Day 31: rib-b-que

Today’s menu: rib-b-que (“all beef patty” with bbq sauce), whole wheat bun, peach fruit cup, beans, milk

I have eaten more beef over the past two months than I ate the whole year of 2009. In fact, I never purchase beef at the grocery store. It does not appeal to me. The only times I eat beef are when I order it when we’re at a restaurant (very rarely — maybe in a Chinese stir fry dish) or if it is served at a friend’s house. My husband basically refuses to eat beef. We eat a lot of chicken, turkey, and fish that I prepare at home. I wasn’t raised eating a lot of red meat.

I have enjoyed a bison burger occasionally over the past couple years. Bison burgers are similar to beef in taste, but are far more lean (in both fat and calories — I looked it up). Actually, I believe bison is better tasting. The best thing about consuming bison is that you are helping support the prosperity of buffalo as a native animal here in the US. Is a pipe dream to think that bison meat could be served at schools? (vegetarian and vegan readers – sorry!)

I think somebody is trying to be creative with the “rib-b-que” meat (the illusion of variety), but the kids aren’t fooled. I asked one of my students “What did you have for lunch today?” and he replied, “A hamburger.”

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36 thoughts on “Day 31: rib-b-que

  1. out of curiosity, does every "carnivore" dish have meat and you are just switchin from veg (pasta) to meat (ribbque)? it would be interestign if you went "veg at work" for a week.

  2. Ughhh this meal is particularily nasty looking!!!
    I continue to be disturbed not only by the poor nutritional value of these meals but ALL the packaging it requires!

    I am extremely fortunate to work in private schools with fully functioning kitchens. Because of this we have the opportunity to efficient with resources and very environmentally friendly. I believe all schools should have kitchens built in them. Talk about job creation and economic stimulus!

  3. Love the abundance of veggies in the lunch. NOT! That fruit is certainly a commodity purchase, along with the meat. Tell us how it tasted!I guess if there's enough BBQ sauce on it you can get it down.

  4. Good grief! The one thing I'm getting from your meal pics? All the food just looks really sad–monochromatic, wilted, etc.

  5. Eww! That even looks awful from Australia! Good on you for flagging this. It seems as bad for kids as it was for the poor cow. All power to your bison-fed arm. Best regards, P. 🙂

  6. Or Kangaroo meat.

    Thousands of Kangaroo's are culled each year here in Australia (as pest control) and are not used for anything. It is extremely healthy meat, exceptionally lean and contains good fats (not sure which ones, haha). It would be nice if we could be using this 'waste' resource for cheaper lunch alternatives at schools.

  7. We used to get barbecue rib sandwiches in my schools that were very much like the one at McDonalds. Perhaps not nutritious, but I LOVED those things. It was one of the things that made going vegetarian very hard and take longer than it should have! Yours looks like ours did, but the sauce is rather lacking. Ours was floating, practically.

  8. No worries about offending the vegetarians, Mrs. Q!
    Personally I actually favour 'natural' meat over farm processed meat, for instance I have no problem with game animals because I know you have to cull them otherwise there won't be enough food for them the next year and they'd all suffer. So for me, the idea of eating well raised bison appeals to me a lot more than mass processed beef 🙂

  9. Oh I remember those sandwiches from school. I always liked them in a guilty I-know-this-isn't-food kind of way.

  10. That's nasty.

    I'm going to count the number of beef meals on our lunch menu today. In our cafeteria we're always amazed at the amount of carbs in each meals.

  11. In your opinion, do you think the students would accept unique foods, like bison? I suppose it would depend some on the age of the students, education/promotion and so on. It's an interesting thought.

  12. I just found out about your blog today, so I went back and read some of the older posts. For the most part, the things you're eating don't even resemble anything nutricious.

    I'm Canadian. When I was in public school, the only thing the school provided was milk & chips (sold to students by the 8th grade class, to raise $ for their end of year trip)Lunches were provided by each student's parents, and things like pizza and hotdogs were only available on special occasions such as winter carnival.

