Prison Meals From Around The World

By Nick Hadji 1 year ago

France - dry chicken stew and mushy potatoes

Image Source: SoapboxieFrench cooking might be considered one of the most prestigious cuisines in the world, but the same doesn’t go for the food served in their prisons. Dry chicken breast, stodgy noodles and dead salad leaves are some of the delicacies inmates have to endure. The only saving grace is that all French prisons serve pastries on a Sunday.Originally sourced from Femanin.

Thailand - watery soup and rice

Image Source: ThaigerPrisoners in Thailand are not very lucky when it comes to mealtimes, usually being served plates of steamed rice husks that had been sitting around for hours. Luckily for some inmates, visitors can bring in food for their loved ones but others aren’t so fortunate.

Finland - fish, soups and meatballs

Image Source: Ilta-SanomatPrisons in Finland have a reputation for serving some of the best food to their inmates. Some examples include herring with rye, chicken lasagna, rainbow trout and root stew, smoked meat soup and meatballs. All meals are served with a fresh side dish, bread and a cold drink.

Egypt - bean stew, rice and bread

Image Source: MediumPrisons in Egypt serve very basic bland meals which generally consist of bean stew, rice and bread. But luckily for the inmates, family members are allowed to bring them food on their weekly visits. Some of the items they typically request are cheese, crisps, fruit and biscuits.

UK - a pork pie salad...

Image Source: TwitterThe UK doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to food served in the prisons, which typically include bland looking omelettes, dry pizza and baked beans with chips. In 2016, a prison in Birmingham hit the headlines after serving inmates a dinner of ‘pork pie salad’.

India - chickpea stew

Image Source: HungryForeverPrisons in India usually serve ‘pulihora’ for breakfast, which is a rice dish. Lunch consists of a watery chickpea stew with rice and chapati, as well as a different type of curry each day. Dinner is similar to lunch, and on Sunday’s the inmates are treated to a chicken or goat curry.


Image Source: cookpad.comUnlike other prisons across the world, Sweden has taken a different approach to how inmates are treated with the aim to rehabilitate them rather than use it as punishment. Prisoners are fed a well-balanced diet, and they get to enjoy treats such as ‘kanelbulle' which is a Swedish cinnamon bun.

New Zealand

Image Source: menu in New Zealand prisons is far from adventurous, with breakfast consisting of a choice or cereals and lunch being dull sandwiches. Dinner options seem more appetising, including sausages with curry sauce, meatloaf in an onion gravy and fish with tomato relish.


Image Source: Arab NewsIn Pakistan, the prisons usually serve inmates lentils with rice and sometimes they are given vegetables and chapati bread. During the month of Ramadan, the inmates are given special meals including chicken sweet rice and potatoes served with hot milky tea.


Image Source: 9news.comIt comes as no surprise that Japan serve some of the most tasty and immaculate looking dishes in their prisons. The food is so good, that one prison even has a restaurant onsite where the public can dine as the prisoners do. They typically serve rice boiled with barley, mackerel pike, daikon radish, noodle salad and miso soup.


Image Source: Family TravelA German prison in the city of Bergisch Gladbach in Cologne fed the prisoners McDonalds for a year. Yep, you heard it right…one whole entire year. After a disagreement with the contractor supplying the food, the prison struck up a deal with the McDonalds next year and so the inmates lived off McToasts and Big Macs.

South Korea

Image Source: Trek ZoneA staple meal in prisons across South Korea is ‘kongbap’ which is a bland dish made up of beans and rice. However, the inmates are fed a variety of other foods which aren’t nearly as bad. Breakfast consists of bread with tomato sauce and cheese. Lunch is usually a bone marrow and vegetable soup served with kimchi and seaweed.


Image Source: 9news.comBased on the size of America, there is a broad variation in the meals prisoners get across the country depending on the state. However, there is one thing they all have in common. Disobedient inmates are fed Nutraloaf, which is a bland mash-up of vegetables, as punishment.


Image Source: Serious EatsPrisoners in Russia are given ‘chaff porridge’ which is made from a mixture of low quality ground grains. Instead of using butter they add ‘kombizhir’ which is a butter substitute of animal and vegetable fats which was popular in Soviet times, resulting in a tasteless grey slop.


Image Source: CookBuzzChinese prisons are renowned for poor conditions and maltreatment of the inmates. Most meals consist of rice, turnips and pork fat which provides them with just enough nutrition to survive. If the prisoners do not work hard enough, their rations are halved. 


