Don’t judge a tray: Cafeteria lunches deemed delectable by these taste testers


Carli Troutman

Main Dish: Popcorn shrimp with mac & cheese Sides: Mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, and an apple

Born from a moment of curiosity, two reporters and food conoisseurs tackle the misconceptions of school lunches. They discovered that, while some lunches prove more desirable than others, overall lunch at North Cobb tastes far more delicious than the common school lunch stereotype found in popular culture.

Here are the lunches, from Monday, April 27 to Thursday, April 30 and their reviews:



Main Dish: Popcorn shrimp with mac & cheese Sides: Mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, and an apple
Carli Troutman
Main Dish: Popcorn shrimp with mac & cheese
Sides: Mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, and an apple


Main Dish: Considering my expectations entering the main dish tasting, it definitely exceeded them. While I found the popcorn shrimp slightly hard and small, it still proved tasty; not really like shrimp, but at least it tasted fishy. The mac n cheese, although looking like someone ran it through a blender and stuck the pieces together, proved the biggest surprise of the dish, with the creamy cheese and delicious macaroni combination providing a tasteful explosion of deliciousness.

Side Dishes: I will begin by informing that I did not try the corn because I abhor the taste of the offending vegetable. The mashed potatoes, however, were creamy and delicious. Honestly though, the mashed potatoes rarely fail to disappoint. As for the bread, it provided the same shock as the mac n cheese, albeit on a slightly lower scale. I expected to bite into a rock and instead bit into something chewy and, as far as bread goes, wheat-tasting. The apples also surprised me, as I avoided them for a couple weeks after eating one that tasted like chemicals. It paired nicely with the crunchy, juicy carrots.


Main Dish:  The main dish for Monday really impressed me all around. The popcorn shrimp actually surprised me. They were like little bites of the ocean.  Though they tasted more like popcorn fish instead of shrimp.  But the mac and cheese really hit it out of the park for me. Though the appearance was hideous, the taste shines through with creamy cheese and a crunchy top.

Side Dishes: All of these sides proved the quality of NC’s kitchen. The corn was most definitely the best part of the meal; every little kernel tasted right off the cob. The mashed potatoes, though they were an awful sight, they tasted like a Thanksgiving present. The bread, though hard, still possessed a solid wheaty flavor, but I love bread so it’s hard for me to dislike a dinner roll. Carrots and apples fell behind in a close two way tie for taste in the veggie vs. fruit war. The carrots are crunchy and tasty and the apple reminds me of apple juice.

Overall grade: A-



Main Dish: Roasted Chicken, Dinner Roll and Brown Rice Pilaf Sides: Potato wedges, corn, baked beans, and peaches
Carli Troutman
Main Dish: Roasted Chicken, Dinner Roll and Brown Rice Pilaf
Sides: Potato wedges, corn, baked beans, and peaches


Main dish:  Beginning with the dinner roll, mine proved less tasty as yesterday’s, but it still did not possess the texture of a rock, so I felt good about it. The brown rice pilaf…what to say? It proved the biggest disappointment of the meal, and was by far the worst. Immediately into receiving it, I noticed its smell: bland, like overcooked vegetables and melted plastic. The taste did not improve the overall impression; however, the chicken more than makes up for the rice. It looked delicious, a glistening chicken breast with golden brown skin and dotted spices. On the first bite, the seasonings exploded in my mouth; it proved juicy and tasty, and while I admit I am upset that they gave me a smaller piece–a much smaller piece–than my companion, I can say little against the chicken itself, except perhaps it possessed a little too much fat.

Side Dish: I must first express my utter disappointment in the quality of the potato wedges. Usually students can count on these to taste consistently delicious, yet today they tasted chewy and fake. I found the salad decent, but the leaves were limp and soggy with watered-down caesar dressing. It was manageable, however, and croutons were crunchy and good. Finally, the fruit was excellent. Usually the peaches have a strawberry on top, but nope, not mine, so I can say nothing to the quality of that, but the peaches were great: nice, juicy, and firm.



Main Dish: The classic dinner of chicken, rice, and bread was a good choice but poorly executed by the lack of taste in the rice. But luckily, the chicken was out of this world, with perfectly seasoned skin and juicy meat. Where the bread tasted the same as yesterday, a perfect little ball of wheat and carbs.

