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Upcycling school food

Art by Wendy Bello Mata

I must confess, I’m guilty of getting school lunches–taking a few sips of this, a few bites of that, and throwing it away. My mind told me I couldn’t do anything about throwing it away since I wasn’t allowed to take it home, but my heart told me it was wrong.

I’m here to share some good news though: school food can only be eaten at home now! Whether you have more than enough food or you’re bored of the same menu, here are some recipe ideas that implement ingredients found in school lunches, ranging from easy to intermediate. Enjoy!



  • Milkshakes: This idea will come up more than once in this list, but there’s a lot of creative freedom when it comes to milkshakes. Add banana, cereal, or other fruits and you’ve got yourself breakfast on the go.

  • Pancakes: There are lots of recipes on the internet, but you can be sure they’ll almost always call for milk.

  • Cakes and cookies: Another idea that is versatile and can use more ingredients on this list. Use a milk carton, or two, to substitute whole milk and it tastes the same.


  • Alfredo Sauce: This is easy to make! Just measure out the milk with a measuring cup to be precise.

  • Mashed Potatoes: Give your instant mashed potatoes a boost by substituting water with milk.

Chocolate milk


  • Milkshakes: A no brainer but you can use chocolate milk for a sweeter treat.

  • Brownies: Same idea as the mashed potatoes, replace water for milk in your instant brownies recipe.

  • Chocolate Cake, Cookies, and Pancakes: Use chocolate milk instead of regular milk for a sweeter taste.



  • Carrot Cake: A perfect way to use your baby carrots instead of the classic carrot and ranch snack.

  • Carrot-Orange juice: Bag double the points with this bare bones basic recipe.


  • Tomato Sauce: Why let your carrots go bad in the fridge? Choose your favorite sauce recipe and add carrots for an interesting taste.

  • Chicken Noodle Soup: Hey Google, play chicken noodle soup. You can try the dance while waiting for the soup to boil haha. Again there's many recipes out there, but use baby carrots instead of regular carrots.



  • Orange tea: If you need a tea for a cold, ask any hispanic mom and they might recommend a variation of orange tea. You can drink this cold or hot depending on your mood.

  • Orange juice: Self explanatory, but you can drink orange juice for breakfast to feel like the epitome of health (trust me it works).




  • Banana Pancakes: I usually just eyeball the measurements and use bananas to my heart's content, but here's an easy recipe. Feel free to play around with the measurements, just don’t add too much baking powder!

  • Banana Bread: Join the thousands of people making banana bread in quarantine with this easy recipe from scratch. I tried it with crushed pecans, and let’s just say I should’ve made more.

  • Banana ‘sushi’ rolls: It’s worth noting this has nothing to do with raw fish but will still look boujie with chopsticks.

  • Milkshake: Again, you have creative license on this one. Peanut butter or Nutella can lead to a great outcome.

  • Toast: This recipe MIGHT be the hardest one on this list.

1. Toast a piece of bread

2. Slather on some peanut or hazelnut butter

3. Add bananas. Boom.



  • Empanadas: Score double the points here by using applesauce and diced apples in this hand held pie. You can buy premade dough but making it from scratch was fun.

  • Apple Pie: Don’t want a portable pie? Go the traditional route with this recipe. Tastes amazing with a scoop of ice cream.

  • Mug Cake: Cake in a mug? Yes please. I recommend doing the toothpick test to check if it’s ready. Microwave in 30 seconds increments until the toothpick comes out clean. (you only need applesauce)

  • Apple chips: To be honest, I have yet to try this recipe but let me know if you do!

  • Caramel Apples: You can follow this recipe or buy a candy apple kit. Regardless, it’s fun and easy to make for movie nights.

String Cheese


  • Quesadilla: Super simple to make. Heat up 2 tortillas and place 1-2 string cheese in between the tortillas. Best served warm.

  • Pizza: I love, love this recipe. Very easy to follow, and I enjoy using the string cheese cut into pieces to make a stuffed crust. Expand the crust 1” more than the pan and place cheese pieces all around. Fold the crust over and seal so that no cheese leaks. Bake at the temperature called for.

Tomato Sauce


  • Pizza: Using the same recipe as above, you can use the tomato sauce as the main sauce.

  • Spaghetti: Use the tomato sauce that comes in little cups to supplement the regular tomato sauce called for. It comes ready to use and tastes excellent.

I hope I helped cure a bit of your quarantine boredom with this fun list of recipes, but feel free to alter and add your own recipes to the list. And remember, you can drop off any food items you won’t use at the Eagle Rock community fridge!

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