Image Source: 9news.comThere isn’t anything too exciting on the menu in prisons across Australia. In Queensland, inmates typically have cereal and toast for breakfast. A staple lunchtime meal is a cold meat sandwich, and dinner consists of chicken or fish with potatoes and vegetables.


Image Source: JoGeek vs The GlutenPrisons in Norway have a reputation for being the mostly homely environments in the world. Inmates are given a weekly allowance for grocery shopping and growing crops in the allotment. They are expected to cook their own food, serving traditional meals such as fish balls with white sauce and prawns.


Image Source: bloomberg.comPrisoners in Italy help harvest fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as being involved in making juices, jam and olive oil. The harvested produce is incorporated into the dishes served to inmates, and they even get 250 ml of wine each day with their evening meal.


Image Source: redcipes.comOne of the staple meals given to inmates in prisons across Mexico is ‘onion soup’ which is a watery bland broth with lumps of onion floating about. This is usually served with some sort of meat and soybeans for protein. Luckily, some prisons allow the family members of inmates to bring in food and share a meal together.


Image Source: FacebookPrisoners in Lebanon are only fed twice a day, with increasing prices in produce meaning certain products are being limited. Fruit and vegetables are only provided once a week, and they are typically served plates of hummus and rounds of naan bread during mealtimes which is a staple component of Lebanese cuisine. 


Image Source: BBCPrisons in Haiti have some of the worst conditions in the world, which includes what they are fed at mealtimes. The inmates only receive one daily ration of food…yep, only ONE meal a day. This is usually a bland bowl of rice and beans ladled out from a huge iron pot. 

South Africa

Image Source: Daily MaverickIn many prisons in South Africa, the inmates are only given two proper meals a day and in the evening they are sent to their cell with bread and a powdered drink for supper. Breakfast is usually bland porridge with no sugar and a lunchtime meal is stew served with lumpy mashed potato.


Image Source: The Big IssuePrisons in Ireland don’t just serve up traditional dishes, like coddle, as you might expect. After acknowledging their ethnically diverse population, they have now included a variety of international dishes on the menu, including curries and stir-fry.


Image Source: RedditThe food served in Turkish prisons lacks variety and nutritional value. Inmates are usually served processed and canned food, with meat rarely being on the menu. Some prisoners have even reported that they are only given one type of fruit each week and it is usually rotten.


Image Source: The LineFood in Canadian prisons is prepared in large pots, mixing ingredients together which are then boiled. The liquid product is then poured into plastic bags and frozen for up to 2 weeks. The prisoners are then served these puree meals, where you can’t even tell if something is meat or vegetables…


Image Source: RedditConditions in Jamaican prisons have been described as ‘horrific’ which includes the food they serve at mealtimes. Prisoners are usually given stodgy rice and sugary water twice a day, lacking any form of protein or fresh produce. Sometimes, food and water isn’t even available and inmates have to rely on family to bring them food.


Image Source: Tori.ngIn Nigerian prisons, a small portion of beans are served for breakfast seven days a week. At lunchtime, prisoners are given watery soya bean soup with meat or fish. In the evening they are only offered dry ‘eba’ which is a cooked starchy vegetable made from garri. 


Image Source: cookpad.comPrisoners in Malaysia are typically served chicken, vegetables and ‘kuah’ which is a type of curry. During religious celebrations, inmates are given special meals and treats such as oranges. On their birthday, they are also allowed cake or biscuits. 


Image Source: Prison PhotographyThe food served in Cambodian prisons does not sound very appealing. Breakfast is usually gruel made with ground cereal and water. A typical meal during the day will consist of a bowl of rice and fish-head soup. You can buy other food from the prison shop, but only if you are lucky enough to have enough money.

The Philippines

Image Source: ITVThe Philippines has one of the most congested prison systems in the world, which puts a strain on resources available for inmates. Less than £1 is spent on three meals for each prisoner per day, meaning the menu leaves a lot to be desired. Each meal typically consists rice which is sometimes served with fish.


Image Source: WikiIn Argentinian prisons the menu is anything but interesting. That being said, it is usually healthy and something quite cheap due to a lack of resources. The majority of the time it consists of something like a salad and fish and then to provide the fullness and the carbs a slice of bread.


