For many, school dinners tend to be remembered with apprehension – with soggy sponge pudding and thick-skinned rice pudding a staple of menus in years gone by.
But Aberdeenshire Council is now embracing modern eating trends in an effort to enhance the health of pupils.
The local authority is also moving with the times by doing away with 40,000 paper menus in favour of greener alternatives.
In the coming months, more vegan and vegetarian options will be added to school menus, alongside “traditional Scottish favourites”.
The council’s education and children’s services committee met recently to discuss steps the catering service has taken to reduce waste and promote eco-friendly behaviour.
Councillors heard that food waste measures are being introduced to all schools in the region.
And pupils have been encouraged to use reusable bottles or water stations – which has led to a decrease in sales of bottled drinks.
The youngsters have also been advised to use real crockery and cutlery wherever possible, rather than their plastic counterparts.
It was revealed that canteen staff also aim to cut costs – and the council’s carbon footprint – by sharing information such as menus online, resulting in a reduction of a hefty 40,000 printed menus.
Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee chairwoman, said: “It is very pleasing indeed to see our school catering service is very much in line with the current move towards sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of doing things.
“These sustainable initiatives not only help with protecting our environment by reducing waste, they keep costs low too.”
The committee also heard that a new app is also being developed for pre-ordering school meals at academies which will help speed up delivery, cut queues in dining rooms and help with the production of quantities of food.
School catering services also renewed their commitment to buying local fresh produce such as milk, eggs, meat and vegetables.
Committee vice chairwoman Rosemary Bruce added: “In Aberdeenshire we are lucky to have some of the finest natural produce and ingredients in Scotland.
“Parents and carers should be in no doubt that the highest possible quality meals are served to our pupils so that they can do their best in the classroom.”