When remembering the school dinners of your childhood you might not have the fondest memories! Soggy semolina, lumpy mashed potatoes, or overly processed turkey twizzlers might come to mind but things have changed and now school meals have been revised to meet new standards. The menus are nutritionally analysed to make sure that they meet children’s nutritional requirements, so it should no longer be the case that children can go and just eat baked beans and chips every day.

Mr Z has been taking packed lunches to school for the past two years, but with the new school meals initiative with free school meals for all primary school children from age 4-7, I have suggested that he should give school dinners a try from September and see how he gets on. Mr T will also be starting reception and giving school meals a try.

I was surprised to hear that only 1% of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards of school meals these days! I’m sure that the school meals will give the children more variety so I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on with them, and hope that they enjoy their school meals from September.

Modern School dinner recipesSchool Dinner Recipes

The ingredients used in school meals are now all in line with best practise guidance. For example canned products are in water or natural juice with no added sugar or salt and cheese or cream cheese used is reduced fat. Food allergies and intolerances are all taken seriously with full information given with each recipe. A good selection of meat and vegetarian options will be provided. As we only eat Halal meat, my children will mainly be having vegetarian options for school dinners; or sometimes fish.

Here’s an example of one of the vegetarian recipes that will be used, which sounds wholesome with plenty of vegetables. It will be much nicer for them to have a nice warm meal at lunch rather than the same old sandwiches each day. I do find myself getting very bored of packing the same types of things for packed lunch week after week, especially for Mr T as he is a very picky eater!

Summer Vegetable Lasagne

Allergy information: Gluten, milk
Recipe type: Main – vegetarian
Number of portions this recipe makes: 16 primary servings (310g)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Recipe adapted from: Enfield Catering Services as featured in the Children’s Food Trust Recipe for success – Vegetable recipes and tips


50ml vegetable oil
120g onion, peeled and diced
8g (2 cloves) garlic
450g broccoli, sliced
230g carrots, peeled and diced
450g cauliflower, diced
300g courgettes, sliced
230g mushrooms, sliced
60g tomato purée
400g canned chopped tomatoes
500ml water
3g (3tsp) dried mixed herbs
25g margarine
25g plain flour
500ml semi-skimmed milk
120g reduced-fat cheese, grated
2g (1tsp) white pepper
570g pasta sheets (dried)

summer vegetable lasagne recipe - school dinner recipe


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onion and garlic.
  • Add the remaining vegetables and stir to coat in the oil
  • Add the tomato purée, canned tomatoes, water and mixed herbs and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
  • In a separate pan, mix the margarine and flour together to form a paste, gradually add the milk and stir until the mixture thickens into a white sauce.
  • Add half the grated cheese and white pepper to flavour the sauce.
  • In a suitable dish, assemble the lasagne by layering the vegetable mixture, then some pasta sheets and then cheese sauce, and then repeat.
  • Sprinkle the top layer of cheese sauce with the remaining grated cheese and bake for 40 minutes until bubbling.

The desert recipes also look much healthier and more appealing with choices like tropical or berries fruit salads, fruit granola pots and yoghurt, or seasonal fruit tart rather than some of the very stodgy puddings that were given during the school dinners of our childhood in the 90s!

You can see more of the recipes from the new school meals here

Will your child be trying the free school meals from September? Let me know in the comments

Image credit: Classic Lasagne Shutterstock. Commissioned post.