HomeFun Food Facts to Know & Tell The Belly Rules II – Grandma’s Old Time Recipes

The Belly Rules II – Grandma’s Old Time Recipes

Comments : 7 Posted in : Fun Food Facts to Know & Tell on by : Michael Marsha

Our Grandmothers and Great-Grandmothers had some of the best recipes. We’re going to discover why in this article.

Grandma’s Recipes

Our ancestors really knew how to cook. The ladies could take whatever they had on hand and make wonderful meals for their families. If they lived on a farm, then they most likely had fresh vegetables, fruits and meats. Living in the cities meant they would have to buy what they needed. Of course, there were always the backyard gardens. No matter where they acquired their food, they could make their budgets stretch to feed their families.

World War II

Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II, it became obvious that there would have to be restrictions of goods on the home front. Restrictions were put on imported foods and there were limitations on the transportation of goods due to a shortage of rubber tires. There was also a diversion of agricultural harvests to soldiers overseas. This all contributed to the U.S. government’s decision to ration certain essential items. On January 30, 1942, the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the authority to set price limits and ration food and other commodities in order to discourage hoarding and ensure the equitable distribution of scarce resources. By that spring, Americans were unable to purchase sugar without government-issued food coupons. Vouchers for coffee were introduced in November, and by March of 1943, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk and other processed foods were added to the list of rationed provisions.

All Americans were entitled to a series of war ration books filled with stamps that could be used to buy restricted items Within weeks of the first issuance, more than 91 percent of the U.S. population had registered to receive them. The OPA allotted a certain amount of points to each food item based on its availability, and customers were allowed to use 48 ‘blue points’ to buy canned, bottled or dried foods, and 64 ‘red points’ to buy meat, fish and dairy each month, but only if the items were in stock at the market. Due to changes in the supply and demand of various goods, the OPA periodically adjusted point values, which often further complicated an already complex system that required home cooks to plan well in advance to prepare meals.

Despite the fact that ration books were explicitly intended for the sole use by the named recipient, a barter system developed whereby people traded one type of stamp for another, and black markets began cropping up all over the country in which forged ration stamps or stolen items were illegally resold. By the end of the war, restrictions on processed foods and other goods like gasoline and fuel oil were lifted, but the rationing of sugar remained in effect until 1947.

In our research, we found that there was also rationing during World War I.

Depression Era

The Depression was totally different.

Since most people did not have enough money to shop for food, there wasn’t enough business to keep most of the groceries fully stocked. As a result, there was a scarcity of food. Many food items were rationed, which meant that you could only get a certain amount. In addition, there were also not very many choices when it came to food. Sometimes, people would get together for potluck dinners, where everyone would bring a different dish to share. This way, you could have more of a variety of foods.

Can you imagine witnessing a scene where fifty or so people are fighting over food scraps from the garbage? This was pretty common during the Great Depression. People had to do things differently if they wanted to provide food for their families. Many people turned to farming, and grew the food themselves, like fruits, vegetables, cattle, chickens, sheep and hogs. Many farmers would can their food so that it would last longer. Some people chose to hunt for their food. There were even people that harvested their own bees to make honey.

Other people went to soup kitchens, which are places where people can go and get a free meal. Since many people needed a free meal during the Depression, they often had to wait for hours in long ‘soup lines’ to be served.

Another government program that helped people were food stamps, which were booklets of stamps that could be used to buy food, cleaning supplies and other necessities. In order to qualify for the food stamps, your family had to be considered low-income, or poor. This made sure that the food stamps went to people who actually needed them.

We’re Going Way Back!

Before the Civil War, most people had their own vegetable gardens, kept livestock, hunted, and preserved foods. A family in the North might eat a seafood chowder or Boston baked beans cooked with molasses, while a Southern family would enjoy collard greens with cracklin’ bread (corn bread mixed with fried fat).

As the war dragged on, though, food became scarce, especially in the South. Soldiers on both sides ate canned beans (canned foods were just starting to be available) and bread because that’s about all they could get. Both sides’ armies supplied salt pork and coffee, though after a time, the coffee was hard to come by in the South. Civilians, too, had to eat what was available; fresh game could not always be had, and some soldiers, themselves lacking enough food, stole food and livestock from farmhouses they came upon.

Now we’ll look at Colonial America.

There were many small farms in the Middle Colonies, which were known as the “breadbasket colonies” because they grew so many crops, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, and corn. They also raised pumpkins, squash, and beans. In the South, crops grew year round, and there were large plantations and farms that exported corn, vegetables, grain, fruit, and livestock to other colonies. The Colonies also had access to fish and seafood, including cod, halibut, mackerel, tuna, trout, salmon, clams, oysters, lobster, and mussels. They hunted game birds as well.

There was no refrigeration, and hunting was difficult in the harsh winters, so colonists preserved food by salting, smoking, pickling, drying, and making preserves such as jams, marmalades, and syrups. Some of the herbs they used for flavoring included basil, lovage, mint, parley, sage, and dill. They drank coffee, tea, and chocolate drinks.

What Would You Like?

We have lots of recipes that have been collected through the years from our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Some of these recipes have been handed down through the generations from our Colonial ancestors and on into the Civil War Era. If there’s something that you would like to see in particular, please let us know and we’ll see if we can find it for you.

Michael & Marsha


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7 thoughts

  • Anita
    March 18, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Fascinating article about the history of food. I have not done much research but the point system used during World War 2 seems complicated and hard to plan your meals around. My grandma’s old time recipes were the best, of course they contained a lot of fat and lard. People cook so different now. I would love to have some of the old recipes. I will check back and see the recipes.

    • Michael Marsha
      March 19, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you!  Yes, they did use alot of lard and fat. These days we use vegetable oil or olive oil. I’ll be posting lots more recipes. I have a whole box full of them!

  • doug
    March 18, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Grandma’s Recipes are the best this is very true. I have enjoyed several of these recipes myself. 

    I like the different era in which you described the governments effect on the American people. The rationed provisions that was taking place at the time. The point values and availability of certain foods.

    Since there was no refrigeration it is hard to imagine what is was like then.

    I really like looking thru the dishes that were listed in the categories and the pictures of the fried green tomatoes are making me want some now. 

    I like the site and think it is very informative.

    • Michael Marsha
      March 19, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you so much!  I’ll be posting lots more. 

  • Henry
    March 19, 2019 at 2:03 am

    Hi Michael and Marsha! I have always been interested in the food that was eaten during the great depression. I have been told that potatoes were abundant during this period. And one of the special dishes that was done with them was Mashed Potatoes cakes. I’m interested and hearing from you on this respect. Thank you very much.

    • Michael Marsha
      March 19, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Thank you, Henry!  There is one recipe on there for mashed potato cakes. I’ll find it and post the link for you. In my research, I found that there are so many different ones. I remember my Mom making some when I was a kid. I’ll dig through my recipe box and see if I can find some more.

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