Updated 10/10/2019

Eating meals together is the heart of our robotics community. It feeds our connections, as well as nourishing our bodies, priming our minds for our best work. It’s also another opportunity to be inclusive – showing that each team member matters with safe food for all. And it’s a fun time to hang out with the team, sharing some of your family’s favorite foods.

We’re asking each family to sign up to provide 2-3 meals, so that we can eat on Tuesdays, Thursdays and competitions. Students and mentors will bring their own lunches on Saturday. They should not plan to spend practice time ordering meals or leaving school to eat.

Step 1: Sign Up – for 2-3 meal/dishes dates

Step 2: Plan Your Meal – One Week in Advance

At least a week in advance, check the Signup Genius to find out how many people are expected at that meal. Read the list of food allergies (below). Decide on a menu. There are all sorts of resources on this page to help you.

  • Food Allergies.  Please provide some safe and reasonable meal for each person on the team, including:
    • 3 Vegetarians: Danny, Chris, Michael
    • 1 Vegan: Phoebe. No meat, milk, dairy, or eggs – anything derived from animals.
    • 1 low dairy/low gluten. Sam. Appreciates options without dairy or with gluten-free, though he can eat a small amount of each every day.
    • 1 no peppers (red, green, cooked or fresh): Kelli. Helpful but not essential.
  • Dishes. We have two sets of plates, bowls, cups, pitchers, and serving utensils. You do not need to provide disposable dishes, or beverages to drink (we have water).
  • Rice cooker/slow cookers. We have two rice cookers and two slow cookers. You can request a pot of white rice to go with any meal. You are also welcome to borrow the slow cookers for your meal.

Step 3: Post Your Menu in Signup Genius- One Week in Advance

Add your menu to the comments on Signup Genius. This helps students manage their expectations about the meal.

Step 4: Final count

Contact Toby ( to get a final count of how many and which people are likely to be at your meal. This usually cuts down the number and complexity of your meal a little bit. Contact her just before you need to know exactly how many.

Step 5: Bring Meal!

Plan to arrive around 5:45 pm on the day of your dinner. A group of students are assigned each evening to greet you and help you set up the meal, usually in the upstairs A3 commons. We hope to have the meal and students ready to eat at 6 pm. A different set of students will help clean up the meal.

If you signed up to take the dishes from the evening – thank you! You can send them back with your student anytime in the coming week.

What to Bring?

Most families are not comfortable with feeding 25-40 people. We’ve gathered some resources to help you.

Adapting for Special Diets

There should be safe food for each person at each meal. This year, we need food to feed 3 vegetarian and one vegan (no meat, dairy or eggs) at each meal (check the website again 1 week before your meal). The entire meal can be vegetarian/vegan, though most families opt to only include some food that meets that criteria. Here are some suggestions:

  • Soup: Provide three different soup flavors, one of which is vegan
  • Meat sandwiches/burgers: Include a few vegan or GF burgers such as Dr. Praeger’s or Bahama Rice
  • Meat main dish: Include a bean side dish such as baked beans, chili beans, cuban black beans, three-bean salad, lentil salad or succotash.
  • Cheesy main dish: Include a non-cheesy option or substitute vegan cheese in one portion.
  • Pizza: Bring one portion of vegan dinner to complement cheese, vegi and other flavor pizzas.
  • Cake or cookies: Include some fruit or oreos (vegan!)

Cheese, sour cream, and butter can often be offered as optional toppings – be sure to keep separate to avoid cross contamination.

Buying Restaurant Food

One of the most expensive options, this can be the easiest for you and very exciting for us.

  • Great River School Cafe offers regular, vegan and gluten-free sandwiches for approximately $3.50/sandwich. They need a week notice.
  • Jimmy Johns/Subway/Sandwich platters: Be sure to include some vegetarian/vegan options.
  • Pizza: One of the most popular choices. Easy to make vegetarian – harder to make vegan.
  • Mexican/Chipotle: Delicious. Lots of vegan options.

No Advance Cooking Required

Meals you can purchase that afternoon and bring over to school to eat as-is or heat in our crock pots.

  • Sandwich Bar: Meat and cheese sandwich fixings, along with hummus and crackers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
  • Mexican taco bowl with beans: Rice (ask us to cook up one or two 10-cup rice cookers) with beans (microwaved after you arrive), salsa, cheese, sour cream, avocado, lettuce.
  • Soups: Frozen bags or large cans of soup (we can heat in our crock pots if we start right away) with bread. Include vegan-safe soup and bread choice.
  • Hot Dogs: We can cook these in our crock pots. Serve with buns, condiments, chips, vegetable and dessert. Talk to Toby about vegan alternative.
  • Rotisserie Chickens: Pair warm chickens with bread, salad from a bag, cookies and fruit. Include extras to make salad a vegetarian main course.

Less Expensive/Make in Advance

Most of the least expensive and most exciting choices choices require preparation at home beforehand.

  • Baked Potato Bar: 12 oz potato per person, and potatoes may take 2 hours to cook. Toppings can include: Ham, cheese, salsa, sauteed vegetables, chili, vegan chili, onions, sour cream, etc. Potatoes transport and stay warm well in a cooler.
  • Pasta Bar: 3-4 oz dry pasta per person. Marinara sauce, pesto (vegan if you can get it), and Parmesan cheese. Meatballs. Pairs well with salad, warm bread and fruit.
  • Baked Rigatoni, Ziti or Lasagna: Include some vegetarian option and some plain pasta with simple toppings.
  • Chili and Chips or Cornbread: Make your own regular and vegan chili. Please make one option without peppers. Bring hot or bring early to warm in our crock pots.
  • Taco Bar/Walking Tacos: Taco meat (some without peppers), beans, salsa, onions, avocado, cheese, sour cream, green onions, etc on taco shells/taco chips/corn tortillas/flour tortillas.
  • Sloppy Joes: Sloppy joe meat mix (along with vegetarian/vegan alternative, some without peppers) on buns topped with cheese.
  • Grilled Cheese: Make sandwiches in advance and keep warm in oven/cooler. Bring one vegan alternative sandwich. Pairs well with tomato soup.
  • Breakfast for Dinner: Bring or make pancakes/waffles with toppings and sides.
  • Anything else: Bring a favorite meal from your family, such as Red beans and rice, Gyro sandwiches, Indonesian Rice Bowl, Pulled pork, Smoothies (a team favorite) etc.


Complement most main dishes with:

  • Vegetable: Salad, baby carrots, frozen corn, frozen peas, cut up vegetables, etc.
  • Dessert: Not required but very happily received! Fruit, cookies, cake.
  • Drinks: The team usually offers pitchers of water and cups.

Meal Plans and Shopping Lists

  • Fall Meal Plans and Shopping Lists
    Google Drive folder full of simple meal plans and shopping lists from Fall 2017. The Google Sheets allow you to quickly customize the meals to the number of people expected at your meal.