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School Cafeteria Spaghetti

If you’re anything like me you may have had a love/hate relationship with the menu on your school cafeteria growing up. Some of the dishes were grey and unappetizing, but then there were the favorites that pretty much made your day when you found out what your lunch was. One of my personal favorites that the other kids also really loved was the school cafeteria spaghetti.

And, if you think that all spaghetti tastes alike then you are mistaken! There are a few key ingredients in this particular recipe that make it hit different and when you make this at home you’ll see what we mean. When you taste this one be prepared for waves of nostalgia.

School Cafeteria Spaghetti

To start this recipe you’ll need to brown some ground beef, breaking it up as you stir. If you want it to taste authentic then don’t use sausage as that’s not what the lunch ladies used. To the beef you’ll add dried onion, tomato sauce spice mix (2 packets), oregano, garlic powder, and pepper. There are no fresh onions or garlic this recipe which keeps sharp flavors at bay.

Then you’ll add crushed tomatoes, bullion, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and salt to the pan. The bullion and the Worcestershire sauce add a lot of flavor, and the sugar offsets the acidic taste of the tomatoes. Adding a little bit of sugar to chili brings out the flavor of the tomatoes there, too.

School Cafeteria Spaghetti

Then you want to let the sauce simmer for 45 minutes. The best tomato sauces and soups are always simmered for a long time and this one is no different. Towards the end of the simmer time prepare your spaghetti noodles.

Finally, instead of adding the sauce on top of the noodles add the noodles to the sauce pot. This way each piece of pasta can get coated in the delicious sauce. Serve with Texas toast and/or some grated Parmesan cheese for a familiar spaghetti dish just like we used to have in school.

School Cafeteria Spaghetti

Serves 8

15m prep time

55m cook time

Rated 4 out of 5
Rated by 58 reviewers

Allergens: Gluten

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp dried onion
  • 2 1.4-oz packets spaghetti sauce mix
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chicken bullion
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  1. Over medium heat brown ground beef in a large stockpot. Add dried onion, spice mix, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper.
  2. Crush tomatoes well by hand. Add tomatoes, bullion, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and salt to pot. Stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring often.
  3. While sauce is cooking, cook and prepare your spaghetti noodles. Add noodles to sauce and stir with tongs until pasta is coated. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe adapted from Just a Pinch.

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