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what was your favorite type of school lunches?

i like the strange cheeseburger things, and they baked grilled cheeses!

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  1. Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes all drenched in brown gravy, served with a side of corn, a small carton of milk, and a small cup of vanilla ice cream. Came in one those trays that had partitions dividing each food into its own little compartments.

    I always ended up moving my mashed potatoes on top of the salisbury steak and then trading my milk for someone else's mashed potatoes. Good eating.

    1. There is a (very small) soft spot in my heart for the lunch room pizza I ate in school (5-10 years ago). The perforated, soggy, rectangular bready goodness.

      1 Reply
      1. re: raleighboy

        Oh yes, I loved the rectangular pizza!

      2. The canned green beans and the canned boiled potatoes. They were my faves back in the day but for some reason, I can't even begin to think about eating them today.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chicaraleigh

          y'know...your tastes DO change...I used to LOVE Taylor Pork Roll sandwiches with cheddar cheese on a hard roll (grew up in 'Jersey)...made one a few years ago and was like ..."WHY did I love these so much?? mehhh, not so good!"

          1. re: Val

            Taylor Pork Roll, now that I can't get it, I want it. What is it about human nature that makes this true?

        2. Yea when I was a kid those weird cheese burgers wrapped in those foil like bags. amazing how tasted improve with age!

          1 Reply
          1. re: pikiliz

            we used to called them sweaty burgers and loved them! Also the sloppy joes and the chicken patties.

          2. I'm reporting from a much earlier age than most of us, I think; our milk dispenser in our Illinois school offered a heavily subsidized price, but even at that 2¢ for an 8-oz. carton sounds incredible today.

            Anyway, this was deep in the Midwest in the '50s, and burgers and pizza weren't even on the radar. We had big bowls of peanut butter on the table at one school - apparently peanut allergy hadn't been invented yet (yeah, like lung cancer!) - and most of the entrées were casserole-type dishes that could be made in large pans. My favorite dish of all was a melange of macaroni, tomatoes, hamburger, kidney beans and cheese called "Marietta", though I liked the spaghetti & meatballs, the Salisbury steak, and even the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich, with the canned roast beef and gravy over a scoop of mashed potatoes atop a slice of balloon bread. But I lived for the Marietta...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              I not quite as old. I didn't experience school lunches until 1966, only because we went home for lunch in elementary school (long before working mothers were common).

              Milk was 5 cents ala a carte, complete type A luch, Hot main, veg, starch, dessert and milk was 35 cents. All made from scratch each day in school.

              My favorite was the spaghetti with meat sauce. A hearty Bolognese made by the kitchen ladies who had immigrated from Italy.

              The highlight of lunch were the homemade soups available for 5 cents a cup. On Fridays, I would spend 25 cents and get 5 cups of a Rhode Island Style (Natural broth) Clam Chowder that was loaded with fresh shucked clams.

              And of course...NO meat was served on Friday, always Fish. Never Pizza on Friday, because local habit was to start the sauce using bacon drippings which was much cheaper than oil.

              1. re: bagelman01

                We didn't have priced items, except for the soda and milk machines and the frozen desserts, which were sold from a free-standing freezer. The cafeteria meal was a flat 25¢, going up to 30¢ sometime during High School.

                Yes, we always had some form of fish on Fridays, usually a salmon loaf or something equally enticing, until they went and invented fish sticks. Lord, you'd have thought they did that just to make our cafeteria staff happy!

            2. Monday was my favorite day, red beans and rice

              1. Sloppy Joes, homade fries and dill pickles, carton of milk, 25cents (early '60's) and the wonderful Mexican ladies that cooked in the school cafeteria, all they made was good (except the canned spinach) they were decades ahead with the big sheetpan taco pizzas, everybody just called it pizza. Man, I can taste it now almost 50 years later!

