Day 41: pizza

Today’s menu: pizza, carrots, applesauce, ranch dressing, milk

Now that I know pizza like this contains 62 ingredients (thanks Ms. A), it tasted less appealing than ever before. You’ve seen this lunch before so there isn’t a whole lot to say…. All I know is that it’s actually quite simple and fun to make pizza at home. It’s very easy. I wish more parents and people in general knew how to cook.

Just a reminder that I skipped posting some lunches this week (I’m eating them still of course) to have content for spring break….which can’t come soon enough!

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56 thoughts on “Day 41: pizza”

  1. This past week my sister was visiting and she has 4 children. The school that her children go to does not have a cafeteria so she has to pack a lunch for her children each day (Good thing she can cook and cares about nutrition!) which surprised me.

    I agree that more people should know how to cook, but as my mom and I were discussing the other day when she was in Home Economics she actually learned how to cook from scratch. When I was in Home Ec (about 15-17 years ago) we learned some basics but nothing very well. One thing we learned was Mise en Plac – if we did not get an ingredient from the supply at the start we could not go back for it.

  2. I wonder if the cheese is applied shredded, or just in a football shape. That would explain the lack of a textured appearance. Just a single slice melted over the top…

  3. This kind of looks like my old elementary school Friday pizza.

    Could they have refrained from adding ranch for the carrots?

    Sorry if I missed this somewhere else on your blog, but what percentage of students would you say buy as opposed to bring their own lunches? If I remember correctly, my mother almost always packed my lunch when I was a kid, except for Friday pizzas, which I don't even think I got every week.

  4. So if you have a teensy packet of dressing, and a bag of carrots… how are you supposed to apply one to the other? Squeeze the dressing into the bag and shake? Eat the applesauce and use the container as a dipping cup?

  5. This looks exactly like the lunch I ate most days of the week when I went through elementary school. I almost feel embarrassed for the pizza, but I'm still grateful that's not my lunch!

  6. Just thinking about Pizza… My wife is a teacher in the South Bronx and she brought some pizza from what we had made the night before to work for lunch. When the women she works with saw it they asked where she ordered it from because it looked great. My wife said "we made it like we do most of the pizza we have at home."

    One of the teachers actually said "You can make pizza at home?"

    No, she wasn't kidding.

    It's probably a cultural thing, honestly, but it just struck us as odd that something as simple as pizza confused a teacher in a school. Incidentally, most of these women do cook, but if it's anything beyond chicken with rice and beans, they know nothing about it and don't eat it. They literally eat the same thing every night.

    Sometimes it's not about knowing how to cook things, it's about understanding that some foods you associate with restaurants can actually be made at home.

  7. People should learn how to cook? There are commercials on television touting Hamburger Helper as a home-coooked meal. People have over-busied their schedules and cop out when it comes to family time and food preparation.
    Something always has to give and it certainly has.
    I am also not going to look through all your entries to find the one for this post. School meals suck because there isn't the money to prepare meals that are satisfactory. I work in a school and now it seems to be our job to provide breakfast as well. When the heck are people going to take their own responsibility for their families and provide for them appropriately? Our building has before and after school childcare as well. You parents conceived and bore your children…why don't YOU take care of them???

  8. I applaud you for taking on this challenge. I too am a teacher, and I couldn't even imagine trying to eat my school lunches two days out of the week. I hope this changes some things with lunch menus.

  9. I am a lunch lady in a school in Indiana. I love my job, love the kids and the school that I work in. Our menus are planned by a nutrionist based on what the government thinks that our kids should be eating. Everyday they have raw and cooked veggies to choose from, canned and fresh fruit, and four options for the main dish. They can get a salad, a sandwich, a yogurt with cheese and goldfish, or the hot meal; they then get to pick two choices of fruit, veggies, or fruit juice. We don't make things from scratch, but our foods are always made with whole grains and the meats we use are usually chicken or turkey, even in hot dogs and corn dogs. The foods can still be fattening, but they are better choices of the versions of foods that kids love. Close to 40% of our kids are on free or reduced meals but that doesn't stop us from giving them healthy and delicious meals. My children eat there, and so do I. By the way, our pizza is awesome! I think it's sad that not every school district is willing to make the right choices for our kids, it doesn't really cost that much more, but even if it does it's worth it. Good luck to you on changing your school lunches!!

