HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Childhood Meals: What Did You Drink with Them?

Breakfast was a rarity in my house, so my answer is confined to lunch and dinner. And that answer is iced tea. Lipton. In early childhood, the tea was sweetened, but then mom erected a stele of Hammurabi and we switched, evermore, to unsweetened.

That was practically our sole drink with meals. I think I may occasionally have had a soft drink (usually Coke) with lunch, but that was a rare exception. And my parents NEVER had alcholic beverages with their meals.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Coke or iced tea. In middle school it was mainly Snapple drinks.

    1. Milk, water or juice, when we got older we had wine mixed with water at some dinners. We never had soda in our house.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RetiredChef

        Milk or orange juice at breakfast, milk or water at lunch, water at dinner. We got a scant serving of wine at holiday dinners. And never ever soda at home. If we went out it was water or hot tea. Maternal grandmother would serve us soda with lunch or dinner, one of those treats that only grandma can get away with. Any other beverages - tea, other juices, chocolate milk, etc. were snacks - not served during a meal.

      2. Milk. Or water. Sometimes lemonade, if it was a burger meal in the summertime. But mostly milk or water.

        1. Mostly juice, either apple or grape. The kind made from frozen concentrate. If it was eating out, sprite. I didn't (and still don't) like drinking milk.

          1. Milk or water. Period. My dad usually had a beer (Tuborg); mom had water.

            1. Juice, soda, chocolate milk or strawberry milk - occasionally water

              1. Water. The only juice drinker was my father, on weekends. Soda was nonexistent. Milk we had for breakfast

                1. Breakfast: orange or grapefruit juice, usually the frozen canned style that had to be mixed with water

                  Lunch: chocolate milk for me (Neslte's Quick mixed into whole milk), plain whole milk for my brother.

                  Dinner: always soda. Coke or 7-UP in the early 60s and then in the late 60s and 70s we ventured into the more exotic stuff like Mountain Dew and Fresca.

                  Sunday dinner when my Italian grandfather came over (which was in the afternoon, around 2pm): a little wine mixed with 7-UP or wine with fresh peaches, mixed with 7-UP (this was in the summer when the peach tree in our backyard was full of peaches). Yum!

                  Can't really remember what my parents drank during the week with their meals since my brother and I ate by ourselves a good 2 hours before they had their dinner. Dad was a truck driver and did not sit down to a weeknight dinner until 8 pm or so. Too late for two starving young boys! At Sunday dinner my parents had wine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    Iced tea or water for lunch and dinner. Water or coffee for breakfast. My brothers had milk for breakfast but I never cared for it.

                    Sodas were a rare treat, not a daily beverage.

                  2. We weren't allowed drinks during meals. My parents had a hang up about thinking we would drink to much and not eat enough of the meal. But after dinner it was usually lightly sweet end kool aid or sometimes store brand soda or water. My parents still live at the house I grew up in and I cannot believe I drank that water growing up. They have super nasty well water. Now that I have been away from it so long I find it vile. Even the smell

                    1. We were allowed juice with breakfast if we wanted it, but none of us were big breakfast eaters. Lunch and dinner was milk, water or iced tea (unsweetened). Once we had finished our glass of milk, we were occasionally allowed soda or Kool-aid, but I never cared for either.

                      1. I honestly don't remember drinking anything with breakfast, but we did sit at the table and have breakfast as a family most days, so I'm sure I had something to drink. Probably water because I didn't like juice or milk. I started drinking Diet Coke with breakfast sometime in high school. We almost always had iced tea with lunch and dinner, sweetened with sugar until I was in middle school, then with Equal after that.

                        1. We only had water. Sometimes we were allowed to order a soda at a restaurant, but we had to ask first. Orange juice was (and still is) for special occasion breakfasts (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, mostly).

                          My parents usually had a beer before dinner, but not with dinner. Now that my brother and I are adults, we serve beer and wine with dinner.

