The first ever airline meal was served in 1919 on a Handley-Page flight from London to Paris. Selections at the time typically included cold fried chicken, fruit salads, and sandwiches served in wicker baskets. The arrival of on-board kitchens in the 1930s turned the food offerings from mere sustenance to more thought-through experiences. “Sometimes planes would even stop off for lunch, serving customers in the airline hanger or at picnic tables while the plane refueled before continuing with the remainder of the trip,” according to historian Richard Foss. Reheated frozen meals served on trays began appearing in the 1940s.
See: “A Brief History of In-Flight Meals” by Anna Ben Yehuda Rahmanan on the Fortune magazine website (2019)