A History of American Eating Habits
Most often meat was cooked together with vegetables in a big stew. Since the majority of the population was poor, they didn't have a lot of cooking equipment, explains Wendy Howell, supervisor of the Historic Foodways Program at Colonial Williamsburg.
There wasn't one pot for one dish and a second pot for another, so making a stew was a way to cook all the food at once.
Stews or other hearty dishes were usually eaten at dinner, which took place around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, during a break from working in the fields. Evening meals, or suppers, were "kind of the optional meal," Howell notes. And they were "very light."