The Truth About SPHS School Lunch

I tried every school lunch so you don’t have to…

Neilana Corrales, Staff Writer

San Pasqual High School’s school lunch has both its good and bad meals, yet, tasty or not, how much of our school lunch meals actually give us the nutrition we need? 

Image Credit: Oberholster Venita @

In order to eat a well-balanced meal that supplies you with enough energy for different activities, it’s important to receive the three main nutrients (or macronutrients): carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Though macronutrients are essential, it is also extremely crucial to get micronutrients which are vitamins and minerals. One way you can do this is by picking a food in the grain category, then either in the vegetable or fruit category, and finally a food in the dairy or protein category. This is important when considering certain meals in our school lunch because it helps us distinguish between nutritious and empty calorie foods (when the calories of fats, sugars, and salt outweigh the nutrients—-such as processed foods). A good school lunch not only needs to taste good/decent but also fuel your body.

Mac N Cheese

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The school lunch Mac N Cheese comes with about less than 1.9 oz of Mac N Cheese and a soft pretzel stick. The pasta is doused in cheese, and the pretzel stick, which closely resembles a sausage, is very dry and has little to no salt. Although this meal gives you 20% of your daily calcium and 10% of your daily iron, it is loaded in carbs and saturated fat which is not enough nutrition, considering this is the main lunch meal. 

Orange Chicken Bowl

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Although the orange chicken bowl does not meet Panda Express expectations, it is one of the more balanced and healthy options at school. This bowl includes brown rice, orange chicken, shreds of carrot, and two pieces of broccoli. Taste-wise, the rice is very dry, there is a very minimal amount of vegetables, and the chicken lacks enough sauce. Further, some pieces of the orange chicken are sweet and tender while others are chewy. However, keep in mind that this dish is packed with carbs (from rice and chicken), nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from brown rice, carrots, and broccoli. Plus, sometimes you can get a fortune cookie. 

Turkey Sandwich

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The turkey sandwich is a good example of a pretty well-balanced lunch meal. It contains two slices of white bread for your grain intake, although it is much less nutrient-rich than wheat bread. Additionally, the sandwich has lettuce which is high in vitamin A. For dairy, two slices of American cheese give you protein and 25% of your daily value calcium intake but is high in saturated fat. Finally, 3 turkey slices give you lots of protein and 27% B-vitamins, 12% zinc, 15% iron, and 5% magnesium of your daily value intake. Despite this, it is still processed meat and high in sodium. Overall the taste is fresh but you can barely taste the cheese, and there’s way too much turkey which is quite salty. The meal also comes with some sort of chip/snack. 

Yogurt Parfait

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Looking for a refreshing sweet treat on a hot day? The yogurt parfait is for you. The yogurt parfait contains vanilla yogurt, frozen berries (strawberries & blueberries), and granola. First, vanilla yogurt tastes nice and sweet unlike the acquired tart taste of greek yogurt. However, though yogurt is a good source of calcium and potassium, vanilla yogurt is extremely high in sugar and much less healthy than Greek yogurt. Second, the frozen berries at the bottom give you fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium, but, although the strawberries taste good, the blueberries are mushy and have lost their juice. Finally, it has pretty standard granola which is crunchy and mildly cinnamony but way too much for one parfait. One bag of granola, which accounts for your grain intake, contains 42g carbs, 11g sugar, 5g protein, iron 1.52mg (8% daily value), potassium 160mg (4% daily value), and Vitamin E (from Mixed Tocopherols). Overall, this meal is packed with nutrients and tons of sugar.

Pepperoni Pizza

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SPHS’s pepperoni pizza is possibly the most popular school lunch meal due to its flavorful combination of cheese, sauce, crust, and pepperonis. However, it does have its downsides for being essentially a comfort food rather than an actual well-balanced lunch meal. One can easily notice that it is extremely greasy, the 3 pepperonis are not spread out but in a line, and it is not even close to a filling lunch. Further, even though it technically has dairy (from cheese), grains (from the crust), vegetables (from tomato sauce), and protein (from pepperoni) in it, this fast-food pizza slice is high in carbs, and saturated fat, and sodium.

Cheese Burger

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Similar to the pepperoni pizza, the cheeseburger also has its downsides. It contains a wheat bun, cheese, and beef patty (processed meat) which accounts for your grain, dairy, and protein respectively. Taste-wise the bun is dry and the cheese barely has any taste, so I would recommend putting on some kind of condiment or adding lettuce and tomato for your vegetable serving. However, at a total of 253 calories, 37% is carbs, 32% is protein, and 30% is fat—all your macronutrients but lacking many micronutrients. 


