The Oslo Meal


The Oslo Meal was originally given as an EXPERIMENT to school children during WWII. This very nutritious but basic quick meal vastly improved the development and the health of the nations children. Many families began using it as a main meal on occasions because of it’s simplicity and this was very appealing to busy housewives..

it vastly improved the development and health of the nations children..

The last few days have been very busy for me and there have been occasions that once I have fed everyone else that I am too tired to cook a special 1940’s dish right at that moment for myself, so I have relied on an Oslo Meal.

The Oslo Meal

  • 2 slices of wholewheat bread spread with a little margarine or butter
  • small block of cheese grated and placed over salad if wished
  • fresh lettuce leaves
  • other salad items like carrot, cucumber or tomato
  • glass of cold milk

I know how DIFFICULT it would be to get kids to eat school lunches like this again (I am laughing my ass off trying to imagine mine doing so ) but if we as Mom’s DID do just that our purses would be heavier (with all the money we would be saving) and our kids would be healthier.

As I say- there is a LOT we can learn from this period of time..

C xx

“This post is part of Twinkl’s VE Day Campaign, and is featured in their Best Wartime Recipes to Celebrate VE Day from Home post”

48 thoughts on “The Oslo Meal

  1. My children eat this kind of thing regularly and love it, but then again show my children a plate of junk food and a plate of highly nutritious food the latter wins every time!

  2. That’s wonderful and has to be the exception rather than the rule (for a high percentage of us) – you have obviously done an excellent job of feeding your kids as they are growing up rather than caving in to pressure!!

    My eldest would make healthy choices but the other two would probably go for a bag of chips (grrrrrr!)….

  3. Maybe but I myself have not really known any different and was bought up on this kind of food…we couldn’t afford take aways when I was young.

    Now I can’t afford much so eating like this make my limited income stretch very far, and shocks people when they are made aware of how well we and how little I spend.

    It’s even tastier when you have just picked it from your own garden, although that has bee a disaster this year with all the rain…tatties doing well though!

  4. Yes same here- Mum & Dad were pretty frugal. And those lessons learned (even if subliminally as a kid) are coming in real useful now..

    However, I wasn’t so strict with mine and they often got little treats (nothing too excessive mind you!)

    Oooo you have tatties! It’s been several years since I have grown spuds! What variety are you growing?

  5. I stick to Desiree as they are the variety that grows best for me and my area. I grow them in buckets and this year I tried tyres which were filled entirely of chicken litter. The tyres gave the most unexpected high yield of large potatoes. They suffered no blight despite the high rain full we have had this year and out of 5 seed tatties put in I got a yield around 10lb of baking size.

    All other veg grow this year was disaster as the rain was just been too much, not even broad beans did well. Even the hens stopped laying a couple of weeks back thinking it was winter already!

    • The Oslo breakfast was a type of uncooked school meal developed in the 1920s and rolled out as a free universal provision for Oslo school children in 1932. It typically consisted of bread, cheese, milk, half an apple and half an orange. The original Norwegian name for the meal was Oslofrokosten (“the Oslo breakfast”).

      • In Danish “frokost” means ‘lunch’ not ‘breakfast’. So funny that it means ‘breakfast’ in Norwegian!

  6. Hi Wyndham Jones (Comment April 18, 2011)

    The Oslo meal was called such because it was trialled in schools in Oslo and Bergen during WWII. Children were fed a hot meal and the cold plated meal to compare growth rates. Thse fed the cold meal grew better. Hence the Oslo meal became a regular ‘breakfast’ for Norwegian school children from that time and was also adopted in Britain by the Ministry of Food.

    You can read all about it at

    Unfortunately the main references are in Norwegian – (I am a Scandinavian Studies graduate) – but the web page should tell you all you need to know.

    • The Oslo breakfast was a type of uncooked school meal developed in the 1920s and rolled out as a free universal provision for Oslo school children in 1932. It typically consisted of bread, cheese, milk, half an apple and half an orange. The original Norwegian name for the meal was Oslofrokosten (“the Oslo breakfast”).

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  8. Just noticed you via a friends post in facebook and it caught my eye, so I’ve been surfing through your recipes 🙂 Love it! This Oslo meal is typical for our family during the warm/hot weather months and gardening season. I admit we usually feel less weighed down and have more energy. I look forward to following !

  9. My little boy will sometimes have a cheese salad sandwich on wholemeal bread (he’s 3) for his lunch, always with a glass of milk – so he’s basically getting the Oslo Meal. On other occasions he’ll scarf down about a ton of chicken in lieu of the cheese! I’m quite lucky with his tastes…he’s also a carrot addict.

    I know that the Ministry of Food were very keen to avoid malnutrition and consequent poor health in the children of the nation, and the extra milk and cheese rations for them were probably essential in providing extra calcium, B vitamins and fats. I agree that there’s an awful lot we can learn from Britain’s diet during those years, both on the subject of nutrition and taking what we NEED instead of always what we WANT.

