Medieval Foods and Drink

Jamie Picon

April 13, 2023

Foods and drink were an essential part of life for many medieval people. Wealthy people could afford to eat a wide range of dishes, including meat, fish, vegetables, and dairy products.

Medieval Europeans ate two meals a day: dinner and a lighter supper. Forks were not standard during the period, and people ate with their fingers.


In the Middle Ages, meat was a significant part of everyone’s diet. But the medieval rich had access to various meat that peasants could only dream of.

The wealthy ate fresh meat from hunting. Deer, boar, hares, and rabbits were all famous in their homes.

Pork was also an essential part of a well-fed family’s diet. Pigs were more plentiful than cows, making ham and bacon an affordable option for the rich and poor.

During the day, meat was often eaten in soups and stews called pottages. During the evening, a grand feast was served to guests who were regarded as noble. It might include grete flesshe (large, inexpensive joints of beef, mutton, or pork, roasted or boiled), seasonal vegetables, and a variety of bread, ales, and wine.


During Medieval times, eating fish as an alternative to meat on fast days was customary. During Lent and other fasting periods, no animal products (eggs, dairy, meat) were permitted, so fish became a popular substitute.

A medieval chef could find various sea and freshwater fish to add to their menu. Salmon, herring, trout, eel, and many other species were all popular choices.

Those living inland also enjoyed fish, especially herring and salted cod. During the Middle Ages, fish was also commonly eaten as an alternative to beef on fast days.


During medieval times, the rich ate a lot of meat and fish. But they also ate plenty of fruits and vegetables.

They grew cabbage, beets, onions, peas, beans, garlic, turnips, carrots, and leeks in their gardens and courtyards. The aristocratic families also grew pears, apples, and northern fruits like berries and plums.

For people experiencing poverty, the essential food was barley, oats, and rye. These were boiled into bread, porridge, gruel, and pasta by everyone in the society.

During the Middle Ages, people believed eating raw fruit and vegetables caused disease. This was why they were often cooked to preserve their flavor.


Dairy was often a mainstay of the Medieval diet. It was often a staple food in wealthy landowners’ kitchens and was used for many purposes, including cream, soft cheese, and curds.

The Medieval rich also ate plenty of fruit and vegetables. They grew vegetables that could be stored for long periods, such as cabbages and summer squashes.

The rich also enjoyed meats seasoned with exotic spices. These were considered a symbol of wealth and were served at lavish banquets.


The bread was an essential part of a medieval diet. The rich ate various types of bread depending on what they grew in their local area.

The bread they ate was usually made from various bowls of cereal, including barley, oats, and rye. It was then baked to make it into different types of bread.

They also ate a lot of pottages, a soup made from oats and other grains. People ate a lot of different kinds of pottage, some of them included beans and peas.

The food served to the medieval rich was usually much more expensive than what people from the lower classes ate. This was because the rich could pay for better ingredients in their meals. The rich also ate more meat than the people from the lower classes.