Eating Some Hospital Food Is Enough to Keep Anyone There

By Larissa C

If you’ve ever had bad hospital food, you’re not alone. Regardless of where in the world you are, hospital food is probably infamous for being terrible. Like motherly behavior, which is basically the same across the globe, hospital food is weird everywhere. The purpose of being hospitalized is to get better. Hospitals have different ways of helping with that, from providing medical care to ensuring that patients are treated nicely. The meals they provide should also aim to improve patients’ health — though we all know that reality is far from that. While we hope that you don’t have to visit a hospital and taste the food yourself, if you did end up in the hospital, you would probably have to eat one of the meals you will see below. Here are 45 times that hospital food looked questionable!

Is that really enough?

Hospital food is not exactly the best food we’ll ever eat, and it’s kind of understandable. If you’re staying at the hospital, it means that you need to take care of yourself and be healthy — and that’s supposed to be its purpose.

Image courtesy of abraabraka/Reddit

We need to stay healthy to feel better, but maybe this hospital took the concept of healthy eating too seriously. How are a slice of bread, some cream cheese, and a raw onion supposed to make a patient feel full? 

I guess they were trying to be kind?

When we’re sick, we need to follow a healthy diet to help us get back on our feet. Sure, those diets are not always pleasant, especially when we have to cut down on carbohydrates or other things that we love, but they’re meant to help us.

Image courtesy of AliMaadelat/Twitter

This guy’s mother, for instance, was supposed to eat a caffeine-free meal, as caffeine was not doing her any good. The hospital staff wanted to treat her nicely since cutting caffeine isn’t easy. They decided to make her a fancy breakfast. However, it looks anything but fancy when you look at the meal!

A vegetarian meal!

Over the years, hospitals have had to adapt the meals they give to patients to fit different diets and lifestyles. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you don’t have to worry — hospitals also have vegetarian/vegan meals! Well, maybe “meal” is a stretch.

Image courtesy of FurFlux/Reddit

We didn’t say that your meal would be nutritious, did we? This hospital in Germany was serving this vegetarian meal to patients. It’s safe to say that this meal is quite bland. We guess they forgot that vegetarians don’t just eat carrots!

Are you sure this is food?

While hospital food may not taste delicious, some of the food they serve does look good. The opposite is also sometimes true: the food doesn’t look appealing, but it tastes awesome. However, some hospital meals are simply awful, just like this next one.

Image courtesy of RonaldTheGiraffe/Reddit

This patient expected to receive a meat soup for lunch but ended up receiving this dish instead. The more you look at this thing, the less it looks like actual food. Some may even argue that this is not food, but it looks more like an organ!

How sweet — not really!

Patients are not the only ones who eat hospital food — hospital staff does too! Doctors and nurses spend much of their lives inside a hospital, working hard to help other people. When this hospital decided to express their appreciation for the staff, they served a special meal.

Image courtesy of colton310/Reddit

We guess we don’t even have to point out that this food is not special at all! Imagine working 40+ hours a week and receiving this meal as a token of appreciation for all your hard work? We wonder if this meal was actually a hidden message to tell the staff they should work harder…


The hospital we just showed was not the only one that had the idea of sending a special meal as a way of thanking health care professionals. These professionals deserve, indeed, to be praised for their work — and they certainly deserve more than just this:

Image courtesy of NurseSarahB/Reddit

If you’re not sure what exactly this is, don’t worry. It’s kind of hard to guess at first glance that this is a meatloaf. Well, at least it is supposed to be meatloaf. Hopefully, this hospital food tastes better than it looks.

What is that?

So far, the hospital food we’ve shown you has had a shared characteristic — and no, we’re not talking about their appearance. Those dishes had in common that the meals looked like they would barely fulfill anyone’s appetite. This next one, though?

Image courtesy of pockets3d/Reddit

Looking at this hospital meal, we can’t help but wonder if quantity even means anything. What is the point of having that much food when it looks like that? If you’re wondering if that dark thing is mud, we’re sad to inform you that we don’t know. It could be anything, really!

Darth Vader, is that you?

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you would love to visit this hospital. Hopefully, you won’t have to, though. When this patient was hospitalized, he expected that the food would at least look decent — but he was in for a surprise!

Image courtesy of Johnmcguirk/Reddit

Imagine being in a hospital and eating healthy food to get stronger and feel better, but receiving this meal. That sausage is so burned that some folks have even compared it to Darth Vader after he got burned in that iconic Star Wars scene!

