Day 48: pasta

 Today’s menu: pasta with meat sauce, orange, green beans, breadstick, milk.

Officially this is my favorite lunch. I just love pasta as a comfort food and I’m over “patties.” Overall today’s lunch is not bad: we’ve got real fruit and veggies right there. Yes, I would eat this one again. I guess that’s a good thing because I will be.

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

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31 thoughts on “Day 48: pasta

  1. This is my first look at your blog. Kudo's for you for doing this! It goes hand-in-hand with Jaime Oliver's Revolution that he's doing in the USA. He starts in a school cafeteria!
    Keep up the good work. I appreciate that someone is paying attention to childhood obesity and the lasting effects it has on the physical and emotional body.

    Carrie, Columbus, Ohio

  2. Doesn't look too bad. I could see pasta based options being a good improvement over fried stuff.

    How well is it received with the kids though?

  3. Actually that one is not too terrible…were the beans rubbery and laden with salt? It's not just the fat content we have to worry about, right?

  4. Were the beans in that buttery sauce again, or were these unadorned? At least they don't look like they've been cooked to oblivion like that broccoli was a while back.

    I do love pasta, though I have to ask, was the vegetarian option gluten free? Celiac's disease seems to be on the rise, and I can't imagine just green beans, an orange, and some milk lasting very long.

  5. I found you today!!! Love your posts. We have been struggling for years with our school lunch system. Our school lunch service controls the schools like a dog controlling their own territory. We have actually started a small business plan to help our school out, we just have to figure out how to get around the MAD DOG lunch system…..good luck!!

  6. I just started reading your site about 2 weeks ago and I think this was the most "colorful" lunch yet!

  7. Just happened upon your blog today. I am a School Food Service Manager in Vermont at a K-12 school. It has been a goal of mine to change the way food is served and eliminate as much processed food as possible. 2 years ago I had the pleasure of going through an intensive course "Healthy Cuisine For Kids" to become a trainer for the State. I didn't need to be convinced this was the way to cook for my students, I was already on board.

    I am very fortunate to have a network of farmers and community members at my disposal to assist me.

    When I first took the job it was a goal of mine to use more fresh ingredients (locally grown even better). There is a strong support from the community to improve the meals in the school. I never knew that much support existed until we started a grass roots group to do fundraising and create awareness of the meals and hurdles we have to deal with each day. Many of these parents did not know I was in support of change. It has been a rewarding movement on both sides. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about the generosity of the farmers and the support within the community. In fact, our first ever community meal is being held tomorrow night, which I intend to blog about.

    I feel very sorry for any school that has succumbed to outsourcing their meals to food service companies. I find many of those companies are out for the bottom line to turn a profit than to care about the quality of the food being served to the students.

    I look forward to following your blog and reading your posts.

  8. I am a few days late reading your blog. Just followed the link to the titanium spork – not interested but did find something really cool – squishy bowls and cups – food-grade silicone bowls and cups that can be squished flat into one's purse/backpack – what a great idea, instead of using paper cups/styrofoam containers. Also, check out the reusable sandwich bags i saw in this month's Oprah magazine: I bring my lunch to work everyday and I am looking to eliminate ziplock bags, anything disposable . . .

  9. Hey, there are real green beans (though probably frozen) and a real orange! Unfortunately there's an overdose of processed grains, but this looks better than recent days.

  10. I just came across your blog quite accidentally this evening. I scanned thru and saw the prepackaged foods and read your postings. I'm happy to say I enjoyed our school lunches as a kid. I had the choice to pack or pay based on the menu. But all of our food was cooked by moms and grandmoms who were proud of the food they fed us. I must say also that I live in Alabama and grew up in a small, rural school system. Even now, most kids I know that eat school lunches love it! It's like having your grams making you dinner for lunch everyday-meat and veggies with fruits and salads. I am appalled at the pkgd foods your students are served. Has it ever been different?

  11. will you ever try the vegetarian options? or have you already? im a slightly new reader.

  12. That pasta sauce is scary! My kids refuse to eat anything that their school serves. Well, my high-schooler anyway. The younger ones are homeschooled now.

    I saw the piece on GMA this morning! Great job!

  13. The pasta sauce doesn't look "scary" to me. It looks like meat in marinara sauce. What's scary about that? Anyway, pasta is a serious comfort food of mine too. Love it. At least there were fruits AND veggies.

