Rations for a Feast!

Rations for a Feast!

Field rations. The one unifying experience that every full-time national serviceman (NSF) will learn to appreciate during their field camp exercises. After a gruelling hot day spent in the jungle, nothing hits the spot like a feast of local flavours close to the heart. 

Field rations, also known as combat ration, are commonly used by armies worldwide. Also used in disaster relief operations, these pre-packaged meals are easy to carry around while providing much needed basic nutrition to its users.

Field rations; food on the go!
Photos sourced from wikipedia.org and telegraph.co.uk

Armed with an extended shelf life, field rations usually consist of canned, pre-cooked or freeze-dried foods which taste distinctly different from freshly cooked meals. Likely to be tailored to suit local taste buds, combat rations require minimal preparation and can be readily consumed by deployed military troops. 

More than just taste...

Famed French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said that “an army marches on its stomach”, and it is a statement that remains untarnished by time. With food tied intrinsically to a soldier’s physical and mental well-being, it is no wonder that one of the most important breakthroughs in military technology in recent times is that of a long life pizza ration. 

A short Napoleonic statement that stands tall in the sands of time!
Photo sourced from lifehack.org

As the most widely requested item by common US soldiers, the “three-year pizza” is a bigger boost to the US army’s morale than any sophisticated piece of weaponry.  After numerous years of research, the “holy grail” of ration-pack food delivers the authentic cheesy taste while avoiding the pitfalls of a soggy crust!

The “three-year pizza” is considered the “holy grail” of army rations!”
Photos sourced from dailymail.co.uk

Hawker-styled ration

Here in Singapore, our culinary heritage is reflected in our very own army ration pack menu. Comprising of local favourites like chicken rice, tandoori chicken and mutton rendang, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) also offer vegetarian options such as mock chicken curry. Wash off that comforting meal with some Pocari Sweat or hearty all-time favourite desserts such as red bean soup, milk barley and green bean soup. 

The extensive Singapore field ration pack that every NSF have come to love!
Photo sourced from insing.com

Plus, let’s not forget the buffet of small little treats that everyone has come to love. The much beloved pack of instant noodles, alongside packs of old-school Khong Guan chocolate biscuits, is a welcomed treat as we sip our heart-warming powdered Milo!

But, that’s just us. Have you wondered what other ration packs from around the world are like? Well, fasten your seat belt and put your flight tray in the downward position as we bring you an international buffet of army ration packs!


Photo sourced from theguardian.com

A country famous for its culinary prowess, the Italian army rations will not disappoint. Short of bringing their mamas along for the war, the Italian soldiers get to start their day off with powered cappuccino accompanied by some crispy biscotti. After enjoying a starter of pasta and bean soup, a rice salad and a can of turkey serves as the bulk of the meal. 

For dessert, the Italians get a can of fruit salad, a muesli chocolate bar and a power bar. Furthermore, Italian troops can also lift their spirits with a shot of their famed alcohol cordiale grappa


Photo sourced from theguardian.com

Another bastion of culinary excellence, the French army ration is truly a gourmet affair! The streamlined ration pack kicks off with a deer pâté while offering coffee or a flavoured drink as a beverage. As for the main course, expect sophisticated fare like cassoulet with duck confit or creole-style pork.

After polishing off a crème chocolate pudding, the soldiers can either indulge in a little Dupont d'Isigny caramel or some breakfast muesli.


Photo sourced from theguardian.com

True to their functional nature, the Germans keep it simple but homely in their variation of the army ration. Featuring a variety of powdered fruit juice, the German soldier will be right at home with familiar treats like liver-sausage spread and rye bread. 

After wolfing down the main of goulash stew with potatoes, they can even consume the remaining bread with sour cherry and apricot jams!


Photo sourced from theguardian.com

Probably the most eclectic ration menu ever, the Estonians truly enjoys a feast of international fare. While breakfast consists of the run-of-the-mill honeyed muesli and fruit juice, it is in the main meal that the pack really shines. 

Starting with stuffed peppers, chicken pâté and smoked sprat fish, the Estonian soldier’s culinary journey ends off with a main of liver sausage with potatoes. After which if they are still peckish, they get to polish off a vanilla halva or dessert!

Czech Republic

While most combat rations come packed in a vacuum sealed pack, the Czech have opted for the compactness of large foil “cans”. Known as the Bojová Dávka Potravin (BDP), the ready-to-eat main course options includes beef roast, pork goulash and spicy risotto! 

To round off the pack, each solider is given a meat and cheese spread, hard bread, cookies , jam, a chocolate bar and even chewing gum! Now, that’s something you wouldn’t find here!


Inspired by the Norwegians and Americans, the Danish are flexing their technological muscle by introducing freeze-dried main meals. But, they don’t just stop there. Adopting “freeze-dry” as their official ration theme, each Danish soldier also get to chill with dried fruits and nuts, an energy bar, and some hard biscuits!


Using ration packs from local Swedish company, 24 hour meals, the Swedish can boast having one of the most extensive menu ever. Capable of delivering both freeze-dried and wet meals, the Nordic nation has everything from one to four-course meals for every climate and mission. Currently in its fifth generation, the 24 hour meals combat edition menu has a variation of 40 different dishes!


Designed for four, the Israeli “battle ration” or Manot Krav is a care food package consisting of tuna, canned olives, sweet corn, pickled cucumbers, halva spread, chocolate spread, peanuts and matzoh crackers. An additional “ambush” pack of candy and protein energy bars are also thrown in. 

Recently, Israel introduced new individual self-heating ration packs to be carried and used by infantry troops within 24 hours. With ten options to choose from, soldiers get to enjoy chicken, turkey and turkey on top of dry salami, dried fruits, sweet rolls and preserved dinner rolls!

United States (US)

Photo sourced from theguardian.com

Featuring an assortment of sweet delights, every US soldier’s sweet tooth will be aptly satisfied with a menu of  almond poppy seed pound cake, and some cranberries and peanut butter crackers. If that doesn’t fill the troops, they can also dig in to the typical American fare of pasta with spicy tomato sauce. 

But, the real show stopper in the pack is the groundbreaking “flameless heater”. Utilising a self-heating powder pack, this piece of impressive American tech is hot enough to warm any plastic meal pouch.


Photo sourced from theguardian.com

Consisting of three types of ration pack, our ally Down Under’s “Combat Ration One Man” weighs around 1.5 to 1.7kg. Designed to be traded amongst fellow soldiers, the 24-hour ration parcel has two main courses which is further supplemented by assortment of snacks and drinks. Besides offering a vegetarian main option, the highlights includes staples like the oatmeal Anzac biscuits, M&M’s, condensed milk and even the beloved vegetable spread Vegemite.


With two types of rations, the old schooled Type I ration is a hail back to the wonder years of canned delight. In addition to canned rice (white, red beans and mushroom), the Japanese soldier also gets to enjoy two other cans of mains (usually a meat and vegetable) and their famed pickled vegetable Takuan.

The Type II ration, on the other hand, is an ode to modernity. Consisting of ready-to-eat meals, the meal pouch is made out of two rice packs and three mains pack. Featuring favourites like hamburger patties, beef curry and Yakitori chicken, troops also get pouches of picked vegetable, salad and even instant soup to boot!

So, what is your favourite field ration memory? 


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