Wait, is that how a burger is supposed to look?

While that German hospital served carrots and fries to its vegan and vegetarian patients, this other hospital raised the bar for preparing vegetarian food. Instead of eating carrots, you can eat vegan burgers! That actually sounds pretty good. Check this out:

Image courtesy of tveir/Reddit

The veggie burger does look kind of good, but there’s something wrong about this hospital food. First of all, couldn’t they have picked a nicer loaf of bread? What really gets our attention, though, is that the veggie burger is under the bread.

I said noodles!

For some people, eating certain hospital foods is compulsory. Depending on what you’re getting treated for, your doctor or dietitian may tell you to follow a specific diet. However, some patients, the ones who are slightly healthier, get to choose their own meals.

Image courtesy of OpheliaMorningwood/Reddit

This woman was in the hospital and had to choose her daily meal. As she read the hospital menu, she thought that asking for noodles was good enough. However, she probably forgot to mention that she wanted noodles, in the plural — and not a single noodle!

So colorful!

Most of the foods we’ve shown thus far looked rather bland. Well, we’re about to change that. This next meal is certainly not bland, although we are not sure if that means anything in the end. Once you see this next picture, you’ll understand what we mean:

Image courtesy of Buddahfinger666/Reddit

See how colorful this hospital meal looks? Does that change the fact that this food looks questionable in the least? Not at all. In fact, there are so many colors that we don’t even know if they go well together. This hospital meal is certainly not getting points for appearance!

Maybe this is not so bad.

Out of all the meals we’ve shown you until here, this next hospital food may be the least awful of them all. It’s not that it looks tasty or anything, but it does look slightly more presentable than what we’ve seen so far.

Image courtesy of jjjkkkjkjk/Reddit

Looking at this picture, you probably agree with us. This meal may not look quite fulfilling —  it’s only an egg, a roll, and a milk carton, after all — but it doesn’t look nearly as bad as other foods that hospitals serve.  

Is that all?

Patients and staff are not the only people who eat at hospitals. Imagine that you’re visiting someone being treated. You stop by the cafeteria to grab a quick snack before you leave. This meal will encourage you to bring your own snacks next time.

Image courtesy of Andrei144/Reddit

One would think that the food in a hospital’s cafeteria would be different from what is served to patients. When this woman ordered a ham sandwich, she certainly didn’t expect to receive that meal. Three slices of bread and half a slice of ham?

What is this combination?

When we think of rice sandwiches, we’re immediately reminded of Japanese dishes. A rice sandwich is a type of sushi you can order, and it’s called “Onigirazu.” When this patient asked for that dish, the hospital took it far too literally!

Image courtesy of Yauchness/Reddit

Now that’s what we call a rice sandwich — quite literally! Imagine choosing a specific meal and ending up receiving this weird hospital food. Who eats rice and bread? And if the sandwich wasn’t enough, the hospital even added a baguette to the mix!

How do you like your food?

If you’re curious to know our answer to the question above, here it is: not burned, that’s for sure! If we’re hospitalized, that’s because we need to get healthier than we were when we went in. And a patient is certainly not getting healthier if they’re eating this hospital food:

Image courtesy of alternageek2/Reddit

Yes, we know that hospitals are not restaurants, and the food they serve doesn’t have to be the best in the world. But we also think that hospital food should look presentable, or at least taste like actual food.

Are you sure humans can eat this?

At this point, we truly expect to see anything coming from hospital meals. Still, we can’t help but be surprised and disgusted at some of the things we see here. This next meal, for instance, looks both awful and intriguing at the same time.

Image courtesy of Mattho/Reddit

While the mashed potatoes look edible, the rest of this hospital food looks rather questionable. First of all, what is that stew? And what in the world is that bland-looking thing on the plate? It reminds us of rabbit food!

Well, it doesn’t look horrible.

Just by looking at what we’ve listed so far, we noticed that hospital food in Europe looks quite bland, while hospital food in the US looks colorful. This next meal was served in a European hospital, and it kind of proves our point.

Image courtesy of malta3/Reddit

Imagine that you’re in dire need of getting better at the hospital, but this is all they serve for lunch. You’re likely to be unhappy if all you’re eating is a chunk of processed meat, mashed potatoes, and some green paste. At least it’s presented decently well.

Thank you for your generosity.