    My high school had a full cafeteria, with several food options each day. Students could buy breakfast (various fresh baked muffins, cereal and fruit), lunch and snacks there. The lunches varried from burgers & fries to salads and roast beef with spuds, veggies. One of my favorite meals they offered was cajun catfish.

    I am currently in the process of adopting a 6 yr old. I have to say, my child is going to have meals from home, not crappy school food. Whe he's in highschool and has a part-time job, and his own money he can buy what he wants to eat. Hopefully by then I will have instilled the knowledge and ability to make healthy choices on his own.

  13. this looks better than than the craptastic stuff that is served at my kids school. His class is 22 kids and only 4 eat school lunch- and I bet if those 4 didn't get it free they wouldn't eat it either….

  14. Just for curiosity's sake, are there meals there for vegetarians? Or for children who don't eat beef due to religious reasons? It seems as though more than 3/4ths of these meals are featuring meat and it makes me worry for children who don't have that in their diet!

  15. Garf. I definitely had to post this one on What's For School Lunch. That patty looks like the McRib from McDonalds. And that sauce… Oh that sauce. It looks like ketchup or something. Blech.

  16. Oh, that photo is terrible. No wonder kids want to eat Sour Patch Kids and other "contraband" for lunch.

  17. I keep making the mistake of reading this while I'm eating my own lunch! Even though mine is far more nutritious and tasty and appealing than the Ms. Q's, I'm still losing my appetite…

  18. Just found this & LOVE IT!!! Have complained about school lunches at my kids' school & refuse to let them buy it regularly. It's a treat for them to buy once or twice a month.

    I'd be interested to know if you are keeping track of what this is doing to your health – cholesterol, blood pressure, weight….

    For summer, you should see if you can come up with healthy meals for $2 or less. Schools always say that anything other than what they serve is cost prohibitive. You'd need to look out for added labor costs in your equation. I believe we can feed our kids better for less than the crap they're currently getting.

  19. I ate lunch with my son the other day at his school. Not only was I upset w/ the cafeteria food, but at the parents let their kids pack a lunch from home. One boy, verging on obese, had a large bottle of Dr. Peppers, Cheetos, Cookies, Mini Chocolate Bars, etc. I looked around the table and many of the kids were overweight. They are only 11 and already experiencing weight problems.

    When my son came to live with me (foster to adopt) he had a weight problem. It only got worse the longer he lived with us. Within a few months we cleaned the cabinets and had to refrain from buying foods high in sugar and carbs. His weight is back under control and he is healthy and will tell us much happier b/c he can play and run and breathe better.

    Thank you for fighting for our kids! WAKE UP AMERICA! You are what you eat….

  20. Do you americans eat meat all the days of the week? I though this was just a "movies behaviour"… Do you know how much is this bad?

    Paulo from Italy

  21. I've just stumbled onto your blog (via, and I wanted to comment to says cheers!!! this is a great thing you are doing, and i really look forward to following your postings. Good luck and keep them coming 🙂

  22. I worked at the Naval Academy about 10 years ago…and they were just adding bison/buffalo into the menu there. They figured it was healthier and at the time the costs worked out to be about the same. Can't see why it couldn't be done elsewhere, though it might cause more industrial ranching/farming issues.

  23. Ewwwww! What is that orange/yellow stuff in the bottom of the meat container? Is that grease or "sauce"? I congratulate you on your endeavor to change the lunches no matter the cost! Great job!

  24. First, bison is a great alternative.

    Elk is another meat that should be considered. This farm is near me and produces very high quality grass fed meat locally and sustainably, which I think is perfect for the school meal system-

    Finally, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that the beef you eat is likely treated with ammonia, like most fast food beef. According to the New York Times,

    "The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone."


    You and the childen shouldn't be consuming so much ammonia on a regular basis. It's simply not safe. Just as schools should be free from asbestos and lead, so too should they be free from harmful additives in food.

  25. *Shudder* I remember rib-b-q's. It wasn't so much that it tasted funny, I was too scared to eat something that was molded to have "bones."

