This post was sponsored by The School Nutrition Association. All opinions are my own.
About a month ago, I was invited to attend the School Lunch Nutrition Association’s annual conference to learn about what goes into our children’s lunches. It was really an eye-opening experience – I had no idea of the scope of the conference, and I hadn’t thought before about the work that goes into what our kids eat at school. If you’d like to learn about your own school’s lunch programs, you can start with these suggestions and also by checking out The School Nutrition Association’s website.
What are my kids eating at school?
Now that my kids are back in school, I’ve been thinking about what I send with them for lunch…and what they may be eating at school for lunch. I know that when my kids order a school lunch, they’re getting everything mentioned above – whole grains, a lean protein, a fruit and a vegetable serving, and a dairy serving.
I’m also very proud that our district tries so hard to make sure kids are well-fed. We have breakfast programs for those who need them, which offer healthy foods so kids can start their day strong. Over the summer, we had mobile sites where kids could come to get a meal if they weren’t able to have one at home. Our School Nutrition Association members are trying hard to make sure every child gets healthy, filling meals year-round.
While I was at the conference, we were treated to a cooking demonstration by Food Network star and chef Jet Tila. This was one of my favorite sessions because not only is Chef Jet funny and personable (he enlisted us in a little trash-talking of his friend Bobby Flay), he also shared some great ideas of how to make delicious food…for 500.
That’s one of the challenges facing school chefs and nutritionists, of course. Along with managing a budget and planning healthy meals, they need to make sure the foods they’re serving can be scaled for whole districts of kids.
You can read a lot more about how schools develop recipes for their students on the TrayTalk website. You may be surprised at what goes into planning these meals!
What’s new in school lunches?
The following recipe was inspired by Chef Jet Tila. His served 50, so I scaled it down to a family-sized meal (but still promising some leftovers) and changed a few items. It was delicious, and I’m so thankful for the demo – I would never have thought to serve my kids posole before this, but now they love it!
This is another thing I appreciated learning at the convention – many districts are trying to incorporate meals with tastes and flavors I never would have experienced in school as a kid. Way back in the day, our choices were pretty standard…and pretty bland. Spaghetti. Baked chicken. Sandwiches. Now, schools offer foods and flavors from a variety of cultures around the world.
A delicious recipe for posole rice bowls
This is a great, easy meal for busy weeknights. It’s got plenty of flavor – if you want to kick it up a few notches, you can add in some red chile sauce, but I kept ours low-key with mild red enchilada sauce instead. It also makes a great meal for school Thermoses!
I do want to warn you – the recipe calls for already shredded pork. You can either put it in the crockpot in the morning, with about 1c of chicken broth and let it cook all day, or you can pop it in an Instant Pot and let it cook for 20 minutes, then shred it. You could even double the amount of pork, and use some for this recipe, then have some already cooked for a meal like BBQ pork sandwiches the next night!
- 3 c instant vegetable rice
- 1.5 lb shredded pork
- 2 10-oz cans red enchilada sauce
- 3 1/2 c corn (canned or frozen and prepared)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 29-oz can hominy
- 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Prepare instant vegetable rice according to package instructions.
- In a large casserole pan, mix vegetable rice, shredded pork, enchilada sauce, corn, oregano, hominy, and tomatoes and stir well.
- Cover pan with foil.
- Bake 45-50 minutes.
- Remove foil and serve.