                          1. Fresh milk from our cows for nearly all meals. Anyone else remember a juice "drink" called Beep? It was almost citrusy. We had that occasionally. And when we had a babysitter over, we were allowed to have orange pop so we made floats out of it. But that was rare. I must have been in my teens before I had Coke.

                            Never, ever any alcohol with meals at our house, either.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: chefathome

                              wow. Haven't thought of Beep for long time. Kinda a poor-man's 5 Alive or Sunny D.

                              1. re: hetook

                                Surprised someone else out there has tasted the stuff. I used to love it (it was a treat to go with our packed lunches when we drove a few hours to the "city" for the day).

                            2. Breakfast - apple juice (Motts). I never really liked orange or grape juice. Every once in a while, my dad would try to get me to like grapefruit juice. Not so much! Apricot nectar and apple cider were treats.

                              Lunch (at school) - skim milk. When I got to high school, though, my mom began wrapping a can of some kind of diet soda in a folded up paper towel and then piece of foil to keep it cold for me and sent that. If I bought lunch at high school, I'd usually buy chocolate milk.

                              Lunch (at home) - skim milk.

                              Dinner - skim milk.

                              1. Milk. Milk. Milk. Milk. Pushed upon us as the cure-all. I would never dream of drinking it now. I do keep it on hand and cook with it.

                                1. Water. Once a week, on Friday nights, we got a bottled Coke with our Swanson fried chicken/mashed potato/green bean?/brownie frozen dinner while we watched Donny & Marie. Oh my.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: KrumTx

                                    Donny and Marie. Wow I am a tween all over again eating take out pizza and watching them.

                                    1. re: KrumTx

                                      Heh heh. I preferred the Salisbury Steak or the Turkey and Dressing. And it was the Carol Burnett Show at our place.

                                      1. re: KrumTx

                                        Same, water with meals. On holidays we had sweetened iced tea. Friday night pepsi with a snack, usually longhorn cheddar or taco-flavor dorito's, watched Six Million Dollar Man.

                                      2. Milk! From a pitcher with a cow on it on the table. (Oh, Mom, please.) Juice at breakfast was non-negotiable. No soft drinks, ever. Parents had two Martinis before and, on weekends only, wine with dinner.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: monfrancisco

                                          Brother, that must have been one strong-arsed dining table. ;)

                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                              You should have seen the cow! And those modifiers all over the place... It was a mess.

                                          1. We drank at least two cups of tea a day: at breakfast and when we came home from school. I still like to make a cup of Irish breakfast to bring me back to carefree childhood days when I'm stressed at the office.

                                            At meal time we drank tea at breakfast and mostly soda or apple/grape juice with our meals. What can I say? We were fat kids. I was lactose intolerant at an early age so I always rejected milk except for when it was served highly sweetened and usually a girly shade of pink from Strawberry quick or rose syrup.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              Frankly, Strawberry Quick frightened me, but I did love the chocolate variety. Eventually mom moved on to Hershey's chocolate syrup, which I didn't like so much.

                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                I never liked chocolate unless it was malted. So unless my mother was making me Milo for breakfast, it was strawberry Quick for me.

                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                  Well, malted is even better.

                                                  In the words of The Flatlanders: Only two things is better than milkshakes and malts, and one is dancin' like the dickens to the West Texas Waltz.

                                            2. My parents used to 'tie-one-on' before every evening meal. This ment dinner was not on the table till after 8:30 or 9. My sister and I would always wash down our dried up dinner with some kind of fruit juice. Still, no complaints here.

                                              1. Drink of choice was chocolate milk, but Mom wised up that I could drink a quart of it rather than eat, so she rationed it to after dinner.

                                                Once a month or so, root beer floats for dessert. Oh, how excited we'd get (the only soda we ever had).

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  Shame on you. Your the reason my parents were nutty about drinks with dinner.(I am teasing)

                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                    My grandma used to make me Coke floats out of, well, Coke and el cheapo vanilla ice cream. Bloody hell they were good.

