Healthy Jubilee picnic ideas inspired by the 1950s

A Jubilee-themed picnic

Our healthy summer recipes will help your Platinum Jubilee event go royally. Plus, we look back to what people were eating when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne.

Queen Elizabeth II after her coronation in 1953 – via Wikimedia CommonsPrincess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI.

Seventy years later, people in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been given an extra bank holiday to mark the occasion of the Queen’s Jubilee, and it falls on Friday 3 June.

Queen Elizabeth was crowned on 2 June 1953, so the bank holiday celebrates the year of her reign and the date of her coronation. This is because people do not traditionally “celebrate” an accession because of course it is also a sad occasion as the previous monarch has died.

And a bank holiday in June is more likely to be sunny than one in February …

If you’re planning a jubilee picnic, street party or family get-together, we have some great healthy, summer recipes to share and try.

But first, let’s look back to what people were eating when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne.

Rationing in the 1950s

Dig For Victory poster – under license from Wikimedia Commons The first thing to remember is that rationing due to World War II was still in place – restrictions on food didn’t end until 1954, with meat the last item to be unrationed.

The war also had an effect on food imports, with the UK suddenly much more reliant on homegrown food. With far less fruit available, homegrown food had to provide all of the nation’s vitamin C needs.

Potatoes were particularly important, and as part of Dig for Victory (see image right) people were encouraged to grow their own vegetables, including vitamin C-rich watercress and kale.

When the Queen came to the throne in the 1950s, no one had a freezer or a microwave, so diets were very different.

A lot of meat and fish came in tins, and many more people than now owned poultry, providing eggs and meat.

Lamb’s liver and turtle soup

If you attended a coronation celebration in the 1953, these items may have been on the menu:

  • corned beef
  • lamb’s liver and lard
  • melon cocktails
  • salmon mousse
  • spam
  • devilled eggs
  • turtle soup

Coronation chicken served on rocket leaves and a slice of toastAnd some delicacies from seventy years ago have stood the test of time and are still enjoyed today:

  • custard slices (then using Bird’s Custard Powder)
  • coronation chicken (created for the official banquet to celebrate the coronation)
  • jelly fruit rings
  • pineapple upside down cake

Jubilee recipe ideas

If you want a retro feel to your jubilee event, but aren’t totally convinced by 1950s tastes, try our jubilee picnic ideas…


> Instead of devilled eggs try … baked avocado eggs

> Instead of corned beef try … beef and lentil burritos

> Instead of salmon mousse try … prawn cocktail


> Instead of pineapple upside down cake try … peach, pear and parsnip upside down cake

> Instead of jelly rings try … elderflower and raspberry jelly

Browse all our summer recipes

Browse all our picnic recipes