Diet and Recipes

  Resource sheet for Lesson Plan #9

The official diet of the Royal Navy consisted of the following:

            Sunday:             1 lb. biscuit, 1 lb. salt pork, ½  pt. peas

            Monday:          1 lb. biscuit, 1 pt. oatmeal, 2 oz. butter

            Tuesday:          1 lb. biscuit, 2 lbs. salt beef

            Wednesday:    1 lb. biscuit, ½ pt. peas, 1 pt. oatmeal, 2 oz. butter, 4 oz. cheese

            Thursday:        Same as Sunday

            Friday:              Same as Monday

            Saturday:          Same as Tuesday

Sample a sailor’s diet (Remember, the following recipes are a full sailor’s portion – if only sampling the dishes, make a proportionate amount to avoid waste):

Hard Tack, or Ship’s Biscuit

2 cups Flour

½ tsp. Salt

½ to ¾ cups Water

Mix the flour and salt together then add enough water to make a very stiff dough.  Knead the dough for a few minutes then beat with a rolling pin until flat, about ½ inch thick and cut into 2 inch by 2 inch sections.  With a fork, punch it full of holes.  Bake in an ungreased, flat pan at 250° F for 2 to 3 hours.

Peas and Salt Pork

1 lb. Salt Pork

½ pt. Dried Peas

¾ quarts Water

Soak the pork and peas separately in cold water overnight.  Cut the pork into bite-size pieces and place in a pot with the peas, along with ¾ quarts of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until peas have turned to mush.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Burgoo (Oatmeal)

½ pt. Steel-cut Oats

2 cups Water

1-½ to 2 tbs. Butter

2 tsp. Sugar

Gradually add the water to the oats.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until oats are tender.  Remove oats into bowls and add butter, sugar, and salt to taste, stirring until dissolved.


In place of meat, a sailor might have been given ‘pudding:’

2 lbs. Flour

¼ lb. Suet

½ lb. Raisins or ¼ lb. Dried Currants

Approx. 2 cups Water

Mince or grate the suet after removing all meat and connective tissues.  Mix into the flour thoroughly, then add enough water to make a stiff dough.  A little sugar can be added if desired.  Add the raisins or currants and mix again to evenly distribute them throughout the pudding.  Dampen a large cotton cloth, wringing out the excess water very well.  Flour the center and place the pudding in the center of the cloth.  Pull up the edges and, making sure that all the edges are gathered into the center, tie a cotton string around the “neck” of the package.  Lower into boiling water and, making sure it is completely covered, boil about 1-½ hours.

Leftover pudding can be sliced and fried in butter.

Going ashore, a sailor would have eaten the same foods as others of his class.  Their diet may have included some of the following popular items.

Baked Beans

2 lbs. White Pea (Navy) Beans

¾ lb. Salt Pork

1 tbs. Salt

½ cup Maple Sugar (or syrup) or brown sugar or molasses

Soak the beans overnight in a pot covered by twice the volume of water.  In the morning change the water (drain and add new).  Add the salt, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.  Slice the salt pork, put in bean pot with beans.  Add maple sugar, put on tight lid.  If you like, you can add ½ tsp. dry mustard, some chopped onion, or an onion studded with cloves.  Bake at 250° for 8 to 10 hours.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

4 lbs. Corned Beef Brisket

1 tsp. Thyme

1 Onion stuck with cloves

3 Onions

6 Carrots

2 lbs. Cabbages

Fill a large pot with cold water.  Add beef and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Add onions and carrots and return to a boil.  Then simmer gently for three hours.  Remove the cloved onion.  Quarter the cabbages, add to pot and simmer half an hour – until cabbage is tender.  Drain and serve, dotted with butter and well peppered.  Boiled potatoes were often eaten with this.

Bramble Dunfillan

1 cup Flour

¼ cup Butter

¼ cup Sugar

1 Egg

¼ tsp. Baking Powder

2 tbsp Milk

1tsp. grated Lemon Rind

Cut butter into flour until crumbly, mix in sugar.  Beat egg and combine with milk and baking powder.  Blend with flour thoroughly.  Mix in grated lemon rind.

1 lb. Fresh Brambles (blackberries)

½ cup Sugar

Stew the berries with the sugar and water to cover.  When berries are tender, spoon batter over them.  Bake for twenty minutes at 350° F.

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