Measurement of food intake in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is often necessary for studies of behaviour, nutrition and drug administration. There is no reliable and agreed method for measuring food intake of flies in undisturbed, steady state, and normal culture conditions. We report such a method, based on measurement of feeding frequency by proboscis-extension, validated by short-term measurements of food dye intake. We used the method to demonstrate that (a) female flies feed more frequently than males, (b) flies feed more often when housed in larger groups and (c) fly feeding varies at different times of the day. We also show that alterations in food intake are not induced by dietary restriction or by a null mutation of the fly insulin receptor substrate chico. In contrast, mutation of takeout increases food intake by increasing feeding frequency while mutation of ovoD increases food intake by increasing the volume of food consumed per proboscis-extension. This approach provides a practical and reliable method for quantification of food intake in Drosophila under normal, undisturbed culture conditions.