                                                  2. We had milk at every meal. A tall glass of milk at each place was as much a part of the table setting as the plates and forks. I drank it then without complaint, but I would NEVER drink milk now, and I never tried to make my daughter drink it.

                                                    For us, other drinks were like snacks, for when you got bored or hot or needed a break. We had kool-aid, sometimes root beer or yoo-hoo, and my mother had Pepsi which she hoarded like it was gold and only drank while she watched "Another World." She kept them in a cabinet and put one in the refrigerator every morning. After my brother and sisters left for college and it was just me left at home, she would let me have one after school. To this day, I love a cold Pepsi!

                                                    1. Always milk... big glass at breakfast and dinner, plus orange juice at breakfast. Milk at lunch when we were home, lemonade or sometimes koolaid during hot weather. Mom didn't actively discourage soft drinks, but almost never bought them, so they never became a habit. We graduated to coffee with breakfast and after dinner around the start of high school.

                                                      1. We were made to drink milk morning, noon, and night. Hated it then and hate it now. There is no excuse for making kids drink this hormone-laden saturated-fat cocktail.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          I'm with you on everything except for the saturated fat issue. Nothing wrong with saturated fat.

                                                        2. Juice with breakfast, on cold days hot chocolate. MIlk with dinner and school lunches. Occasionally on the weekends, lemonade or a soda with lunch. Parents drank every night, wine with and after dinner.

                                                          1. We always had unsweetened iced tea or lemonade, sometimes milk if we wanted it. I don't remember much soda in the house till I was in high school. Then it was Frostie Root Beer, but not with dinner.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                              Milk, 3 times a day. When we reached high school, we had a beer with Sunday dinner, served at noon.

                                                            2. Milk was the beverage served and we were expe ted to drink it. One of my brothers was not a fan however so I think he drank less of it. I lked milk so I didn't mind. It was alwaus skim milk though I seem to remember 2% occasionally when I was quite young.

                                                              Oh, the milk was delivered twice a week by the milkman. We had a standing order and if my mother was not at home, Rusty the Milkman would go into the kitchen and put it into the refrigerator. I was in high school when the home delivery ended. I still remember how weird I thought it was to buy milk at the grocery store.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                Our milkman, George, did the same - but he just knocked and walked in no matter who was home. The milk came in 5 gallon containers with a spigot at the front. He'd put one in the fridge once a week. For a while, the container was a heavy cardboard box with a bag of milk inside that collapsed as the quantity went down. The other type was like the plastic used for milk jugs now, but we had to pop a hole in a little area to keep the suction from collapsing the container as the milk dispensed out the spigot.

                                                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                  The milk mostly came in 1/2 gallon cartons. I remember gallon milk cartons too. There was a plastic handle that the carton went into so it could be lifted with one hand (by an adult anyway).

                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                  Ah, the milkman. My how times have changed. And how rapidly they have changed.

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    Our milkman just left the bottles in the milk box outside the back door.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      A lot of people in the neighborhood had those little insulated boxes, usually by the front door. I wonder if they are now collectable?

                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                          This made me smile on Christmas morning, Harters. :-) Such a wonderful childhood memory. Except when Mom wanted me to step out into the snow and get the milk.

                                                                    2. As kids we had very milky hot/cold coffee with breakfast. just water after that, unless we went out to eat, at which point it was coke all the way.
                                                                      Alcohol was usually a post dinner, night cap type deal at my house.

                                                                      1. I find it interesting that a few people (myself included) have confessed to having alcoholic beverages at the dinner table while being underage. Times have changed.

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          Once my sister and I were in college, we were pretty much treated as adults even though we were technically underage, so if my parents were having wine, they offered it to us as well. Never before college, though - we might have gotten a token sip here or there, but never a full glass.

                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                            My dad used to let me have a swig of his beer from time to time.

                                                                          2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                            We were given sips of alcohol beverages from about age ten on. We were also allowed to have creme de menthe or cacao over ice cream. I was my dad's bartender from an early age, as well. Two nightly Manhattans, no bitters, light on the sweet vermouth, five ice cubes.

