Hospital Food (Term Used Loosely)

One of the side effects of this hospital stay is, I have become a proper Englishman. I say this because every single meal has come with a cup of tea. And to make matters worse, it’s been decaf. I haven’t had coffee in three days, and my pounding head is reminding me of this fact. I like tea just fine, but don’t go out of my way to drink it. Then yesterday I realized the “lemon juice” option under beverages was not straight-up lemon juice, but a little packet to squeeze into your tea. Yeah, I’m a little slow sometimes. Once that dawned on me, I started drinking the tea instead of pushing it aside. Now I actually look forward to it. How bloody cheeky of me, eh, chap?

I haven’t had any spotted dick, though.

(Thank god. Diabetes is bad enough).

Speaking of hospital food, I just have to rant a little. I know people don’t come here for fine dining, and there are usually dietary restrictions (especially for those damn diabetics), but there are things they could do differently. A few observations/comments…

  • Quit trying to make the menu sound better than it is. “Spinach mushroom mozzarella scramble” and “hot open-faced turkey sandwich with rich brown gravy and a medley of fresh seasonal vegetables” sound a lot better than they actually are.
  • I know it saves money to combine three menus on one sheet, but when you’re on a liquid diet and you see that they are serving hamburgers to other patients, that just hurts.
  • There are two cooking techniques in the hospital: “well done” and “more well done.” It’s not necessary to cook a 4 oz. portion of meat for 60 minutes. I have never longed for “medium rare” so much!
  • You guys sure do love mashed potatoes. I’m surprised you don’t serve ’em with breakfast, because they accompany every other meal. Don’t get me wrong, I like ’em, too – but the single bland scoop dished up here does not make my mouth water.
  • Knock it off with the “chef’s seasoning” already. It is not a substitute for salt, no matter how pretty it is (thanks to paprika, maybe?). No proper chef would ever season his/her food with this stuff.
  • Margarine? Really? That stuff will kill you faster than whatever you came in for.
  • I don’t consider melons, melons and more melons a “fruit medley.” Even if they were cantaloupes, honeydew, and watermelon. Let’s see some mandarin orange and banana slices in there. Some apples. A pineapple chunk or two.
  • Fat free cream cheese reminds me of spackling paste. In both texture and taste.

Chefs SeasoningBut enough of the negatives. There were a few bright spots. The “classic meatloaf” I had last night was pretty decent (though that might have had something to do with my mom sneaking me in a salt packet…shh). And the low-calorie syrup I put on my french toast yesterday morning was surprisingly flavorful. The best thing I’ve had to eat this entire time, though? The salsa I put on my eggs this morning. Compared to everything else, it was packed with flavor.

"Classic meatloaf"
“Classic meatloaf”

Better still? My wonderful daughter took the bus here last night to bring me a small bowl of black-eyed peas and ham. These are supposed to bring good luck if you eat them on New Year’s Day. They worked for me back in 2012, to the tune of $47K. Tara made a big batch yesterday, but came down with a bad cold and couldn’t bring them to me, so Audrey stepped up to the plate. She’s pretty special, that one.

Enjoying a bowl for good luck in 2015!
Enjoying a bowl for good luck in 2015!

But enough about food. I’m going home today! They’re discharging me around noon, which probably means 2 PM, but I’m not complaining. Three days here is quite enough. I feel great – full of energy, able to see again. My nurses, time and again, have complimented me on what a nice guy I am, great attitude, excellent sense of humor, etc. It was my goal coming in to be the patient that everybody liked, and I think I’ve pulled that off.

“We need more patients like you,” a bunch of them have said, which makes me wonder whether most patients who wind up in the hospital are grumpy and insubordinate.

Must be all the hard to chew meat.

Homeward bound!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

15 thoughts on “Hospital Food (Term Used Loosely)

  1. You’ve had a lot of time to think about the food, haven’t you, Mark??? LOL! This post cracked me up! It sounds awful! Are you going to have to completely revamp your diet when you get home?


    1. I had a lot of time to think about a lot of things, lol. When you’re stuck in the hospital, mealtime becomes the highlight of your day. I started thinking about dinner about 2 PM, no kidding. I’ve already made drastic steps to revamp my diet…more in my next post.


  2. “I haven’t had any spotted dick, though.”

    Bwhahahhaha! Mark, that cracked me the hell up!

    Can you believe that I have never had to spend time in a hospital? So I have no idea about their food, but have heard similar stories like yours. It sucks! I have to say though, that the picture of the meatloaf looks VERY yummy! And did they supply that fancy plate, or did someone bring it to you? I always thought they served hospital food on plastic plates.

    And I’m not surprised that the hospital staff enjoyed you because you probably had them all cracking up laughing. I bet they’re going to hate to see you go.

    Anyway, I’m sure home by now and enjoying REAL food.

    Take care, buddy. And have a SUPER weekend!


    1. You’re lucky that you’ve never been in the hospital, Ron. I’ve now logged 9 nights in the last 3 years. You know what? That’s enough!

      The hospital supplied the plate. It’s funny, all their “fine” china was covered in a plastic lid. Go figure.


  3. I am glad you are going home. I have friends who have actually ordered in, yes they did that. What is it with coffee? I would have been beating the nurses to compliance, but then that is me and I am not a good patient. It is nice you set a goal and achieved it.


    1. Your friends ordered takeout to be delivered? Ha! That was mighty tempting, especially when all I had was clear broth. But in the end, I knew I’d only be hurting myself if I did that.


      1. We we were in the hospital for different reasons, I wasn’t on a restricted diet. I have been in the hospital more times than I can even remember. Once, after I was shot a comatose, when I woke the doctor said he would release me to home care when I ate. I wouldn’t eat the hospital food (it was disgusting), I couldn’t really swallow anything. A friend brought me Blizzard’s from the local Dairy Queen, I went home that day. I think I threatened the doctor (different story).


  4. Not having had hospital food myself I can not say I feel your pain. But many times I have accompanied my brother on his hospital stays and I have seen the horrendous food they offer. His ceasar salad looked like a bowl of lettuce with one piece of shredded cheese. How exactly will that help him build his strength up? I feel like there must be a better way to help these ailing patients since food is an important part of getting better!


Add Your Two Cents!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: