Jan 282015

 savefoodConservation Cookbooks World War 1

These are cookbooks that our great-great grandmothers would have used 100 years ago. During the Great War, as it was called back then, certain foods were in short supply so the government made an appeal to homemakers across the nation to conserve these foods and to make use of other foods which were more abundant.

America sent a lot of foods overseas to our allies, and also had to keep soldiers well fed. This meant there were fewer foodstuffs available to the American consumer. Rationing was eventually necessary, to make sure that these foods were divided equally among the populace.

The main items in short supply were as follows.

  • Wheat
  • Sugar
  • Fats & Oils
  • Meat, especially beef

Instead of Wheat, people were encouraged to use rye, corn, barley, rice and potatoes. This caused a rise in price for these products, especially potatoes. Before America joined the war, in 1914, a pound of potatoes could be purchased for 0.019¢, that is less than 2¢ a pound. By 1916, potatoes cost 0.035¢, or 3-1/2¢ per pound. Their price nearly doubled in 2-years. Economy became a necessity for people who had never had reason to consider it previously.

Instead of sugar, people were encouraged to use honey, corn syrup, molasses, sorghum and maple syrup. All meat fats, from beef, pork, chicken and even mutton, were saved and used for frying. Chicken fat was praised for it’s mild flavor and was often used in baked goods, including cake. Deep frying was frowned upon, even when the fat was saved and reused.

The vegetarian movement, which had become increasingly mainstream during the early part of the century, was embraced by even dyed-in-the-wool meat eaters as a form of patriotism. Legumes and pulses, including peas, beans and lentils were an affordable, familiar and nutritious substitute. Cottage cheese and milk were also highlighted for their affordability and high protein content.

Commercially canned goods were rationed because of the tin used in their production. Everyone was encouraged to plant their own Victory Garden. Growing one’s own fruits and vegetables took pressure off of farmers, canneries and distributors as well as freeing up more food to be shipped overseas.

This collection of books is one of my personal favorites. They provide a glimpse into a part of American History that is often overlooked. I find it fascinating to see how our foremothers managed their households with the extra stresses the war provided. It makes my own minor struggles pale by comparison. There are also some tasty and economical recipes, that can still please the palate and the pocketbook today, as well as they did 100 years ago.

Most of these books were published in 1917 or 1918.

The Abingdon war-food book; (1918)

An all-western conservation cook book; (1917)

American Indian Corn: (maize) a Cheap, Wholesome, and Nutritious Food. 150 Ways to Prepare and Cook it (1917)

Balanced Meals with Recipes: Food Values, Drying and Cold Pack Canning, Menus, with and Without Meat, Box Luncheons (1917)

Best War Time Recipes from Royal Baking Powder (1918)

The Book of Corn Cookery: One Hundred and Fifty Recipes Showing how to Use this Nutritious Cereal and Live Cheaply and Well (1917)

The Book of Potato Cookery: More Than One Hundred Recipes Suitable for the Tables of Rich and Poor Alike ; Showing how to Prepare Economical and Nutritious Dishes from the Noble Tuber (1918)

Bread Making In War Time (1918)

Camouflage Cookery: A Book of Mock Dishes (1918)

Choice War Time Recipes (1918)

Common Sense in the Kitchen: Normal Rations in Normal Times (1918)

The Complete Housekeeper by Emily Holt (1917)

Conservation Cook Book (1917)

Conservation Menus and Recipes (1918)

Conservation recipes (1918)

Cook Book, Helpful Recipes For War Time (1917)

The corn cook book (1918)

The Eat-less-meat Book: War Ration Housekeeping (1917)

The Eat-less-meat Book: War Ration Cookery (1918)

Economical Diet and Cookery in Time of Emergency (1917)

Economical War-time Cook Book (1918)

Economy in Food, a War Time Supplement to … (1918)

Everyday Foods in War Time (1918)

Fifteen lessons on food conservation (1917)

Fifty Valuable and Delicious Recipes Made with Corn Meal (1917)

