Goodbye pizza singles: 14 ways school canteens have changed for the worse in 15 years.

At a time when a giraffe named Healthy Harold would teach you stranger danger in a musty old van and Angela Anaconda ruled ABC Kids, school canteens were the wild west of fake cheese, white bread and reconstituted meats.

It was a time before Health Star Ratings, lunchbox shaming and Instagram, and tuck shops were nowhere near the bastion of health they are now.

While many of these school canteen menu items are long gone (which is probably for the best), it’s important we pay tribute to the questionable items we’d consume regularly at recess and lunch.

To be honest, looking at these, it’s amazing we’ve made it to adulthood.

We shouldn't have been able to survive this.

1. Pizza pockets

A slightly crisped pocket with gooey, cheesy tomato innards that had the stretch of mozzarella, without actually tasting cheesy. In retrospect, they're probably not the most nutritious thing we could've had for lunch, but they'll always be a win for nostalgia and comfort.



2. White bread

Before multi-grain and whole-grain became the only bread allowed in the school canteen, we spent our childhoods chomping down the sugar-filled, nutritionally-devoid stuff.

White bread sandwiches and rolls were filled with chicken nuggets, gravy glazed pieces of mystery meat and maybe a stray piece of lettuce or tomato for the vitamins and minerals.

School canteen menu
Literally the beigest lunch to ever exist.

3. An actual chip selection

We see your 'air-popped popcorn' and raise you a packet of J.J. Chicken Snacks, BBQ Mammee Noodles or a fun-sized packet of Red Rock Deli Honey Soy Chicken chips.

School canteen menu
So nostalgic.

4. The humble meat pie

Served with tomato sauce from those squeeze-on Masterfood packets, the tuckshop meat pie and its smaller cousin, the party pie, was as much a playground staple as a game of tag.

School canteen menu
Meat pies are still the most under-rated lunch to exist, tbh.

5. Chicken nuggets

A school canteen staple, we can blame our childhood chicken nuggets for priming our brains to crave McNuggets after a night out.

School canteen menu
Chicken nuggets

7. Lasagne in tin squares

An Italian nonna would certainly not approve of this assortment of cheese and tomato sauce, but that's what made it so good.

The real cheese content was probably questionable, but the chewy pasta bits stuck to the side of the foil tin were the best.

School canteen menu
From the oddly 'chewy' mince to the fake cheese sauce, there was something special about a pan of tuck shop lasagne.

8. Eucalyptus drops

An Australian icon akin to the likes of a cup of cold Milo, it was always unclear what the purpose of eucalyptus drops was.

In reality they were probably medicinally devoid, but that didn't matter. You could suck on them, and that's all we wanted.

School canteen menu
A premium boiled sweet.

9. Cadbury furry friends

A portion-controlled bit of Cadbury Dairy Milk with an illustration of an echidna, wombat or possum on the wrapper.


School canteen menu
Little did we know what 'furry friends' would mean in 2019.

10. Two-minute noodle cups

MSG, reconstituted noodles and a sprinkling of dehydrated carrot and shallot (?) flakes for health. These noodle cups were big on flavour and soupy satisfaction... and that's about it.

School canteen menu
Not just a staple for broke millennials..

11. Potato smilies

So much carb-filled goodness, questionable amounts of real potato. Undeniably delightful.

School canteen menu
Just add tomato sauce.

12. Flavoured milk

You were either a strawberry, chocolate or malt milk kid - or a Farmer's Union Iced Coffee if you were a burgeoning hipster.

School canteen menu
The drink of champions.

13. Pizza singles

While pizza pockets were the best way to consume tuck shop pizza, pizza singles were also a lunch order classic. Hawaiian, not meatlovers, was of course the best flavour.

School canteen menu
These were a lunchtime classic.

14. Various 'chicken' snacks

So... many... types... of... chicken.

You could choose from 'spicy-ish chicken fillets,' 'chicken goujons', 'chicken and corn rolls' and 'yummy drummies'. The near-translucent, oil-soaked paper bag was non-negotiable.

Sidenote: shout out to Ingham for sponsoring our childhoods.

School canteen menu
Questionable chicken content, but absolutely delicious.

What were your favourite school canteen lunch and snacks? Tell us in a comment below.

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