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The Electric Kitchen: For lunch, turn to classics

The 2020-2021 school year has begun, but not without its challenges. Families face constant adjustments to the new normal of distance learning. Then there is lunch planning.

Public schools are still offering grab-and-go lunches to students whose parents can pick them up. If that’s you, check with your child’s school on how to order lunches and verify pickup time.

For parents who prefer to stay at home, consider providing meals based on all-time school lunch favorites — sloppy joes and chicken patties are just a few you might try re-creating. Here are a few recipes that resemble classic school lunches.


  • 1 pound Italian sausage, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (32-ounce) bottle marinara sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti, cooked
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large nonstick skillet over medium, brown sausage, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and bell pepper. Break up sausage. When cooked, drain excess oil.

Add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes to the pan, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered. Add cooked spaghetti and parsley and stir to incorporate.

Spread mixture in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, top with cheeses and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including salt to taste): 550 calories, 23 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 1,200 mg sodium, 57 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 26 g protein.


  • Butter-flavored cooking spray, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 pound cod fillets, cut into 1-inch strips
  • Tartar sauce, for dipping

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking oil and set aside.

In a shallow bowl, mix breadcrumbs and seasonings. Place flour and egg each in separate shallow bowls.

Dip fish in flour to coat both sides and shake off excess flour, then dip in egg followed by breadcrumb mixture. Press breadcrumbs gently into fish.

Place coated fish on baking sheet, then spritz with more cooking spray. Bake 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Serve fish sticks with tartar sauce. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including tartar sauce to taste): 230 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, no sugar, 19 g protein.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 hamburger buns

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high. Cook ground beef until browned, then drain excess oil.

Add onions, pepper and celery. Cook another 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium.

In small bowl, combine ketchup, vinegar, chile powder, Worcestershire, sugar and salt.

Stir into beef mixture and bring to a simmer; continue to cook uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve on hamburger buns. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 350 calories, 16 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 900 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 19 g protein.

More Hawaiian Electric Co. recipes are available at

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