EPIK, korea, Korean Food, travel

What a Week’s Worth of Korean School Lunches Looks Like

I can recall, with a faint sense of horror, what school lunches were like for me as a student in the US. There was cardboard-y rectangular pizza, watery canned corn, and gloopy mashed potatoes. We would supplement our so-called nutrition with whatever we could from the ubiquitous vending machines.

Things are different in here in Korea.

School lunches are pretty damn good. They’re something that I actually look forward to each day, rather than yet another thing to slog through. There are also strict guidelines about school lunches in Korea, which encompass both nutritional benefit of food as well as a calorie limit. Additionally, Korean law prohibits the sale of prohibits sales of high-calorie, low-nutrition, and high-caffeinated food and drinks at schools, which means there aren’t any vending machines around to sell junk to kids.

However, the very best thing about school lunch in Korean elementary schools is that it’s completely free to students, so no child ever has to worry about going hungry.

There are three main staples at virtually any Korean meal: rice, soup, and the pervasive kimchi. The rest of the meal usually involves different banchan or side dishes (you can read more about banchan here). As you can see in the photos below, school lunch is no exception.

Without any further ado, I give you my lunch for the week.


(Clockwise, from top left) 1. fish cake and potato stir-fry 2. glass noodles with pork and vegetables (jap chae) 3. radish kimchi 4. “assorted ham soup” 5. banana 6. white rice



(Clockwise, from top left) 1. kimchi 2. fried chicken 3. cucumber kimchi 4. spinach miso soup 5. grapes 6. purple rice


(Clockwise, from top left) 1: Spicy squid 2: Almond honey flatbread 3. seasoned radish kimchi 4. dumpling and rice cake soup 5. rice with seeds 6. dried seaweed


(Clockwise, from top left) 1. Radish kimchi 2. Bulgogi 3. sauteed greens (취나물) 4. Soft tofu and seafood stew 5. white rice with sweet potatoes 6. red bean filled rice cakes


(Clockwise, from top left): Stir-fried beef with eggplant, cold udon noodle salad, kimchi, spicy beansprout and tofu soup, Korean melon, rice with grains 


What’s school lunch like where you live? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “What a Week’s Worth of Korean School Lunches Looks Like”

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