Day 132: chicken nuggets and school lunch news

Today’s menu: chicken nuggets, grapes, greens and cornbread
I ended up eating quite a few of the greens, more than I ever had eaten before. Eh, they don’t get better by eating more and still haven’t grown on me. I didn’t get a chance to photograph my trash today because I was called away from my room (for some prescient gossip) and took parts of my lunch with me, including the greens.
My friend asked, “Ooh, is that spinach?” with a gleam in her eye.
“No, they’re collard greens.”
“Too bad. I loved school lunch spinach.”
That is not the first time people have remarked on various cravings they have had for different things from the school lunch — you guys have shared tons of little snippets of nostalgia for salisbury steak, school lunch pizza, and even school lunch PB&Js.
Her comment about spinach reminded me of my grandparents’ love of Stouffer’s Spinach Souffle. My grandparents would buy the side dish, put it on a cookie sheet, and bake it in the oven when my sister and I came to visit. The souffle was often a main dish. They ate a lot of reheated microwave meals, but I LOVED the spinach souffle. I could go for some right about now…just because it reminds me of them.
Friends have stories about going to their grandparents’ house, smells in the kitchen, and eating so much food they would burst. When I visited my grandparents, it was the opposite. I always felt hungry and there never seemed to be enough to go around at mealtimes. Grandma is a sweetie, fluent in French (ironic since she like microwave souffles!), a great traveler, and overall amazing human being, but her one flaw is that she isn’t much of a cook. To this day she says, “My favorite thing to cook is to go out to dinner.” Oddly, when her children were young, they didn’t have a lot of money and went out for dinner once a year (her husband’s company party). I really wonder what my mom ate as a child….I gotta find out.
Regarding drinking the fruit cup juice, what can I say…it’s good! It tastes better than the mushy fruit!
Random school lunch news tidbits:
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18 thoughts on “Day 132: chicken nuggets and school lunch news

  1. My grandparents always had Little Debbie snacks…it never failed that they had all those "goodies".

    Now that I have my own kids, we go to the inlaws nearly every week and the thing my kids look forward to at ILs? Fruit. Lots of fresh yummy fruit. We have fruit with every lunch at home but of course fruit from someone else's house is way yummier.

  2. Mrs. Q, do you like collard greens when they are prepared fresh at home? I'm just curious since I didn't think I liked them either based on my school lunch experience. Now I love them, but only when I cook them myself at home where they're not so bitter and soggy. Also, I get such a kick seeing those grapes in the little plastic packaging. They look so strange removed from the stem!!

    Thanks for the report as always! 🙂

  3. I worked at a school for four years and the cafeteria served collard greens bi-weekly. I always took a bite or two and on occasion I would add a bit of salt or sugar to cut the bitterness.
    After two or three years of taking bites I find that I have acclimated to collard greens and can even enjoy them from restaurants.
    In the school I was in, students loved vegetables and always ate them. Especially corn, collard greens, and pinto beans.

  4. I'm nostalgic for "chicken day." Every Thursday at my high school we had fried chicken, white rice, brown gravy, and a biscuit. Sometimes the chicken was dark meat and I only ate the crunchy skin, sometimes the rice was crunchy, sometimes the biscuit was hard, and sometimes the gravy was congealed, but Thursdays were the best chance we had of enjoying everything on our tray.

  5. My paternal grandmother wasn't much of a cook, either, but when I came, she ALWAYS made me hot cocoa & buttered toast. She'd cut up the toast into four squares for me and I would proceed to dip the toast into the cocoa. To this day, when I have hot cocoa I want buttered toast with it. My maternal grandmother is a fantastic cook. My dad was in the Army, so we never lived close by. My parents never drank coffee, so the only time that I smelled coffee in my home was when my grandparents came to visit. Often, they would drive and get in late at night after I was asleep; when I woke in the morning, I'd smell the coffee and know that my grandparents were there! When I got to the kitchen, there were my grandparents and their coffee…and usually some homemade cinnamon rolls that my grandmother had whipped up! I don't drink coffee, but to this day, when I smell fresh hot coffee, I think of my grandparents! 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity to remember.

