More from Mince – Ration Book Eating

Childhood Memories and More Mince

I remember eating a lot of mince when I was growing up.  Mostly it was served to us as Mince and Tatties.  Mince, with a large portion of mashed potatoes.  My brothers used to drown theirs in tomato ketchup.  I *think* the recipe was my father’s…and I think he learnt to make it from three maiden aunts who brought him up during the war.  The same basic mince mixture was used to make cottage pie and, with the addition of tomato puree and a few fresh tomatoes, a bolognese sauce. I seem to remember it also having curry powder added to it, to be served with rice.  One of my brothers went away on a camping holiday and came back to make chilli con carne, which involved chilli powder, tomato puree and kidney beans being added to the basic mince mixture.

mince and tatties

Anyway, when I was working on my ration book challenge, I thought it would be a good idea to use mince as the basis for a couple of meals.  I was concerned about stretching the meat ration properly but I was actually quite suprised at how this particular dish worked out.  I added in a basic mix of carrot, onion, celery and turnip diced finely.  And the result was that my 8oz ration of beef that I expect to make 2 portions actually comfortably made 4!

Basic Minced Beef

Serves 3-4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot


  • 8oz Minced Beef
  • 1 Carrot (peeled and finely diced)
  • 1 Onion (peeled and finely diced)
  • 1 Turnip (peeled and finely diced)
  • 2 Sticks of Celery (finely diced)
  • 1 dash Lea and Perrins
  • 2 teaspoons Bisto
  • 2 Bayleaves
  • 1 sprig Rosemary
  • 1oz Dripping or lard


Step 1 Melt the dripping or lard in a large heavy bottomed pan
Step 2 Soften the onions for a few minutes, then add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further few minutes
Step 3 Remove the vegetables from the pan and add in the mince
Step 4 Seal the mince over a high heat till all the pink has gone and the edges are starting to go brown
Step 5 Return the vegetables to the pan with the rosemary and bay
Step 6 Mix the bisto with a little cold water and add to the pan
Step 7 top up with about a pint of water, stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add salt and pepper
Step 8 Cook for at least 45 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necesary


You can substitute bisto powder with oxo or stock.  In this case you need to stir through a scant tablespoon of flour into the mince after browning it, and continue to cook for a few minutes till the flour absorbs all of the meat juices.

Cottage pie of course is the same mince mixture used as a base and topped with mashed potato, then baked in the oven.  In keeping with my world war II rations, I didn’t add any butter or margarine to potatoes, though I did use a tablespoon of milk to soften them a little.  I have to say for me, these two meals were really reminiscent of my childhood.  My mother never used to add wine to cooking and I remember the taste of bisto, added to make a thick gravy.  If you want to turn the basic mince mixture into cottage pie, just wait till it has cooled, put enough mince to fill a small casserole dish half way, then top with about the same amount of mashed potato.  If you happen NOT to be doing the ration challenge, you can grate a little cheese over the mashed potato, or even mix some into the mash.  Bake the casserole at 160c for about 30 minutes, till it is golden brown on top and the mince is bubbling

Would I make it this way again?  well, yes I think I probably would, though I’d be tempted to add a splash of wine, it’s really not necessary.  Butter into the mash is something that would make more of a difference:).  You probably don’t need a side dish of vegetables with this, though I DID have some greens today.

war time rations cottage pie baked



I do wonder though whether I am enjoying the war time kitchen simply because I know I only have 7 days of it!  How different would it be if I couldn’t get things like lemons and butter…or if my meat was always mince…

wartime kitchen




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  1. says

    I’m so impressed at how you’ve made it through this ration challenge. I don’t know that I would have been able to create meals the way that you have. It’s been really interesting to see all of the recipes that you’ve put together.

  2. says

    I agree, I am enjoying this war time ration book week because I know it only lasts for a short time, but, imagine this going on for 15 years! Your mince looks very tasty and would make a great base for so many other dishes, as you say. I managed to get a bit of fish for today…….:-) Karen

  3. says

    Mmm, mashed potatoes are one of my all time favorite foods…I would happily get through the ration challenge just on those alone (although I can’t imagine it would be the healthiest of choices, lol;-) Your dishes look fantastic!

  4. mr gary turnham says

    wow this is a superb site well done ,its funny but we still use a lot of these recipes and we are passing them on to our kids ,my parents grew up in the war years in london and my nan [dads mum ] was our cooking teacher she always had great ways of using what was available at that time and was proud of her homefront recipe cards ,i still love dripping on toast ,spam ,black pudding and strangely egg powder ! great LOL …thank you .

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