Soldiers in world war two ate differently depending on where they were deployed or stationed, while in the field or during combat situations they would eat what are called c-rations, most of the time they were awful.
ON a base, stateside, pretty much the same food as in a cheap cafe. Cooked in large amounts, and served cafeteria style, with a time limit on how long you had to eat it. 20 minutes and get out, so the next group can come in and get their meal. No luxury cuts of meat, no steaks, or roast beef, or the like.
Cheap food, like hot dogs, chipped beef, hamburgers, beans, rice, baloney, macaroni and cheese, soup, bread, corned beef, stew. Little bakery goods, except donuts, and cookies. Milk and water and coffee to drink.
IN the field, during training exercises, the troops might get hot food from a field kitchen, or they might eat field rations, that they cooked themselves.
In action, the unit's cooks were responsible to make hot meals, from the supplies that came up from the rear area supply dumps. The food came in large 10 pound cans, and in bulk bags, of flour rice and beans, that weighed 50 pounds. If hot food was not possible, the soldiers ate cold rations from their personal ration boxes. Cold anything is better than NOTHING at all to eat.
Stealing food from the local people was also encouraged, to make for some variety in the make up of the meals. Farm boys knew how to cook a chicken along with some carrots and potatoes, to make a stew. Looted wine or liquor was also popular, with any meal, even breakfast. Ever wonder how many US soldiers were dead drunk, just before they became dead? Lots.
1 Tin of Corned Beef (better known as 'Bully Beef' to friend and foe alike). Comes in the tan-and-green early war Australian military labeled tin. Of course, this is the proper key-turn variety tin with the silver-colored ends as made in Argentina for the Australian Armed forces to this day. Ready to "pour" from the tin when the temperatures reach 110 degrees and up!
2 Packs of Arnott's Plain Biscuits (These are military biscuits and not fancies)--Hard on the teeth but oh-so-filling! Sealed inside cello bags, inside the buff and properly labeled early war wrapper reminiscent of WW1 ANZAC fame. (3 ounces each)
1 Tin of Tuna in the proper buff-labeled "Diamond Brand" tin as seen in many pictures of Australian rations from the war. Fish was a vital component to rations for men in the desert, to receive plenty of protein in a not-so filling package, while delivering a bit more salt to the diet in order to encourage drinking of water.
3 packs of WEET BIX, Australia's favorite high-nutrition Cereal/biscuit. These can be eaten dry as a snack, or boiled with water and sugar, or, better yet, eaten in Milk (hot or cold) as an energy breakfast. Standard Aussie issue wrapper from the time period covers one serving each of these sealed inside an inner cello pouch.
1 Roll of Steam Rollers Mints in the buff war-time wrapper. These are actual Australian Steam Rollers as issued to troops, and will pleasantly surprise you folks if you don't care for the British or German mints that eat your lips off. These are mild and tasty, and were one of the favorites with all troops in the theater, even inspiring some German mint makers to work on more pleasant mint varieties when some rolls made it back from the front!
1 pack of Indian "Sun" brand matches, which were both issued and sold through NAAFI outlets. They were cheap, plentiful and somewhat waterproof, and come in ghastly hand-assembled and labeled wood and paper boxes, just like the originals!
American soldiers during WWII ate mainly rations from cans of
varying size called C-rations. The C-rations came in a small
variety of concoctions and with various accessories to include
candy, cigarettes etc. There was also an emergency ration called
the D-ration. The D-ration consisted of a highly caloric and energy
boosting chocolate bar that was so hard some troops had to soak it
in hot coffee or water in order to eat it or use a bayonet to cut
it. This would be used when C-rations or field rations (generally
fresh food served on a cooks line) were not available. The American
paratroopers used mainly a ration known as the K-ration. The
K-ration was small, lightweight and as such was ideal for the "less
is more" way of thinking of airborne troops. The K-ration, unlike
the C-ration, consisted of a breakfast, dinner and supper menu and
contained many of the same accessories, to include the cigarettes,
as did the ration type C.
K-Rations. At least most off them were those. They were cheap, better than nothing meals. TRUST ME I HAVE TRIED IT!