Schools are being encouraged to offer more cut-price meals in a bid to entice more pupils back into their canteens.
Many secondary students stop eating school lunches, often tempted by cheap local take-aways, the government says.
Schools wanting to offer their own meal-deals need special permission not to charge everyone the same amount per item.
From next year a change in the law will allow school dinner price promotions with less red tape.
Overall the number of pupils eating school meals are gradually increasing with 173,000 more pupils eating them in 2010-11 than the year before.
But at the start of secondary school there is a drop off. So under the new rules, schools would be able to offer a dinner-deal for pupils starting a new school to get them into the canteen.