Day 47: chicken nuggets

Today’s menu: chicken nuggets, fruit cup, carrots, bread, milk

I’m not a connoisseur, but these look awfully like what one would get at Mc*Donald’s. My husband so graciously informed me about the 38 ingredients of chicken mc*nuggets (little known fact: he worked at a Mc*Donald’s in college). Luckily he told me all that stuff many hours after I had eaten them. They look so innocent in the photo, no?

I enjoyed the carrots and was happy to have them since usually I see the chicken nuggets paired with tater tots.

NOTE: I’m still eating school lunch every day it’s offered to students, but I am shuffling the posts around in the month of March to hide my spring break week.

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60 thoughts on “Day 47: chicken nuggets

  1. *GASP* McNuggets are totally better looking than that. (throws fistful of Arabian sand that flew over Jamaica) It looks more like the peasant food from Wendy's. (kicks peasant at Wendy's drive-thru)

  2. This post brought back a flashback to my school lunch days and I remember LOVING the chicken nuggets. I think I liked them so much because they weren't like McDonald's, but probably equally as bad.

    This meal looks very orange and that seems to be a trend (monotone food colors). Is there any green, ever??

    Props to you for keeping with this, I'm simply amazed šŸ˜€

  3. My grandmother would be horrified. She works in a small school cafeteria (i dont call it a kitchen because theres no cooking in most of them)- and they actually make the food for students (not everything you understand but the main course being served and possibly the desserts). Wears her out but she loves working there and feeding the little ones. Those kids get better food at school then at home- cuz my grandma cooks with love and food always tastes better with a dash of love in it. ^_^

  4. Oh this reminds me of when I used to have school lunch. I'm a senior in high school so I have been packing my lunch for all of high school, though I used to eat school lunch nearly everyday.

    I think it's very commendable what you are doing because attention needs to be called to the inatequecy of school lunches. However, there is just so little money in the schools budget.

    At my school from what I've noticed there are rarely healthy choices. Nachos, fried chicken, weird breaded chicken, pizza and things like those are usually the norm. I think in middle school the lunch ladies would make you take a fruit and vegetable, but that's probably not the case in high school.

    Also, the pictures you take (which I find very cool and kind of artsy looking, lol) are stanchly different from what I'm used to. At my school there are usually little styrofaom cups which are filled with fruit cocktail and watery greenbeans and vegetables. I've seen the giant, super-family sized cans of real labeled vegetables and fruit. So it's very bizarre looking to see that your stuff comes in already packaged packages (ha, I guess). It's like the lunch ladies only need to microwave them and that's it. No cooking involved.

    Again, I really support your job and kudos for eating all of the meals.

  5. Mrs. Q,

    Thank you for your wonderful blog! Two of my closest friends are teachers and I've heard about the horrors in the cafeteria.

    My daughter is starting kindergarten next year and your blog has strengthened my resolve to pack her lunch. I've always been vigilant about what she eats, plus she used to attend a daycare center that was equally concerned about what the kids ate.

    Have you seen Jamie Olliver's "Food Revolution" yet? What do you think?

    Keep up the great work!

  6. I'm still trying to forget the program that showed the process of how McD's chicken nuggets are made. Blech!

    You are a braver person than I.

  7. Thanks so much for your great comments! Yes, I saw the first hour of Jamie Oliver's show on Sunday (I live tweeted it) and I'm looking forward to the full premiere on Friday night (I'm going to live tweet that too). The school in Food Revolution reminded me of my school in a lot of ways.

  8. I'm try to imagine getting the dry bread down. The greasy nuggets wouldn't be a problem. šŸ™‚

  9. Chicken is one of the few things that I eat at school. I'm a teacher who has breakfast and lunch duty, so I am definitely familiar with what the kids are served. Fried chicken, in nugget or patty form is usually pretty darn good. In fact, I had little popcorn chickens today!

  10. Chicken is one of the few things that I eat at school. I'm a teacher who has breakfast and lunch duty, so I am definitely familiar with what the kids are served. Fried chicken, in nugget or patty form is usually pretty darn good. In fact, I had little popcorn chickens today!

  11. The Food revolution show made me so angry with how resistant to change people can be. It seems like small, middle american towns can be the worst at adapting to change. He was seemingly very kind to them, and it was like they were just out for blood! Im hoping he gets more local people on his side! since watching the show and finding this blog last week, ive been obsessed. i signed the petition on jamie olivers blog to support more nutritious lunches. there is also a button you can post on your site, if you like, to get more people involved.

