When Greeks Eat

Eating out in GreeceGreeks typically have 3 meals a day. Traditionally the largest meal of the day was lunch, but many habits have changed due to Greeks adapting a westernized way of living.

Not the most popular meal of the day, traditionally, Greeks ate a small and simple breakfast, such as herbal tea with bread or paximadi (dried bread). Coffee was more of a luxury item, but when it was available it was consumed alone or also with bread. Another simple breakfast consisted of soft-boiled eggs with bread. Farmers who needed a breakfast to sustain them consumed trahana, a type of grain/pasta made with milk. Today breakfast is much more westernized and Greeks may eat cereal with milk, bread with jam or honey, yogurt with honey. Many Greeks just have coffee and grab something on their way to work or school such as a cheese pie, spinach pie, the popular sesame bagel-style “koulouri” or even a croissant.

Kolatsio-Mid morning snack
Since most Greeks don’t really eat a huge breakfast they usually get hungry around 11 am, their preferred snack is again a savory pie such cheese pie “tyropita” or spinach pie “spanakopita”or a ham and cheese grilled sandwich.

In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s before the 9 to 5 workday came into force all Greek families ate their main meal of the day at home between 1.30pm and 2.30pm, when schools were out , shops closed and dad was home. Today however this type of meal will be consumed at work and only children will eat at home. Traditionally this meal consisted of a vegetable stew/casserole with cheese, bread, salad, and wine; for the more affluent, meat may have been on the menu. Farmers would consume anything they could carry with them, which was basically bread or paximadi with cheese, olives or tomatoes, or fruit. Today Greeks still may eat a traditional vegetable casserole for lunch, but in most cases pasta grilled meat, and sandwiches are also on the menu.

Afternoon coffee
In the old days, Greeks could take a nice nap after the mesimeriano and when they woke up which was around 5 in the afternoon they would drink a Greek coffee with a spoon sweet or some other small dessert or cookie as an accompaniment. Today, not many people have the time to take a nap, but the coffee habit still remains.

Greeks eat late. If you go to a restaurant before 9 pm, most likely it will be empty. Most Greeks will eat dinner around 9 to 10 pm. If they have had a substantial lunch then they will eat something lighter for dinner such as fruit with yogurt, a sandwich, salad or a small amount of leftovers from lunch. If they haven’t really eaten a good meal for lunch they may have a full meal or order pizza, souvlaki, hamburgers or even Chinese. Younger generations usually eat their main meal at this time. It’s also the time Greeks go out with friends.

Special thanks to my journalist/foodie sister Maria for her contribution.

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  1. Hi Elena,

    Wonderful information! I was just wondering if you could provide me with a date (the year it was published) for this page so I can correctly reference it.

    Thank you

  2. Excellent source of information for my Greek project. I am Greek but it is explained well thoroughly and better than I could have. Well done!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am currently doing a research task on Greek cuisine for my GCSE and this was SO helpful honestly I have no idea what i would have done if i hadn’t found this website!! THANK YOU!!!

  4. Ashley Hall says:

    9pm dinner. I could do that but not mt kids. No way. Bedtime is 730/8pm lol. I would lose my mind!

    1. John Papagiannopoulos says:

      Greek Kids’ bedtime is usually around 10-11:30pm

      1. What time do they wake/start their day?

  5. Thanks for this, it really helped with my Food Tech assignment:)

    1. Wish I could say the same but this is still a rlly great website and I did find out a lot of new stuff

  6. Thanks for this. My heritage is Greek and internet searching enough I can never ever figure out how to make my own household into a greek or mainly greek household for foodstuffs. I’m 34, just finished 8 years in the army so in my new apartment as I’m going to college I want to convert directly to a Greek household and better appreciate my heritage.

    I really appreciate the articles like this one that go more in depth rather then a binary listing of whatever they can copy and paste off someone else’s article. 😉

  7. Charlotte says:

    Hi Elena,

    Wonderful information! I was just wondering if you could provide me with a date (the year it was published) for this page so I can correctly reference it.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Charlotte, That is a permanent post on the site. You usually note the date accessed when referencing a website.

  8. Phil Spyrou says:

    The difference between Western societies and Greece in regards to eating habits was noticeable to me when I travelled to Greece. Simple breakfasts in Greece (as opposed to cooked breakfasts in Western societies) leave you feeling light and energetic instead of over-full and lethargic.

    Greeks also spend a lot longer eating their dinner as well. Greeks always eat dinner in the company of friends and/or family over the dinner table.

    Phil Spyrou (B.Pharm)

  9. Anonymous says:

    very helpful. I’m currently doing a homework task and found this very helpful. WELL DONE

  10. John Bobbin says:

    I found it interesting to learn that the 9 > 5 working day only came to Greece after the ’80’s. Greece has always held a special interest for me from the early 70’s onwards. Crete was the longest living population in the world up until 1968 (I think) when the Okinawans replaced them, now we have Ikaria (sometimes spelt Icaria) amongst the longest living people on the planet I remember a photo in World Book Encyclopaedia showing a fire pit with whole sheep on long poles being roasted, this was supposed to be a traditional cooking method for villagers for group gatherings. Prior to seeing this I thought Greek people mainly farmed goats because of the rocky terrain, hence feta cheese from goats, I know you can make it from sheep or goat milk but I had only seen goat. The information I have seen would indicate that there was a very low consumption of red meat in Greece.
    John Bobbin MClinSc(LifestyleMed)

    1. I remember that World Book article picture too! As I recall, there were several lambs on poles in a row and I think the event was Easter Sunday. The Greeks don’t eat red meat often, you are right, but when they do, they do it right!

  11. evangelos mitsakos says:

    very true article!!

  12. Timothy Gikas says:

    Informative. It set me to wondering how the timing of the meals and what the traditional people ate fits into the nutritional cycle of healthy people. Assuming one is eating the correct foods and amounts, does the time of day they are consumed have any special benefits nutritionally or behavorially?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Nice.Very helpful.

  14. Good,informative article… I love Greek food and am trying to stick to a more traditional diet. Thanks for the info : )

    1. Ya I think it was a great thing to help me with!