Cooking On A Budget: Back To School

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back To School


It's hard to believe that in four short weeks we are looking at the last blast picnic of the season and getting the kiddies back to school. Where did the summer go? IT FLEW BY.

And for us older folks, do you remember these desks? I do and it conjures up many memories when life was but a dream and days were longer and worries, well simply, we worried over kid stuff.

We worried about whether the teacher would catch us passing a note to a friend in class or whether Billy or Bonnie liked us as much as we liked them.  In grade school we knew ahead of time which teacher we would have for the year but as we got older we were not sure which teachers we would get until the first day of school. We hoped our class schedule would yield a favorite teacher and that we did not get Mr. or Mrs. or Miss Crabby Appleton.

Did we finally convince Mom that we needed to be like the other kids and not get some dorky pair of saddle shoes - again! Would anyone notice our new clothes or our cool penny loafers? What would everyone think of the new glasses we now had to wear or the set of boobs that developed over the Summer months?

Yes, everything was different back then. Our parents (if you came from caring, but strict parented households) pretty much dictated our lives and tried to keep us children for as long as possible; sheltering us and filtering what we watched on television and for how long and what we were privy to as far as local and national news.

We made sure that we held some modicum of respect for elders, teachers and police officers. Knowing right from wrong was instilled in us from a wee age. Our parents sweated the larger stuff for us and our teachers were there to teach and only in rare occasions did they have to be a major disciplinarian and connect with our parents. In fact, for a lot of us we were more "worried" about the discipline from home.

So pretty much for a large group of us older folks we attended school to learn. It [school] was not social hour - except at recess or lunch break.  School was for learning -  it was time well spent at our school desks and then at our home desks doing homework.

Throughout most of our school days, a good portion of us had a school cafeteria that put out a full meal for the day or our parents packed us up a lunch. Many had to endure the same lunch day in and day out with an occasional change now and then. When others had better looking lunches we often looked to make a "trade". Teachers made the rounds making sure we ate what our parents packed us for lunch and to make sure we were not acting up.

The cafeteria ladies were basically told what they would cook and most of it came from a #10 can or a very large box. They did not have the flexibility back then to show the kids and the school system what they could cook and many of them probably had more talent in cooking than what they actually put out in the schools lunch line.  Today's "lunch ladies", or "cafeteria workers" (as we called them back in the day) are far more skilled - they are chefs in their own right.

School cafeteria chefs are making great strides nowadays in providing well balanced, healthy, nutritious meals thanks to the awakening of people like Chef Jamie Oliver and the first Lady, Michelle Obama. Many other famous chefs are also bringing the message to the world to feed the children well.

So for families who are struggling to put food on the table or in a paper sack for lunch, and to those who can afford more in the lunch time budget, I hope to come up with school lunch favorites and ideas that won't end up in a trade.

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