Scratch Cooking Vs Speed-Scratch Cooking in School Cafeterias

For children to succeed at school, both in the classroom and socially, they must have nutritious meals, and how those meals are prepared and served is changing. Historically, many school nutrition programs would try to save time and money with pre-made foods, but today, directors have realized it's possible to serve nutritious and delicious meals made from scratch in a cost-effective manner.


When we think of scratch cooking, the idea of speed-of-service isn't the first thing that comes to mind. That is where speed scratch cooking can be beneficial. What do educational institutions need to know about scratch cooking, and what are some of the top benefits of transitioning to speed scratch cooking?

Let's find out.

Benefits of Scratch Cooking

One of the biggest reasons why cafeterias have transitioned to scratch cooking is that it can provide children with access to healthy, nutritious meals every day. There are several distinct benefits that schools and children will enjoy when they provide scratch-cooked meals.

One of the first benefits is that scratch cooking can promote healthy behavior. With increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, overall nutrition will increase. This gives kids the energy they need for sports and physical education classes. It also provides their brains with the nutrients required to focus in the classroom.

Scratch cooking also eliminates processed foods. Processed foods are traditionally high in saturated fats, added sugar, and sodium. When children eliminate processed foods from their diet, it reduces their chances of developing obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

When children have access to the nutrition they need, they are far less likely to be absent, and they experience fewer behavioral problems. This allows them to become more engaged in the classroom, participating in academic activities. The result is better grades, improved test scores, and a greater tolerance for challenges in the classroom. Kids should have an easier time paying attention, and healthy meals eaten at school have exponentially increased benefits for children from low-income backgrounds, who might not have access to healthy foods at home. 

Benefits of Speed-Scratch Cooking

Children can thrive when they get access to scratch-cooked meals, but cooking every meal from scratch can be time-consuming. Therefore, it is incumbent on school cafeterias to identify ways to save time in the kitchen. One of the best ways to do so is to transition to speed scratch cooking.

Speed scratch cooking entails eliminating some of the steps from scratch cooking to make the recipe easier. The result is that a smaller staff can save a significant amount of time, allowing schools to reduce the labor that goes into the meal. 

There are different ways to reduce the steps involved in a scratch-cooked meal without reducing the quality of the nutrition that children enjoy. For example, schools may want to go with frozen USDA vegetables instead of having to chop up all the vegetables by hand. Or, they may want to purchase chicken that has already been diced instead of having to chop it up themselves. Schools might also want to invest in processors that can chop certain items without doing it by hand. 

Total Source Can Help Get Schools Cooking

Schools must develop a comprehensive plan to provide children with scratch-cooked meals on time. That is where Total Source can be helpful. With access to experts who can source the necessary equipment, address staffing and labor challenges, and ensure consistently high food quality, schools can provide children with the meals they need and deserve. With everything from refrigeration to transportation and oven solutions, schools can customize their equipment to meet their needs.

Total Source School Foodservice Assessment

Back to Blog

Related Articles

Planning for Post-Covid School Foodservice

More than just about any other type of foodservice operation, school nutrition directors have had...

Meeting the Unique Needs of K-12 School Foodservice Operations

Those responsible for administering meals at K-12 schools understand the unique challenges...

Empowering School Nutrition Service Staff with Versatility

The summer months offer a final opportunity for school nutrition directors to prepare for the...