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Ploughman's Lunch

A ploughman’s lunch is a modest English meal, popular in Britain. It is sold at pubs along with a pint of beer. It consists of three traditional items including bread, cheese, and pickle. Other items included in this meal often vary from region to region.


The Ploughman’s lunch, as the name implies, could have originally meant a lunch for the ploughman who worked in the fields. It could have been the least expensive lunch made at home by the ploughman’s wife consisting of crusty bread with cheese, pickled onion, butter, and a salad. Occasionally, this meal could have also included any cold meat such as ham, pork pie, sausage, or pate.

However, records indicate that the English Country Cheese Council invented this lunch in 1960s as a way to augment the sales of cheese through British pubs. The items that were included in the lunch were the bread, cheese, butter and pickle along with a pint of beer. The meal has since undergone several variations and is still available in most pubs in Britain.

Standard Dishes

The ploughman’s lunch available at the pubs vary between places, although the main dishes remain the same. These include the bread, cheese, butter, and pickle. Apart from these, there might be additions of other foods according to the local preference. The lunch often includes a sandwich with crusty bread, a thick piece of locally popular cheese with slices of apple, butter, and pickled onion. It may also include ham slices, hard-boiled egg, pate, celery, and vegetables such as carrot. These are served with beer at the pub.

The cheese used in this lunch is mostly cheddar or the blue stilton.

The pickle served is usually the Branston pickle, a brand of pickle made from mixed and diced vegetables including carrot, cauliflower, onions, tomato, and spices including garlic, pepper , cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

Ploughman’s lunch and St. George’s Day

The Ploughman’s lunch, being a traditional one at that, is ideal to be served on St. George’s day. This day is celebrated on April 23 in memory of St. George, the English patron saint. Britons celebrate this day with all kinds of traditional foods eaten throughout the day.

Nutritional Information

A ploughman’s lunch consists of approximately:

Calories – 480.

Sodium – 1.91 g.

Fat – 25.7 g.

Sugar – 2.4 g.

Health Information

The meal supplies enough carbohydrates and calcium through the bread, cheese, and butter that are commonly used. Vitamins and proteins may come from the vegetables and meat, if included. However, the increased content of cheese and butter may augment the risk of heart disease, if consumed on a regular basis. Thus, a healthier version of this lunch is recommended.

Suggestions for a Healthier Version

Using low-fat cheese, such as the feta or Edam cheese, will bring down the fat content of this lunch quite significantly. The amount of vegetables and fruits can be increased to make it healthier. If the ploughman’s lunch is consumed on a regular basis, eliminating the ham and sausages would be prudent.