  10. Wow! After almost 20 years out of highschool, and the pizza still looks the same!

  11. The saddest part is, the pizza looks more appetizing than almost anything else the schools serve.

    Sadie@
    nelliebugs-swaps.blogspot.com

    P.S. I'm your newest follower.. thank you for making this blog!

  12. Thanks for the blog. This conjures up images of my school pizzas with one bite taken out of it…I suppose they still taste the same as they did when I was in elementary school. I hope schools take note and think about how food can be nutritious and taste good. And I'm betting it also doesn't have to be expensive, too.

  13. I feel your pain! I work at an organization that helps kiddos, and I eat dinner with them every day. I am allowed to bring my own food, but these kiddos need as close to a family setting as we can give them, so I feel it is important to eat what they are eating. It isn't easy. Our dinners look just like the lunches you are eating. Healthy options are few and far between. Even the vegetables are laced with margarine, not that I see my kiddos eating much of them. It's little wonder that my kiddos have a hard time winding down after dinner with the amount of fat and sugar they are beeing fed in the evening. I try to compensate with portion control, but it's difficult with such heavy calorie food. Although I have to say, most nights it's easy not to eat much of it! If you haven't already seen it, the movie "Super-size Me" has a section on school food and the alternatives that is very eye opening.

  14. Why is there a need for the ranch dressing? Am I lost on this fact? If we are serving healthy carrots, then why dip them in a creation made primarily of mayo?

  15. I just discovered your blog which is really interesting though discouraging to read and see the pictures. I hadn't seen a school lunch in years, so I'm really disturbed by the individualized wrappings used on everything. I understand the convenience factor and portion control (I was a cook in a restaurant) as well as food safety, but I can't even imagine the amount of trash a school district produces in a day because of these meals. Is this factor ever addressed? The food itself looks really awful; it could easily be improved with just a little effort and no cost and I'm sure more of it would be eaten. The kids deserve so much better; they're very lucky to have a teacher that cares enough to try to change things or at least bring this to people's attention.

  16. Crappy meals and only 20mins to eat lunch.. on top of no recess?! No wonder our kids are so fat anymore. Kids need way more than 20 mins to eat a meal and they definitely need something other than pizza and tots all the time.

  17. Mrs Q ,
    I think what you are doing is great. i have two elementary school children and i pack their lunch everyday. There is no nutritional value in our kids school lunches. everyday it is pizza, hot dog, corn dog etc. i am not a health nut and I don't have the money to buy organic but I always spend more money on my childrens lunches than I would like. I would gladly let my children buy lunch everyday if I was confident that it was good for them. So Thank you for what you are doing.

  18. In my area during summer, the school district puts on a food tasting so that parents can see what their kids are eating as well as giving their input to the menu.

  19. I went to Catholic elementary school during the 70s and we had gourmet compared to this. Moms volunteered to actually cook meals from scratch – the ingredients to make the food probably cost less than the prepackaged stuff kids get today. Parents paid a small sum per month for these lunches for their kids and yes, the less fortunate kids got a stipend on that and school tuition. I guess my point is, we pay taxes for schools. How difficult is it to cut the crap and go it simple? Nutrition is the most important part of going to school to learn!

  20. those pizzas were delicious in school
    idk what the rest of you people are complaining about
    as someone only 10 years removed from elementary school, i find the pictures on this blog appetizing and nostalgic, kids eat anything, and the meals are still relatively healthy

    you guys are all way too picky
    i hope you enjoy higher taxes for marginally better food if your dreams come true

  21. Oh my goodness, I love this blog!!!! I'm going to share with my colleagues; they will enjoy it as much as I do. I find it hilarious that school lunches are what they are. The United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Let’s just say it people…we are FAT! My school serves pizza at least one a week. And they consider bread sticks with cheese in a main course, how ridiculous. I’m glad someone has finally taken a stand. Right on, Mrs. O!

