There was not enough arable land in the Vikings' homeland. So they had to diversify to survive, relying heavily on cattle and livestock and fishing their endless coastlines.
According to the sagas and material evidence, the Vikings ate their most important meal in the morning and then had a leisurely dinner at night. There was no lunch break for the busy Viking, but they may have snacked on apples, walnuts, or salt fish as they went.
Carbohydrates included whole-grain bread, porridges of mixed grains, and barley-based beer. Dairy products from cows and sheep, including butter, cheese, and skyr (a strained yogurt high in protein and low in sugar), were daily staples. The sagas mention Vikings drinking whey – the protein-rich byproduct of cheese making. Salted fish, tree nuts, and apples were the "fast food" of the day. At night all but the poorest Norse would eat salmon, fowl, sheep, goat, game, and occasionally beef, pork or reindeer washed down with a few horns of mead or ale.
Archaeological evidence has found that even in desolate outposts like Greenland, the Vikings lived well on seals, walrus, reindeer, sea birds, and whales.
Read more about the Viking Diet.
Read more about Viking mead.
Return to Viking FAQ's page.