As someone who typically brings lunch from home, I’ve always been curious about the school served lunches. Public school lunches typically have a bad reputation, but on orange chicken day, the line is out the door.
I sampled five meals to see if there’s more to cafeteria lunches than meets the eye. Here is my review.
Orange chicken, rice, and peaches: 9/10
Widely known as the cafeteria’s best lunch, orange chicken and rice received my highest rating with a total of nine stars.
It has always been my favorite school lunch, and I look forward to it every other week.Samantha Dodd
The orange chicken is a cafeteria classic. You can always count on delicious fried nuggets covered in a semi-sweet sauce. Perfection.
The peaches were also a good side and were relatively fresh, however, they didn’t compliment the entree very well.
The one point was deducted mainly because of the rice. Although the rice is very soft, fluffy, and warm(!), there was too much rice that tasted a little bland without a soy sauce drenching.
Nachos, salsa, refried beans, and frozen fruit cup: 9/10
It’s an unpopular opinion, but I would honestly put the nachos on the same level as the orange chicken. The meal was warm when I got it, and stayed that way even though I ate in the cold courtyard.
There was a good ratio of cheese and meat to the chips as well, and any extra chips I used to scoop up the salsa. Which was delicious, by the way. The salsa had just the tiniest hint of spice, but nothing overwhelming.
The refried beans were where the meal lost points. There wasn’t a whole lot of flavor, despite the cheese on top. I used my hot sauce packet here, which improved the taste by a lot.
Popcorn chicken bowl, corn, pear, and roll: 7/10
The chicken bowl itself–chicken nuggets, cheese, and mashed potatoes–would have been delicious if each component was served separately. Additionally, the coldness of the cheese conflicted with the warm mashed potatoes, nuggets, and roll.
The roll and the corn were pretty average, about what I expected. The points were mostly taken off from the entree, but mainly on this other side I did not get.
Is it a pear? Is it an apple? It tasted like a pear, and it resembled a pear, but the color and skin of the fruit looked very much like an apple. The fruit itself was pretty good, though.
Hamburger, potato wedges, and orange: 6/10
The hamburger is a staple of the CHS cafeteria; if you don’t like the main entree, there’s always a hamburger or pizza as a second option. The hamburger itself was decent, particularly with the cafeteria’s creamy ranch dressing. However, the meat was a little dry.
Additionally, the potato wedges were lacking. The fries were too soft and the skin was slightly peeling off. I do give them points for seasoning, though.
Mozzarella bites, marinara, and applesauce: 8/10
I wasn’t able to get the main meal, a meatball sub, so I rated the mozzarella bites (a regular alternate dish) instead.
Personally, I loved the mozzarella bites. They were warm when I first got them, and the marinara sauce balanced out the cheese and bread.
The applesauce was a very typical applesauce, so I had no complaints about it. There was a good texture, but the flavor wasn’t anything unique.
I only deducted points because there wasn’t as much to the meal as other dishes, like the orange chicken. The portion size was a lot smaller, but the cafeteria also offers extra add-on sides and cookies, just for a little bit extra.
Overall, the cafeteria lunches score pretty high on my scale. They serve their food warm and tasty, and always enough for each student. Additionally, they have a wide variety of meals to choose from–and not just every week, but also every day. The cafeteria meals exceeded all of my expectations.