  22. Mrs. Q I found your blog accidentally. I volunteered to read to kindergarten kids during their lunch hour. They called it the lunch buddy program. The child I was reading to ate more ketchup than anything else. Even the brown bag lunches were full of really high fat/high sugar junk. I would love to hear/see your analysis of the brown bag lunches you observe compared to the school lunch you choke down. I suspect, from my observations, that they are on a dismally level plane.

  23. Mrs. Q. I found your blog while reading a news article in Yahoo! http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/would-you-volunteer-to-eat-school-lunch-every-day-to-prove-a-point-this-teacher-did-1157394/
    My main concerning question is: Why is the food loaded with unhealthy ingredients such as MSG (sometimes called natural flavors), high cholesterol, high levels of salt, hydronated oils, hydronated vegetable proteins and High Fructose Corn Syrup? All of these ingredients lead to health problems. I know you don't have to answer this, but I think congress should ask themselves this question. you can read more about msg at http://www.msgtruth.org/

  24. wow just wow. That pizza doesn't come close to a pizza.

    Even the frozen pizza from local stores looks better then that.

  25. It is great for you if you have a kid willing to eat a tofu/bean-sprout/wheat-germ casserole, but let's be honest…there are many picky eaters out there (and it's through no fault of their parents). I have my own that is 14 years old and still a picky eater. I'd be more than thrilled to him eat any of these meals! Bag of carrots? A whole pear? Peas? Yay. I am a healthy person who cooks healthy meals every night but I am also an ADULT who's taste palates have fully evolved. These meals, for a child, seem fine to me and as well balanced as could be expected. If your dream was to come true with the average pizza lunch being replaced by a salad/soup bar or stir-fry, children like my son would have literally nothing to eat. In second and third grade he would have gone without lunch before he'd eat salad! Would you rather have hungry children???

  26. What can we say about the imfamous PIZZA at school? This kind of food should not be on the menu at all. At my son's school the cafeteria has pizza as an option everyday! And American wonders why they are becoming obese.

    I can remember when I was in school in the late 70's early 80's (which was not that long ago) we have homestyle foods prepared for us. The delicious food was served on real lunch trays with real silverware. It is a shame that with growing technology we have become a ever consuming nation produces more waste and larger people! I admire you for what you are doing and hope that it makes a difference! Good Luck! I enjoy reading all your posts!

  27. Wow! This is pretty sad I know, but these lunches look much better than what I used to get! Our food seemed old all the time and seemed that there hardly ever were any veggies, or at least veggies that did not have all the nutrients cooked out of them. This is a very interesting experiment, but I feel that many kids would not want the healthier stuff, and many wouldn't choose the healthier items that were on your plate. I don't know too many kids that jump up for yogurt or cottage cheese, but most usually like the junk food. I don't mean to shoot this project down, because I totally agree that those lunches are disgusting and really need some healthy alternatives, but seeing as how the youth are these days, it will be a hard feat. The guest blogger's lunches from Japan looked and sounded amazing but so many American kids are given a little too much freedom and couldn't handle a more disciplined lifestyle. Many are raised in homes that are lax in the discipline area while in Japan, discipline is expected. If we were set up in that type of environment I'd say that it is a doable task, but as it is today, this seems almost out of reach. I do appreciate your hard work and determination though, and hope that one day things will change for the better! Thank you for your efforts!

  28. I'm in high school. The lunch you're getting looks a thousand times better than what we get at our school. Packaged better, looks fresh. Looks COOKED. And not RECOOKED, like at our school.

  29. I just have to say, that does not look like pizza at all. I had to read the menu description before I even knew what it was.

    I thought my food in high school was bad, but I have never before seen so many items prepackaged in my life. Our cafeteria ladies would start early in the morning and cook everything they served. Granted, the quality and nutrion was low, but it was nothing compared to as what has been posted thus far.

    As a former education major (since changed b/c I was angry with the education system) I am still passionate about changing the system.

    How does anyone in this nation expect our students to do well if they are not given the basic building blocks – good, healthy food.

    To be quite honest, seeing this makes me pretty irate.

    Maybe Congress and other officials needs to eat school lunches everyday and see how they like it. I think they'd be singing a different tune by the first week.

