Wartime Cookery Project

This project aims to emphasise the value of home-grown potatoes and other vegetables in the diet by showing how important they were during World War 2.

Wartime Cookery Project - Part 1: Food Rationing

You will need:

  • Samples of food (see below)
  • Three trays, or sheets of coloured paper, labelled Home, Abroad and Rationed


  1. Explain that today you are going to go back in time to find out about cooking and eating in World War 2 (1939-45)
  2. First you are going to look at some different types of food and where it came from back then
  3. Talk a bit about each food - who likes it, what you can use it for, how it is produced (eg carrots grown in the ground, bacon made from pigs). Explain that some foods are grown here and some come from abroad, and before the war even more was imported. Put each food onto the appropriate tray. (see below)
  4. Ask how food would get from the Abroad area to the Home one. (Almost all by ship in those days) and what would happen if the ships were sunk by the enemy or used to carry war materials (Food shortages)
  5. Explain that many of the foods in the Abroad group would have been in short supply and some were rationed to make sure everyone had a fair share. Put these onto the Rationed tray
  6. Foods in the Home group were more plentiful, and used to replace some of the missing food from abroad. For example,  potatoes could replace bread made with imported flour as an energy food. However, some home-produced foods were rationed too. This included milk and eggs. Put these on the Rationed tray.

Taking it further

If you want to take it further, you can look at rationing in more detail - how do the amounts compare with what we eat now for example. Cook It is a good website

Wartime Cookery Project - Part 2: Cooking Woolton Pie

You will need:

  • Containers and food samples as above
  • Recipe ingredients
  • Cooking equipment


  1. Explain that you are going to be wartime cooks, making a special wartime recipe Woolton Pie. This was named after Lord Woolton who was Minister of Food, in charge of making sure everyone got enough to eat
  2. Talk about what you might normally have in a pie, and see which container it is in, and what this means. eg meat, which was rationed, flour that came from abroad so could be in short supply, vegetables which were plentiful
  3. Explain that Woolton pie had no meat, egg, milk, flour or fat, but used potatoes and lots of other vegetables
  4. Make the pie

Woolton Pie recipe (for 6)


  • 450g potato, scrubbed* and diced
  • 450g cauliflower or parsnip, diced
  • 450g swede or turnip, peeled and diced
  • 450g carrot, scrubbed and diced
  • 3 or 4 spring onions
  • 1 teasp vegetable extract (e.g. Marmite)
  • 1 teasp oatmeal
  • 2 teasp chopped parsley
  • 225g cooked, sliced potatoes 
  • 50g grated cheese if available


  • Kitchen scales
  • Vegetable brush
  • Vegetable knife
  • Potato peeler
  • Chopping board
  • Large saucepan
  • Measuring spoons
  • Grater
  • Wooden spoon
  • One large or two small pie dishes


  1. Place the diced vegetables, spring onions, vegetable extract and oatmeal into a saucepan
  2. Add just enough water to cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Allow to cool
  4. Put the mixture into a large pie dish or several small ones and sprinkle with parsley
  5. Cover with the cooked, sliced potatoes and grated cheese
  6. Bake at 180°Cfor about 20 minutes, or until the topping is nicely brown.

Taking it further

* People were encouraged not to peel potatoes with this wartime rhyme:

Those who have the will to win
Eat potatoes in their skin
Knowing that the sight of peelings
Really hurts Lord Woolton’s feelings

Cartoon characters Dr Carrot and Potato Pete promoted these home-grown vegetables - see http://www.homesweethomefront.co.uk/web_pages/hshf_dig_for_victory_pg.htm

For more wartime recipes, try these websites:

  • http://recipespastandpresent.org.uk/wartime4.php
  • http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/history4.html#recipes
  • http://cookit.e2bn.org/historycookbook/index-20-world-war-2.html

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