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How School Lunches From Around the World Look Like

Image credit: allenisd_student_nutrition@Instagram

The school cafeteria or canteen holds plenty of memories for those who have left school.The cafeteria was the focal point of social life in school. Some of us were lucky enough to have delicious and tasty school lunches. Other, may not have been so fortunate and had to put up with sub-par food.

Schools all over the world tend to serve different things according the their dietary cultures. Let’s take a food tour around the school cafeterias in the world.

1. Indian Uthappam Meal

The main feature in this school meal from a private urban school in India is Uthappam, a light and fluffy bread made from semolina flour. It’s topped with various vegetables including bell peppers and carrots. In addition to the main dish, there’s strawberries and grapes for dessert, as well as a portion of Murukku, a spicy and crunchy Indian traditional snack.

Image credit: banumathibalasubramanian@Instagram

2. A Healthy Japanese Lunch

Japan is known for having the healthiest school lunches in the world. Here, a bowl of brown rice is served with vegetable and tofu stew. The stew also has carrots, celery and konnyaku, a grey wobbly jelly made of potato starch. Students also get some rolled omelette and fried mixed vegetables. That’s a lot of greens right there. To top it all of, there’s a bottle of milk for Calcium and other minerals.

Image credit: non_san_schoollunch@Instagram

3. Korean Lunch with Banchan

An integral part of any Korean meal are the banchan or side dishes. Here is this tray, there are multiple side dishes, most of which are vegetable based. There’s kimchi, bonito flakes, preserved radish and a cabbage salad. The main dish consists of a beef bowl with some soup to wash it all down. Some pickled ginger has been provided in the rice bowl to even out the greasy feel of the beef.

Image credit: kkfs_cafeteria@Instagram

4. Sliders from the United States

Pulled pork sliders are the main part of this cafeteria meal from an elementary school in Texas, USA. Sliders are smaller sized burgers or sandwiches and this one is served with some cherry tomatoes, boiled collard greens, french fries, a cookie and a fruits salad. The portions are made to be very kid-friendly and there’s plenty of vitamins to go around.

Image credit: allenisd_student_nutrition@Instagram

5. Lots of Rice in China

This lunch tray from a Chinese school is piled high with rice and comes with three vegetarian side dishes, including stir fried tofu, cauliflowers and eggs with tomatoes. In China, children are no strangers to vegetables and they actually consume more of it than meat. The meal is pretty balanced, with a small square of salty preserves at the bottom right to give more zing to the meal.

school lunch, chengdu, sichuan, china
Image credit: EatingAsia

6. Roti Canai in Malaysia

In Malaysia, school recess happens at about 10am-11am and kids usually have a light brunch. In this case, it’s roti canai (pronounced roh-tee  chah-nye). It’s a type of flat bread that originated in India and is crispy and buttery. Usually, it’s dipped into some kind of curry and here, two types of curries are served;one dhal or lentil curry and the other a meat curry. There also appears to be a wrapped up chocolate cake for dessert.

roti canai, school lunch, kuala lumpur, malaysia
Image credit: EatingAsia

7. French Baguettes and Cosucous

In this tray of lunch from France, students enjoy a beef steak served with couscous. Couscous is a type of very small pasta that’s cooked in either chicken or vegetable stock.On the main dish is also a vegetable stew that looks like it has carrots, zucchini and bell peppers. In addition to the main dish, there’s  fresh salad with lettuce, tomatoes and carrots as well as a small baguette roll.

Image credit: Acid Cow

7. Simple Chicken and Rice in Thailand

Many schools around the world are yet to meal programs so students still have to buy food individually. This school meal consists of rice with stir fried chicken and long beans with a sunny side up egg on the side. The meal was actually prepared by the students themselves at a school in a refugee camp in Thailand.

Image credit: What’s for School Lunch

8. Singaporean Noodles

This Singaporean school lunch seems to feature two types of noodles. Once of which appears to be a wontan noodle with barbecued meats and spinach while the other noodles seems to covered in some kind of green vegetable gravy. There’s also some steamed broccoli and stir fried fishcakes with bean sprouts on the side too.

Image credit: Buzzfeed

9. Lots of Fruit in the United Kingdom

Thanks to a campaign by famous British chef Jamie Oliver, schools in the UK began serving healthier meals with less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. It would appear that the campaign has paid off somewhat. Here a child has a full slice of melon with half a boiled cob of corn. There’s sausages and baked beans with a baked potato to mop up all that gravy. A box of apple juice rounds up the tray.

Image credit: Daily Mail UK

10. Loads of Veggies in Sweden

This plate of lunch in Sweden seems to be covered in veggies. Of course the first thing you’ll notice is are the boiled potatoes. However, underneath all that are the vegetable stews and salads. One of the salads appears to have cabbages and carrots. On the side is what appears to be a rye cracker, which is high in fiber and very nutritious.

Image credit: Buzzfeed

11. Vietnamese Beef Noodles

One of the national dishes in Vietnam is a beef noodle known as Pho. Here, the pho seems to be served with barbecued pork instead. Students pick which bowl they want and the cafeteria worker dishes in the soup and condiments. Often fresh herbs and raw bean sprouts will be added to make the meal more balanced.

Image credit: My Healthy Dish

Did you have a good experience in your school cafeteria growing up? What were your favorite dishes? Let us know in the comments section.

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