  12. the itsty bitsy carrot dices remind me of what I feed my baby.

    I think the only way I'd be able to swallow those nuggets is if I rolled them up in the wheat bread and squeezed my eyes shut. LOL

  13. The carrots are a nice touch, but I bet all of the ingredients have been cooked out of them…

  14. As a high school teacher in Japan {where high school is not manditory, and so therefore the school system is not required to provide lunch to students} and a former SFSP {School Lunch gap program} Administrator at a non-profit, I applaud you.

    Keep up the good work.

    I keep crossing my fingers that more schools will choose to seek private funding from local businesses to supplement their food budget.

  15. There is not enough green food, and certainly no living food; salads, raw veggies,etc.

    I don't know how you do it.

    I would be ill. Bravo to you and to your commitment to our children!

  16. Maybe it's because I went to private catholic schools my entire life… But we always had butter knives (along with forks and spoons).
    It was always plastic and styrofoam things of course.
    (The only time I ever was able to eat off of trays with real plates and utensils (when not at home/a restaurant) was a camp. And the kids would wash the trays.)

    The food was unhealthy, but there were a few healthy choices (possibly slightly healthier because the high tuition = more money for lunches) I recall salad sometimes…I just never got it. And it usually tasted pretty good. I don't think any of it was cooked there, but it wasn't single pre-packaged.

  17. Hiya, just saw you on GMA. I'm a massive fan of Jamie Oliver and his school lunch project in Britain. Was thrilled when he finally started doing the same here. I used to work for a food service department for a school system and in fact typed up the menus. I was appalled by what I saw. The only color there was beige. I just did a post on school lunches and Jamie's show on Monday. Hope you'll check it out.

  18. This is what most people eat; look at the carts in the supermarket. It takes effort but I pack my daughter's lunch, you can control portions and quality. She attends a private, catholic school and it has improved but not significantly. If you want better lunches you need to spend 25,000 dollars for a main line school. I work as a NP and spend a lot of time teaching nutrition and cooking/ shopping tips. Everyone says the same thing, they don't have time, but they make time for tv, shopping, etc.
    Sad and costly. Without your health, you are poor.

  19. Congratulations on the GMA piece. I just found your blog through it.

    Thank you for shedding light on such a scary issue!

  20. I shudder to think how many McNuggets I ate when I worked at McDonald's in high school. The other kids and I would walk past our nugget "tray" and steal one and eat it off camera. Practically everytime we walked by the thing, lol. I bet I ate hundreds in the three years I work there.

    It surprises me everytime I see just bread on your tray. I could never eat industrial bread with nothing on it. Or with just butter, even if it is wheat-ish. I can eat my mom's homemade bread plain but only if it's straight from the oven. I polled the people here in the office and all four of us said we would not eat bread plain or with just butter. The bread is like an afterthought to making sure the kids get their required bread. It just doesn't make sense to me throwing a couple of pieces of bread on a tray.

  21. Its really a cool thing you are doing. People need to see how bad school lunches really are.

  22. Eew, this was my least favorite school lunch as a student and as a teacher. You're a brave soul and I love your blog.

  23. I am so sick of all this talk about healthier lunchs.. blah blah blah.. Our school serves things my kids will not eat .. healthier things like "California Vegtables" or beets. My kids GO HUNGRY!! I have to pay for my kids to starve?? Why?? It's ridiculous!

    They take soda out of the vending machines because it is horrible. So when I just pulled out the CranGrape Juice and the Coke this is what I found:
    Ocean Spray Cran Grape:
    120 Calories [8 oz serving]
    80 mg of Sodium
    31 grams of Sugar

    100 Calories [8 oz serving]
    35 mg of Sodium
    27 grams of Sugar

    So tell me how soda is worse? Looking at the label-it seems juice is. It is the same with Juicy Juicy as well.

    How about we fight to get P.E. back in the school EVERYDAY?? Our school only has it twice a week. We need to be fighting to get our kids supplies like jump ropes and basketball goals/hoops for recess. How about a good ol' game of Dodge Ball?? My 5th grade son has the worse "play ground" I have ever seen. Well, I don't want to exagerate-there are probably worse but you get my point.

