Old school dinners we actually used to eat

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Following the debate over whether all kids should get free school meals in the UK, let’s look at the dishes we used to eat. Nowadays, thanks to Jamie Oliver, schools make the effort to provide good tasting, nutritious meals. But it wasn’t always the case. Back in the 80s and 90s it was a different story. Let’s look at the old school dinners we actually used to eat.



Old school dinners

Turkey Twizzlers

The nemesis of Jamie Oliver, Turkey Twizzlers were a staple of school dinners at one point. The celebrity chef came along in 2005 and used the crispy corkscrew foodstuff as the symbol of all that was wrong with school dinners. He had a point. At the time they contained just 34% turkey. They were then bulked up with water, pork fat, rusk and coating, plus more additives, sweeteners and flavourings than you could shake a stick at.

Bernard Matthews, the company behind them, released a new, much healthier version in recent years. But for many, they will always be associated with the artery clogging old school dinners of previous days.

Pink and green custard

Kids like custard. It’s rich and sweet. There’s no need to add anything else to it to make it attractive to children. But schools in the 1970s and 80s didn’t go in for the less is more attitude. They went big. And their custard went pink or green. No one knows how they did it, but it can’t have been healthy.

Spotted dick

I mean…spotted dick. What else do you need to say about it? I tried researching this online to add some more colour to this part of the article. Pro tip – don’t google ‘spotted dick’.

It was stodgy and horrible. The dessert, that is.


Liver and onions

There are many delicious parts of an animal. The liver is not one of those parts. It was also always overcooked, rubbery and tasted like the tyre of your Raleigh Grifter after you’d been riding it for a full day in the summer holidays. And yet, schools decided that this was what they were going to bolster the next generation with. Is it any wonder that the country is in the state it is in today?

There was, however, always one child who guzzled it down and asked for seconds. Like this individual:


Square pizza

For some reason, schools in the 80s and 90s thought they would latch on to the increasing popularity of pizza in the UK by serving something that was 95% dough, 3% tomato and 2% cheese. The joy of it being pizza day at school, eating the same food as the all conquering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was tempered by the fact that they old school dinners version was nothing like that in the cartoon.

The slices didn’t fold over, oozing with delicious toppings. They stood there, solid and square and tasting like a mouthful of wet flour. Cowabunga, indeed.


Which old school dinners do you remember? Leave a message in the Comments below

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