                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                              "I was my dad's bartender from an early age, as well. Two nightly Manhattans, no bitters, light on the sweet vermouth, five ice cubes."

                                                                              Priceless! Reminds me of a Simpsons episode in which Bart becomes a sort of gopher for crime syndicate head Big Tony and winds up tending bar. lol

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                My paternal grandfather died when I was 7 or so, and I can remember drinking wine mixed with 7-UP at Sunday dinners with him. I'm sure it was a minimal amount of wine at that age though.

                                                                              2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                By the time I was 13, my parents would allow me to have wine if it was being served, but it was never regular.

                                                                                Beverage wise, I think the bulk of my childhood memories revolve around having milk and not liking it. For breakfast we would get very small glasses of orange juice, but for lunch/dinner there was the mandatory small glass of milk before being able to switch to water. I always hated drinking milk, and getting through the milk taught me more about chugging than anything else.

                                                                                I vividly remember being around 11, and going to a friend's house before basketball practice. It was my first (and only) glass of whole milk and it is one of those visceral gross food memories from childhood.

                                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                                  My childhood memories were just about the opposite. I loved cold milk and while we had skim milk at home, whenever I encountered whole milk it was even better.

                                                                                  I remember something funny from when I was 6 or 7 years old. I saw a little carton of milk in the refrigerator, just like what we got at school, and I poured it over a bowl of cereal. My mother was quite amused because it turned out it was a 1/2 pint of whipping cream.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    I have some very unfortunate childhood memories with milk. Aside from the whole milk incident, when my younger brother was little he wasn't able to drink milk, so he grew up on soy formula (different from regular soy milk). Accidentally taking a swig of soy formula when expecting skim milk is an unhappy moment.

                                                                              3. Never milk.My mother was brought up Kosher and would not serve milk with meat (But she would serve a cheeseburger or bacon or shellfish so go figure?) Since I hated plain milk that was fine with me. We had water, iced tea or soda with dinner. On Friday nights when I was an older teen and not going out my parents would allow me to have a little wine with dinner.

                                                                                1. my experience was identical to yours

                                                                                  1. We rarely drank soda with meals unless it was with pizza or take-out, which was a rare treat, but not forbidden. We'd either drink water, milk, or fruit juice with our meals, but it was never expected of us.

                                                                                    1. Tang for breakfast, milk or water for other meals. Pink lemonade (from frozen) in the summer, also Lipton Iced tea mix. Very little soda, except for Fizzies as a treat.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: kcshigekawa

                                                                                        You just reminded me...we went through a Tang at breakfast period ourselves. Guess we wanted to be like the astronauts!

                                                                                      2. We kids always had milk. We also had milk between meals: we each of us had a permanent "milk cup" in the fridge to which we would repair for a quick sip as desired during the day. During my childhood, my parents never had anything to drink with meals, although my dad always had tea after eating, and frequently had one (never two) beer before dinner. Even if we went out to a restaurant, we kids drank milk, and Mom and Dad mostly just drank water (or coffee at breakfast). It wasn't until I was a teenager that wine started making an appearance at dinner on holidays, and I was an adult before wine was any more frequent at meals.

                                                                                        1. 1% or 2% milk or water; when we got a bit older, nonfat milk. Once in a while, I got away with Nesquik chocolate powder mixed in, or some Ovaltine. Orange juice on occasion. Punch at holiday dinners when extended family were visiting (Sprite/7up, sherbet, and some type of juice -- probably a mix of cranberry juice cocktail and orange). Soda was kept in the house in limited amounts and never really consumed with meals. I remember drinking a lot of Tang as a kid, but I think that was a glass usually snuck in after school before any parents were home.

                                                                                          Now, almost always tea. Jasmine, oolong, and green tea are most common in my parents' cupboard. They also frequently buy soymilk when my brothers are in town, which I dislike, both Silk soymilk and the freshly made kind, hot from the Vietnamese grocery store.