    When I was in high school, I never ate the hot lunch, but we had a pretty good salad bar (lots of veggies, chick peas or kidney beans, and usually julienned turkey or ham), so I always got salads. Fridays were the best, because it was taco salad day! YUM! Is there anything better?!

    Now, it's a cold morning…I think I'll make myself some hot cocoa and buttered toast, and I'll cut the toast up into squares.

  6. love greens, but those look heinous. if they are prepared right, they're delicious. nothing like setting the kids up for failure by giving them shapeless lump of green, tasteless, bitter mush.

    one thursday a month we had pizza rolls. it was pepperoni and cheese stuffed in a wonton wrapper and deep fried. they'd give you marinara sauce for dipping. arguably the only thing my cafeteria sold all month to get excited about. i cringe now thinking about the nitrates, preservatives and greasy stomach ache, but i'd love to have some right now without the guilt, heartburn and inevitable sluggishness.

  7. As a child I wouldn't eat "greens" of any kind except salad. Now I love most greens if they are sauted with garlic in olive oil.

    I also find it interesting in that it used to be if you had less money you cooked and never ate out…
    Now people eat out, because it costs more to cook? (I question that) Or because they don't have access to grocery stores or because 2 burgers for a buck just seems like more bang for the buck.

    FWIW, microwaving doesn't = cooking…really.

  8. There are several differences between what my grandparents had for snacks and the snacks we have today. Today there are many many more options and many more fillers and preservatives than there used to be. The ingredient list were not lists of chemicals like today.

  9. I think my love for salty, over cooked vegetables stems from eating cafeteria food as a grade schooler. I'll still cook my broccoli down to mush if I can, although I know it basically boils away all the nutrients.

  10. Our high school got a "snack bar" when I was in 10th grade that served pretzels and donuts and churros and MILKSHAKES. OMG the milkshakes were so good, slurp, I want one now.

  11. Excellent random school lunch news tidbits, Mrs. Q! Thanks for those.

    What bugs me about those collards is that the contractor can say they provided a vegetable even though it's inedible. They seem to take no responsibility whatsoever for making it appealing or even just palatable. Collards are inexpensive as vegetables go and they get to check off the vegetable box on the USDA checklist even though no one, not even someone who likes collards, would eat it.

  12. Was this the first time your cafeteria offered grapes? I don't recall seeing them before. Also, the lunches do seem to be getting a little bit better.

  13. Mmmm…collards and corn bread. Delicious if done right, and can stand as a meal on it's own. I'm curious, does the cornbread have sugar in it?

  14. Neither of my grandmothers were good cooks. In fact, one of them existed on coffee, cigarettes and beer 🙂 Literally –when she stopped drinking beer once, because her neighbors in her senior living center implied it wasn't appropriate, she ended up in the hospital from malnutrition.

    My mom, however, is the best cook I know. And my daughter loves Oma's cooking. I don't know how she does it, but no matter what time of year we visit she has a box of fabulous raspberries for my daughter to munch on. And homemade waffles, with fresh fruit and whip cream for at least one breakfast are amazing. Every meal is the best you've ever had.

  15. I love collards (esp. with cornbread and black-eyed peas – which you are supposed to eat on New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year, btw) and I wouldn't touch those. Yuck.

    My best grandparent-related food memory is of being allowed to eat all the white bread I wanted at my maternal grandmother's house, when I was about four years old. We only ate wheat bread at home, and I thought I'd found Nirvana. When my parents arrived to pick me up, my grandmother greeted them by saying, "Don't you feed this baby? She ate a whole loaf of Wonder bread!"

  16. Grandma who can't cook… That seems like an oxymoron.

    I wonder what your mom ate as a child. Or maybe I don't want to know. Did your mother learn to cook in spite of that?

    Renee, lucky for you and your daughter that your mom did learn to cook!

  17. There seems to be lots of collards this year. Blech. Why not something else, like spinach or swiss chard? Collards must be cheap. We ate Stouffer's spinach souffle, too, in the 1970's. I liked it!

  18. Collards are good in salad, and I'm betting they would be a great substitute for swiss chard leaves in a Lebanese dish. (Leaves wrapped around rice mixed with meat and spices then steamed…I may have to make some right now…) I've never liked them boiled myself, and I feel like only ever serving them that way short-changes the possibility they hold in terms of taste and appeal.

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