  30. Also, if you haven't seen the movie Supersize Me, you should! it has a few scenes where he visits schools and peeks into their horrible lunches, and those schools are wayyyy better than the schools I've been in in California. The food comes from a company that also sells its lunches to prisons and shows a prison doing an experiment with serving better food. Really great and informative movie, and has some relevance to what you are fighting for!

  31. The pictures of your school lunch are similar to the lunches I had in my high school. Greasy, oily, mushy chicken sandwiches, hair in the mashed potatoes and meat for nachos.

    The only thing I ever felt comfortable eating the few days I did eat lunch, were the nachos. Simply because they came in a bag to be eaten from the bag.

    To keep your school from finding out who you are… post pictures of the lunches out of order maybe? Like this Thursday's lunch will be posted on this blog two weeks from now on a Friday, etc. If you already do this, then kudos to you!

  32. One day my son came home from school and told me that they now are getting milk in a bag. He said it tasted awful just like the food. He and his friends started a boycott against school lunches. The children that the parents didn't pack the lunches the other kids shared their packed lunches with them. This went on for about 3 weeks before enough parents and school board caught on which is unreal. But the school finally responded and made some changes in the lunch programs and no more milk in a bag.

    One thing is why would kids need longer to eat if the food is so bad they won't eat it???

    Pretty bad when children have to take action in their own hands. More parents need to get involved !!!!!!!!!

  33. This is horrible. It all looks like airline food that's been prepared somewhere else and microwaved when it reached the school. It makes me really glad I don't have children! To subject them to that would be cruelty! I remember eating school lunches back in 1970's Denver, Colorado. We complained about chipped beef, chicken a al king, etc. but it was gourmet french compared to what the kids in your school are having to choke down. Here in California, friends tell me of their kids eating McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell for lunch. Surely, they could make better lunches for far less money? This is basically teaching the children of today what to eat tomorrow. This was really eye-opening to me. I was living in England when Jamie Oliver started to revamp the school lunches in the UK. It was a smashing success, they even did a TV show about it. I had no idea American school lunches were just as bad…. I think what I ate as a Kid was pretty nutritious in comparison. Thanks for suffering for the Children of America…my hat's off to you, you brave soul!

  34. I think the problem is that most schools do not actually have kitchen. In our district only the HS and the Early Childhood School (Pre-K-K) do. And the ECS only opened in September! There are 5 Elementary Schools and a Middle School that recieve lunchs that were assembled at the High School. When I say assembled I mean cold sandwiches. The hot lunch is always something that resembles TV Dinners. If we had really kitchens in every school they could boil pasta with Ragu and at least have something edible, but that can not happen with out a stove and 6 commercial stoves is a lot of $$$.

    Also I spent my HS summers working at a camp that benefited from the summer lunch program. I don't know all of the specifics, but the USDA would send food and we had a kitchen staff. We served Breakfast, Lunch and a snack. Milk 3 times per Day! Fruit and Veggies 4 servings a day! But these kids were not getting it at home. 10 different lunches for 2 weeks of camp, then it repeated as camp was 8 weeks long. I learned that I liked oatmeal, (at the ripe old age of 16 I had never had it except as a cookie.) The muffins and chicken pot pies (another first for me) were the best, but they we home-made from real food from the government. The Camp was held on the grounds of an Alternative HS that had a Culinary Arts program, the Head Chef was just that and was Great!The worst was the egg salad. All od the Counselors complained that if we hated it how could we expect the kids to eat it? So next week, when who knows how many eggs showed up at the camp, we got French Toast.

  35. My lunch is never this good, we usually have the same thing for everyday of the week, back in elementary school I remember instead of eating our food we would guess how 'real' it was. Because the hamburgers are about 2 millimeters thick and wouldn't satiate the smallest least hungriest person.

  36. what the heck is with all the food coming in plastic containers. i wouldnt say the food in my school district was fantastic but man it looked way better than that stuff. are you in one of the poorer school districts?

