime diet had enabled to feed myself and my family in a more nutritious way while keeping the bills down.
“And if I can encourage people to do the same - especially single mums - and help them in the long run, I would be extremely happy.”
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