    I’m a latecomer to your blog (you might not even read this!) but I just wanted to say hi. 🙂

    • When I was in school during the war years, we had a free sandwich – different ones each day, one of them we called an Oslo but they only consisted of bread spread with marmite and a chunk of cheese. My memory is not failing me in that respect, I asked my cousin who is a year older than me, could she remember what an Oslo was and she said the same thing as I just described.

  10. I’ve got onto this recently because of a wartime food prog on tv. They made a potato and oat pastry which, having old potatoes in abundance, I thought I’d try. Mine was okay but too soggy – does anyone have a recipe or hints?

    • Jane I found a old potato and oatmeal cake recipe at a website called scotsindependent .org you might google the “potato and oatmeal cake” and look for that website. Hope that helps.

    • And you probably will be…. judging by the fact that you cannot even be bothered / are too damn lazy, to type a proper name!
      go troll elsewhere!

      Keep up the good work and updates Carolyn!!

  11. The Oslo experiment also established the fact that dairy products had a calming effect on young children. Just like your late evening malted milk.

    So, it was easier to maintain good learning and control the class. This was especially important during the uncertain and scary moments of the war.

    Providing milk at school, after the war, was a double winner. It produced both healthy bodies and better brains!
    This was crucial in terms of both education and health reform after 1945.

    The removal of milk from school was a false economy and vindictive.

    If only we knew now, what we knew then.

    • Yes the one third of a pint of milk free to all all school children helped with nutrition during the war and afterwards until 1971 when it was stopped for children over seven by Mrs Thatcher

  12. Looks wonderful… although I think at school age I probably would have preferred my turkey twizzlers and chips! Shame. Nowadays they’re trying to introduce this kind of thing back in schools, at my primary school at break times they hand out tomatoes, carrots, satsumas. The kids really liked it I saw, I think it was the novelty.

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  14. I would like to thank (from the Netherlands) all the people who are sharing their recipes and working on that blog. I am sure it had started as a kind of nostalgic experiment. However, in our time of deep economical crisis, the knowledge shared on the blog has much more value than nostalgia alone. It is very essential for people who had have lost their jobs and are living in poverty. This is the situation now in Europe (including Western Europe!) the US and elsewhere. We can survive rough times, stay healthy and run a good functioning household. The products are cheap and easy to get everywhere.

  15. my kids take almost this lunch every single day – 2 slices fermented buckwheat bread spread with butter , a jar of coconut yogurt, a piece of extra old cheddar, salad greens – not iceburg, carrots, another veggie, an apple and a banana, the cheddar might be replaced with a boiled egg. The butter might be replaced with sunflower seed butter or flax/hemp oil, If I’m out of organic butter.

  16. The Oslo Lunch (originally Oslo breakfast) was developed in the 1920’s and 1930’s for school children in Norway. It was as shown in the photograph but with a second course of an apple or half an orange, and a spoonful of Cod liver oil was given in Winter months. I had a similar salad for school lunch in 1950’s England, but often with new boiled potatoes or a baked potato with it.

  17. Calories are not the major factor in this meal. It contains vegetables (about 1/2 of the total), protein from dairy products (about 1/4 of the total) & carbs from the bread (the remaining 1/4 of the total) which makes it a balanced meal – which is the latest recommendation regarding the avoidance of becoming a diabetic. Have a look at the research shown on programmes made about diabetes, one of the best information sites is Dr M Mosley’s blood sugar diet.

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  19. Just starting to go through this site. I ate many “ make do” meals as a young child. I also remember having milk break every morning at school. I am and was living in Canada.
    Now as a senior I live in a seniors apartment and can have lunches ( at an extra cost). Monday to Friday.). So just look after the rest of my meals. I use many meals mentioned here. My favourite at the moment is left overs as soup.
    Looking forward to reading each recipe and trying many of them. Thank You for the work you have done in making this available to everyone. Amazing work!

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  24. The Oslo school lunch was also common in Australia during the late 1940s early 1950s. It was quite elitist. The schools ordered the lunches for children whose families could afford it. Most pupils brought sandwiches in a paper bag. There was no junk food in those days but hot meat pies were ever available and infinitely more popular than the Oslo lunch.

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  26. I discovered your blog while looking for WWII-era recipes and this is exactly what I was hoping to find. I’m 300-pages away from finishing William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” and my husband and I are planning a WWII themed night to celebrate like the huge nerds we are. It was easy to create a menu from the wonderful variety of recipes you’ve posted, and I’m very grateful for all the hard work that you’ve done here! If you’re still keeping up with this project, please allow me to thank you for sharing this with the interwebs. 🙂

  27. I often ordered this for lunch from the canteen when I worked for our State Water Authority (in Western Australia) all through the 1970’s. It was listed on the menu board as “Oslo Lunch” and was just as illustrated here, though you could add a boiled egg for a small additional cost.

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