  37. My school burns everything we are suppose to eat. If we are lucky to get the food that isn't burned it isn't cooked all the way.
    🙁

  38. I have to applaud what you are doing. The biggest complaint at our school from the students is that our food is terrible and not enough food — They feed the same portion sizes to the elementary kids and high school seniors that eat in our cafeteria.

    The saddest part of perusing your blog is in realizing that your lunches actually look more appealing than the ones served at our school (I teach as well)– there is hardly ever any fresh fruit or veggies!

    Some of our frequent menu items are Bosco sticks (which are like breadsticks) with cheese sauce, mashed potatoes with a slab of cardboardy meat and a fried onion ring on top, pizza and oh so much more fattening and starchy foods.

    It makes the meals I had at school when I was a kid look relatively healthy.

    It's ridiculous and shameful.

  39. I am amazed at how disgusting these school lunches look. I graduated a few years ago and ate school lunch almost every day. Some were really disgusting and unhealthy, but there were always healthier options. We could always get a salad, a 6 inch sub from subway, or even sometimes a baked potato. So not all schools in America have disgusting school lunches. They were never anywhere near how good my momma's cooking is, but they were not served in individually wrapped packaging, and we were never offered chips. We weren't even allowed to buy chips at lunch unless they were baked.

  40. That definitely is not a meal, the pizza to begin with looks like a slice of bread sprinkled with cheese. I'm a college student, and with minimal time to cook and budget, my version of a pizza is a bagel with cheese and ham on top. the only healthy item is the milk and carrots. I just hope your stomach can take it. As well as keep updating us with the yucky food that you have to consume. Your voice will spread farther than you think…

  41. At first glance, the pizza doesn't even look real. The cheese looks plastic….like the kind of fake foods you'd find in a kid's Fisher Price play kitchen.

  42. These lunches look about like mine, although ours are not packaged in things like this. My school has two types of pizza, "school made" which is bread with some cheese on top (which is very discusting in the first place, both the bread and the pizza), or pizza, which is your regular triangular piece of pizza, the problem is, its dripping with oils. Its good, but the oil running down your arm is not so good looking. I can't wait to see the rest of this blog and plan to share it with my schoolmates and teachers.

  43. Gross! That does NOT look like pizza. . . doesn't even faintly resemble pizza!! Blah!

  44. I remember this pizza. on these days I remember thinking "yay, we atually get pizza!" What a joke… It was always undercooked.

  45. Eek! Could there *be* more dairy products in these lunches? No wonder so many kids are anemic. These all seem really heavy on the animal products and starches, very light on the veggies, fruits, and plant-based proteins. Of course, that's not all that different from when I went to jr. high school (I went to a private elementary school with a kick-ass Italian cook!), but you'd think school lunches would have progressed nutritionally over the last 20 years since we know now that we shouldn't be serving bigger portions of meat and dairy than we are of plant foods.

  46. I am floored by the food that I am seeing on here. It looks like almost everything are just microwave dinners that are just warmed up. Anything like that is going to have a ton of preservatives and junk in it. The school district that I went to and am about to send my oldest daughter to in the fall make everything by hand and this is not a small school district. I have looked at the menu that they post online and have noticed a tendancy to go towards the simpler prepaired items more often than what was offered when I went to school. I would be concerned for the children as well if I saw the kids eating these items. I wish you all the luck! Tell Ms. A. that I can get her the recipe for the homemade pizza that is AWESOME that my school makes. I know one of the lunch ladies. matthewagraham@yahoo.com

  47. I'm so glad I stumbled onto your blog. I'm going to follow it. I learned cooking in school some 30+ years ago and my mother was a great cook who involved us kids. We packed lunches made from whole grains and fresh home grown food. The problem with this country is that priorities have shifted dramatically. We have lost respect for the food we eat and for our bodies. – Not to mention our precious little people. I got back into food a while ago after my daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had spent several years surviving single parent hood and 3 jobs at a time to provide the other stuff and had gotten away from the importance of food. I do homeschool so school lunches are not an issue for me. But so many kids are subject to the foods being fed nowadays. All kids are equally precious and I love that you are doing something to raise awareness. I am hoping that more and more people becoming aware will eventually be able to turn this whole food disaster around.

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