Edible Omaha

A Nostalgic Collection of the Best School Lunch Recipes

Emily Fink and Jean Heimann Photo courtesy of Dodge School Favorites
Emily Fink and Jean Heimann
Photo courtesy of Dodge School Favorites

Dodge School Favorites

It all started with nostalgic memories of delicious and comforting food served in the school cafeteria.

Emily Fink, co-author of the book Dodge School Favorites: A Nostalgic Collection of the Best School Lunch Recipes, came up with the idea in early 2015 though a conversation with former classmate and co-author Jean Heimann.

“She said she missed the food we ate when we were in school because when we were in school the lunches were made from scratch by the lunch ladies,” explains Emily, and Jean thought the original recipes were sitting in a box in the school cafeteria somewhere just collecting dust.

This got Emily thinking; so she called a woman named Kate who had worked at the school when Emily and Jean were there. Sure enough, “She said the box was still there. I was shocked,” says Emily. Kate picked up the box and delivered it to Emily’s mom so the next time Emily was in town, she could pick it up.

The oversize shoebox was crammed full of more than 300 recipes. Emily focused her efforts on the recipes closest to the front and the ones that were covered with flour, stained in oil, written on in pencil or that had damaged edges. Those were the recipes used most often.

“I took the box home to Sioux Falls, scanned the recipes and put them on a shared drive for Jean to review them,” Emily says. Jean then chose the ones she remembered and really liked and narrowed it down to the best 25 recipes.

After Jean had her list, it took her some time to cut the recipes down to family-size portions because they were originally designed to serve 200 or so people. You can’t just half and half and half the recipes, because it changes the taste and texture.

She and Emily then asked family and friends to make one of the recipes and fill out an online survey. They wanted to know if the directions were easy to follow, how the recipes turned out and if the people liked the food and would make it again.

Emily says the cookbook is divided into four sections: main dishes, side dishes, breads and desserts. Recipes are family friendly and include things like chili, chicken noodle soup, pigs-in-a-blanket, macaroni salad, sticky buns and the super-popular peanut butter bars.

“Back in school, you could get an extra dessert for a dime, and every time they made peanut butter bars, people scrambled to find a dime to get an extra one,” Emily explains.

You can order the cookbook online at DodgeSchoolFavorites.com.
––By Cheril Lee