Institutional catering

"Catering Corps - Death from Within"

copyright © 2004-5 squaddie John

Barracks and Borstal Food

  1. 1970s
  2. National Service era
  3. Slang and nicknames for institutional food
  4. 1990s
  5. US fantasy prison labor camp
  6. Field rations

Barracks and Borstal Food

I've been accused of serving barracks stew and borstal milk pudding. As we noted at the time, the grub, scram, scoff or "food" served on an institutional catering menu varies only slightly between school, borstal, prison and armed forces barracks...

Here are some sample menus to savour, I can truthfully report that all induce a communal tendency to flatulence and dangerously simultaneous rush to dump.

Withdrawal of the "privilege" of dining is one punishment of dubious effectiveness, at least in the short term! There is always the tradtional punishment diet of bread and water or being made to eat field dry rations indoors or simply being forced to eat a bar of soap.

toad in the hole
steak and kidney pie
shepherds pie
roast meat (beef lamb pork)
Fish baked in milk, breaded or fried in batter
Irish (lamb) or beef stew
Veg 1
baked beans
Veg 2
mashed potatoes
boiled potatoes
mashed swede or turnip
roast potatoes
yellow butter beans
(red, green or orange, with tinned pears or peaches or oranges)
spotted dick
milk pudding
(semolina rice sago)
jam tart
chocolate sponge
baked apple and sultanas
evap milk
chocolate custard
No choices
vegetables replaced by salad in summer
1/3 pint of free milk at morning break in Junior schools, stopped 1974 by Thatcher government

A mate recalls from the same era:

Also do remember Spam fritters . . .two slices of spam with a thick gooey mustard between them battered thickly and deep fried - good punishment food, we weren't in there for the education. Talking of which the actual punishment food was memorable, bread left to get very stale and thin watery orange squash.

From the National Service era in Britain (1940s and 50s)

every day:

Breakfast: mug of tea, porridge with sugar or salt

Lunch (dinner): Spam or corned beef, no gravy, watered sprouts and boiled potatoes.
Semolina or macaroni milk pudding.

Tea: mug of tea, two slices of bread and jam and marg

Slang and nicknames for institutional food

Accident in the Alps

Semolina milk pudding with a dollop of red jam



Mashed potato

Arigonis or abortion

Tinned tomatoes



Fizzy drink

Avon mud

Chocolate custard


Grub or scoff


Babies heads

Tinned steak & kidney pudding



Herrings in tomato sauce

Bombay duck

Fried fish




Bread and spit

Bread and marge


Mad dog's vomit

Mixed vegetable

Cackle berries

Boiled eggs




Carpet tiles

Veggie burgers


Marines Breakfast

Egg & bacon


Boiled rice


MrsB (Beeton) Tinned 'Duff'

Sponge pudding

Chinese wedding cake

Rice pudding


Nose job

Mushy peas


Chocolate crunch



Grapefruit segments

Cow Pie

Beef pastry pie


Snake and pygmy

Steak and kidney

Cows turd

Yellow custard


Spithead Pheasant


Cricket ball

Scotch egg


Spotted dick

Sponge and currant pudding

Dog balls

Meatballs: Faggots



Savoury white sauce

Dog food


  Spunk soupOnion soup

Doggy do's

Chocolate mousse


Squashed fly biscuits

Currant biscuits


Dessert: pie, cake etc


Stars and Stripes

Baked Beans and streaky bacon

Elephants' footprints

Spam fritters


Wall paper paste

Bread sauce

Embalmed cow

Corned beef




Fish bait





Fish sticks

Fish fingers


White whale

Fish baked in milk




Yellow bullets

Sweet corn

Frog spawn

Sago or tapioca milk pudding


Yellow peril

Smoked haddock in butter

Of course it was possible to combine words eg "Jam Duff" or "Jammy Duff" which both have different meanings again.

From the 1990's

Reg Entree
Lasagna with Garlic Breadstick
Hot Turkey Sandwich with Gravy
Chicken Nuggets
Nacho Chips with Nacho Cheese Sauce and Taco Meat
Cheesy Pizza
Alt Entree
Hot Dog With Bun
Hot Dog With Bun
Hot Dog With Bun
Hot Dog With Bun
Hot Dog With Bun
3rd Entree
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
4th Entree
Chef Salad
Chef Salad
Chef Salad
Chef Salad
Chef Salad
Tossed Salad
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Oven Potatoes
Seasoned Vegetables
Carrot Sticks with Dip
Soft Chocolate Chip Cookie
Green Beans
Chilled Fruit
Crazy Flavour's Applesauce
Chilled Fruit
Chilled Fruit
Chilled Fruit
Frozen Juice Bar
Chiquita Banana Cookies
Choice of Milk
Choice of Milk
Choice of Milk
Choice of Milk
Choice of Milk
provision for special dietary requirements

Memories of a prison labor camp scene done some years ago in the States

I did a prison labor camp scenario back in 1998, with 5 prisoners, their diet consisted solely of "gruel". A one-day supply of gruel for 1 prisoner consisted of 1 package of instant oatmeal, 1 bag of instant brown rice, and 2 slices of multi-grain bread, all boiled together in 2 cups of water. It becomes a gelatinous, goppy mess that tastes somewhat like cardboard, but is fairly healthy (except for a lack of protein -- more about that later).

Prisoners were given luke warm recently made gruel in the evening, about 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. Gruel was served in plastic bowls without any utensils, so they had to eat with their fingers and only had 10 minutes to do so. What they didn't finish was refrigerated overnight and served cold the next morning at about 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. for breakfast. If they'd eaten it all the night before, they got nothing in the morning. If they hadn't finished everything the next morning, they got it again that night until it was all finished. During the day, they were allowed to drink as much Gatorade as they wished, to stay well hydrated while working.

The scene only went on for about 3 days (Friday - Sunday), and we realized that the gruel should be reformulated to include protein if we ever did it again -- probably by just including beans or tofu (although tofu is both expensive and very perishable, so beans would be better). At first, they hated the gruel, but since that was all they got, they started looking forward to it.

Field rations

Out in the field there's a different level of hunger and desperation so the grub can be even worse and you're still glad to eat it! Only the chocolate tastes really good!

The WWII Compo ration was a crate containing food for 14 men for one day, there were various menus, identified as A to F see Composite (14 men) Ration pack which includes suggestions for reproducing Compo from readily-available ingredients. Individual combat rations 24-Hour Rations

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