Image Source: goya.comThe prison menu in Jamaica is usually something very typical of Jamaican cuisine. For example, here we have a bean stew, a yam kind of mash, some pickles and a chunk of bread. It definitely does not look appealing and the texture all seems to be fairly mushy...


Image Source: cafedelitesCanadian prisons have a reputation for being dangerous. And, according to what we have seen of the standard food it looks as though this is fairly appalling too. Four slices of white plain bread, some plain dry lettuce leaves, and some kind of plain yellow bean.


Image Source: liveatlearnEgyptian prisons are known for the inhumane treatment of prisoners. In an Egyptian prison you can expect a very standard meal such as this - boiled chicken, beans, rice and a mini naan bread. Although, it can be much worse than this depending on the individual facility.


Image Source: thespruceeatsIn Ukraine a typical prison dish looks something like this. A chicken kind of stew, with a clear vegetable broth. Both are cooked cheaply, and flavourless for a mass prison population whilst ensuring there is some kind of carb and protein in the daily diet.


Image Source: SoapboxieUnder the Libyan law, unauthorised foreigners can be detained indefinitely and punished with forced labor within Libyan prisons. They typically serve some kind of beef casserole with boiled vegetables and bread. There is usually not so much meat served as it is more expensive.


Image Source: WikipediaIn Cuban prisons almost every day the menu is black beans and rice. It is cheap, quick as well as hitting both the carbohydrates and protein as well as filling up the prisoners. Cuban prisons are largely short on money and resources. Meat would be a luxury.


Image Source: UgghusIn Togo, the prisons serve a very typical dish of the country which is specific to the region. The dish is called Fufu, which is essentially a yam, cassava or plantain kind of paste. Then, on the side will be some kind of boiled vegetable such as spinach.


Image Source: VeggieFinrsIn Syria, falafel is a very commonly used food. And in prison the inmates are often served this falafel loaf. Due to the situation of Syria the country's prisons struggle to provide enough food for its inmates due to their not being enough money to support them.


Image Source: GhustSpain provides one of the better menus and food varieties to its prisoners. Spanish omelette is a common food served in prisons due it being quick and cheap to make. But, especially in comparison to the majority of choices on this list this is definitely one of the best.


Image Source: PinterestThe food served in Portuguese prisons is definitely not healthy. Burgers, chips and salad are one of the most common meals served to prisoners. In fact there is a restaurant which has opened and it replicates prison meals to serve to customers as can be seen here.


Image Source: WikiThis Beef stew and potato wedges is a standard looking meal in Albania. Albania has prisons which are notorious around the world for their harsh conditions, harsh measures and violence inside the prison. Food is definitely not a priority in Albanian prisons.


IImage Source: AroundtheworldIn Palau, prison food is very simple, very basic and it does not tend to vary on a day to day basis. It usually consists of some kind of bean and vegetable stew with rice. This is usually the typical evening dish for the majority of the time, every day.


Image Source: FoodHotspotIn Cambodia, the usual meal that is served up each time is rice, raisins, carrots, yoghurt sauce. It is usually something along these lines and variation in Cambodian prisons is very little. Overcrowding and not having enough food is common in Cambdian prisons.


Image Source: The MirrorThis is a standard prison meal in the Phillipines. While it is not only one of the more boring options, just a cheese and salad sandwhich, it also looks disgusting. There is some kind of sloppy filling which looks like boiled creamy vegetables of some sort.

South Korea

Image Source: DailyMirrorRice and beans, it doesn't get any more plain and simple than this. It is a very common prison meal in many countries because it is so fast and the ingredients are so cheap - and the beans provide a very cheap way to provide protein. In terms of flavour it is non existent.


Image Source: BBCBanitsa is commonly served in Bulgarian prisons. It is a   traditional Bulgarian pastry which is made by layering a combination of beaten eggs and bits of cheese amongst pastry. Bulgarian prison conditions in general are below a lot of other countries.


Image Source: BlogspotWe hope that this looks better than it tastes. And no, this is not sausage stew it is actually banana - yes you heard that right.The dish is called Banane malaxé and it is actually very popular in Cameroon. Bananas are very common in Cameroon, and cheap.


Image Source: WikiNow this dish might look a little intimidating. But it is common practice for the prisoners in Angola to be presented with this. The dish is called Jimboa, which is one of the most eaten vegetables present in Angolan cuisine. And, it is rich in fibre and proteins.