    Anyway-good luck with your project. Sad to say everyone is pushing for "healthier" things that will just force me to continue to pack PB & J for my 6 year old. He is 6- not 21 with a "refined pallet"

    Jennifer M.

  24. I know that you get a million comments like this but I wanted you to know that I don't allow my daughter to eat school lunch anymore. Last year at her school, she found a lens to someones glasses in her food and the same day a friend found a roach. I know that her school only did what they could about the complaint, they offered her another lunch. Needless to say, she does eat school lunch. I try to pack her lunchables and fresh fruit or something. I just wanted you to know. I am thankful for what you are doing.

  25. I'm surprised to see carrots paired with the chicken nuggets too! It seems like a much better option than tater tots.

  26. I have been reading your blog for a while now. Up until last year I was an elementary school cafateria worker. Im trying to be unbiased and will fully admit there were good and bad things about the food but in ways I have to say Im not sure what point you are trying to make.

    In my school I worked for a wonderful head cook that bent over backwards to make sure that all the food was cooked well and tasted good. We served the food on trays that we washed after lunch. This was the HARDEST job I have ever had and I routinely came home exhausted. Not much is going to look great served in those paper/plastic containers in your pictures but I wonder if the same food was nicely placed on a plate and photographed if it would get the same reactions.

    I also wonder if you are asking what these kids eat for breakfast and dinner? I have seen some parents not feed their kids breakfast at all or grab them fast food in the evening because they were too busy. You dont know how many times my boss would privately pull a child aside whose packed lunch basically 3 oreo cookies and give him a hot lunch- and then pay for it out of her pocket.

    I know your putting forth alot of effort doing this and I appaud your efforts. My biggest complaint was that we had to reheat and serve the leftovers. Some were fine but some I just threw away. And yes there is nacho cheese and chip day but its like once a month and a big favorite for the kids – heck I splurge and have nachos now and then myself.

  27. Gah, I hate chicken nuggets. I quit eating them about 10 years ago after one-too-many incidents of crunching into a piece of a bone or artery or whatever the hard thing was.

    I also hate cooked carrots. šŸ˜€

  28. I've been following you on Twitter, and think your blog is brilliant, but Iā€™m confused about something. You're a 20/30 something year old eating food with a nutritious value meant for a 5-10 year old. Doesn't that strike you as odd? You should be getting more nutrition than that for your day too. You never mention supplementing your lunch with anything extra or taking a larger portion.

    That being said, keep up the good work, Iā€™m absolutely disgusted that our government feeds children this cr*p, when it is common knowledge that it is often their only meal of the day.

  29. Thank you for doing this….there are many teachers who want to speak out, but fear the consequences.

    will stay tuned

  30. I read your blog from time to time, and today was the first time I really took the time to read through all the comments. I work in the community as a nutrition educator…small town, very rural, low-income majority. A lot of the people I work with are on food stamps, or they have very little money to work with. They buy a lot of unhealthy overprocessed food. So to comment on a comment, school lunch (especially at a free/reduced cost) should be healthier for these kids. Ketchup as a vegetable? Offering "snack foods" (nachos, pizza rolls, etc) as an entree? Soda and juice drinks in vending machines? Those aren't healthy choices. And at an age where these kids need all the nutrition they can get for their growing bodies and to help them focus in school, we really need to do something to help this. I applaud you Mrs. Q for starting this. I think it is truly bringing an awareness to a lot of people.

    Reform school lunches!

    Reform the food stamp program! Put restrictions on the types of foods you can purchase like the WIC program does.

    Let's start taking care of the future of our country!

  31. As a former head cook at an elementary school, I couldn't agree more that we need lunch reform in a big way. We were fortunate at our school that we had a full salad bar every day as a choice.

    One comment that was made today on GMA was how most of the food is heat and serve. That was mostly correct at my school and I will tell you why. I had a staff of 4 including myself. I came in early and did breakfast by myself and worked alone until about an hour before lunch. My asst. manager worked 2 hours a day. We had a cashier and a dishwasher. That was it for meals for approx. 300 kids. I remember when I was a kid having hot lunch there were about 10 ladies working in the kitchen and the meals were cooked on site. These days with all the budget cuts schools are enduring it's all about cutting hours or people all together. It will be interesting to see what reforms can possibly take place when so many schols are operating this way. But I do agree that change needs to happen, sooner rather than later.

