The U.S. Army is buying 103 Rapid Deployment Kitchens (RDK), for about $182,000 each. These cargo container (8x8x20 feet/ 2.6x2.6x6.5 meters) size units can be quickly moved, and take only an hour to get ready for operation. The RDK was designed to be very energy efficient, thus it consumes only 10 kilowatts, and 2.5 gallons (11 liters) of fuel, an hour.
In the last decade, the army and marines have automated meal preparation in the field using equipment like RDKs. Before that, field kitchens were set up under tents. The RDK can be set up much more quickly. It takes 16 troops (usually the ones that will run it) under five hours (including erecting the tents that the troops will eat under).
The RDK is a modified civilian item, and the first ones entered service eight years ago. The older field kitchen equipment entered service in 1959. The RDK allows the cooks to serve 800 troops, three times a day, more quickly and with less effort. Good chow in the field has always been a sure way to keep morale up.
Mobile kitchens appeared on the civilian market three decades ago, and eventually the military took notice, and have since adopted many different models. Some of these kitchens are hauled around in one or more tractor trailer trucks, and can quickly establish feeding for thousands of troops. These have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.