If you’ve ever watched any prison TV show, you might be wondering, “What do prisoners eat?” Is it as bad as portrayed, or are inmates getting the nutrition they need? It really depends on the TV show and the prison you’re comparing it to. Here are some foods that inmates use to supplement what the prison feeds them.
What Do Prisoners Eat?
The food that inmates eat other than what is provided needs to be preservable. This means perishable items, though not unlikely, are not as easy to purchase. Instead, food items that are packaged are better options, since they don’t go bad as quickly. These items include ramen, canned fruit, chips, and pickles, as well as microwaveable rice.
Inmates can purchase most of these items at the prison commissary, or store. The money they make working goes straight into their prisoner trust fund. A lot of inmates call it their commissary money. Other than calling home, most of their money goes to supplemental food supplies.
Ramen is a popular option because it’s small, and it doesn’t cost very much. Prisoners earn as little as 15 cents an hour in their prison jobs, so the cheaper, the better. Plus, food like ramen will last longer, and they can store it easier. Inmates even use ramen as payment for small favors like holding one’s place in line.
Fresh fruit is hard to come by, so canned fruit is the next best thing. You can also add it to any meal as a side or a dessert. Fruit cocktail is widely used as it’s a variety of fruits and easy to come by.
With dinner being served early, chili works best for a late at night meal to stave off hunger. Inmates can also add on different options to the chili, so it doesn’t get old. Some of those things include Slim Jims, Cheez Whiz, or beef jerky.
Pickles are another way to substitute for the lack of fresher options. Most vegetables served in the prison system involve boiled or mashed canned veggies. Pickles, on the other hand, are tart and crunchy and can come in spicy options. The commissary often sells dill pickles individually, so inmates can often purchase the crunchy treat.
Prisons are required to give inmates a sufficient amount of calories per day. To do this, cooks will add a couple of pats of margarine to inmates’ meals. Many times there isn’t any bread to put the margarine on, but with only two meals a day, they find a way to make it work.
Inmates often purchase microwaveable rice as a way to substitute carbs. They can usually buy it in the commissary, and it tides them over until mealtime.
Prison food is not known for its amazing taste. Instead, it’s rather bland and leaves much to the imagination. Inmates use hot sauce to add spice, or ketchup to mask bad tasting food.
Chips are a great food to snack on until mealtime and are very popular in prison. Everyone has their favorite, but The Whole Shabang is a prison variety that everyone loves. It’s a combination of barbeque and salt and vinegar along with other flavors.
Inmates who have been in the prison system find ways to replace prison meals altogether. If you work enough and save enough, you can enjoy a variety of options. This can include instant oatmeal, with a combo of nuts, and a powdered milk mix. If you save enough, you can buy the kind of food you actually enjoy.
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