Colonial food

Just like other things, the kind of food that the colonists had would depend on where they lived and how rich they were.

Growing Things

The colonists were known as good farmers, and many of them would grow things in their gardens or on farms.  Most of the colonists had an herb garden, and they would use the herbs for cooking.

The colonists that lived in the city were only able to grow a tiny garden, and this usually would include a small number of vegetables and some herbs.

Crops and Farming

When the colonists moved to America, the first thing that they did was began to grow things.  They learned from the Native Americans how to grow crops such as corn and how to fish.  This was important because the corn helped to feed them, and they could use it to make cornmeal.

As time went on, the colonists were able to grow more crops, such as:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Squash
  • Wheat
  • Lots of Vegetables

Hunting and Fishing

Another thing that the colonists were taught by the Native Americans was how to fish.  Most of the colonies were close to the river or the ocean, and so they had access to many fish.

Fishing was important and helped to feed the family, and they could also use the fish for trade.  Some of the fish that they caught were:

  • Salmon
  • Flounder
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Lobsters
  • Clams
  • Halibut

Hunting was important as well, and most of the men that lived in the area would hunt.  They would learn from a very young age how to hunt animals that they would use to eat and use them for different materials.  Some of the animals that were hunted were:

  • Rabbits
  • Ducks
  • Turkeys
  • Deer

Domesticated Animals

Many of the colonists brought animals back from Europe, and they would domesticate them and use them for food and for working.  Those that owned big farms used horses and cows to help them work, and other people owned animals for meat such as:

  • Pigs
  • Chicken
  • Sheep
  • Goats


Most of the colonists would drink milk from the cows, water, beer, which was made from barley, tea, and the colonists learned how to make drinks from fruit such as apple cider.

During Wintertime

During the winter, many of the colonists were not able to hunt, so they had to make sure that they had plenty of food put back to help them make it through the winter months.

The colonists learned that if they would smoke their meat or would use salt that the meat would stay good, and they could eat it when they couldn’t hunt.

The colonists also used to save the fruit, vegetables, and grains.  The colonists were very good at preparing food for the winter, and they would pickle their vegetables and dry out the fruit so that it would last as long as they needed it to.

Eating Time

When the colonists would go to eat, they would not sit around the table as we do, but they would stand.  This happened because many of them did not have chairs in their homes, and their homes were very small.

Another different thing was that they usually only used a knife and didn’t have spoons or forks.  This meant that they would use their hands to eat.

More Facts About Colonial Foods:

  • It was not unusual for a child to drink beer that was watered down.
  • Sometimes the water would make the colonists sick because they did not have filters like we have to keep the water safe.
  • Women would cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her family, and sometimes that would include things like porridge, beans, meat, vegetables, bread, stew, pie, and something to drink.
  • In the northern colonies, the people were able to keep their food better in the winter because it would snow, and they could put the food in the snow to keep it frozen.
  • Most of the colonists had a large metal pot or kettle that they would cook their food in.  They would put it on the fireplace to cook it.
  • The colonists did not have glass plates, but they were wooden and were called trenchers.
  • Pies were very popular, and they cooked meat pies and fruit pies.
  • When the 1700s came, the richer people began to get silverware, chairs, china, and fancy food such as chocolate and coffee.

What Did You Learn?

How did the colonists get food?
The colonists learned to hunt and grow their food.

Who taught the colonists to grow the first crop, and what was it?
The first crop that the colonists learn to grow was corn, and the Native Americans taught them how to grow it.

What were other things that were grown?
There was barley, wheat, other fruits and vegetables, herbs, and more.

What was interesting about how the colonists ate?
The colonists did not sit at the table, and they would use their hands to eat with.

What other ways did the colonists get food?
The colonists also learned to fish since most of the colonies were close to some kind of water.