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43 Cafeteria Copycat Recipes That’ll Take You Back

From sloppy joes to tapioca pudding, these old school cafeteria recipes will bring you right back to the 8th grade. How many of these foods did you eat in school?

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Walking Tacos

These Walking Tacos are great for an on-the-go dinner, campfire meal or easy game night supper. The ingredients transform a bag of chips into a taco in a bag! —Beverly Matthews, Pasco, Washington
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Bacon-Turkey Subs

On balmy fall days, this sweet and smoky sandwich is a big treat. When it gets colder, we pull out our countertop grill to make melts. Just switch to pita bread. —Rachel Bindulski, Corolla, NC
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Frosted Fudge Brownies

A neighbor brought over a pan of these rich fudge brownies along with the recipe when I came home from the hospital with our baby daughter. I asked her how to make brownie frosting like that, and I've made them ever since for family occasions, potlucks and parties at work. —Sue Soderlund, Elgin, Illinois
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Sloppy Joe Dogs

There are so many different ways to top a hot dog, but this tasty sloppy joe version beats them all. ‐Kimberly Wallace, Dennison, Ohio
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Traditional Lasagna

My family first tasted this rich, homemade lasagna recipe at a friend's home on Christmas Eve. We were so impressed that it became our own holiday tradition as well. I also prepare it other times of the year. This classic lasagna recipe is requested often by my sister's Italian in-laws—I consider that the highest compliment! —Lorri Foockle, Granville, Illinois
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Cheesy Quesadillas

We serve these quesadillas as chili dippers or load them up with salsa and sour cream for a super starter. —Terri Keeney, Greeley, Colorado
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Chilled Fruit Cups

This refreshing frozen salad is easy to assemble ahead and serve to a group at breakfast - or any time of day. It's a convenient and colorful addition to a holiday buffet. —Andrea Hawthorne, Mozeman, Montana
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French Toast Sticks

Keep these French toast sticks in the freezer for an instant filling breakfast. Their convenient size makes them ideal for a breakfast buffet. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Philly Cheese Sandwiches

I'm a big fan of cheesesteaks, and in this throw-together recipe my slow cooker does all the work. It's a win-win. —Christina Addison, Blanchester, Ohio
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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

One of the nice things about this easy pudding is you don't have to stand and stir it. It's a must for my family year-round! I also make it into a pie with a graham cracker crust that our grandchildren love. —Amber Sampson, Somonauk, Illinois
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Sloppy Joes Sandwiches

You’ll love this quick, easy and economical homemade sloppy joe recipe. Brown sugar adds a touch of sweetness, both for traditional sandwiches on buns or as a down-home topping for rice, biscuits or baked potatoes. —Laurie Hauser, Rochester, New York
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Barbecue Chicken Pizza

My husband and I love this BBQ chicken pizza recipe, especially when we take it up a notch by adding other toppings that we love, including smoky bacon and creamy Gorgonzola. My mouth starts to water just thinking about it! —Megan Crow, Lincoln, Nebraska
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Indiana-Style Corn Dogs

One of the best parts of the many fairs and festivals in Indiana is the corn dogs! My family loves corn dogs, so I fix them fairly often at home. —Sally Denney, Warsaw, Indiana
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Big & Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies

My take on the classic cookie is inspired by a bakery in California called Hungry Bear. It's big, thick and chewy—truly the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. —Irene Yeh, Mequon, Wisconsin
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Crispy Sage Chicken Tenders

One of my mom's favorite chicken recipes used fresh sage. Her version was smothered with gravy, but we like these panko-crusted tenders as they are. —Deb Perry, Traverse City, Michigan
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Cheese Fries

I came up with this recipe after my daughter had cheese fries at a restaurant and couldn't stop talking about them. She loves that I can fix them so quickly at home. Plus, the frozen fry packets can be refrigerated and reheated. —Melissa Tatum, Greensboro, North Carolina
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Meat Loaf Muffins

Serve these tangy meat loaf muffins for dinner or slice them up for a take-along sandwich lunch. They're just as flavorful after freezing. —Cheryl Norwood, Canton, Georgia
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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

My family loves this peanut butter cookie bars recipe—oatmeal, brownie bars, peanuts—it's made from all our favorite things! Oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chips make these bars a big hit with kids of all ages. Since I always have these basic ingredients on hand, I can whip up a batch anytime. —Patricia Staudt, Marble Rock, Iowa
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Spaghetti Meatball Supper

It was such a joy to come home and find my mom making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. This recipe has always been dear to my heart. —Debbie Heggie, Laramie, Wyoming
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White Texas Sheet Cake

This cake gets better the longer it sits, so I try to make it a day ahead. My mother-in-law introduced this deliciously rich sheet cake to me. With its creamy frosting and light almond flavor, no one can stop at just one piece! —Joanie Ward, Brownsburg, Indiana
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Bacon & Swiss Chicken Sandwiches

I created this chicken sandwich recipe based on a meal my daughter ordered at a restaurant. She likes to dip her sandwich in the extra honey-mustard sauce. —Marilyn Moberg, Papillion, Nebraska
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Lunch Box Pizzas