                1. Hot lunch was a dollar until I got to middle school. I don't remember the prices after that. Milk I believe was a quarter. Nobody cool drank from straw, always the carton. Chocolate milk reigned supreme ( it was low-fat and didn't taste all that great). I could only stand a few of the hot lunches:

                  Spaghetti w/ meat sauce (although then cut the noodles short and served it with an ice cream scoop)
                  Pizza (it was terrible but in high school you could get it everyday so if we didn't have food at home I could buy it)
                  My absolute favorite was the hot turkey sandwich which I would buy every time I could. I just loved that white chicken gravy.
                  Chicken Nuggets with honey to dip were ok.

                  I honestly can't remember that many more that I ate.

                  1. oh yeah, the square pizza (an approximation found in some grocery stores under the brandname Ennio's - close but still not quite right); the ice cream scoop served spaghetti - usu. served as a side to a fish filet on Fridays, we had a lot of Catholics who were still kinda pre-Vatican II; boiled/steamed hamburgers; the chocolate pudding with far too much stabilizer added; but back then it was a real kitchen and lunch ladies in hairnets and weird moles. now it's all trucked in and microwaved or convected at the last minute. jeez we ate on (cheap but real) china.

                    2 Replies
                    1. In the town I grew up in (small-town heaven), school lunches were prepared daily by ladies in hairnets who were related to half the kids in school. In elementary school, it was real food, fresh ingredients: I remember walking past the cafeteria and watching them prepare apples for the apple crisp. My favorite lunch was called "lumberjack stew"; ground beef, diced tomatoes, corn, etc. When we hit Junior High, junkfood had just reared it's ugly, cost-effective head so the meals followed. I remember the nasty, foil-wrapped burgers, but the standout was "taco dogs", that's right; a corn tortilla spread with refried beans with a hot dog rolled in it...deep fried. Oy. By the time we got to high school, it was all pre-wrapped, pre-cooked, yadda yadda yadda.

                      1. I went to Catholic school in the 60's.
                        My favorite was chili with big freakin cinnamon rolls.
                        Seems like every Monday we had hamburgers.
                        Every Friday was fish and chips.

                        I still remember the nuns hanging over us telling us we had to eat those nasty stewed tomatoes because there were kids in India starving.

                        1. I went to elementary school in central IL and still remember my 2 favorites: Mexican Pizza -- an octagon shaped crust with cheese some yummy sauce. I'm not even sure what made it Mexican but it was a popular item. The other was Ham Horseshoe (or Turkey Horseshoe) -- a slice of bread topped with a piece of thick sliced ham, or a slice of turkey breast, topped with a handful of french fries and doused in cheese sauce. So good...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            I used to love the home made weiner wraps!

                            1. re: davecrf

                              Dave, if for no other reason than you admit eating raw bacon, you're a good ole boy and this post confirms it.

                          2. The pre-formed chicken patties deep fried and served on a wonder style bun with mayo, ketchup and pickles. I'd also take dill pickle slices and wrap them around my french fries.

                            1. It had to be the rectangular pizza. It was also useful frisbee style in food fights as was blueberry hostess pies, when carefully broken in half they would discharge the filling on the way to the target.

                              1. Wow, flashback to elementary school with those molded beige/pink plastic trays that had the individual compartments! I think lunches were 75cents?? My mother would post the monthly menu on the fridge and my brother and I would circle the days that we wanted to eat in the cafeteria because of what was being served. The favorites were:

                                1) Spaghetti w/meat sauce and a slice of garlic bread - used an ice cream scoop to dish out the spaghetti
                                2) Sloppy joes and tator tots
                                3) Chicken nuggets
                                4) Plus the one day they served cake as dessert to celebrate all the birthdays for that month

                                1. When I wasn't bringing my own white bread, cream cheese and strawberry jam (feel free to regard the term 'jam' with suspicion) sandwich, it was the rectangular pizza for sure. I carefully layered napkins on top to soak up the orange grease, repeating as often as neccesary in order for the unbroken, slightly lumpy, white 'cheese' to be restored to its processed glory.

                                  I also liked those cups of cherries that were available for dessert. I'm fairly certain that it was canned pie filling, bought in bulk. Right up until I discovered the palm-sized *under-baked* chocolate chip cookie that my high school offered. They, really, were just warmed, very flat dough. You didn't dare try to just pick the cookie up like it was dying to scrap with gravity, because it wasn't; that cookie bowed before gravity in the most servile fashion.

