On December 11th 1941, rubber tires were the first item to be rationed in the United States. By 1943 almost all consumer goods were rationed including typewriters, gasoline, bicycles, footwear, silk, Nylon, fuel oil, stoves, dairy products, margarine, processed foods, dried fruits, canned milk, firewood and coal.
In 1942, people at home were encouraged to limit themselves to 2.5 pounds of meat per week or 130 pounds a year. By 1943 meat was rationed and became scarce. Beef in particular was in short supply. The law of the markets clashed with government regulations. Military necessity took precedence for supplies, but the civilian market was hampered by poorly conceived Government Price Administration regulations. Beef, for example, was priced too low for meat packers to make a profit. Meat growers had a supply available but could not get it packed for the consumer. Available meat was not worth the effort of packing for the prices allowed.
A black market for meat not inspected by the government appeared. Farmers who slaughtered their own animals also exempt from the rationing quota.
Meat that did reach the consumer was used to get the maximum benefit from the limited supply. People were reminded not to waste anything. Special wartime recipe books were written to help families cope with the lack of ingredients and smaller available amounts.
For those who would like to try, here are some wartime recipes. (Click on them to enlarge)