Ancient Greek Food

Ancient Greeks had a simple diet that made use of fresh ingredients in the summer and then dried ingredients that were kept in storage jars over the winter.

Facts about Ancient Greek Food

  • Ancient Greeks ate three or four meals each day
  • Bread was eaten with most meals
  • Fruit and vegetables were eaten more often than meat
  • Popular fruits included figs, apples, pears and pomegranates
  • Popular vegetables included onions, beans, lentils and radishes
  • Meat came from farm animals and from hunting wild animals
  • Food was stored in huge clay jars over the winter months

Main Meals

Most Ancient Greeks ate three meals a day, but sometimes an additional light meal was eaten between lunch and dinner. A typical breakfast would be barley bread.

The bread was dipped in wine and might be eaten with olives or figs. Pancakes made with wheat flour, honey, curdled milk and olive oil were also popular at breakfast.

Lunch was a light meal eaten in the middle of the day, and then dinner was served at nightfall. Dinner was the most important meal of the day and slaves would serve the food.

Men and women ate their meals in separate rooms or at different times. Men always ate first.

Bread

Bread was made at home from wheat or barley flour and baked in clay ovens.

Wheat was more difficult to grow so the white bread it made was eaten in wealthier homes. Barley wheat was easier to grow and the brown bread it made was eaten in poorer homes.

Bread would often be eaten with cheese or honey.

People ate with their fingers instead of cutlery. Bread could be used as a spoon and it was also used for wiping fingers.

Fruits

Fresh fruits such as figs, apples, pears and pomegranates were eaten during the summer months.

These fruits were also dried to be eaten in the winter months along with nuts and raisins.

When times were hard, people ate wild berries instead of fruit.

Vegetables

Fresh vegetables were eaten boiled, mashed, or in soups.

They were the main food source for farmers and people in the country, but people in cities often ate dried vegetables because fresh food was expensive.

Legumes such as lentils and beans were dried for the winter months. Lentil soup was a regular dish for working people, and soldiers ate meals based on onions, garlic and cheese.

Poorer families ate acorns from oak trees, and when times were hard, people ate a plant called bitter vetch that was normally eaten by farm animals.

Meat

Meat was not eaten every day and fresh meat was often only eaten after a sacrifice was made to the gods.

In the country, poorer farmers had chickens and geese for eggs and meat, and wealthier farmers had pigs, goats and sheep.

Hunting and trapping provided other meat sources such as wild boar, hares, thrushes, and sometimes hedgehogs when times were hard.

People living on the coast ate fresh fish and seafood, and salted fish was eaten in inland towns. In the cities, pork was the least expensive meat and sausages were eaten by everyone.

In Sparta, a common meal was soup made from blood and pigs’ legs.

Food Storage

Food items were stored in huge clay jars in preparation for the winter months. Common items were olive oil and cereal grains. The clay jars also kept food cool in the summer months.

When food supplies were low, people sometimes ate locusts.

 

Questions and Answers

True or false: Porridge was a popular breakfast food in Ancient Greece.

False. Bread or pancakes were eaten at breakfast.

What did Ancient Greeks use instead of spoons?

Bread.

What three foods did soldiers eat at most meals?

Onions, garlic and cheese.

What type of meat was cheapest to buy in cities?

Pork.

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