                                  I was a junior when my school put in a soup and salad bar. I couldn't believe my luck. My mother never served salads. Never. Ever. All these years later, she serves plain iceburg lettuce cut up, but only because my stepfather demands a salad of that spare composition with every meal. I think I had a salad every day until I graduated. That salad bar may have saved my life.

                                  1. salami and cream cheese on pumpernickle with tomato. Ate it everyday my whole 5th grade.

                                    1. Going back to Columbus,Ohio, late 60's junior high, individual pizzas made on hamburger buns. There were two or three pepperonis on each one that had curled up to make a little cup of hot red grease. Loved those things. Second best was the mushy sage and celery dressing that they served with turkey, but I never bothered with the turkey. Just asked for two bowls of dressing.
                                      On to 1972, high school. We had split sessions, with juniors and seniors going to school 7 am to noon, and lower grades 1 to 6 pm. The lunchroom was pared down to sandwiches and snacks, and I stayed long enough at noon to grab a chocolate milk and a ham salad sandwich on gooey white bread. Don't know what was really in the ham salad, but it was addictive!

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                        What?! You only had 5hrs school days! Did this include the time for lunch? I wish I went to your high school! Mine was 7am to 3pm with 40 minutes for lunch.

                                        1. re: SeoulQueen

                                          I can see a 5 hour school day, when I was a senior we started at 8, and I was done at 2, with 50 minutes or so (that's a while ago) for lunch. Played baseball so PE was my last "class" and I didn't have to participate since I played a sport and my off period was after that. Got all my studying and home work done during those two periods. Never took a book home my entire senior year.

                                          1. re: SeoulQueen

                                            The school was overcrowded - that's why the split sessions. There was no lunch period, no study halls, just a 10 minute passing period around 10, so everyone could fit a bathroom visit in. It was great for those of us who worked after school, but my younger sister who had the 1 to 6 shift hated it!
                                            The lunchroom was open from 12 to 1 with fast food - and oh, yes, those cinnamon rolls that were doughy on the inside. That was dessert after the ham salad sandwich.

                                          2. re: jmcarthur8

                                            My Fl. High School was on a split session too due to an over crowded county which had resisted building new schools. There wasn't a lunch hour really, but I remember a snack bar window where you could get fantastic freshly made cinnamon rolls. The cafeteria was open, but it seemed as though the only ones using it were kids who came by bus and arrived a bit earlier.

                                          3. in elementary school, we brought lunch. i hated sandwiches, so i took thermoses with hot stuff - sometimes pasta, or leftovers (chinese food), or sesame teriyaki drumsticks and mashed potatoes or...

                                            junior and high school cafeteria... different hot foods every day, but fridays were always baked ziti. something about the religious aspect of no meat fridays. had frozen yogurt and icee machines, the former really creamy. then they had the muffins from costco heated. and great chocolate chip cookies, warm, that i believe were from costco as well. but were good. they also always had steamed white rice in cups to go, fruit cups, chips, candy, donuts/bagels (amazing chewy bagels) in the mornings...

                                            1. Tater Tots!!!!
                                              Baked beans- I knew the lunch lady really well (she actually took care of me in the mornings b/c I got dropped off so early before busses even arrived) and she added brown sugar, mustard and bacon or cut up hot dogs to the enormous cans of baked beans.
                                              Chicken noodle soup- it was homemade back then with the broad egg noodles. Yummy.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: grlwhoeats

                                                OMG, the tots...hope nobody ever tried to steal them from you....did you ever see Napoleon Dynamite? LOLOL...great flick:

                                              2. I loved the peanutbutter sandwiches in elementary school. But the thing that was the oddest was that PB sandwiches were always served with square pizza. The two were never served on their own !

                                                1. I'm going to blow your mind. You can make grilled cheese - American only, please - every bit as well as the lunch ladies.

                                                  The secret, which I've shared here for years now, is mayonnaise instead of butter on the bread. It crisps perfectly and adds a salty tang. I got it from the source, way back when, and even my uber-foodie dad agrees that it's the only way to make a great grilled cheese when you just want.. well.. crap grilled cheese.