Considering how much we have to spend to get medical care, one would think that hospital food would at least be enough to make us feel full. Well, that’s far from reality. While we did show you some rather generous meals, this next meal is far from it:

Image courtesy of Kristina Galinauskait?/Facebook

How is that meal supposed to make patients feel stronger and healthier? Another thing that gets our attention when we look at this image is that it’s hard to tell what that yellow-ish thing is. It kind of looks like a piece of cheese, but it’s actually an egg!

What is up with that chicken?

We’re almost halfway through with this article, and we are certain that we will still see many foods that will turn our stomachs. Let’s start with the hospital food in the picture below, which doesn’t look tasty in the slightest.

Image courtesy of Sivispacemparabellum/Reddit

This food was served in a hospital in Wisconsin, and it’s unpleasant to even look at it. Why is there only corn and that grease-covered chicken? Patients would expect at least to have some rice or another vegetable accompanying that meal!


As much as we would love to eat a delicious meal while hospitalized, we all know that is unlikely. But, as we’ve stated, again and again, it should meet basic nutrition requirements, right? We understand skipping some seasoning or gravy.

Image courtesy of MamWidelec/Reddit

The thing is: we’re not sure to what extent this meal is going to help anyone. By looking at it, we can tell that this is not exactly a meal rich in nutrients — plus, it looks awful. Some people have even compared this hospital food to some very unpleasant bodily fluids!

Where’s the meal I ordered?

Depending on where you are in the world, you might not be able to choose the hospital food you get. However, some countries have hospitals that provide menus that allow patients to choose what they will eat for breakfast and dinner. 

Image courtesy of Ididntknowthathaha/Reddit

But does that mean your food will taste or look good? Not necessarily. This person, for instance, ordered the chicken teriyaki from the hospital menu but received this meal. First of all, why so little chicken? Second of all, where is the teriyaki?

Maybe it’s a diet clinic?

Accepting ourselves for the way we are is definitely the way to go — but sometimes, we can’t help but want to change. Even losing just a couple of pounds can lift our spirits, and maybe this hospital can help with that.

Image courtesy of grimsexton/Reddit

Obviously, depending on the diagnosis, the patient should probably try to gain some weight while in the hospital. But how is that possible when hospital food looks like that? The person who took this photo lost 20 pounds because they ate this meal almost every day!

I don’t see the egg?

In this round of questionable hospital foods, we have this breakfast meal served in a European hospital. If you can guess what that is, you will win 10 points. Just kidding, there are no points here — but we’re sure you would love to know what kind of food is that!

Image courtesy of anuncommontruth/Reddit

What if we told you that there are eggs in this meal? Well, that’s because this huge conglomerate of foods is actually baked eggs covered in cheese. If only they had made it look presentable, this meal wouldn’t be on this list!

This is tasty!

What is worse: eat questionable hospital food or eat hardly any food at all while in the hospital? Ideally, we would love to eat tasty food that would be enough to fulfill us — but we can’t have it all. 

Image courtesy of UnlessYouDala/Reddit

At least the person who took this photo got to eat a potato that looks better than half of the meals we’ve shown you up until here. Sure, this is not nearly enough food for a hospital patient, but it’s better than eating food that looks inedible…right?

Jeez, what is that?

Some of the meals we’ve shown you so far looked like they weren’t food, but rather they looked like things that should be in a lab. If you’re not sure what we mean, take a look at this next image — it sums up what we said.

Image courtesy of WhyArrest/Reddit

When you look at the first half of the meal, you may think that this hospital food is not that bad. The potatoes look good, and they even have some seasoning. However, when you glance at the bottom half of the plate, you see something scary. Are those the insides of a patient? Nope, it’s some boiled cabbage, apparently.

I don’t see the mustard.

When we’re at the hospital, not only are we unable to choose the food we’re going to eat, we can’t choose the time we’re going to eat. That can make it very frustrating for those of us who like to snack.

Image courtesy of DieMitDenRotenHaaren/Reddit

We certainly understand the whole “following a hospital diet” thing but having a dissembled sandwich for dinner is pretty crazy. To make things worse, this sausage and cheese sandwich is served at 4:30 in the afternoon! Who eats dinner that early?

What’s up with the corn?

It’s interesting to think that hospital food looks like anything but food. Some of the meals we’ve shown you looked almost like food; other meals looked like the insides of a human being. And then there’s this meal, which is hard even to describe.