When you have these fun-to-make mini pizzas, it's no challenge finding lunch fare that the kids enjoy. Plus they pack nicely in sandwich bags and travel well, so there's no mess. —Rhonda Cliett, Belton, Texas
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Homemade Fish Sticks

I am a nutritionist and needed a healthy fish fix. Moist inside and crunchy outside, these are great with oven fries or roasted veggies and low-fat homemade tartar sauce. —Jennifer Rowland, Elizabethtown, Kentucky
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Old-Fashioned Tapioca

My family loves old-fashioned tapioca, but I don’t always have time to make it. So I came up with this simple recipe that lets us enjoy one of our favorites without all the hands-on time. —Ruth Peters, Bel Air, Maryland
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Baked Beef Tacos

This taco recipe takes classic taco ingredients and gives them a fresh approach by baking the shells upright in refried beans and tomatoes. The bottom gets soft, and the top stays crisp and crunchy. —Patricia Stagich, Elizabeth, New Jersey
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Kids' Favorite Chili

This third-generation hearty chili is a family favorite. It's a sweet and easy chili that's sure to warm up the whole family on those chilly fall nights. —Terri Keeney, Greeley, Colorado
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Hot Dog Roll-Ups

Not only do my grandchildren love these cheese-filled hot dogs, they enjoy helping put the meal together, too. It's the perfect solution when you need a last-minute lunch. —Lyletta Searle, Morgan, Utah
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Frito Pie

Frito pie is legendary in the Southwest for being spicy, salty and cheesy fabulous. Here’s my easy take on this crunchy classic. —Jan Moon, Alamogordo, New Mexico
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Company Fruit Salad

We first tried a cream cheese fruit salad like this at a local deli. Since I couldn't get that recipe, I started mixing up different dressings until I hit on this one. Now I make this refreshing delightful salad for every picnic and get-to-gether. It can be a snack, side dish or dessert. —Connie Osterhout, Napoleon, Ohio
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Creamed Corn

Five ingredients are all you'll need for my popular creamed corn recipe. It's wonderful no matter what the occasion is. Try it on a barbecue buffet or holiday menu. —Barbara Brizendine, Harrisonville, Missouri
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Skillet Nachos

My mom gave me a fundraiser cookbook, and this is the recipe I’ve used most. My whole family is on board. For toppings, think sour cream, tomatoes, jalapeno and red onion. —Judy Hughes, Waverly, Kansas
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No-Bake Cereal Bars

With two kinds of cereal and peanut butter, these bars taste almost like candy. —Pauline Christiansen, Columbus, Kansas
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Classic Carrot Cake

I entered this yummy, moist cake in a Colorado Outfitters Association dessert contest. My carrot cake with pineapple earned first place! —Cheri Eby, Gunnison, Colorado
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Chicken & Bean Chili

Chili Time is any time you want to make a hungry crowd happy. This creamy chili is a must at my soup party every year. —Theresa Baehr, Williamsburg, Michigan
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Best-Ever Meat Loaf

The combination of onion, carrots, parsley and cheese—plus the tomato-mustard topping—makes this meat loaf really colorful. The recipe lends itself easily to being doubled or halved to suit the number you're cooking for, and it freezes well, too. It's the best meatloaf ever! —Anna Baker, Blaine, Washington
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Easy Cake Mix Bars

I take this dessert to work for Friday pick-me-ups. It's one of my favorite yellow cake bar recipes. I love to share them because they're so easy to eat, easy to make and easy on the wallet. —Amy Rose, Ballwin, Missouri
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Breadstick Pizza

Not only do refrigerated breadsticks lend a fun twist to pizza, but they make this dish a weeknight staple at my house. Feeding kids? Slice pieces into small strips and let the kids dip each strip into marinara sauce. They’ll love it! —Mary Hankins, Kansas City, Missouri
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Pizza Rolls

Our family just loves my husband's version of store-bought pizza rolls. They take some time to make, but they freeze well so we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor for a long time! —Julie Gaines, Normal, Illinois
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Sweet Macaroni Salad

A sweet out-of-the-ordinary dressing makes this macaroni salad special. My aunt gave me the recipe and it has become one of my favorites. I occasionally leave out the green pepper if I know that people don't like it, and it still tastes great. —Idalee Scholz, Cocoa Beach, Florida
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Cheddar Corn Dog Muffins

I wanted to riff on hot dogs, so I made corn dog muffins. I added jalapenos to this kid-friendly recipe and won my husband over, too. —Becky Tarala, Palm Coast, Florida
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Brenda's Baked Beans

When I was a kid, my mom made baked beans all the time. Sometimes we'd turn this side into a main dish by adding sliced hot dogs. —Brenda Brooks, Bowie, Maryland
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Ultimate Fudgy Brownies

Coffee granules enhance the chocolate flavor in these amazingly fudgy brownies. Add chocolate chips to the batter and you’ve got some seriously irresistible treats. —Sarah Farmer, Waukesha, Wisconsin
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Double-Duty Hearty Chili Without Beans

When it’s time to build my zesty chili, I combine everything the night before. In the morning, I load the slow cooker and let it do the work. —Molly Butt, Granville, Ohio

Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.

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