Sweet and saucy lunch: Favorite Czech school cafeteria meals revealed

How does lunchtime look in a Czech school cafeteria? These are the most popular dishes on the menu, as selected by Czech kids.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 12.04.2023 12:07:00 (updated on 30.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Traditional meals continue to reign supreme in school lunches in the Czech Republic, however, vegetarian meals are making their way onto standard menus.

These are the findings of an extensive survey and data analysis conducted by Primirest, the largest provider of school catering in the Czech Republic, which serves over 25,000 students from 236 preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools across the country on a daily basis.

Primirest ranked the meals most beloved by Czech kids by according to main meals, meatless meals, sweet meals, and favorite soups. The rankings offer up a sampler of Czech cafeteria cuisine and act as a meal-time primer for parents who aren't familiar with the offerings at Czech schools.

Svíčková na smetaně

Beef Sirloin in Cream Sauce

Svíčková na smetaně. Photo: iStock, aaron007.
Svíčková na smetaně. Photo: iStock, aaron007.

Svíčková na smetaně took the top spot as the most popular main course among Czech schoolchildren. With its rich and creamy sauce, the dish is beloved by children and adults alike (this also shows the Czech preference for saucy dishes accompanied by dumplings).

Smažené rybí filet

Fried fish filet (fish sticks)

Fried fish fillet - Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay
Fried fish fillet - Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

As a source of quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients, fried cod is a popular choice among children, according to Tomáš Cikhart, Brand Chef of Primirest school restaurants. Its crispy breadcrumb coating makes it a kid-friendly option that's well-received in school lunches.

"Children don't usually like fish prepared in other ways. Fried cod in breadcrumbs is practically the only way to get them to eat quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that fish contain," explains Cikhart.

Kuřecí řízek

Chicken schnitzels

Illustrative image via iStock - Angelika Heine
Illustrative image via iStock - Angelika Heine

Another fried dish that ranks high in popularity is chicken breast schnitzel. Its crispy texture and familiar flavors make it a favorite menu item for kids.

Hamburská kýta

Roasted pork neck in a creamy sauce

Hamburská kýta photo via Wikipedia commons
Hamburská kýta photo via Wikipedia commons

Hamburská pečená kýta, is a slice of pork, embedded with pickles and cold cuts that is served with a rich cream sauce. It takes the fourth spot in the popularity rankings.

Spaghetti Boloňská omáčka

Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

Photo via Homescreenify on Unsplash
Photo via Homescreenify on Unsplash

Spaghetti bolognese (a favorite of kids everywhere) rounds out the top five as a favorite meal enjoyed in Czech canteens.

Vegetarian meals also have a place on Czech school menus. Spaghetti with basil and tomato sauce won out as the favorite meat-less meal followed by koprová omačka (dill sauce), and smažený květák (deep-fried cauliflower).

Soups also play a crucial role in Czech school lunches and are typically one of the healthier options on the menu. The most beloved soups from the survey were zeleninový vývar s rýží (vegetable broth with rice), hráchova s krutony (pea soup with croutons) and hrstková (lentil soup). Gulášovka (goulash) and bramboračka (potato) soups rounded out the list of the most popular rankings.

Sweet mains are also another unique menu item on Czech school lunches. Among them, buchtičky s sodo (mini yeast dough buns with vanilla custard) are the most popular among small diners, as are nudle s makem (noodles with poppy seeds) and krupicová kaše (semolina porridge with cocoa and butter). 

Czech school meals are high in salt: A recent check by public health officials revealed that nine out of ten school canteens in the Czech Republic use excessive amounts of salt in their cooking, with only 11 percent of them adhering to the World Health Organization's recommendations. The study monitored 165 school canteens serving over 52,300 children, with 51 percent of them overusing salt and 38 percent using it excessively. The National Health Institute warned that excessive salt consumption contributes to children's obesity rates and can lead to a preference for salty foods in adulthood. Czechs consume up to three times the recommended amount of salt daily on average.

While the idea of a sweet lunch may seem just a touch unhealthy to those unfamiliar with Czech food, Primierest nutritionists said that when prepared smartly and with enough protein, which lowers the glycemic index of the entire meal, sweet lunches can give them a healthy boost.

While no results were given as to the least favorite meals, an informal poll of Expats.cz kids found that gelatinous rýžový nákyp (rice pudding), and the similarly textured květákový mozeček (little cauliflower brain) were lunchtime fails.

While the study emphasizes the importance of providing balanced and nutritious meals for children, additional research underscores the importance of rethinking the approach to cafeteria offerings in the future.

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