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May 30, 2007 11:55 AM

favorite school cafeteria food for a party

i'm throwing a housewarming and decided to make the menu a throwback to the food we loved that was served in our school cafeterias as kids.

is there anything else you'd like to add? thanks!

and, as a guest, would you enjoy these eats at a party?

- sloppy joes
- u-shaped pizzas
- quesadillas
- grilled cheese
- pb & j
- chicken nuggets
- fish sticks
- corn dogs
- american chop suey
- mac n cheese
- french fries
- cupcakes
- brownies
- spiked fruit punch / iced tea
- jello shots

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  1. Yeast Cinnamon Rolls with Icing!!
    Chocolate - Cooked Pudding
    Tapioca - Cooked Pudding
    Meat Loaf
    Chicken Pot Pies

    1. Sound fun! Depending on the age of your crowd, I would switch out the quesadillas for tacos. Schools did not serve quesadillas when I was young (and I am in my early 30's), but maybe they became popular more recently.
      In our elementary school the weekly menu was always the following:
      Monday- hamburgers
      Tuesday- chicken nuggets
      Wednesday- tacos
      Thursday- chicken fried steak
      Friday- pizza or fish sticks (during lent)

      1. Growing up in the New York City public school system in the 70s and 80s, here are my fond memories:

        Jamaican beef patty (called turnovers)
        Pizza rolls
        crinkle cut fries
        beef ravioli (Chef Boyardee style)
        fish sticks
        hot dogs with baked beans
        stuffed grape leaves (believe it or not)

        As a guest, I probably would like more of a gourmet/twist version of some of those foods you list. For example, grilled cheese sandwich was made with toasted Wonder bread with American cheese (unbuttered). Today, I would probably prefer it buttered with a better cheese. I'd also like real mac and cheese versus the Kraft stuff I grew up with.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          For hot dogs with baked beans, are you talking about weiners and beans?? That's what I'd suggest.


          1. re: Miss Needle

            yes, pizza rolls, I think it was an eggroll wrapper filled with pizza ingredients, I think it was the only I ever ate from the cafeteria!

          2. don't forget the tater tots! one of my girlfriends who can't cook to save her life brought these to a bbq the other weekend (along with her toaster oven funnily enough) and they were one of the most popular snacks. go figure.

            1. See Jane and Michael Stern's book, "Square Meals." Of course the school cafeteria food they talk about was theirs and mine, from the '40s and '50s, when weiners were always served with kraut and never as a hot dog (much less corn dogs!), and pizza wasn't even on the horizon, not to mention tacos or quesadillas. Their recipe for School Cafeteria Macaroni & Cheese calls for real cheese, and butter instead of Parkay, but the method of preparation is more or less the same as for the blue-box stuff: combine the cooked pasta with butter and hot milk, stir in the cheese, then bake it. Very different from the creamy kind, but good in its way.

              My favorite cafeteria dish was something they called Marietta, made with browned ground beef, tomatoes, onions, kidney beans and cooked macaroni, finished by stirring in a good amount of government cheese and then baking it in those giant flat rectangular pans. Not only did I love it, but as it's the sort of thing many kids hate on sight I could easily score several extra helpings...

              2 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen

                that last thing sounds like a rendition of american chop suey. i found a good recipe off of

                1. re: Will Owen

                  i'm in my early 20's and we were still getting hotdogs with kraut and mashed potatoes for school lunches in the 90's. it was my favorite meal, i liked to mix the yellow mustard packets into the kraut and potatoes and eat it all on top of the hot dog. the other favorite was breakfast for lunch. we would barter for sausage links, haha.

                  i second anyone who said tater tots. also for dessert we had jack and jill ice cream bars, like chocolate and strawberry ├ęclairs, dixie cups, popsicles etc. it might be cool to get an assortment and let people pick their faves.