Extending Butter – A War Time Rationing Trick

Extending butter was one way to combat food rationing. Food shortages and rationing of butter, sugar, coffee, tea and meat made it difficult to provide appetizing, nourishing and varied meals during WWII.  But Canadian housewives, or “Housesoldiers” took up the challenge and through clever resourcefulness kept their families well fed.

pound of butter
Many families were limited to 1 lb of butter per week, remember other sources of fats weren’t readily available either.

Also read:  AppleSauce Cookies, Molasses or War Cake, Veggie Loaf

Take butter for example. In 1942, families were rationed to 1/2 lb/adult/week with children being allotted half that amount. Josephine Gibson, 1943 Vital PublicationsThat meant a family of four, like ours would be able to get just over 1lb of butter per week. Considering that butter was the primary source of fat used in baking, cooking and spreading – this required some adjustment for many families.  But most Canadians welcomed the rationing, because it was far better than finding “Butter Sold Out” signs at the grocery store which happened frequently before rationing.

Here’s an interesting radio clip from the CBC archives on rationing and butter tips .

While some families opted to “feast or fast” by only eating butter occasionally, others opted to “make more with less” by stretching their rations as far as possible. It didn’t take long for recipes and tips on how to turn 1/2 a cup of butter into one cup of butter to appear. 

close up of extended butter in dish
A dish of extended butter works great on a slice of homemade bread.

Here’s one version on extending butter from “How to Eat Well Though Rationed” by Josephine Gibson, 1943 Vital Publications which can be found at www.wartimecanada.ca

Extending butter

And here’s another suggestion that I tried at home. This technique simply involves whipping equal parts butter and lukewarm water. The end result is a twice as much butter with half the calories. It’s as firm as regular butter and should be stored in the fridge. It’s great for anywhere you’d usually add a pat of butter – but not so great for baking.

mixing butter and water

Print Recipe
4 from 3 votes

Extending Butter

Turn 1/2 cup of butter into 1 cup! Great for use on bread, veggies and any other place where a pat of butter is a must. Not recommended for baking.
Prep : 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins


  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup water luke warm


  • Use hand mixer to beat butter.
  • Gradually add water mixing the whole time.
  • Beat until all the water has been incorporated.
  • Pat butter into a mold or dish and store in a refrigerator.
  • The butter will harden and take on the shape of the container.


This butter will be hard like the butter you started out with. If you want a spreadable, extended butter, use a recipe that mixes oil with butter.
Tried this recipe?Mention @GetGettyS or tag #GetGettyS

close up of extended butter in dish

Hats off to all those “Housesoldiers” who maneuvered through tough times and managed to feed their families as best they could.

For more war time recipes check out War Cake Recipes – one made with molasses and one made with brown sugar, a Tasty Vegetable Loaf, Old Fashioned Baked Beans and Applesauce Cookies.

war cake

Thanks to the Canadian Home Economics Foundation for its support in helping me share ideas for making home cooking easy and enjoyable!


We all have shortcuts and ways we make food last longer – what are some of your favourite tricks? Would love to hear your ideas. Please leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @getgettys and Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.

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