The Food Problem (1917) by Vernon Lyman Kellogg

Food Saving and Sharing: Telling how the Older Children of America May Help Save from Famine Their Comrades in Allied Lands Across the Sea (1918)

Food and Freedom: A Household Book (1918)

Food in War Time (1918)

Food and Victory: A War Supplement to … (1918)

Food Problems: To Illustrate the Meaning of Food Waste and what May be Accomplished by Economy and Intelligent Substitution (1918)

Foods that Will Win the War: And how to Cook Them (1918)

Forty-four ways to win the war (1918)

The Golden rule cook book (1918) by Ida Bailey Allen

Health for the family in wartime (1918)

Hints to Housewives on how to Buy, how to Care for Food: Meats, Drippings and Butter Substitutes, Substitutes for Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Cereals, Bread, how to Use Left-overs, how to Make Soap, Fireless Cooker, Canning Fruits and Vegetables, how to Preserve Eggs (1917)

The home economy handbook (1917)

Household Organization for War Service. “America Expects Every Woman to Do Her Duty.” (1918)

Institutional food conservation (1918)

Keep the war foods cooking (1918)

Liberty cook book (1917)

The Liberty Cook Book: A Guide to Good Living Combined with Economy, (1918)

Liberty Recipes (1918)

Manual of wheatless recipes (1918)

Mary Elizabeth’s War Time Recipes, Containing … Recipes for Wheatless Cakes and Bread, Meatless Dishes, Sugarless Candies, Delicious War Time Desserts [etc.] (1918)

Meatless and Wheatless Menus by Eugene Christian, (1917)

Milton Cook Book (1918)

Miscellaneous Publications, Mostly Pamphlets by the USDF about food conservation, big book, covers a lot of material (1918)

More Recipes for Fifty (1918)

Mrs. Allen’s cook book (1917) by Ida Bailey Allen (Not specifically war-related, but included anyway, because she is one of my favorite cook book authors of all time and it was published shortly before the USA entered the war. See also below, and The Golden Rule Cook Book, higher in the list.)

Mrs. Allen’s Book of Meat Substitutes (1918) by Ida Bailey Allen

Mrs. Allen’s Book of Sugar Substitutes (1918) by Ida Bailey Allen

Mrs. Allen’s Book of Wheat Substitutes (1918) by Ida Bailey Allen

One Hundred-portion War Time Recipes: Wheatless, Economical, Tested (1918)

Our Country’s Call to Service: A Manual of Patriotic Activities Through the Schools (1918)

Practical Food Economy (1917)

Practical patriotic recipes (1918)

The physiology of food and economy in diet (1917)

The Record War-time Cook Book (1918)

Six Texas food products: recipes and food values (1918)

Some Sugar-saving Sweets for Every Day (1917)

Ten lessons on food conservation, lessons 1 to 10 (1917)

Tested International Recipes (1917)

Thrift in the Household (1918)

Incomplete, more to come over the next week or so…


  9 Responses to “Cook Books from WW1”

  1. Awesome recipe links! Thanks! I saw some lady and she lost like 100 pounds on a WW2 ration diet! It was a cool video somewhere.

  2. Thank you, Maggie! Did you know there are antique books of cookery that have been turned into free legal audiobooks at librivox.org?t I’ve been surprised how well older cookbooks and housekeeping manuals do as audiobooks.

    • How cool is that? I had no idea Joy. Thanks. I will look into it. I’ve used librivox for girl’s novels and for the boys for homeschool, but never even thought to look for cookbooks or housekeeping manuals. That is just so cool.

      • They are so much fun. Sometimes they are just plain inspirational, even if I don’t find recipes I want to use.

        • Aww, Joy, I’m glad you’re enjoying them. I agree with you that they are inspirational. If great-grandma could do this with a wood burning kitchen stove, a dover egg beater and a sharp knife, then living with all of my kitchen machines, and all of the products available to me at the supermarket, I’ve got it made in the shade. 🙂

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