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An irritable and grumpy Swede around noon usually means one thing: it’s time for lunch.

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Photo: Susanne Walström/


An irritable and grumpy Swede around noon usually means one thing: it’s time for lunch.

There is such a thing as a free lunch

Whether at work or in school, or at home at the weekend, a Swedish lunch typically means a proper cooked meal. That also means setting aside enough time to be able to enjoy it.

Swedish law ensures that elementary schools provide nutritional lunches free of charge to all pupils. Most preschools and secondary schools follow the same guidelines. It is quite common to allow students to serve themselves the portion they want, and to provide a vegetarian alternative.

Adults in the workplace rarely have the luxury of a lunch provided free of charge by an employer, and instead have to choose whether to spend part of a Sunday cooking up boxed meals for the working week, to bring daily leftovers – or head out to a restaurant. Most restaurants have lunch specials at a favourable price.

Whether lunch is taken at the workplace or a restaurant, coffee is usually available for free. While the weekend brunch is gaining momentum in Swedish restaurants, the era of a home-cooked weekend lunch is far from over.

Photo: Susanne Walström/

This text and recipe come from the Swedish Institute publication The Swedish Kitchen – from Fika to Cosy Friday. Order the printed publication from

Last updated: 10 October 2018

Liselotte Forslin, Rikard Lagerberg & Susanne Walström

Liselotte Forslin is a freelance food writer, food stylist and author of several cookbooks. ||| Rikard Lagerberg is a Swedish writer with roots in San Francisco, Stockholm and Sligo, who, after years of a typical Swedish diet, chose a vegetarian direction for himself in the 90s. ||| Susanne Walström is a photographer based in Sweden. Her personal documentary style has been applied to a multitude of subjects, including several books about food.


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