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By far, the salad has the most variation in nutrients out of all the school lunch meals. This salad contains pieces of chicken breast, croutons, cherry tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, a piece of bread, and ranch. Generally, it tastes like a normal salad: the croutons (though burnt and rock-like) give it a nice crunch, the cherry tomatoes add freshness and juiciness, and the lettuce and ranch are both pretty standard, but the chicken is really bland and has a “watery” texture. Though the bread looks unappetizing and is very dry, it actually tastes pretty good, but it still is unnecessary carbs. Additionally, the ranch dressing, although gluten-free, has 200 calories and is high in fat and sodium, plus it has MSG. 

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

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If you like spicy, then the spicy chicken sandwich may be your best bet, although if you have a low spice tolerance probably not. Although this sandwich gets hyped up by many people, in reality, it only contains a bun and a huge chunk of chicken in the middle. As a result, it tastes dry and the sandwich lacks flavor despite the spicy outside of the chicken breast. Again, I recommend putting some kind of condiment on it like ketchup or even some lettuce to add some freshness (plus a vegetable) because this meal predominantly gives you carbohydrates and protein. The chicken is pretty tender, though. 

Carnitas Bowl

The carnitas bowl contains lots of brown rice, (pinto) beans, pork, and one lime to squeeze on top. This nice hot meal is flavorful and comforting. However, there is too much rice, and the meat is kind of dry, but the beans balance out the dryness and give the bowl flavor. Not to mention, pinto beans contain fiber, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin BG. Overall, this very filling meal is mainly packed with carbs and protein, so I suggest eating fruit to give you other vitamins and minerals.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla

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The buffalo chicken quesadilla or any of the school’s quesadillas may not be as appealing as you might think. By far, this may be the worst school lunch meal. First, the tortilla—a simple tortilla—tastes stale or hard at times. Further, though there’s lots of chicken inside, the chicken doesn’t taste spicy at all, and it overpowers the cheese—the most essential part of a quesadilla. For some people, it may taste better without chicken. Finally, the meal lacks any kind of vegetable, which is often excluded in American school lunches. However, this meal is very filling and gives you grain, protein, and dairy.


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Contrary to belief, your Uncrustable sandwich may be just as unhealthy as a greasy slice of our school’s pizza. Additionally, it contains comparatively more peanut butter than jam, so if you don’t like peanut butter this is not the meal for you or vice versa. It contains crustless wheat bread, strawberry jam, and peanut butter. Though this food gives you about 8-10% of your daily iron, calcium, and potassium, and 18g of protein, this sandwich contains 600 calories—27g of added sugars and 64g of carbs. The bread contains numerous additives including high fructose corn syrup, the jam lists sugar as its first ingredient meaning the amount of sugar is more than the strawberries, and the peanut butter has many additives including more sugar. Overall, Uncrustables are extremely overly processed food and have numerous additives. However, it tastes better than the quesadilla and is a nice treat when craving something sweet. 

Bean and Cheese Burrito

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The bean and cheese burrito contains a flour tortilla, (pinto) beans, and melted cheese. It is a moderately sized burrito, filled with beans and cheese. Even so, you can barely taste any cheese. The meal also contains about 16g of protein, Vitamin A, calcium, Vitamin C, and iron. The tortilla is low in carbs, and beans are high in protein and low fat. However, it lacks any kind of vegetables or greens. Overall, this meal is a good way to get your protein without eating meat. Plus, it’s a hot meal and tastes flavorful. It’s a very filling, on-the-go, non-messy kind of lunch.

Walking Nachos

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The walking nachos are possibly the most gruesome-looking meal because the dip, consisting of a pool of melted white cheese, meat, and beans, resembles closely to dog food texture. Though the walking nachos are not the most appealing school lunch, once you mix up the dip, it actually tastes pretty good. However, there is way too much dip for the number of chips given to you since the Tostitos Crispy Rounds bag is only filled less than half the way with chips. As for nutrition, this meal gives you protein, dairy, and grains, but it severely lacks any kind of vegetable which actual walking nachos would have. The dip is also high in fat because white melted cheese consists of 4-6g of saturated fat which is 20-30% of your daily value.