10 Worst School Lunch Menu Items


Meat(loaf) and Potatoes

The all-American meal of meat and potatoes, while filling and potentially nutritious, can be a nutritional disaster in the hands of an underfunded school district. When the "meat" becomes "meatloaf" (read "filler") and the potatoes become a buttered, powder-derived pile of high-fat carbs, this old cafeteria standby becomes one of the highest calorie meals on the menu.

It also offers another health no-no, especially for kids: cholesterol. With approximately 80 grams per serving, the meatloaf meal supplies up to a third of the maximum amount of cholesterol a child should consume in an entire day.

To avoid the potential health pitfalls of school lunch, you can always pack it yourself. But don't worry: Your baby needn't skip a meal if she leaves her brown bag on the kitchen counter. While it may sound grim, these 10 items are just a small sampling of the meals being served in cafeterias around the country. Lots of schools have taken on healthier standards and offer plenty of lower-fat, higher-nutrition options; and even those that haven't yet pulled it together often have at least a few healthier options available, such as fruit, granola bars and green salads. It's all about making good choices.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


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The History of the Lunch Box

The History of the Lunch Box

Are you interested in the history of the lunch box? We've compiled this article just for you. Check out the history of the lunch box.