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What's for lunch? Typical menu of the Soviet soldier in Afghanistan

This article was created for two reasons. One - I was asked by a reenactor to help with the menu for his week-long event (wow!). Secondly, during the Kickstarter campaign for the Soviet Weapons of the Afghan war it was promised to add a typical daily ration for a Soviet soldier in Afghanistan if the campaign of my mum would be successful. And it was! But while the added daily ration will be in more of a menu form, in this article I want to go into a bit more details.

It is vitally important to understand, that not everyone in Afghanistan was in the same conditions. There was a an infinite gap between the lunch of an air force pilot and a member of Spetsnaz unit on an operation. However, the main difference was in the way food was supplied and served. The taste and allowance could be counter intuitive.

Overall, there were four different types of eating out:

  • In the canteen

  • On the outpost

  • During mounted operation

  • On a dismounted operation

soviet food in Afghanistan
Delivery to some outposts was done by helicopters

Many soldiers would experience all these types of catering, but in this article we will talk mainly about eating on the outposts. First of all, we already have an article on food in the Soviet Army, which generally covers how it was all organized in the canteens. Secondly, this blog is mainly designed for the reenactors. At this stage in reenactment history we are not developed to have canteens, but advanced enough to mimic the life on the outposts!

Life on the outpost

Since this article if about the outposts and because most reenactment and airsoft events are rotating around the same setup, it is best to start with one of our older articles. It actually explains why outposts were a big thing in Afghanistan and how life was there.

What is important to understand for this article is that outposts were usually very small - from 10 to 20 people. The supply was rare, around once a week, so only long-term products could be stored. The food was cooked by the soldiers themselves - not by the professional cooks. But this was usually a good thing.

Regular food on the outpost

The food norms and the supply system were more or less equal across the Soviet Army. It is a well known fact that food in the Soviet Army was... tolerable at best. Situation in Afghanistan was even worse, mainly due to logistical and refrigeration limitations. Typical soldiers' "delicacies" like pure butter and eggs were not common food in Afghanistan even in regimental canteens. Soldier on the outposts could not even dream for anything like that.

Instead, most of the food available consisted of long term products - grains, cereals, canned food and potato. Well, in many cases it was not real potato, but something like potato powder. Hence, typical menu of a Soviet soldier on an outpost would look like this.

soviet food in Afghanistan
Typical kitchen in the field


Typically, breakfast was presented by some sort of porridge (kasha) with little meat or fish. With butter and bread. As was said before, butter was rare on the outposts, but otherwise breakfast would be like that. And in most cases it was much tastier, because it was cooked for a dozen of people rather than for 400.


For lunch, Soviet soldiers would get three dishes - soup, main dish, which could be macaroni, potato or, again, kasha. Some meat was also in order, as well as a salad. Well, not really a salad - more like sauerkraut. Then again, in Afghanistan this would usually be limited to just the main dish - due to lack of both water and vegetables. So, basically, some mashed potatoes and canned meat would be a good lunch.


Due to lack in food variety, the dinner would not be much different from lunch, and, essentially, of breakfast.


There were three main types of non alcoholic, "army issued" drinks in the Soviet Forces - tea, coffee and cacao. Other drinks were also available from time to time, but they would greatly depend on region, season and other factors. In Afghanistan another drink was popular due to necessity - camel thorn decoction. Drinking raw water contained a high risk of infection, so soldiers would try to avoid it.

Other food and drinks

There were couple of extras to brighten soldier's day. First of all, the Army tried its best to provide the bread in decent qualities and of decent quality even to the furthermost garrisons. In Afghanistan bigger bases had their own bakeries, which would supply close enough outposts. Those who lived in hard to reach areas were given crackers and biscuits, as well as flour to make flatbread themselves.

Another tasty and universally treat given to the soldiers was the condensed milk. Being universally loved by the Soviet citizens it was a very popular and almost only obtainable desert in the realities of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan.

Lastly, depending on the situation, soldiers would sometimes be supplied by the local population. This was very limited, however - the outpost had to be next to a busy road or next to a village. The latter was not common practice.

soviet food in Afghanistan
Fishing with grenades was popular

Products to take with your for an event

Here is a short list of period appropriate foods you should be bringing for the Afghan themed event to make it more authentic:

  • Grains and cereals - wheat, buckwheat, rice

  • Army noodles - lowest quality macaroni you can find

  • Potato

  • Canned meat / fish

  • Bread or crackers

  • Condensed milk can be found in Eastern European grocery stores

soviet food in Afghanistan

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