How Many Times a Day Did Ancient Romans Eat?

The eating habits of the Ancient Romans were quite different from what we are used to today. The number of meals consumed in a day and the types of foods they ate varied greatly depending on one’s social status and daily routine. Let’s take a closer look at how many times a day did Ancient Romans eat.

The Roman Meal Schedule

The Ancient Romans generally had three main meals in a day, which included breakfast (ientaculum), lunch (prandium), and dinner (cena). However, the number of meals could vary depending on one’s occupation, social status, and geographical location.

Ientaculum – Breakfast

Ientaculum was considered to be the most important meal of the day for Ancient Romans. It usually consisted of simple foods such as bread, cheese, fruits, honey, and sometimes leftovers from the previous night’s cena. The meal was typically consumed early in the morning before starting work or any other activity.

Prandium – Lunch

Prandium was typically a light meal consumed around midday. It usually consisted of leftovers from cena along with some vegetables or fruits. For those who had to work long hours during the day, prandium was an essential meal that provided them with enough energy to carry on their work.

Cena – Dinner

Cena was considered to be the most elaborate meal of the day for Ancient Romans. It was usually consumed after sunset and could last for several hours. Cena included multiple courses such as appetizers (gustatio), main course (primae mensae), dessert (secundae mensae), and wine.

Snacks Between Meals

Apart from these three main meals, Ancient Romans also consumed snacks between meals known as merenda or comissatio. Merenda typically included small portions of fruits, nuts, and cheese. On the other hand, comissatio was a social gathering where people would gather to drink wine and eat snacks.


In conclusion, Ancient Romans had three main meals in a day along with snacks between meals. The number of meals and the types of foods consumed varied depending on one’s social status, occupation, and geographical location. Understanding the eating habits of Ancient Romans provides us with a glimpse into their daily lives and cultural practices.