Adventures in WWII Rations


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“It is your responsibility, no matter how difficult the task, to see that your husband and children are well fed and happy when they come to the dinner table.” – Wartime Canada How To Eat Well Though Rationed (1943)

Since I have no husband or children to keep well-fed and happy, I assume that Wartime Canada wouldn’t object to my personal diet of Halloween candy, coffee and cheese. They obviously don’t care if I’m happy when I get to the dinner table, so they won’t mind if I just snarf down a Snickers bar while lounging on the sofa.

Despite the Canadian government’s mid-century lack of concern for adult women, I’ve taken it upon myself to see what a WWII ration diet would be like in Canada, based on this shopping list:

Weekly Market Order

Thank goodness I’m too old for Cod-Liver Oil.

Why am I shopping from a 60 year old shopping list?

Because I have too much time on my hands.

And, after a decade away from Canadian grocery stores, toaster strudels and Oreos are calling to me from the aisles like sugary sirens of doom. That’s why.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes. I had originally thought that I’d follow a British ration diet, like this pretty amazing lady in the UK. However, the thought of consuming a whole box of powdered eggs grossed me out. (This, coming from the girl who likes fried crickets.)

Then, my Grandma mentioned that during the war years, they used to send eggs from their farm in Saskatchewan to their relatives in the UK, nestled in bags of oatmeal.

(I’m not sure if that was legal, so I really hope I’m not divulging any criminal family secrets here…)

Eggs weren’t as scarce here, especially if you lived on a farm. Brits could have 1 fresh egg per week. Canadians got 5.

Taking a closer look, I discovered that rationed Canadians had access to at least twice as much, sometimes three times as much of any given item. Except for tea. British rations allowed for twice as much tea. Someone in the British Home Office knew the priorities of their citizens. So if you ever hear a Canadian and a Brit reminiscing about the hardships of rationing during the war, I’d save most of my sympathies for the one who had to eat powdered eggs, and only got 1/4 of a pound of bacon every week.

I took the shopping list above, divided everything by 3 or 4 (whatever was easiest to divide), since the original list is for a family of four. I thought it looked like a decent amount of food.

I was wrong.

It’s a serious heap-ton of food. This is supposed to feed 1 adult for 1 week, but it’s easily 4 times as much as I usually buy. (And yet, surprisingly, it’s wasn’t much more expensive.) Which made me wonder – if this was the rationed amount, how much were Canadians eating before the war?

I can't eat all this in a week.

I can’t eat all this in a week.

I forgot to include the giant 4 litre jug of milk and 2 oz of cocoa in the photo. (There’s a pile of spinach leaves hiding under the jar of brown sugar, just in case you were thinking there wasn’t much greenery in the mix).

I also kept the flowers on table, to show my Mom that I haven’t killed them yet.

And you’ll notice there are no Oreos. Which is too bad, since I now have a giant jug of milk to dip them in.


Adventures in Getting Settled…and Zombies.

Have you moved recently? Are you planning to move soon? Are you comfortable where you are and are just reading this post to kill time while your coffee is brewing? Don’t worry peeps. I’ve got you covered.

Now that I’m about 3/4 settled in Calgary, I have some very practical learned-from-real-life-experience relocation tips for you.

1. Run from the Undead.

Does your new city have a Zombie Survival Race? If so, sign up and run for your life. If not, you’ve clearly moved to the wrong city. Pack everything up right now and try again.

Here’s why it’s a good idea. When you’re making new friends, you’ll want to know right off the bat who’s going to leave you in the dust, who’s going to stick with you, and who you’re going to want on your team during the apocalypse. You can take months to figure that out on your own, or you can do it over 5 kilometres in one zombie infested afternoon.

You’re also going to totally impress the cute guy in the elevator when you get home covered in mud. When he looks startled by your appearance, just shrug nonchalantly and casually explain, “I was running from zombies.” Because that’s not strange or geeky at all.

Hopefully zombies are allergic to mud. If so, I'm totally safe.

Hopefully zombies are allergic to mud. If so, I’m totally safe.

2. Join Amazon Prime for Free Delivery (but make sure you’ve updated your address first)

Nobody wants to lug bulky stuff like a toaster, a dish rack, a laundry hamper and a blow dryer home on the bus all at once. And nobody wants to make 4 separate trips to the store and buy them one at a time.

And by nobody, I mean me. I don’t want to do those things.

So, I joined Amazon Prime and got most of those things delivered to my door. Except for my printer, which I accidentally had shipped to my parent’s old house. When I discovered my error, parts of the following conversation may or may not have happened…

“Hi parents. I bought a printer, but it was delivered to your old address. Do you think you could knock on a stranger’s door and convince her to hand over the goods? … Yes, I know it’s embarrassing, but you probably shouldn’t wear a mask when you go, she might get the wrong idea … No, I’m not going to ‘accidentally’ have the next order delivered to the handsome guy on the 12th floor … Because my next order is 48 rolls of toilet paper. That’s why … No, it didn’t snow today … Yes, I love you too.”

