Foods Eaten by Our Ancestors

cooking 18th century Now that may be a concept you hadn’t explored – what type of foods did you grandparents, great grandparents, etc have at specific time periods. It is safe to say they did not have the convenient freezer to microwave packaged foods or the take-out fast foods.

So to investigate we need to pick certain decades. Starting with the 1920s in America (the region / country and state also makes a difference); typical foods (eggs, butter, vegetables, chicken, bacon, etc) on the table came directly from the family farm or a neighboring farm. The newest things available were cereals like Cream of Wheat and cornflakes.

During the Victorian era – 1860s to 1900, meals were actually served serveral times during the day and each had many courses to it. Cream cheese starts in 1872, ketchup in 1876 and evaporated milk in 1885.

Families that traveled and lived in the American frontier regions didn’t have fresh items, only what they could hunt for just before a meal. They depended on basics of beans and flour products like biscuits.

During the 1850s and 1860s, there were generally two meals – a breakfast of oatmeal or hot cakes, sausage, with eggs and then a dinner with mutton, soup, vegetables (potatoes, onions, beans, or carrots) and a dessert of a pudding or custard.

In the 1820s, meats and seafood was a big item on the dinner table. There would be lamb, veal, beef, deer, fish, bread, cheese, with some vegetables. Porridge was a popular meal, mostly for those who could not afford meat every night. A popular beverage was ale or beer. To sweeten things, honey, molasses or syrup was used.

porridge The wilderness of the 1700s in America or even in towns, cabbage was consumed and other vegetables grown by the household. Deer was a popular meat item. To keep some foods preserved they were salted or smoked.

Pick an ancestor, an era plus location and research what they may have eaten over the course of a day or week.

Porridge was a meal made by boiling ground, crushed, or chopped cereal (different grains were used – barley, rice, corn) in water, milk, or both, then served hot. If no milk was used it was called ‘gruel’.

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