  32. So glad to have found your blog, and I totally applaud what you're doing with it! Hopefully we can build a groundswell of support for reform of school nutrition!

  33. I heard about you through abc news. I am so glad you are doing this. My step daughter's mom is a teacher and because she gets free lunch through the state program my step daughter is subjected to school lunches everyday. It kills me inside that a lunch is not made for her and a healthy one at that because one she does make one it's a lunchable! I complained about this when she was in kindergarten because everyday I would pick her form school and ask her what she had for lunch. For about a month straight everyday it was 'hot dog and cheetos'. When brought to the teacher and her mother's attention I only caused problems….I have two sons of my own that I pack a lunch for everyday with fruit and veggies and a sandwich. They are allowed to buy lunch once a week if there is something they like on the menu. I cannot imagine FORCING my child to make right decisions, because yes they do offer salad and fruits but what child at any age is going to choose that over the chili cheese fries or bag of cheetos that they don't normally get, or do for that matter! I thank you again for speaking out about this!

  34. Thank you so much for doing this. As a mother of a little boy that will be headed off to school before too long, this is the kind of information I need.

  35. Anonymous is right about some kids' packed lunches being as bad as or worse than the school lunch. Around this time last year, my daughter mentioned something about being hungry because her friend "Jessica" had eaten most of her lunch. I said, "Why is Jessica eating your lunch? Doesn't she have her own lunch?" and she said "Yes, but all she ever has is snack food." It turns out this little girl's lunch was nothing hot Cheetos, cookies and Capri Sun pretty much every day – no real food. I don't know if she was packing her own lunches or if that was what her mom gave her, but either way it was pretty sad.

  36. Saw the story this morning on Good Morning America. Good for you! I'm also very interested in watching Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution". Hopefully between the two of you, eyes will be opened and people will realize that our children are fat because WE are lazy and cheap.

    Here's an idea: if each school had a project where the kids grew their own veggies in a plot or a donated (fund-raised?) greenhouse, that would help a lot. So would planting fruit and nut trees and berry bushes on the grounds. A lot of kids will go for raw carrots, strawberries and blueberries.

    I homeschool my kid, partly because of a disability, but also because he has food allergies that prevent him from eating with other kids. The temptations are too great to eat candy bars and snack foods and drink sodas or chocolate milk.

    Keep it going! We're behind you. Vikki at

  37. Thank you, thank you! I am a special education teacher who watches carefully over the meal choices my students make each day. Because my job includes teaching "functional" skills such as serving themselves, carrying their trays, and using manners with me and my para-educators right there with them each step of the way, my students eat better than the general population. We have witnessed whole lunches dumped into the trash because the signal for recess has been made. The most annoying aspect is breakfasts. Churros, funnelcakes, and donuts are served on a weekly basis. Where is the protien and fiber? And who needs chocolate milk for breakfast? Kids need brain food not a sugar high that leads to a drop in energy later in the day. I look forward to your post each day and I now have a growing group who checks in each day! Keep it up.
    Just curious … did you weigh yourself at the start to compare at the end of the school year?

  38. I just started following your site. I'd like to know how much weight you've gained. Maybe you've said it in some of your other posts and I missed it.

    My children are in elementary school and it is quite often they run out of lunch items and the kids have to eat all carbs – basically what I feel is absolute garbage. Things have gotten better after complaining, but several times last year they'd have french toast sticks with yogurt. Can you say all carbs and sugar? Barely any protein at all. After eating all this sugar, the kids return to class and have to sit still in the class room. I called and complained, and I haven't seen french toast sticks on the menu lately. It has gotten slightly better.

    So, after reading some of your posts, I'm totally grossed out. I have decided that my kids will start bringing their lunches at least 3 times a week. I know I should make them bring it 5 times a week, but they really like nacho day and my daughter will actually get a cobb salad when it's on the menu. My son will also choose better choices on some of the days. I don't eat the healthiest, and it's better than school lunch 5 days a week.

  39. All this prepacking is making me nauseous. I've never seen anything quite like it before.

  40. I'm kind of scared for all the PBA and toxic residue kids are eating from the packaging of these foods.

  41. I heard about your blog at a healthy living conference.. and I aplaud you for doing this. I am worried sick for the day I have a child and he/she might be tempted to eat the crap that are fed to the kids in shcools. I will be follwoing you.

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