  14. Saw the video about your blog on GMA today….had to check it out. I've never seen anything like this. I've had two kids go through the public school system, although I have to say, they are excellent schools. My kids always wanted to take their lunches, because that was "cool", and I often went to the school to have lunch with them, bringing lunches with me. The majority of the kids brought their lunches with them. The only day I ate school prepared lunches was on "lunch day with parents", and even then, my kids brown-bagged it. We didn't have those pre-packaged things…the lunch was made at the elementary school, but sent over to the middle school from there. (Right next door). The high school offered the same thing everyday: salad bar, sub sandwiches, pizza, burgers & fries, chicken strips and fries, and some type of pasta everyday. Drinks offered were apple juice, water, milk, gatorade, or orange juice. No sodas. At the elementary school and high school, lunch was $3.85, but at the high school, everything was alacarte….usually had to send about 5.50 a day if they got a drink with their meal. Drinks were purchased from vending machines only, and were 1.25 a piece. You could drink water from the fountain, but with only 20 minutes to get your food and eat it, running back and forth to the water fountain wasn't practical. They were allowed to bring one bottle of water to school with them. I don't know where you are from, but the lunches you have pictured are disgusting looking. What is it with the pre-packaged thing? Must have tons of unhealthy preservatives in them….why not have the food prepared at the school, or have a service bring them in?

  15. i just started following your blog, and i love it! my grandmother used to cook in the cafeteria of my mom's elementary school during the 60s and 70s. my mom used to tell me that her mom would cook with other stay at home moms to provide the students with a home-cooked meal. at the time, the school offered breakfast and lunch to the kids. as an incentive for the moms to help, their children (my mom has 4 brothers and sisters) would eat for free. this was obviously before the age of schools having to contract their food suppliers.

    when i was younger, my family qualified for the school lunch program, but we never participated in it. my mom was a single mother and she worked 3 jobs. we were not wealthy by any means. somehow, she always managed to make me and my sister a delicious lunch, all the way through high school. our lunches included anything from dinner leftovers to tortilla wraps to fruit salads. when i see the junk that kids are eating today, i can't help but feel it is the failure of the parents as well as the failure of the schools. i am in college now and i am so thankful my mom took the time to make me a lunch every day. it definitely helped me form healthy eating habits and an appreciation for good food. thank you so much for exposing people (ESPECIALLY parents) to the tasteless and nutrition-less food their children are eating at school.

  16. Now, that's more like it. Grains w/ veggies including a green veggie, protein & fruit. Much more balanced than usual.

  17. Pasta is my ultimate comfort food as well. That is the one meal I remember most from my childhood. To this day it is always what I want when I want a good, stick to your ribs kind of comfort food meal.

  18. You may want to focus on academics Mrs. Q. your expertise. If you go to SNA "school nutrition association" website you will see that school food has made significant progress. Some people are 100% organic vegans, some are junk food junkies, 360 degrees and so much personal biasis, it is a fine line and a difficult job. What can you do to help make things better? Get in that kitchen and volunteer your services. Hello…parents out there, do the same. Walk the talk.

  19. Ms. Q, I appreciate you sharing your documentation and reflection of your school's food. I know you have a range of audience members who either find what you are doing interesting or they are upset that you are negatively talking about the school nutrition. I just started my own blog and referenced you and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. On my newly launched blog (a few minutes ago) I express the following at

    I see the value of [Ms. Q's and Jamie Oliver's] efforts, but I want to be able to reflect on certain contexts of school nutrition that aren’t discussed on their blog or show. School nutrition isn’t rocket science, but it’s more complicated than most people think it is! I want to be able to address some of these complex issues to supplement the perspectives of the Ms. Qs and the Jamie Olivers out there.

  20. This reminds me of airplane food. I always hope for pasta because it's the one thing they don't mess up!!

  21. Saw your charming silhouette and heard your less-than-charming altered voice on GMA and was so clappy-happy: As one of your earliest followers, it has been great watching your efforts be rewarded by greater and greater exposure. You are doing good teacherly work, and i continue to applaud you, Mrs. Q.

  22. I think it is a really good thing you are doing and i think every school has a few lunches that are not to terrible.

  23. I would say kudos to you for trying to eat healthier food despite the choices at the school cafeteria. At least you are making an effort,I hope you realize that not everyone is willing to make that commitment to try and eat a little better even if its from the cafeteria. Oh ya just to let you know, some cafeterias deep fry some of their vegetables so just be careful.

  24. Something I've noticed about all the lunches… They all seem to be the same brownish yellowish color. Very little green… And when there is green it's always peas or beans. No lettuces, no broccoli (every kids fave, I know). But these are the green veggies that are packed with vitamins, and the things that kids need… peas and beans are high in carbohydrates, and don't provide the same nutrition that other green veggies do.

    Just an observation… Perhaps a salad bar would be a good solution? Ann Cooper talks about putting a salad bar in schools in her TED talk ( that was posted on here a while back. No one thought it could be done… but it worked, and the kids ate their veggies.

  25. Please parents out there…what do you serve your children on the weekends and how much does it cost per meal and how long (labor) does it take you to prepare the meal? Please post recipes for quick to make homemade local ingredients muffins, granola, cookies/bars, sandwiches, is it possibe to buy large quantities of food for 1000's of kids that fulfill these requirements? If it's a birthday party for 10 kids…do you order pizza (and make a salad)? Walk the talk!

  26. This lunch looks pretty good to me. If my kidlet was served this type of meal most days I could live with that (:

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