                                                                                          Never have I ever consumed alcohol in the presence of my parents, nor have they in front of me (I don't think either of them drinks alcohol, ever).

                                                                                          1. Orange juice (and sometimes grapefruit juice) for breakfast, milk for all other meals. No water unless you finished your glass of milk first. We drank very little soda (Saturday nights if we had a baby sitter, or went to grandma's, we'd get a single glass), Kool aid once in a blue moon, and apple cider for a snack around Halloween. I went crazy for diet pepsi when I went to college.

                                                                                            Now, I drink mostly water with meals, beer if it's pizza, and a ton of unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

                                                                                            1. Orange juice at breakfast, apple juice at lunch or dinner until I was 4 or 5. Milk with dinner after that. Milk or water at lunch after I decided I hated apple juice.

                                                                                              No soda until middle school and then it was dad's diet coke but only as snack.

                                                                                              1. Breakfast - we drank Milk
                                                                                                Our main meal of the day was at noon and I don't remember any drinks served along with that during my Childhood.
                                                                                                Supper was usually sandwiches ( Cold cuts and Cheeses) and we had hot tea or hot chocolate with that. ( for those who are familiar with a Hand-cheese called Harzer Roller - we were especially fond of a fresh roll with Harzer Roller and hot Chocolate, yummy combo!)

                                                                                                1. milk or sweet tea generally. We rarely had soda

                                                                                                  1. Everybody had milk but Dad, who would have coffee or beer. The exception was picnics, when it was beer for the adults and Cokes for us - my grandfather had the sign-painting contract for the local bottler, and got cases of it as part of his compensation. If we were picnicking with our other GPs, the drink for everyone was Grandma Kuntz's fruit punch: two cans of frozen lemonade to one each of OJ and Welch'e grape juice, which she made in the big Thermos jug with the spigot on the side.

                                                                                                    Even after I'd started having coffee with breakfast, I still drank milk at home. ALWAYS whole milk, too; we had a brief experiment with nonfat powdered, for economic reasons (we were very poor), but it was so ghastly it was relegated strictly to cooking.

                                                                                                    1. Milk, milk, milk. Whole milk, never 2% or skim. Always whole milk. Maybe juice with breakfast. My Dad always had (and still does) a tall glass of buttermilk with every dinner. My Mom used to drink Tab.

                                                                                                      Now, my son drinks milk with pretty much every meal (I drink water, as does spouse). He'll drink water occasionally, but he pretty much always asks for milk. We had him on 1% or 2% for a while, but we bumped him up to whole recently at the doctor's suggestion b/c he was getting a bit skinny.

                                                                                                      1. Milk, with an ice cube in it that i would stir down before I drank it.

                                                                                                        1. When I was really little, we had a lot of juice (from frozen concentrate), but as I got older, my dad became convinced that sugar was the root of all evil, so we pretty much only had water at home after that. I never liked the taste of plain milk, and my mom grew up kosher, so milk wasn't really common at home, but I always had chocolate milk at school. My parents both adore tea, and my sister likes both tea and coffee (all relatively unsweetened). I actually still find sweet drinks a bit weird when accompanying a meal, although I'll happily have them at other times.

                                                                                                          1. Here's a question....how do your kids drink compared with how you drank growing up?

                                                                                                            I had (basically) juice for breakfast, milk for lunch and dinner. My kids generally do the same. Gatorade and sports drinks thrown in here and there for them. Probably more water between meals for them as well.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                              I started my son off with milk and juice (no sugar added). I eventually switched him over to mostly water and whole fruit smoothies (he got his dairy in things like cheese and yogurt), and when he was in high school he added occasional coffee. Alcohol, of course, came ONLY after he was twenty-one.....;-)

                                                                                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                My boys have never been iced tea drinkers like I am. They both started young with coffee ( decaf) - maybe 8 or 9 years old. For cold drinks, Gatorade has been their preference, or water or juices. One drinks a lot of soda, the other gave up soda in high school and lost 40 pounds in a heartbeat.
                                                                                                                They are now 22 and 25, and neither of them drinks alcohol. They still like their coffee and Gatorade.
                                                                                                                I still like iced tea, water or juice.