                                                  1. In grammar school, my absolute favorite lunch was the Frito boat - basically a little, snack size bag of Fritos, sliced open along one edge and filled with chili.

                                                    In high school, it was the hot ham and cheese sandwich - I'm not sure what kind of roll or cheese was used, but to this day, best hot ham and cheese I have ever had!!

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: karrill

                                                      Karrill: in early 70's SoCal your Frito Boats were called Pepper Bellies. I loved 'em, later friends from TX related they had the same thing in a bowl called Frito Pie.

                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                        I have family in TX and have heard the Frito Pie story as well. I think eating out of the little bag was such a novelty that I'll probably remember it for the rest of my life. And funny how it was called something different in SoCal. I'm in NorCal and started school in '76...so not that much later. By the way, still one of my number one comfort foods, but now I serve it in a bowl, use better chili, and add a bunch of condiments (sour cream, avo, cilantro, onion, etc.). Yummmmm....

                                                        1. re: karrill

                                                          interesting, I was in Lancaster (Mojave) in 1973-74. another friend from TX turned me onto Tamale Pie, same concept, but I really don't like it unless smothered in fresh Pico de Gallo

                                                          and I beg to differ on recreating it, it's gotta be crap chili or it's another beast all together (I'm sure better, just not "authentic").

                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                            LOL, you're right...different beast but still pretty damn tasty! :)

                                                    2. i had the same thing every single day for 3 years.

                                                      chicken fried steak
                                                      mashed potatoes
                                                      2 rolls
                                                      2 milk

                                                      1. old fart here. Lunches were 30 cents and that included milk, entree, 1 veg 1 starch, but ice cream was 10 cents extra. Mom was a sport and always gave me money for the ice cream.

                                                        Only two lunches stand out in my mind, one good and one horrid. Good was baked spaghetti with garlic bread and green beans. Horrid was "sloppy joes on mashed potatoes" (vile vile thinned canned gravy w/ a tablespoon of gray ground beef over gummy instant) with a side of mustard greens with vinegar.

                                                        Mom grew up oldest of 6 kids on a farm, and one of her chores was packing lunch everyday for all of them. So she flatly refused to ever pack a lunch again. Thank goodness for the milk and ice cream on sloppy joe days.

                                                        1. In grammar school meatloaf and mashed and, of course, sloppy joes.

                                                          In junior high, greasy hot links rolled in a flour tortillas and slightly burnt peanut butter cookies. For dessert, a box of Hot Tamales.

                                                          1. I went to a school that only served vegetarian food, which came from the hospital which shared the parking lot (it was an Adventist school). The corn dogs were awesome and very sweet! So was the fake chicken (I love both real and fake chicken.... the fake chicken and corn dogs taste nothing like their "real" counterparts, but are very tasty in their own rights), those were my two favourite lunch days. We also got a choice of regular or chocolate milk if you were on the "milk program". In Jr high one of the lunch days was "haystacks", corn chips with your choice of toppings including salsa, cheese, refried beans, and a few other things, and one of the other days was baked potatoes, which was another favourite of mine. Gotta love some TATERS!

                                                            1. I still remember the distinct smell of cafeteria hamburgers. There is a smell!

                                                              I was so excited about cafeteria food. Sad. I loved taco day and whenever they served potato dots. I think that is what they called tater tots.

                                                              1. I went to a Midwestern high school in the 90s and there was gross-good and actually-good school food. The best gross-good entree was "The Octagon", an eight-sided Mexican pizza slab covered with a yellow sheath of cheese and dotted with gristly sausage. Really tasty in a cheap taco-powder sort of way.

                                                                The best actually-good entree was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, hot roll, and cream gravy. It would rotate through the menu about once a month and I would skip lunch for 2 or 3 days prior just to save money for multiple chicken fried steak meals on that one day. Then I would sleep through English class. I really doubt the lunch ladies were breading raw chops and mashing boiled potatoes back there but it sure tasted that way

                                                                1. i always loved that buttered toast they had in the mornings that was so dry that it exploded into 10000 pieces when you bit into it.