  26. I was just pointed in the direction of your blog by a friend, and I want to say I think you are awesome for doing this.

    Here in the UK, we had a huge thing with school meals, and a celebrity chef trying to get healthy meals served in schools. The result? The PARENTS were standing at the school gates handing take-aways to the kids! Unbelievable.

    I really hope what you are doing has an impact. The meal above looks positively dire.

  27. Ha ha…I don't think it works for McD's and they should leave it out for school lunch. YUCK

  28. Just stumbled across your blog from The Impulsive Buy, and for some reason, these photos and descriptions are more repulsive; at least at TIB, the junk food is consumed by consenting adults, hopefully as part of a balanced diet, and mostly for the sake of humor.

    Our family is vegetarian, but I'm not one to doubt that diets including meat, poultry, etc., can be healthful. But this–this is the "meat" equivalent of processed cheese food or something. My son probably never will get a school lunch, if they resemble these, as I expect they will. Even at his daycare, his friends often have garbage that I wouldn't dream of feeding a not-quite-two-year-old on a regular basis, if at all: frozen pizza, Lunchables, etc. One tot this week had a pudding cup and cheese puffs for his snack. Gah. I don't want to be the crazy mom who only (or at least mostly) buys organic whole foods for her little ones, but it looks like I'm heading that way, especially after evidence like this federally-funded fiasco…sheesh.

    I definitely will be back often to see how this experiment goes!

  29. I've been watching your blog since last week, when an active member in our Farmshed group ( pointed us in your direction.

    My first reaction to your b-b-q rib photo made me want to scream at you. "STOP!!! Don't eat it! Please stop your experiment. I get the picture, now just stop!"

    But I want to express that I appreciate your experiment. I especially like how you are managing to find inspiration to give us good resources for our own exploration, such as the Farm To School programs.

  30. I don't usually post how ever it seems to be the Ms. Q. is a bit of a liar. To wit, don't eat beef? question is then why not eat something else. Being use to school food afair it is usually offered in more than just one type of meal. Schools have meals for the over weight,non-meat eaters and religous groups! This seems like more polical than anything else, enough said.

  31. I coudn't do what you are doing girl…I'm sick just looking at the picture…my natural gag reflex would refuse that food from even going down.

  32. Wow, the quality of lunches you are posting amazes me. I am a student at a school where we gripe about our lunches but now I realize just how good our lunches are! We get metal forks, spoons, and knives every day, and all food is on a plate that we place on a tray, the only "disposable" packaging is the side dishes, cake (Twice a month only), the vegetable, and ranch dressing.
    I couldn't stomach stuff like that. I think my school is a great example of what you are feel schools should be doing. I will send you a few pictures and menu items as a model. I hope you school will reform, I couldn't stand eating that stuff!

    I am a student by the way, so I don't care what my school thinks of me haha.

  33. I'd first like to comment of the comment that "most schools offer more than one type of meal" perhaps that is true in bigger school districts, but not in all. I'm from North Dakota, our schools are quite small. I've seen MANY that don't have a second choice and I know in my own son's school the second choice is a taste alternative, not vegetarian or dietary restriction related, and there is certainly no thought of any other reasons. The policy is that if your child has a restriction (other than lactose free milk, and then only with a special dispensation) you need to pack their lunch. Hard times, if you're poor enough to DEPEND on free lunch.
    As for bison, I'm proud to say I live in a place where it's common as a food choice. It's a wonderful beef alternative. It's really not different than raising cattle, except for the fact that it's currently more expensive due to it's lack of industry demand. But, if demand rose, production could certainly raise, too. I know there are a few schools on the native reservations of ND/SD that have their own herds of buffalo, exclusively for use as a food source in the schools. This is done as a cost SAVING measure. While it's not practical for individual schools to have their own herds of animals, that's only necessary due to the limited availability of bison currently. I would love to see bison as a protein choice in schools, it's nutritious and quite tasty too! Most people would be hard pressed to differentiate between it and beef.

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