School Dinners or Packed Lunch?

School dinners or packed lunches?

Would you believe this is still an issue even with Olivia being well into year 5 now! I have, again, recently swapped her back onto school dinners. She has yo-yo’ed back and forth from one to another all based on two major things 1) who she is friends with and 2) whether is it cool to be on school dinners or not! God help me come secondary school!

School dinners have come a long since I was in school, every day chips and gravy and a melted moment biscuit! Bland, tasteless and full of absolutely no goodness at all! But not now. Now it all about providing children with healthy nutritious meals, including part of their 5 a day to keep them going until tea time. with figures showing that possibly up to one in four children only getting a hot meal in school! While Olivia doesn’t qualify for free school meals at £2 per day right now it is proving cheaper and easier for me especially with the weather getting colder. I know she is getting a decent meal as opposed to a whole load of calorie laden treats masquerading a healthy additions to a child’s diet.

For lunch Olivia has the choice of a main meal, depending on the day, ranging from a roast dinner, fish friday, or spaghetti bolognaise. With menus set for two weeks so little mouths don’t get too bored and to offer more variation. There is also a choice of sandwiches too for those, like Olivia, who are just plain fussy. To go alongside this there is also a salad bar. Olivia always has half a brown roll, dry pasta (don’t ask), and cucumber. Then for dessert you can choose fruit, cheese and crackers and either a dessert item or ice cream. The last time previous to this one, that she had school dinners before I put her back on packed lunches, it was tuna mayo butties/wraps every.single.day.

Now with regards to making the right choices, the children have to do that for themselves, Olivia always chooses cheese and crackers, always. Whereas I know in her packed lunch she would eat what I included eg, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and banana. But the thing is to do this I would have to go shopping specifically to make sure I had stuff in even if I didn’t need other things. But the more I bought the more she wanted and as such her dinners were getting bigger and bigger. A healthy bento style lunch it definitely was not.

The thing is these days schools are enforcing their own rules as to what you can and can’t put in lunch boxes eg, fruit/vegetables/healthy snack alternatives are in, kit kats/fizzy pop/sweets are out. Bye bye jam butties with a side of chocolate animal biscuits and a bottle of fizzy panda pop!

Obviously all kids are different so I’ve put together a little pro’s and con’s list if you need any help choosing what dinners are best.

School Dinners

Pro’s

*A nice hot dinner on a cold day

*A variation of meals so they don’t get bored

*A good selection, all depending on the school

*Nutritious

*Children get to choose their own meals, giving them more independence

Con’s

*You have no/little control over exactly what your children will choose (unless your school allows it)

*For fussy eaters you may find they will eat the same thing every day (Olivia and her tuna butties/wraps!)

*The price, as again all school are different, you may not find it value for money.

*You can never be sure how much of their dinner they are eating.

Packed Lunches

Pro’s

*You know exactly what your child will be eating.

*You know exactly how much they have eaten.

*The chance to pack your kids the best lunch ever!

*Picking out a funky lunch box!

Con’s

*Making sure you have enough food in to make the lunches every week.

*It can be costly depending on your childs taste in food.

*There can be a tendency to over fill the lunch box

*With the rules from schools it is quite limiting as to what you can put in them!

I have made my decision now for the rest of Olivia’s time in primary school this is the last change I will be making to her lunch arrangements. School dinners or packed lunch? What is your choice? Leave me a comment and let me know.

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  1. I hate this whole subject. My youngest is a fussy eater and that combined with the school creating meals that woul appeal to an adult but not a 6 year old means she will barely eat anything at school. But I really want her to eat at school and would love the help to encourage her to broaden her horizons. But school are saying they won’t help and she must be packed lunch! So annoying!

  2. My youngest has the option of a school dinner, which she moans about, but I choose to keep her on as it forces her to try new foods that she’d pointblank refuse otherwise. We’ve even discovered a few new foods that she will consent to eating – it’s like a miracle!! 😉 xx