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What time do Norwegians have dinner?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
What time do Norwegians have dinner?
Norwegians eat dinner earlier than pretty much anyone else in Europe. Pictured is a restaurant full of customers.Photo by Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

Dinner, supper, tea – whatever you call it, it's usually the most significant meal of the day. So, when do Norwegians sit down and tuck into 'middag', and how does this compare to other cultures? 


As with most cultures, things are done differently depending on where you are in the world. Depending on where you are from, dinnertime can be anytime between 4pm to 9pm (in some cases later). 

So where does Norway sit on that scale? To understand when and why Norwegians choose to have their most substantial meal of the day, we will have to look at their other mealtimes. 

When it comes to breakfast, it perhaps isn't as much of an event as in countries. Instead, most Norwegians opt for a simple breakfast comprised of a slice of bread and some meat or cheese. Other options are breakfast rolls, warmed up in the oven (generally saved for the weekends), cereal, muesli or porridge. 


When they eat breakfast will normally revolve around their schedules, but it'll be anywhere between 6am and 9am. As pointed out previously, breakfast (despite many pointing to it as the most important meal of the day) isn't too much of a big deal. Therefore a local's choice of tea or coffee is the most significant decision they make regarding food and drink in the morning. 

It's around lunchtime that things begin to differ from what many would consider the norm. It is typical for Norwegians to have lunch at around 11am. While it doesn't apply to everyone, it certainly applies to many. 

Lunch itself is likely to be a packed lunch of some sort, consisting of bread, cheese or some kind of meat. Leftovers from the night before are also a popular option, and more organised colleagues may also opt to bring in something they have meal prepped. 

Still, it would be particularly unusual for locals to regularly take a hot lunch at a restaurant outside of business meetings and the odd treat. One of the earlier explanations for these earlier lunches is that it is more common for workers in Norway to clock out at 3pm or 4pm rather than 5pm or 6pm. 11am is more likely to mark a midpoint in their working day. 

Lunchtime, therefore can also help to partially explain why we are all here, to answer when Norwegians eat dinner and why. This is because dinner in Norway, and other Nordic countries, is served between 4pm and 5pm. 

Several factors contribute to this. The first is that people finish work earlier, so they head home and prepare dinner so they can have the rest of the evening to themselves. Another factor is the early lunch, meaning they may have an appetite for dinner earlier. 

That's not all, though. Many kids in Norway are signed up for a slew of different activities, clubs and hobbies in the evening. This means fueling them up before sending them off to their club or hobby lessons is important, as they may not otherwise eat until later in the evening. 


A final factor contributing to the average Norwegian family having a much earlier dinner than in other countries is the fourth meal they will eat later in the day. 

Not all Norwegians will eat four solid meals a day, however, it is common to have some kveldsmat (evening meal/ food) anywhere between 8pm and 10pm. 

This is typically a relatively simple meal. Typically, it's a similar sort of deal to breakfast and lunch, whereby it's some pålegg (spread) served on some bread or cracker. Again, Kveldsmat is a simple meal that's meant to take minimal effort and ensures people don't go to bed hungry. 

However, in recent years, Norwegians have been eating later than before, according to several reports and surveys from the past decade. A later dinner also eliminates the need for the fourth meal of the day. Despite the recent shift, the majority still enjoy an early dinner though.  



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