Side Dishes: The poor execution of the corn, caesar salad  and potato wedges disappointed me a lot. The potato wedges tasted like cardboard cutouts and the corn was not nearly as good as the day before. Then the caesar salad was the biggest disappointment of them all, with limpy lettuce pieces and hard croutons. Then probably the best part of the meal were the peaches. They were juicy but still crunchy.

NOTE: We both don’t like baked beans, so we’re pretty sure they were disgusting. We feel that had we eaten the baked beans, we wouldn’t have been objective in our description. Seriously though, even the thought of the heinous beans on our plates had us squirming in disgust. And because we are nice, unbiased journalists, we spared you from our completely would-be biased views.

Overall Grade: C




Main Dish: Assorted pasta & sauces with dinner roll Side: Caesar salad, assorted fruit choices, mashed potatoes, and apple
Carli Troutman
Main Dish: Assorted pasta & sauces with dinner roll
Side: Caesar salad, assorted fruit choices, mashed potatoes, and apple


Main dish: The lunch today provided us with two pasta choices, and we chose to eat the curly pasta with meat sauce. Although I possessed some doubts about this meal, it appears those beliefs were unfounded, because the meal proved more than decent. The pasta was cooked well and the sauce tasted like meat sauce should taste. As for my dinner roll…best of the week. It was so soft and delicious, and paired with the pasta, it brought the whole meal together.

Side dish:  I forgot the dressing for my salad, so of course it proved a little bland, but the lettuce was crisp and juicy, so I thought it was still a good salad. My favorite part of the dish rests with the mashed potatoes. It was heaven in my mouth. We received a fresh batch, so they were soft, creamy, buttery, and so good.  The fruit today was perfection as well, with crunchy and juicy pears and a delicious strawberry slice. I ended with this, and I do not regret it.



Main Dish: The main dish today had a lot of personalization allowed. They gave students the choice of two different pastas and two different sauces. So the choices seemed endless. Though my companion and I choice the same pasta and sauce pair because the other choices were less desirable in appearance. The red meat sauce was the winner for sauce because its opponent looked more like brown crust than white alfredo sauce. But the meat sauce paired with squiggle noodles tasted very average but still made me want seconds.

Side Dishes: Though the salad was bland, all the other sides kicked off my taste buds. The mashed potatoes, mixed fruit and bread proved its worth and had me finishing all of them till my plate was empty. The pears and strawberry slice in the fruit bowl proved to be my favorite part of the meal.


Overall Grade: A-



Main Dish: Buffalo Chicken Pizza Sides: Broccoli, potato wedges, and applesauce
Carli Troutman
Main Dish: Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Sides: Broccoli, potato wedges, and applesauce



Main dish: Although not the most attractive pizza I have ever seen, it proved a decent pizza. The blending of spicy chicken, dough, cheese, and sauce rendered it a tasty meal. The crust (always my favorite part of any pizza) also proved tasty, but mine was slightly hard, so I felt some disappointment there.

Side dish: I do not eat cooked broccoli, so I cannot give my opinion on that. My opinion on the potato wedges, however, I can give, and all I can say remains: hallelujah for these. These are what I expected on Tuesday, and today’s potato wedges are crispy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside. I am so happy about the quality of these potatoes. Lastly, we have the applesauce. I must admit I am not too fond of applesauce, but since I did not eat the broccoli, I tried it. After an internal (and slightly external) struggle, I concluded that the applesauce was actually quite good. I might actually eat it again. It proved sweet yet tangy, and while I cannot see the purpose of the cinnamon on top, it did add to the appearance of the applesauce. Overall, a good meal.



Main Dish: Out of all the pizza slices NC has to offer the buffalo chicken pizza proved to be the best. Although the appearance of it was depressing the taste impressed me. The spicy yet tasteful slice was definitely the best part of today’s meal.

Side Dishes: The winner of today’s side dish competition goes to the perfectly cut, seasoned and baked potato wedges. These little wedges tasted like heaven dipped in ketchup. Then in a close second the broccoli strung off the plate. The perfectly steamed vegetables reminded me of the broccoli my mom makes at home. Then, coming in third, the applesauce, while still tasteful, the other side dishes outshined this fruity sauce. Though nothing wrong with the sauce, it still lacked in taste compared to the broccoli and potato wedges.

Overall Grade: A