Image Source: ThiagerBangladesh is famous for its food amongst many things and curry is one of the most cooked dished here. In particular, prisons serve Shorshe Ilish - which is Hilsa Fish with Mustard Curry. Fish is much easier and cheaper to acquire than meat, but still nutritious.


Image Source: SoapboxieIn an Austrian prison you can expect very typical, Austrian food. Although it is the dishes which can be made for many, quickly, and cheaply. Knödel is a particular favourite to serve in an Austrian prison. It is a kind of dumpling with different ingredients rolled into one.

Pennsylvania, USA

Image Source / FooducateFor a prison in Lancaster County, you can expect a lunch of mixed vegetables, including carrots and green beans, alongside a healthy salad, corn dogs and potatoes. Prisoners even get a dessert option, which is usually yellow cake, and they also have the option of 'customising' their lunches.

Bangkok, Thailand

Image Source / The Fresh LoafPrisoners would be afforded husks of steamed rice that would have been sat out for half an hour, making them even less appetizing than they were before. In Bangkok prisons, though, if prisoners are wealthy enough for a little bribery, they could get to eat croissants and butter.


Image Source / Liverpool EchoAlongside the grey sloppy mass of porridge prisoners have the option to eat, they also have the option to buy their own food from the prison canteen. Some prisoners can then create their own recipes out of food items given. One Russian prisoner made Nutella using digestive biscuits he ground up mixed with cocoa powder.

Iserlohn, Germany

Image Source / Food.comAs a prisoner with a tray in the canteen, you can expect it to be filled with three bread dumplings and a side of gravy to wash it down. To top it off, you get a healthy portion of steamed Brussel sprouts - love 'em or hate 'em.

London, England: Breakfast

Image Source / Birmingham LiveAt a female-only prison in London, prisoners who wake up ready to start the day are treated to cornflakes, milk, tea bags (of course, it's England after all), sugar and coffee whitener for brekkie.

London, England: Lunch

Image Source / LovefoodIf prisoners are still left hungry after that big bowl of cornflakes, they have lunch to look forward to: this is usually pasta or soup, chips (or fries if you're not from the UK) and a lunch sandwich which is made up for them.

London, England: Sunday Dinner

Image Source / Daily StarIn the UK, a Sunday roast is a staple family tradition, and you'd think you'd have to give that up in prison - but nope. Apparently, in this same prison, you can look forward to a Sunday roast just like you always did. The only problem is, it's rock-hard potatoes and pretty much the most unappealing roast you ever did see.


Image Source / WikipediaIn true American style - and when they're not being fed Nutraloaf as punishment - prisoners across various jails in the US coudl be seen enjoying hummus wraps as a non-meat option, Swedish meatballs if meat is what they're looking for, or even sloppy joes and bean burritos.

New Zealand: Breakfast

Image Source / The GuardianFor a nice wakeup breakfast in New Zealand prison, you can expect breakfast cereals like Weetbix (which has to be the most bland and dry cereal option out there if not mixed with anything else) or Rice Bubbles. For lunch, sandwiches could have creamed corn, relish, luncheon and pickle.

New Zealand: Dinner

Image Source / adishaday - WordPress.comOne thing that can be said about dry and bland cereal is that at the very least it could be filling in the right amounts. But if prisoners are still peckish come dinner time, they may or may not be disappointed with the options of curry sauce and sausages, meatloaf with onion gravy or fish with tomato sauce.


Image Source / AllrecipesAs well as the 'homely' prison environement and the staples like fish balls with white sauce, prisoners can also enjoy hearty food like chicken con carne, as well as other fresh fish options like salmon.

Milan, Italy

Image Source / MyRecipesInmates at the Bollate prison in Milan are required to prepare fine dining like any Italian chef could be proud of. This includes risotto, scallops and tortelli. Sadly, the delicious food isn't for them - they just have to make it for the diners who come in to eat at InGalera, the restaurant in the grounds.

Morgan County, USA

Image Source / WikipediaPrisoners are treated to a 76 cent dinner in Morgan County in America. And this equates to not one, but two hot dog frankfurter sausages, a slice of bread (just the one) and a cup of beans on the side to top it all off.

Cheshire, England

Image Source / PrisonphoneThis next serving can only be described as unidentifiable soggy mess. The photo itself was taken by a prisoner who revealed the grey mush on a yellow plate, which looks like very soggy chips, some sort of meat offering and maybe what looks like a slice of pizza with beans on top?

