This paper presents results from three studies in 25 custodial facilities in three Australian states, including nutrient analyses of menus and focus groups exploring inmate attitudes. Both cook-fresh and cook-chill production systems are used. Non-selective cycle menus of 4–6 weeks are common but inmates can supplement meals by purchase of additional food items (‘buyups’). Menus included adequate variety and met most nutritional standards, with the possible exception of fruit. The sodium content of menus is above recommended levels. Protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron and zinc were more than adequate, and the percentage energy from fat is close to or meets national recommendations. Focus groups identified 16 themes, including meal quality, food available at ‘buy-ups’, cooking facilities and concerns about possible food safety risks associated with inmates storing food in cells. Many complaints were about factors not under the control of the foodservice manager.