Revive the thrill of yesteryear when the lunch bell echoed, setting off a frenzied dash to the dining hall, eager to unveil the culinary delights awaiting us. Amid occasional misses, such as the enigmatic mystery meat concoctions, there were triumphant victories capable of fuelling one through the challenges of afternoon maths and English.


In our quest to recapture those cherished school lunch memories, we've unearthed beloved classics for you to recreate at home, reigniting the midday excitement of days gone by.

For more recipes that will send you back down memory lane, check out our 20 best school dinner puddings, 20 nostalgic recipes to take you on a trip down memory lane and best retro recipes.

And if you’d prefer to send your child to school with a lunchbox of homemade delights, check out our school lunchbox recipes and kids’ healthy lunch recipes.

1. Pizza

Pizza rolls on a blue board

Schools had their unique take on pizza day, each presenting a distinct style that never failed to be a highlight. Some opted for an inch-thick, doughy delight, precisely cut into perfect squares. Others leaned towards a more avant-garde approach, featuring a French baguette adorned with cheese and tomato purée or a convenient pizza roll.

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We present our puff pastry pizza to those yearning for the reminiscent joy of square pizza. While it may not replicate the truly authentic pizza experience, it provides a delightful activity for kids and can be ready in just about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, for enthusiasts of the beloved pizza roll, our pepperoni pizza rolls offer a convenient solution. Speed up the process by choosing store-bought pizza sauce and ready-made dough for a quick trip down memory lane.

Discover more pizza recipes.

2. Macaroni cheese

Rectangular baking dish of macaroni cheese

While school dinner macaroni cheese may not have been the epitome of flavour, there's an undeniable comfort in this classic dish, no matter its simplicity. We've crafted our best-ever version to accentuate the soothing nostalgia of macaroni cheese. Picture a creamy cheese sauce infused with mustard, all crowned with a crunchy topping of leftover baguette breadcrumbs.

And for those embracing a vegan lifestyle, you don't have to miss out on the fun. Dive into our vegan mac and cheese, where potatoes, carrots, cashews, oil and nutritional yeast come together to form a creative sauce that's every bit as delightful as the original.

Discover more macaroni cheese recipes.

3. Pie

Square baking dish of cowboy pie with a portion missing from the top left corner

Pies held a prominent place in school lunches, likely owing to their convenient batch-cooking nature. Among the cherished school dinner classics was the cowboy pie, featuring a hearty mix of sausages and baked beans, crowned with a luscious layer of buttery mashed potato. And of course, the timeless shepherd’s pie remains unforgettable. Our no-fuss version of shepherd’s pie emerges as an excellent midweek family meal, ready to grace your table in approximately an hour. Enhance your culinary confidence by following our video tutorial for step-by-step guidance in the kitchen.

Discover more savoury pie recipes with both pastry and potato lids.

4. Meatballs

Meatballs in a pot with a metal spoon

In their true form, meatballs are a remarkably adaptable dish, whether perched on a bed of rice or nestled in pasta. Take our Swedish meatballs, crafted from lean pork and infused with the savoury essence of dill – they're also a delightful addition to a baguette.

For those yearning for a more traditional, Italian-style experience, explore our spaghetti & meatballs recipe. This delectable, family-friendly dinner, featuring meatballs bathed in a tomato sauce and crowned with basil, generously caters to 10 servings. Whether you're feeding a crowd or planning for future enjoyment, you have the flexibility to serve or freeze for a later date.

Discover more meatball recipes.

5. Jacket potato

Jacket potato filled with whipped feta and sumac, topped with basil leaves

Whether adorned with hot cheesy baked beans or crowned with tuna and sweetcorn, jacket potatoes stand as a quintessential school dish. Explore our classic jacket potato recipe to ensure your success in achieving crispy skins with soft and fluffy interiors. Once you've mastered the jacket potato's art, the fillings possibilities are endless.

Consider elevating your jacket potato experience with our suggestion of whipped feta & sumac – a more refined yet budget-friendly option. Alternatively, delve into our vegan chickpea curry jacket potatoes for those seeking a vegan-friendly delight.

Discover more baked potato recipes.

6. Fish & chips

Chips in a ramekin next to battered fish and a ramekin of tartar sauce

It wouldn’t be a Friday without the appearance of fish and chips. As Friday lunch rolled in, the excitement for this special treat along with the incoming weekend made the energy at school feel electric. Try our classic fish & chips recipe, perfect for sending you back to that feel-good feeling.

Discover more fish & chips recipes.

7. Meatloaf

Bowl of meatloaf slices

Meatloaf is yet another school dinner classic that was probably a staple due to its ability to be made in large quantities. Our easy meatloaf recipe proves versatile for various occasions – you can relish it hot, paired with roast potatoes or fluffy rice, or savour it cold at a picnic or in your lunchbox.

8. Broccoli & cauliflower cheese

Baking dish of broccoli and cauliflower cheese with a metal spoon

Was it the classic schooltime hack to blend cauliflower and broccoli, aiming to boost your vegetable intake? Perhaps, but this combination undeniably takes us on a trip down memory lane. Experience our take on broccoli & cauliflower cheese, an ideal side dish for your Sunday lunch, and equally delightful as a standalone meal.

Discover more cauliflower cheese recipes.

9. Chocolate sponge with hot chocolate custard

Square of chocolate sponge cake topped with chocolate custard

Little did we know that a straightforward dessert – a chocolate sponge cake drenched in warm chocolate custard – would remain etched in our memories since childhood. This schooltime classic is a breeze to recreate and we've given it a low-fat 'bakeover', ensuring you can enjoy without a hint of guilt!

Discover more old school cake recipes.

10. Rice pudding

Oval dish of rice pudding with a portion removed

While everyone fondly recalls the schooltime dessert of rice pudding adorned with a couple of chocolate buttons or a dollop of sweet jam, we've elevated it to the next level with our burnt butterscotch rice pudding recipe. The addition of a crunchy brûlée topping to this rich and creamy rice pudding transforms this childhood favourite into a dessert fit for any dinner party.


Discover more rice pudding recipes.

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