Mexico City

Image Source / Yale Daily NewsIn one particular prison in Mexico City, prisoners can still enjoy homecooked food in a home away from home with the arrangement that family members and friends of prisoners can bring in any meal whatsoever for the prisoner to eat on weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Goulburn, Australia: Breakfast

Image Source / WikipediaGoulburn Prison is a maximum security prison in Australia, and while in some Australian prisons the food is nothing to write home about, it was reported in 2013 about the rather lavish selections at Goulburn (or lavish by prison standards, anyway). For brekkie, tasty packs of cereal, milk, morning coffee and several slices of bread would be served.

Goulburn, Australia: Lunch

Image Source / The Nourishing HomeIf all that morning bread doesn't fill the prisoners, then maybe a spot of tasty lunch will. Prisoners at Goulburn were apparently fed sandwiches, healthy fruit and yoghurt to wash it all down for a filling lunch.

Goulburn, Australia: Dinner

Image Source / FlickrAnd dinner is where it really gets lavish. Prisoners at Goulburn might get to experience pasta Alfreda, roast chicken dishes and cheese burgers - but not just any old grimy cheesburger, either. A swanky ricotta burger.

The USA And Ramen

Image Source / MashedAs well as being a basic prison food, Ramen has also become a currency in many prisons in the US. Maybe it's because nobody wants to eat it, or maybe it's because they do want to eat it so happy to be bribed with it. Either way, Ramen has been found for purchasing prison goods and general bartering!

California, USA

Image Source / InsiderOn the breakfast menu for this Californian prison, inmates could look forward to ready-made cereal (usually Rice Krispy), fruit, bread and packets of sugar. The breakfast pack also includes some peanut butter to stick on the bread.

United Arab Emirates

Image Source / Tilda RiceThe prison food offering in the United Arab Emirates - which is very strict in regard to what you can go to prison for, such as kissing in public - is a tray of curry, rice, lettuce, meat and fruit. It sounds like quite a substantial meal - but prisoners actually have to eat it with their hands.


Image Source / Student EatsIn Singapore prisons, inmates are served their food on a tray which is slid to them in their cell through a hole. The prisoners then have to eat their food on the ground. The food delivery they can expect to be slid through to them is fish, vegetables, rice, noodles and fruit.

Philadelphia, USA

Image Source / Recipe for PerfectionFor a country that spends billions on its prison system, it's about time they were served a brownie or two - and here Philadelphia serves up a platter of pasta and cubed carrots mixed with grains and a side of brownie as well as white cake.


Image Source / Curious CuisiniereThe prison in Australia that this meal is from is all about human rights - it even has a sort of town square in the centre, with around 300 prisoners in the facility. These 300 or so prisoners can be expected to be served up a plate of macaroni salad, jerk chicken sided with cous cous, ratatouille and a berry yoghurt to cool off.


Image Source / BetterButterIn India, inmates have a set food budget which provides their 3 meals a day - and it isn't a lot. They're fed pulses, curd, cereals and sweets every day. None-veg options are served for those meat-eater inmates twice a week.

United Kingdom: Lunch

Image Source / The Chopping BlockPies are a big hit in UK prisons (except if you're talking about that pork pie salad controversy mentioned earlier) and for lunch in a UK prison you could expect a chicken and mushroom pie - or, you might get a jacket potato, coleslaw or corned beef. For the non-meat eaters, a vegetarian pasta bake.

United Kingdom: Dinner

Image Source / hannahhotcakesFor the halal inmates having dinner in a UK prison, they may be served up a halal version of a chicken curry. For everyone else, there's the option of a grilled gammon steak usually accompanied by some form of vegetables.


Image Source / Culture TripPrisoners in Sweden do get some decent food, and the highlight has to be the sweet treats they get. They're supplied with a treat of a fika 'coffee break' - fika is a state of mind where the fika break includes a coffee serving accompanied by something sweet, like a pastry.

New Zealand

Image Source / Piglet in PortugalPrison food varies throughout New Zealand, but in some prisons, they get the option of either two sandwiches or two salad rolls. The basis for most meals is two kinds of vegetables no matter what, accompanied by one fruit.


Image Source / The TabAs mentioned, China deals in very cheap food and low daily rations. They usually serve up the cheapest vegetable options, which is mainly radish and cabbage, alongside some bread. Egg or meat options are served twice a week.