Image courtesy of sebaylward/Reddit

It wouldn’t be that far-fetched to think that maybe, just maybe, this meal wasn’t supposed to be served to a patient — but rather, it was meant to be studied in a lab. Also, what’s up with US hospitals serving suspicious-looking corn?

Cool…where’s the rest?

The focus of this article is hospital food, but that term involves more than just the food that is served to patients. The food you buy in the hospital cafeteria also fits in this category — but the difference is you would think the cafeteria should serve quality food.

Image courtesy of hausofpurple/Reddit

Take a good look at this picture and tell us: does that look like quality food? Well, technically, the rice does look quite good, but there’s still something odd about this meal. Maybe it’s the fact that it is made up of only rice!

Can someone tell me what this is?

Have you ever pictured yourself in a situation where you would be eating food without knowing exactly what you’re eating? Well, if you ever visit this hospital, you’ll probably experience exactly that. Take a look at this next image, and let us know if you know what that is.

Image courtesy of ApostateLibrarian/Reddit

Okay, we know it’s a potato. But what’s up with the salsa and green sauce? This one might actually taste okay, but we’d still like to know what’s on top. Also, is it just us, or does the potato look less than fully cooked?

Wait, what?

This next meal we’re going to show you is intriguing for a few reasons. First of all, it is one of the blandest meals we’ve seen so far. Second of all, this hospital doesn’t like to fill up its patients’ plates.

Image courtesy of BLiNKiN4/Reddit

There’s something else that is getting our attention here. If you look to the end of the tray, you’ll see that there’s a tag. While that’s not unusual, the word that is written on the tag is. Well, that tag is not saying “poop.” It was supposed to mean “post-op”!

They want you to stay for a bit longer!

While most of the food on this list will look questionable, one thing is likely: they’re not going to cause you any harm. Hospital food may look far from pretty, but it is safe to eat it. Well, most of the time it is.

Image courtesy of Adernain/Reddit

This meal was probably not that good for the patient. Half of the food looks kind of good, but then there is that piece of turkey meat. Turkey is healthy, but only when it is cooked properly. This patient’s turkey was kind of uncooked, and that can be dangerous.

I need more!

If you’re a mother, you know that going into labor is not always a pleasant experience. Whether you’re having a C-section or a natural delivery, you have to spend hours at the hospital, and there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved.

Image courtesy of rachels_nd/Instagram

Getting some rest and eating healthily are two essential things after giving birth — so imagine that you get to your hospital room, and that is the meal waiting for you. It looks like the new mom couldn’t eat more than a few bites.

So tasty and diverse!

When we think we have seen it all, we find another picture that manages to surprise us. The patient who took this next photo had to follow a diet of liquids only, but it looks like the hospital took that concept way too seriously.

Image courtesy of fuegointhekitchen/Reddit

Looking at this picture, we can obviously tell it’s a liquids-only diet. However, the liquids here look so bland and sad. A glass of water and a bowl of stew? Maybe if they had put a little more effort into this “meal,” this wouldn’t be on the list!

An interesting mix!

Picky eaters have quite a few challenges at hospitals. Some people would rather skip breakfast, lunch, and dinner than eat a meal like those we have shown you thus far. And even when ordering something you think is safe, it can still be a nightmare.

Image courtesy of Kellie_Tallant/Twitter

This woman was annoyed that her hospital put lasagna and mashed potatoes together in the same meal in the picture above. While that mix doesn’t look that bad, something is catching our eye. If she asked for lasagna, where is the lasagna anyway?

Thanks for the lack of effort!

According to different sources on the internet, there’s a reason why hospitals serve such questionable food. Apparently, they run on a tight budget and don’t put a lot of money into preparing actually good meals. This next hospital is certainly an example of that!

Image courtesy of markybar/Reddit

Eating beans and eggs for breakfast is not uncommon in England, so, technically, there’s nothing wrong with this meal. Except for the fact that these hard-boiled eggs haven’t even been peeled before they were thrown into the beans. Talk about saving on money and effort!

Still on the topic of money…

While we’re talking about hospitals saving money and serving iffy food, here’s another example. We can assure you that none of the interesting meals we have shown you were nearly as bad as this one — and that’s saying a lot!

Image courtesy of buckeyediver/Reddit

This picture was taken in a hospital in Florida. We wonder how a single strip of bacon is supposed to fill a patient’s stomach. Especially a transparent piece that clearly came from the end of the pack. Also, is bacon something hospitals should be serving anyway?

