A vintage ideal daily diet

3 Oct 2011

An Ideal Daily Diet 
( 1944 - 48 British Diet, rationing still in place)

  • 3 glasses of milk ( more for children, a glass is 200ml), used for cups of tea and puddings etc as well as a simple drink. Remember - 'drink a pint a milk a day)
  • 1 serve of potatoes ( serve is not less than 1/2 cup)
  • 2 serves of vegetables - green and yellow ( serve is not less than 1/2cup)
  • tomato or orange juice (wineglassful, not like the big balloon wineglasses of today. If unavailable then a dessertspoon of rosehip syrup(yum) or failing that servings of brassicas should be increased)
  • 1 serve of fruit ( can be bottled or canned fruit if there is nothing fresh available)
  • 1 egg ( fresh or dried), or 3 - 4 a week
  • 1 serving of meat, fish or cheese
  • 4 to 6 slices of bread and butter
  • 1 serving of wholegrain cereal with milk 


a suggested basic menu


1 glass of orange or tomato juice
porridge or pre cooked cereal, with milk or fruit juice if milk is in short supply
egg, fish or bacon dish
2 - 3 slices bread and butter

Main meal ( either at midday or in the evening)

a serve of meat, fish or cheese
a serving of cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach or other green vegetable
a serving of potatoes
a fruit dish

Evening meal ( or lunch)

vegetable dish with root vegetables
simple pudding or cold sweet.

NB Extra foods, such as cakes, pastries, jam, marmalade, sugar, syrup, will be consumed at tea and other times, according to individual energy needs.

from The Book of Good Housekeeping
First published 1944
First Australian edition 1948.

So what do you think?

Oh and here are a the seasonal menu plans

8 Responses to “A vintage ideal daily diet”

  1. I think we eat way too much these days.

    cheers Kate

  2. I remember reading somewhere that the British people were the healthiest ever during the second world war and the post war period. It seems a paradox when you consider the rationing but makes sense when you see an example like this. Leaving aside the way vegies were overcooked then, this diet makes a lo of sense although a but more fruit probably wouldn't have hurt.

    Nice post Jenny.

  3. I don't know that everyone overcooked their vegies but according to urban legend they did. At least when the main meal was meat and three vege people did actually eat vegies.
    I think fruit was probably difficult to get unless you could grow your own and it is of course very seasonal. The current guidelines only suggest 2 pieces of fruit with more of an emphasis on vegetables.

  4. Have you seen the show Supersizers Go... Jenny? It is very funny. They had an episode on the war years in Great Britain and they doctor who tested their blood levels, etc said it was a very healthy way to eat. If you haven't seen it you should have a look for it on Youtube. It is very entertaining and it's so interesting getting to see how people at at different times in history.

  5. One thing that always struck me was how my father was taught to eat the fat on his meat. Honestly, I think it all looks pretty sensible and balanced.

  6. i'm not sure about big bad wolf and weetabix... but i'm sure i couldn't eat everything in these diet menus, it's too much.

  7. It was certainly ideal and suggested but the reality for some of us post war was not this menu. I do remember having lots of boiled cabbage...boiled to death and soggy....and potatoes. I don't recall fruit all that much. Maybe I was in the wrong ecomomic group:) After we emigrated to Canada things were certainly different. I saw my first banana when I was about 6 or 7 and pineapple. Oh well:)


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.