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Dec 31, 2007 09:46 AM

School Lunch favorites

What was your favorite school lunch as a kid? Mine was something called "Meat Gravy Over Mashed Potatoes" and basically it was ground beef in gravy served over instant mashed potatoes. I also liked the chili that they served because my fussy eater mother never made anything so exotic like that at our house. I was kind of a food nerd, because I was the only kid in the school that would eat some of the vegetables that were served, like spinach and beets. I didn't like the pizza, which was served weekly. That was something that all the kids loved, but not me. We had the stereotypical lunch lady named Mrs. Perry she had her hair dyed about the same color as the background of this chowhound frame and wore a pink hairnet and orthopedic shoes and cateye glasses. She was, true to form, mean and hated children, but she took a liking to me because of my love for spinach and beets and always gave me extra vegetables, no charge.

Anyway, my son currently loves a dish they serve at his school called "Cheesy Taco Mac". My understanding is that it is like macaroni and cheese with taco meat in it. I tried a recipe from Velveeta, and he rejected it outright. Anyone have a good recipe for it?


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  1. The one dish that sticks out is the school cafeteria Apple Crisp. It came in this cardboard container with shrink wrap over it and it was served cold. I have no idea why I liked it...I mean it was basically cold oatmeal with apple pie filling.

    The Cheesy Taco Mac dish sounds interesting, sorry I don't have it but I'm sure someone here does :) I know I could use some new dishes for my daughter's lunch box.

    1. I think we could all use some new lunch box ideas. I know I am running low on imagination right now.

      1. I think I replied to a similar post on an earlier thread.

        My fave school cafeteria foods in the 50s and 60s included bierocks, "chop suey", meat gravy over mash (just like you!), meatloaf, and--the best--enchiladas.

        2 Replies
          1. re: karykat

            German (runzas) or polish origin, kind of related to a Cornish pastie--a hand-held dinner pie. Bread dough filled with sauerkraut or shredded cabbage, chopped onion, and ground meat. Spiced with salt and black pepper. Baked, rectangular.

        1. Wouldn't the school have to tell you, as a parent concerned about what her child is eating, at least what's in the dish? Do they make it from scratch on site, or do they add a packet of taco flavoring/powder stuff. Then you could inquire about the brand so you could check out the ingredient list on line for sodium content or additives or whatever you want to tell them just to get the name. You could even ask what kind of cheese they use. With that info, I bet you could recreate it. Also, could you show up on the day they're serving it and buy a container, left-overs after the kids have eaten, and taste-test?

          I always brown-bagged it and only got to buy milk. I could tell mom was running out of ideas/staples when I got a cream cheese and jelly sandwich! My friends thought it was quite avant-garde, but I knew it was the desperation lunch and wasn't quite as enthusiastic about it!

          I think Martha Stewart's Web site has a forum for exactly this school lunch question.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nemo

            Good idea! I think the school orders this frozen from somewhere. I will check when school is back in session. But if anyone has a recipe, that would be terrific, too!

          2. my favorite school lunch day was macaroni and cheese with lil smokies. it only came w/ two lil smokies so i saved them till the very i kinda miss that kind of portion control...:o)

            1 Reply
            1. re: soypower

              ooh...I forgot about Lil Smokies. Our school lunch didn 't have them, but we used to beg my mom for them. She wouldn't buy them, or any cereal like Sugar Corn Pops or Quisp like I wanted, either. Only cornflakes or shredded wheat at our house!