As an added bonus, each order comes wrapped in a free feline amusement device. My cat now has more furniture than I do. On the upside, I hear cardboard boxes are making a fashionable comeback. Or so Catticus tells me.

3. Make a Plan.

Not just about how to survive a zombie apocalypse. You’re also going to need to put some effort into real plans too. Why? Because you’re going to wake up every day and think that you need to do all the things at once. Your to-do list will be 100 pages long, and you won’t know where the right stores are or how to get to them, and instead of making a plan, you’ll become paralyzed with indecision and watch Netflix.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Unless you own a 16-wheeler, and your days are magically 68 hours longer than mine, you’re not going to get everything you need all at once. (Even IKEA can’t make that happen. I know, I’ve tried.) So, as some hip-hoppity rap lyrics suggest: Break It Down (down down. Ooh Ah. Break it Down. Yeah.)

Don’t go out and stock your pantry in one giant swoop. Plan your meals for the week, then just buy the ingredients and spices you’ll need for those recipes. Eventually, you’ll have all the cumin and olives and bay leaves that all respectable kitchens should have. Also, don’t forget to buy the hardware you’ll need to make the recipes. Otherwise this will happen:

Me vs. Corn - we'll fight it out until one of use needs a bandaid.

Me vs. Corn – with no can opener to intervene, we’ll just fight it out until one of us needs a bandaid.

Also, don’t put up your pictures and decorations yet. Wait until you have all your furniture in order, then figure out where your hideous green ceramic lizard from Mexico will look the most appealing. Haha, just kidding. Hideous green ceramic lizards look great anywhere. Put that little fella up as soon as you move in.

Basically, pick one or two things a day to accomplish for your home, and one or two things to accomplish for life. Go outside. Scout out a new park or library or cafe. Talk to real live people in your neighbourhood. Volunteer for something once a week. Buy a can opener.

Start making your new city feel like home. Because it’s where you’re going to be living for a long time…at least until the zombies come.

Do you have any great re-location tips? Share them in the comments!

Adventures in Itty Bitty Fancy Pants…

Guess what you guys? I have an apartment!

After 3 months of traipsing through Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alaska and BC, I’ve finally unpacked my suitcases in some swanky downtown digs.

Well – I’ve almost unpacked my suitcases. One of them is still half-full of boring stuff I don’t know where to put yet, so it’s sitting near my closet mocking me and my organizational efforts. But for the most part, I’m nearly settled.

Settled in an Itty Bitty Fancy Pants apartment.

Why Itty Bitty? Because it’s only 428 square feet, and has 4 rooms … if you count the bathroom, hall closet and bedroom closet as rooms. If not, then it’s a bachelor suite.

Why Fancy Pants? Because it’s got some pretty amazing features that I’m really, really excited about:

#1. A Bathtub

I haven’t had a bathtub for fourteen years. Oh, except for 1 year in Korea. I forgot about that. So wait…let me do the math…carry the 4…multiply by 7… I haven’t had a bathtub for ten years! 

Take a good look. It's never going to be this clean again.

Take a good look. It’s never going to be this clean again.

Not only that, but I don’t have to plug anything in to get hot water. In fact, I have hot water coming out of every single tap in my apartment. Maybe I should have even listed that as a separate example of my apartment’s fancy pantedness. Hot Water. Everywhere. Always.

#2. A Stove WITH FOUR BURNERS & An Oven

When I lived in China, I had a little bunsen burner in my kitchen. If you accidentally knocked the burner while you were cooking, the rubber hose that carried the gas would come loose and start flailing around like a fire-breathing cobra. Cooking was an adventure.

My first year in Thailand, I didn’t have a burner at all. Cooking was impossible.

Now, I have four burners. I can use a different burner for every meal, and still have one feeling left out. And I have an oven that’s big enough to cook a whole dozen cookies. Not just 4 at a time. Do you know what this means?? It means cookies!

A magical machine that makes cookies and eggs and soup all at the same time!

A magical machine that makes cookies and eggs and soup all at the same time!

#3. A Freezer

My new fridge has this magical door on it that opens to a separate super-freezy section. Do you know what this means?? That’s right. It means ice cream.

I can fit a lot of ice cream in here. I know. I've done it.

I can fit a lot of ice cream in here. I know. I’ve done it.

#4. A Countertop

Admittedly, it’s a small one. But it’s big enough to chop and slice and dice – and more importantly, it’s big enough to roll out a pie crust. Do you know what this means?? You’re catching on – it means pie…with ice cream!

So, 3/4 of the things I’m super excited about are going to make me fat. Luckily, my building also has a gym and a swimming pool and is right next to a giant park.

Those things are okay too, I guess.