The best and worst nostalgic school dinners ranked by you

The other week we asked you on our Facebook page whether you enjoyed school dinners back in the day.

It’s fair to say there was a real mix of opinions and a whole lot of nostalgia too!

Here we reminisce about the lunches that won us over and those that we look back in horror at…

Your favourites

Sponge and custard – it seems like you can’t go wrong with this one, except for the odd ‘lumpy custard’ complaint. Vanilla, syrup, ginger or jam roly-poly!

And if you were lucky, pink custard, because why not! Often paired with chocolate sponge or chocolate cornflake slices that would take your baby teeth out if you weren’t careful.

Friday Fish and Chips – it seems like everyone looked forward to the end of the week for this staple lunch, although some of you remark how grey the fish actually was. Peas or beans on the side?

Cottage pie – hearty and comforting. Although it seems hard to wrong with meat, potatoes and gravy, a few of you said the gristly mince was a little offputting and we don’t blame you.

Manchester Tart – shortcrust pastry, jam and custard, all topped with coconut flakes and a cherry. A favourite for many but the coconut flavour remains controversial for some.

Be honest, did you use to pick the sweet cherry out?

Jamesjones79, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Cheese pie – we would happily have this one for our tea. A big winner in a lot of books, unless you hate cheese of course!

Gypsy tart – originating from Kent and made with evaporated milk, muscovado sugar, and pastry.

Your disaster dishes

Tapioca pudding – your top-rated WORST pud. Dubbed “frogspawn”, the taste and texture just wasn’t a hit.

Semolina and sago variations were also given the thumbs-down.

Sometimes these were finished with a spoonful of jam or “jam substitute” in the middle.

Spam fritters – fried canned pork. Cheap but not so cheerful. At least it provided a bit of protein?

Boiled cabbage – possibly the most boring veg. An unwanted accompaniment to any lunch.

Prunes and custard – worlds away from the sponge pudding. More of a punishment!

Potatoes that weren’t made into chips – the ‘lumpy’ mashed variety or the ‘hard’ roasties just didn’t sit well for some.

You said

“Cornflake pie and Manchester Tart lovely. Sausages were nice too. Worst thing was liver which was green and boiled to death cabbage.” – Janet Cinar

“We used to get an excellent cottage pie and occasionally “cheese & biscuits” as an alternative to a sweeter desert… Availability of chips depended on how fast you could run to the dining hall as there was usually a limited supply.” – Tony Miles

“I don’t remember having anything particularly nasty other than over-boiled cabbage but the best meal was Chicken supreme with chips and garden peas followed by ice cream and wafers for pudding.” – Mike Francis, Salford

“Cheese pie which was served to us once a week, usually Wednesday. I hate cheese so I didn’t have a dinner that day and we didn’t have a choice then either. It was that or nothing, but I’m glad to say we were never forced to eat something we didn’t like, unlike some schools.” – Judith Howarth Bonfiglio

Feeling nostalgic? Check out more memories here, written by readers like you! 

Got you peckish? Visit our foodies page, packed with tea-time recipes for you to try.

Got a story to tell or a memory to share? Drop us an email at [email protected]


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