Kids are back (or are about to go back) to school, which means their summer diet of eating anything and everything they could get their hands on, is giving way to … umm, actually, I don’t know what they’re serving in schools these days.
What I do know is that in my day, school lunches were composed of mystery meats, something resembling cheese, and who knows what else they snuck in there. It wasn’t always pretty back then, but man what I wouldn’t give to have one of those school lunches again!
With that in mind, I present to you the top five school cafeteria lunches I wish I could have again. Before I forget, the pictures I’m using are not the actual things I ate at school, but they are the closest images I could find. Now, let’s start with something the good old days in 4th to 6th grade:
Every Friday was “Pizza” day at Alice B. Fulton School in Weymouth MA. Seeing this on the school lunch calendar was the highlight to most kids. Friday was the day that most of the school ate the cafeteria food instead of bringing something from home.
Not that we were getting a gourmet pizza here. The public elementary school pizza was a single square, sometimes soggy slice of pizza with a bland sauce and stringy anonymous white cheese. Occasionally a few pepperoni slices would make a guest appearance, but I don’t remember it happening often which probably means they were sent by mistake.
Cheeseburger and tater tots
I don’t know what it was about the lukewarm gray patty (which may or may not have contained meat), a neon yellow “cheese” slice, and a dry bun, but the school’s cheeseburger was better than it sounded.
As for the tater tots, I just remember that they were often quite crispy on the outside, but freaking cold on the inside. But this wasn’t anything a ton of ketchup couldn’t solve.
In middle school we usually got a meatball sub on either Tuesday or Thursday. It came in a silver tin foil plate which contained a torpedo roll, 3 or 4 meatballs, a tiny pile of cheese, and some diced pickles. Even though these subs weren’t all that great, at least it felt like an entire meal.
Things improved in high school where the meatball subs were available everyday, and you could ask for extra sauce which was great. Also, the elderly lunch lady would say nothing but “Meatball” at us. I don’t know if she was asking if we wanted meatballs, or if she was just stating that she had meatballs. Either way, her meatball subs became a staple for Laneit and for me.
During our last couple of years in high school, our cafeteria started having “Deli Day” a couple of times a month. If my memory serves me, I think we got a choice of either roast beef or ham. Then we had lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and some other stuff to top the sandwich off.
I gotta say deli day was probably the best meal that cafeteria served. It was nice not having to eat something that was cooked days or weeks ahead of time. Even the sandwich buns tasted fresh. And Laneit and I added a meatball sub on the side, so deli days were great!
Steak and Cheese Sub
When we first saw “Shaved Steak and Cheese Sub” on the menu, we were a little apprehensive. But it actually wasn’t that bad, and we ate it all the time. Then during my senior year, our Current Affairs teacher told us he saw the food delivery truck that morning and that the steak and cheese boxes said “Grade D but Edible.”
Yeah, I basically stopped eating the steak and cheese subs after that one.
That was almost 20 years ago, and now I wish I could have those meals again. I guess you never know what you got until you lose it, right? Oh yeah, fun fact: in high school, Laneit’s lunch consisted of the following…
- Whatever the lunch of the day was
- Meatball sub
- French fries
- a cup of fruit juice that was included with lunch, plus my juice and John’s too.
- Either a cheeseburger or a hamburger