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Colonial America

Food and Cooking

Colonial Americans ate a variety of food depending on when and where they lived. The colonists grew crops, hunted game, and fished for food. Many homes had gardens where they grew vegetables and herbs.

Farming and Crops

When the colonists first arrived in America, one of the most important crops was corn. Native Americans, like Squanto, taught them how to grow corn and use it to make cornmeal. Over time, however, they began to grow other staple crops such as wheat, rice, barley, oats, pumpkins, beans, and squash.


Early colonists and people living on the frontier often hunted for food. They hunted a variety of game including deer, turkey, ducks, geese, and rabbits.


Most of the colonial towns were situated near the ocean or a river which was a great source of food. Colonials ate a variety of fish including cod, flounder, trout, salmon, clams, lobsters, and halibut.


The colonials brought over domesticated animals from Europe that could be raised as livestock for meat. These included sheep, cattle, chicken, and pigs.


The early settlers had to save up food during the summer and fall in order to survive the winter. They would salt or smoke meat so that it would stay preserved for the winter. They would also save up grains, dry fruit, and pickle vegetables for the winter.

What did they drink?

You probably thought that the colonists drank mostly water and milk, but cows were scarce and the water could sometimes make them sick. Instead the colonists drank cider (made from apples or peaches), beer, and tea. Even the kids drank watered down cider and beer.

The Dinner Table

Eating at the dinner table was different in colonial times than today. A typical family would stand around the table because they wouldn't have chairs for everyone. They would eat mostly with their hands. The main utensil used was a knife.

Examples of Food Interesting Facts about Food During Colonial Times
Activities Watch a Video about Colonial Kitchens

To learn more about Colonial America:

Colonies and Places
Lost Colony of Roanoke
Jamestown Settlement
Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims
The Thirteen Colonies

Daily Life
Clothing - Men's
Clothing - Women's
Daily Life in the City
Daily Life on the Farm
Food and Cooking
Homes and Dwellings
Jobs and Occupations
Places in a Colonial Town
Women's Roles
William Bradford
Henry Hudson
James Oglethorpe
William Penn
John Smith
Roger Williams

French and Indian War
King Philip's War
Mayflower Voyage
Salem Witch Trials

Timeline of Colonial America
Glossary and Terms of Colonial America

Works Cited

History >> Colonial America

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