When most people reflect on their school cafeteria days, they remember hairnets, alphabet soup, and clique dynamics. Even though Florida's schools have recently been heralded for their lunchtime facelift, offering healthier meals than ever before, school cafeterias have never been anyone's ideal of tasty nourishment.
For the first day of school we spoke to our kid food expert, Wyatt, because he posts restaurant reviews on his self-published food blog, Wyatt Tastes Good, but also because he's 11 and is subjected to school cafeteria fare nine months of the year.
According to Wyatt, school cafeterias are a lot like children's menus at restaurants: small portions and no variety. Even though Wyatt's parents let him experience cuisine on the grown-ups side of the menu when he dines out for his blog, he doesn't have that luxury at school. So we had Wyatt design a school cafeteria menu he would actually enjoy eating.
Wyatt admits that he's one of the lucky ones. The school Wyatt attends now offers a delectable buffet of food -- he even admits to having gone back for second, third, and even fourth helpings. But that doesn't blot out Wyatt's memories from his previous schools, which to his dismay, had menus that lacked variety, food that lacked seasoning, and dishes that would often times come out cold.
"Meatloaf Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday -- you pretty much know what you'll be having the whole year," Wyatt says unimpressed. "It would be awesome if there was some sort of a vote among the kids to decide what we want for lunch."
Democratic in his thinking, Wyatt does have a point. If kids are meant to enjoy their lunches everyday at school, shouldn't they have a say in what is served?
We thought so, which is why we asked Wyatt what he would serve if he was in charge of the school cafeteria for a day. He admits he's not a nutritionist or a chef -- yet -- but we're impressed his menu isn't all chocolate syrup and Lucky Charms marshmallows. Passing on frozen foods, and implementing a condiments bar, this is Wyatt's menu:
Tender fried chicken with good breading and choice of buffalo sauce. Mashed potatoes and gravy.
Cookies for dessert.
Some sort of pasta (spaghetti, shells, lasagna, etc.) with garlic bread and Caesar salad.
Ice cream for dessert.
Deli sandwiches (salami, roast beef, turkey) and soup on the side.
Vanilla cake for dessert.
Big, well-seasoned burgers with BBQ sauce and homemade chips on the side.
Key lime pie for dessert.
Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, or veggies. Fries on the side.
Chocolate cake for dessert.
Stressing high quality items and choices, we don't blame this kid food connoisseur for wanting a pepperoni or vegetable pizza slice instead of that greasy slab of tomato sauce and cheese (especially when its served on those awful styrofoam trays). Wyatt opts for some refined sauces like barbecue and buffalo, and stresses better sides like potatoes and gravy as opposed to those juice bag things they're giving out nowadays.
Even if school administrator's don't take Wyatt's menu into consideration this school year, we'd vouch that we'd gladly eat it any day of the week.
Check out Wyatt's restaurant reviews, Wyatt Tastes Good.