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Nostalgia Sunday: School Dinners

school dinner tray

Anyone that went to a British school will be more than aware of the state of the school dinners. They were always essentially really watery, had very little flavour, and were essentially slop. But, nonetheless, they were still incredibly iconic and I think we can all agree that our school days wouldn't have been the same if we didn't have them. Let's take a look at what the typical noughties school dinner consisted of...

School Dinner Cake

school dinner cake

Possibly the most iconic part of the school dinner, the school dinner cake. This became somewhat of a trend to bake at some point during the lockdowns (at this point they all just roll into one). I haven't attempted to bake it yet, but if I did, I just don't think it would hit the same as it did all those years ago. It often tended to be a bit dry and tasted a bit like powder, but it was definitely the most delicious thing on the menu. In fact, whenever you saw this was up for grabs on a lunchtime, you'd always persuade your Mum to let you have school dinners that day, just so you could get a taste of this bad boy. Anyone else get annoyed when the younger kids got to have their dinners first and would have all chosen to have this cake so by the time you got there it was all gone and you had to settle for something a lot more boring? Because same.

Rice Pudding and Jam

rice pudding and jam

If you couldn't get the school dinner cake, this was often the second option. I don't mind a bit of rice pudding and jam every now and then, but it's just not the same and relatively boring and plain. Plus, the school rice pudding was either incredibly watery or rock hard, and in both cases, it didn't have much flavour, even with the jam (if you were lucky to get the jam, that is. Sometimes they just wouldn't bother and a plain rice pudding is not the one).

Cornflake Tart

cornflake tart

I know this is looking like I'm only going to purely focus on school dinner puddings, but I promise I'm not. This was another classic part of the noughties school dinner and I would say was second best to the school dinner cake (nothing can top that). I would also like to add, that this at least had a bit of flavour to it (*cough* rice pudding *cough*).

Boiled Vegetables

broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in a pan of boiling water

We all know that when it comes to cooking vegetables, you STEAM them. However, for one reason or another, when it comes to school dinners, the cooks seemed to be under the impression that you BOIL the vegetables. These always came with an extra helping of water and had absolutely no flavour to them whatsoever and you were always forced by one of the lunchtime supervisors to eat them all, otherwise, you wouldn't be allowed out to play. BORING!

Mashed Potato

mashed potato in a white bowl

Another thing that was incredibly watery and incredibly lacking in flavour was school mashed potatoes. This mashed potato was weirdly smooth and was not like mashed potato that I've ever had before. Did they mash it with a masher? Did they whip it? HOW WAS IT SO SMOOTH?!?!?

Pizza and Chips

pepperoni pizza and chips on a white plate

Whenever I talk about fake, waxy cheese, the cheese on this pizza is what I am referring to. Neither of these tasted great, were incredibly dry, and there often wasn't even any tomato sauce on offer to flavour it up a bit. I mean, did this ever really taste nice? Someone clearly never went to flavour school.


custard in a clear bowl

This was another thing that was always incredibly watery and somewhat lacking in flavour (although it had a bit more flavour than some of the other foods on offer). It was also incredibly runny as well, and I don't know about you, but I prefer my custard to be thick and full of flavour.

Chocolate Custard

chocolate cake with chocolate custard in a white bowl

Of course, normal custard wasn't good enough for primary schools in the noughties and they had to top it with chocolate custard. This was often served with a slice of chocolate cake that often had the texture of something that wouldn't break if you lobbed it against a wall. This custard essentially tasted of very watered down chocolate and wasn't the nicest tasting thing but our childhoods wouldn't have been the same without it.

Ice cream in a tub

tub of vanilla ice cream

This was probably everyone's second-to-last option when choosing what to have for dessert (the last being the fruit salad) during dinner time. We all know the ice cream I'm on about - the one in the small, polystyrene tub that you could eat in about two mouthfuls. It was always vanilla, or raspberry ripple if you were lucky (but, obviously, that depends on your preferences). It was also either completely frozen and a nightmare to attempt to get onto your spoon, or it was essentially so melted that it became ice cream soup.

Those are all the foods that I can remember eating as part of my school dinners throughout the noughties. Admittedly, this post has mostly consisted of desserts and not main meals, but a lot of the things you may have had as part of your school dinner I have already covered as part of my post on noughties food. If there are any other foods you had as part of your noughties school dinner or just any foods you had as part of your school dinner during any era, then please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

As always, please feel free to let me know if you have any ideas for topics you would like me to cover as part of this Nostalgia Sunday series, which you can do by commenting down below.

What were the best/worst foods you had as part of your school dinner?

Love Beth xx

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