                                                                                                              2. Grape kool-aid. Milk once in awhile. Never soda. I couldn't even finish a whole can of soda until I was in college.

                                                                                                                Now my kids both drink milk for at least one meal a day. One kid asks for milk at every meal, but only white, never chocolate. The other kid puts up with the milk once a day but prefers apple juice or orange juice when he can get it. They both take juice boxes for snack time at school.

                                                                                                                1. Hot black tea for breakfast and milk for everything else when I was little. While I was a teen it was Carnation instant breakfast with whatever breakfast food it was, usually toast and eggs or soup and sandwich. I had a nuclear metabolism.

                                                                                                                  1. milk always milk.
                                                                                                                    prob because mom was raised on a dairy farm and milk was plentiful.
                                                                                                                    my BFF always served water when we ate there and I/we always thought of it as very strange. our kids wouldn't touch their water and she'd ask after dinner "weren't you kids thirsty?"

                                                                                                                    1. Homemade rootbeer made from rootbeer extract, water (non- carbonated), sugar and lemon, served from a large glass pitcher with chunks of ice in it from the ice box. My job was to use the ice pick and get the ice from the 50 pound block(when new) in the ice box. It took jello all day to set in that icebox. We also had water or milk if we wanted it. Lemonade and orangeade. The War put a damper on sugar use owing to the rationing so sweetened drink became a special treat every other week or two. The oranges and lemons were free from trees on family property. We had grapefruit also but never make grapefruitade, it took too much sugar. Eating that grapefruit without sugar was as bad as biting into a green persimmon.

                                                                                                                      1. I never liked milk, and my parents never forced me to consume anything I disliked, so I had iced tea nearly always, or, occasionally, soda or Kool-Aid. For awhile, I drank Nestea ice tea mix, with lemon and sugar already in it, but mostly it was plain, with lemon.

                                                                                                                        I grew into an adult who prefers eating sugar to drinking it, so plain iced tea is what I drink now. I always have two pitchers in the fridge, so I never have to wait (I don't use ice).

                                                                                                                        1. Milk or water or iced tea. No soda in the house.

                                                                                                                          1. I grew up on a dairy farm., so it was raw whole milk at every meal.

                                                                                                                              1. With breakfast, milk and often a juice, mostly commonly orange juice from frozen concentrate but also apple, tomato and V-8. In the winter, on the weekend, cocoa.

                                                                                                                                For lunch, milk mostly. Maybe cocoa in the winter. We were also very big on Hi-C (this was the pre-Tang era). There was Kool-Aid in the house often but never with meals.

                                                                                                                                In the evening??? Milk or water??? Iced tea was brewed very strong in our house and most often served with a big meal (Sunday dinner, holidays or big family get-togethers). Maybe because of the caffeine it wasn't common at supper. Neither tea nor coffee (which I didn't take up until I was in my 20s) was sweetened, ever.

                                                                                                                                1. Had forgotten about Hawaiian Punch--remember it? Probably puts today's "energy drinks" to shame with its uber-sugar content!

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                    I remember something called Delaware Punch, too.

                                                                                                                                    1. Pretty much what ever we wanted , But we were always served cold beverages in juice glasses - about 4 oz ? I had coffee or hot chocolate at breakfast or milk in summer , On Sundays we had tea with our dessert..

                                                                                                                                      For lunch mostly milk .
                                                                                                                                      for dinner we had soda , water or on occaisson wine with soda ( usually orange soda my dad had a name for it that i forget . He was not much of an alcoholic drinker - i never saw him have a beer or mixed drink ever but he thought it was fine to have some wine mixed in our soda for dinner!!! )
                                                                                                                                      Once my sister who was about 9 invited her friend who was about 7 in for a cold summer beverage of Beer served in those same juice glasses My mom who was the drinker in the house was mortified to find them there .My sister's retort - " but you invite your friends in for a beer!"