Perfectly divided!

If you’re in the United States, you know how expensive medical care is. Not every country in the world charges for medical care — places like the United Kingdom and Brazil, for instance, have taxpayer-funded healthcare systems. While that’s great, free or inexpensive medical care also has its downsides.

Image courtesy of kushATX/Imgur

One of such downsides is that the food in hospitals is not always great when you don’t have to pay for it. This guy didn’t have any dietary restrictions but still received this small meal. Judging by how the beans are positioned, it looks like counted grain by grain so that no one would have an extra bean!

There’s something wrong here!

When you first look at this next picture, you probably won’t notice what’s odd about it. The fruit salad doesn’t look bad, and it’s the perfect dessert for hospital patients. However, learn one piece of information, and everything will make sense.

Image courtesy of generic_von_erich/Reddit

Who doesn’t like a good fruit salad? This patient probably doesn’t. And it’s not because they don’t like fruit or anything — the problem here is that this person is allergic to half of this fruit salad. If they’re allergic to melon, why is there melon in there?

So lonely!

If we’re talking about eating healthily, there are different ways of doing that. Naturally, the first step we need to take is to visit a nutritionist, who’ll prescribe us a diet. Many diets include eating toast in the morning, and this hospital included that in their menu.

Image courtesy of grimsexton/Reddit

Eating a piece of toast and tea in the morning is not the worst thing in the world. The issue with this meal is that this slice of bread looks so sad — it has no companions! Would it have hurt the hospital to at least put some butter or something on this bread?

Are you sure this is healthy?

As we mentioned before, when you’re in the hospital, you have to follow certain diets, especially when you’re about to undergo high-risk procedures. For instance, if a patient will have brain or heart surgery, they’ll need to eat healthily before the surgery.

Image courtesy of MorrisM/Reddit

One would think that hospitals would ensure that their patients were eating healthy food and getting nutrients. Well, it turns out that this particular hospital didn’t seem too concerned. They were serving bologna and sausage to patients awaiting heart surgery!

How did you manage to do that?

Given how much health care professionals work every day, it is only natural that some hospitals prepare special meals and other gifts for their employees. However, even if they have the best of intentions, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Image courtesy of KmcDocJones/Reddit

This hospital, for instance, prepared a special meal for their first-responders as a way of thanking them for all the work they have been doing in the past couple of years. The only problem is that whoever cooked this omelet managed to leave the eggs raw on the inside while burning the outside!

Yes, that is all that vegans can eat.

If you’re vegan, you know how hard your lifestyle can get sometimes. Not every store sells vegan products, and not every restaurant serves vegan food. Even the people around you might not understand veganism half of the time! This hospital certainly doesn’t.

Image courtesy of Jennyvarela/Reddit

This hospital added a vegan meal to their menu. However, when this patient ordered that meal, they had a big surprise. Do vegans only eat rice and corn? Not at all! But it looks like this hospital totally missed that memo.

All that food just for me?!

When we talk about Canada, we usually mention all the great aspects of this country. However, not everything in Canada is like a fairytale — certainly not the hospital food. This next photo is of the food they serve in a hospital in Toronto.

Image courtesy of Maybebaybe/Reddit

Now, that is not so great, is it? Canada, we can’t believe you let us down! Look at the lonely slice of (burned) bread and that piece of packaged cheese. How is anyone going to feel better when they’re eating that meal for breakfast?

The children deserve more!

In the same way that hospitals like to make special meals for their valued workers, they also sometimes prepare surprises for the patients, especially children. Being hospitalized is especially difficult for the kids, so they truly deserve those special meals.

Image courtesy of PM_ME_YOUR_XBOX_KEYS/Reddit

However, we are having a hard time trying to understand what’s special about this meal. Look at that hot dog — couldn’t they at least put some mustard in it? That sausage looks lonely, and we’re certain that the children deserved more than just that!

Wow, I don’t think I can eat all that!

If we’re talking about questionable hospital food, we want to end this article on a questionable note. While this next food is not necessarily the ugliest on our list, it’s one of the saddest — in fact, it is so sad that it becomes funny!

Image courtesy of Tim_McDermott/Reddit

When this patient got a sandwich for breakfast, everything seemed fine. Until he was about to take the first bite and noticed something off about the sandwich, it was too light for an egg sandwich, so he opened it and saw that the hospital only gave him the tiniest piece of egg.