3 speed-scratch techniques that satisfy students

How to use premade ingredients to make delicious meals for K-12 diners
Photograph: Shutterstock

School cafeterias are busy places: Trying to feed hundreds or even thousands of students every day is a big task. To save time and speed up cooking processes, some foodservice operators are turning to speed-scratch ingredients, which are prepared or premade items that combine with fresh ingredients to create full meals.

Speed-scratch ingredients include things such as soups, precooked proteins and more, and are instrumental in developing K-12 menus that kids will love. Here are a few ways how.

Prepared proteins for familiar favorites

Prepared proteins make creating familiar favorites such as tacos, burritos and burrito bowls a snap. With precooked chicken, pulled pork and seasoned beef, all operators need to do is set up toppings bars with the usual fixings: cilantro, lettuce, cheese, onions, salsa, sour cream and more.

Other kid-approved dishes that get a head start with speed-scratch proteins include spaghetti and meatballs (with premade proteins and premade sauce), chicken sandwiches, a variety of meat- or chicken-topped pastas and more.

Soups in satisfying mains

Casseroles are considered comfort food for many diners, and for operators, they’re easy to add to menus. For instance, Chicken Tetrazzini is a savory, warm dish of noodles, chicken and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Likewise, Chicken Broccoli Alfredo comes together in a snap with whole-grain rotini pasta, frozen broccoli florets, cooked diced chicken and a sauce made with Campbell’s®  Healthy Request®  Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup.

Soup can also be used in dishes such as Cheesy Chicken and Rice Quesadillas (made with Campbell’s Healthy Request Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup); a Mandarin Chicken Rice Bowl (made with the same soup, plus mandarin oranges, soy sauce, spices, broccoli, carrots and chicken; and Whole Grain Chicken and Broccoli White Pizza, topped with a base of Campbell’s Healthy Request Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup, diced chicken, mozzarella and vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, spinach and more.

Sweet treats

Dessert isn’t usually the main concern on K-12 menus, but kids love sweet treats. With options such as a build-your-own yogurt parfait station or a sundae bar, kids can create tasty treats with premade yogurt and toppings, including fresh fruit, caramel or chocolate sauce and honey or Goldfish® French Toast Grahams. All operators need to do is refresh the stock of toppings and yogurts throughout breakfast and lunch periods.

Foodservice operators in school cafeterias have a big challenge on their hands. From needing to please picky palates to the time crunch of making sure everything is prepped and ready for kids to eat on time and ensuring things stay within the budget and adhere to nutritional guidelines, crafting a menu in K-12 is a tall order. By using speed-scratch ingredients to craft delicious, kid-friendly recipes, K-12 foodservice operators can make meals and sides that kids won’t just eat—they’ll enjoy them, too.

This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice