17 Old-School Dinners That We Want to Bring Back

Revisiting the beloved dinners we grew up with has a certain nostalgic feel. These were full of rich flavors and comforting familiarity, one of the simplest pleasures in life. We’d love to see the following 17 classic meals return to our schools!


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Let’s start with a classic school dinner that has mostly stuck around–meatloaf! Versatile and tasty, meatloaf is a classic dish consisting of breadcrumbs, ketchup glaze, and ground meat. However, despite being timeless, some schools are sadly starting to replace meatloaf with more modern alternatives.

Chicken à la King

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Chicken à la King may sound gourmet, but don’t let the French name fool you. This was a school dinner classic, a combination of chicken doused in a rich, creamy sauce, mushrooms, and green peppers. However, it’s not so possible in schools these days, so it’s about time it makes a return!

Beef Stroganoff

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Although originally a Russian dish, beef stroganoff has become a popular dish in homes around the world, yet it’s becoming less common in the U.S. However, many recipes are available online, such as RecipeTinEats’ version, so try making it yourself to influence a comeback!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

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A comforting dish more common these days at family dinners than at schools, tuna noodle casserole combines simple ingredients to make something tasty yet affordable. With schools struggling more with cost inflation every year, it’s about time this budget favorite made a return!

Pot Roast

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Another dish favored by school chefs for its simplicity is pot roast. Slow-cooked beef roast coupled with a mix of vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions provided a hearty and nutritious meal to school kids of the past. So, why on Earth is it nowhere to be seen in today’s canteens?!

Salisbury Steak

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Anyone who remembers the sweet taste of Salisbury Steak will agree that it should return to our schools! According to Steak University, this timeless classic was named after Dr. Henry Salisbury, who was always raving about its nutritional value. It’s stood the test of time over decades, but sadly, not in school canteens.

Chicken Pot Pie

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What’s not to love about chicken pot pie? From its creamy chicken and vegetable filling to its flaky pastry crust, it’s always a satisfying meal that comforts the soul. It’s also easy to customize with other fillings and protein alternatives, so it seems like the perfectly versatile meal for today’s schoolchildren!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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If you have never had spaghetti and meatballs at school, you must have lived under a rock! This dish has always been popular in cafeterias and homes, and there’s just something fun about the way it is presented. We truly hope it never departs as a popular school dinner.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

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As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, you may see this Irish meal in many restaurants and homes, but it’s absent from schools these days. Corned beef and cabbage are both healthy and filling ingredients ideal for brain food, but sadly, neither of them is particularly popular with school kids anymore.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Bell peppers are tasty on their own, but they’re particularly delicious when stuffed with other ingredients. From chopped tomatoes, peas, and rice to mince and spices, there are countless ways to prepare this meal, with Taste of Home revealing 30 of its favorites. Bring it back to school ASAP!

Liver and Onions

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One school dinner that has greatly lost its past popularity is liver and onions. Flavorful and full of nutrients, it was ideal in the past when exotic ingredients were less abundant. We’re not surprised it’s disappearing from school dinners, as it’s not for everyone, but we’d still love to see it come back.

Baked Ham

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Around the holiday season, one festive classic item on most menus is baked ham, prepared with unique flavors, including mustard, honey, and brown sugar. This sweet and savory delight has never lost its festive popularity, yet finding it as a regular school meal is unlikely these days.


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Another heart-warming meal that originated in Eastern Europe is goulash, which many older readers will remember eating at school. This combination of beef, onions, and spices is to die for when cooked well, especially when accompanied by potatoes. It’s certainly an old-school dinner that we would welcome back anytime.

Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherd’s pie dates back to the 13th century in Ireland and is described beautifully by Greatist as a ‘ground meat cooked in gravy, onions, carrots, celery, and a mashed potato crust.’ It is still a popular school dinner in Ireland, so we’d love to see it appear more in the U.S.

Pork Chops with Applesauce

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Is there a more iconic culinary pair than pork chops and applesauce? Whoever came up with this should be given a medal; that mix of tangy and sweet will bring back mouth-watering memories of the school canteens of the past. Students these days don’t know what they’re missing!

Lobster Thermidor

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If you remember lobster thermidor being served at your canteen, you must have gone to a fancy school! This delightfully rich dish combines lobster meat with a rich, creamy sauce, which is then broiled or grilled to perfection. Sadly, lobster is a bit too expensive for school canteens these days.


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Finally, Ratatouille, a French dish commonly eaten in France, is a vegetable stew that is not only healthy and nutritious but also fills you up without being too much. It was an old-school dinner classic in Europe, but thankfully, it’s started to become popular in the U.S., too. More of that, please!

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