To think that school dinners are better then packed lunch?

(63 Posts)
notnagging Mon 31-Dec-12 14:37:18

I have 4 ds at school. per month I pay £28.50 for the eldest & the other 3 have school dinners on Fridays only. I am always nipping to the shop to get extras & snacking on pack lunch stuff at home. I'm thinking if I put them all on full time school dinners it would ease some stress, make us healthier & help me lose some weight. Although it would cost me an extra £24.60 a week. I think I'd save that on extra shopping runs?

Ilovesunflowers Mon 31-Dec-12 16:47:03

Some school dinners are excellent. The school I used to work at had excellent school dinners. Everything cooked on the premises and was fresh that day. 1 veggie choice and 1 meat. The meat eaters could also choose the vegetarian choice if they preffered it.

A good range of options from week to week: spag bol, jacket potato, curry, vegetable pie, shephards pie, fish, chicken dinner etc. There was a good range of fresh veg too. Puddings were healthy but tasty. I used to have a school dinner with the children most days.

The portions weren't huge but there was always bread and salad too so children had plenty.

12ylnon Mon 31-Dec-12 16:51:23

You should try being veggie. I would say four days out of five, DS's school dinners are 'something-cheese'. Not very varied or healthy for a vegetarian diet. My son will not be having school dinners in primary school.

BackforGood Mon 31-Dec-12 17:03:32

One thing I do know, is that they vary enormously across the country, and, from school to school within an authority.
Highlander - that isn't my dcs' experience at all.

ByTheWay1 Mon 31-Dec-12 17:03:57

I'm a mid day supervisor at our school - my kids eat packed lunch and will never be given the cr*p that is served as school dinners at our school -

it is shipped in in "warm boxes" so starts off fairly luke warm, the "slops" bucket is always full, the food is generally meat in gloop with pasta, veg in gloop with mash, something beige with wedges, meat in gloop with rice, fish and chips.... some variation might mean pizza one week in 3 and hot dog one week in 3 -

there is salad, "bread" (AN insipid little half inch thick slice across a part cooked french stick that doesn't look like they finished cooking it) and plain pasta too - the kids will take the cucumber, that's about it.

Pud is usually something hard and uht cream from a box

oooh and after complaints vegetarians are catered for too - if they like baked potatoes - one day cheese, next day beans, FRIDAY - BOTH cheese and beans!! but one day a week they get the celebrated veg in gloop with mash..... (veg curry and mash anyone? sweet and sour veg with mash? it beggars belief......

It is rather telling that the only kids who will actually eat everything on their plates are those who get free school meals.

Snowkey Mon 31-Dec-12 18:01:39

My dcs gave up school dinner as they were completely tasteless...and from what I saw very poor quality - the roast looked horrible and they hated eating off those moulded plastic trays. Making their lunch is mostly ok - they eat leftovers like stews, curries, chicken legs, falafel, pies etc but are not too keen on sandwiches. I get them to help me choose and make home made cakes and if they won't eat the packed lunch I lovingly make they'll be forced to go back to the horrid school dinners.

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Mon 31-Dec-12 18:09:26

Depends on the school. I volunteer at my DCs' school regularly and have bought the school dinner on occasion. The quality is better than what I would make at home. Including the salad bat, I had four portions of fruit/veg. The portions I saw the children getting were not small at all. Three of my children are hearty eaters and aren't hungry when they come home from school, no snack needed. It would be very difficult to make a packed lunch that rivalled it in nutritional content, and I would struggle to find 15 different packed lunch variations.

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Mon 31-Dec-12 18:10:56

Just to add: my children are all vegetarian. The main course varies between cheese-based, quorn-based and pulse/bean-based.

EuphemiaInExcelsis Mon 31-Dec-12 18:17:20

I'm very impressed by our local school dinner menu. There's even an interactive version, where you can see the ingredients, cooking instructions and nutritional content!

Bytheway1 what's this meant to mean?

"It is rather telling that the only kids who will actually eat everything on their plates are those who get free school meals."

My ds gets free meals, more often than not eats the lot (his dinner ladies give out stickers) this is NO way reflects on what he's offered at home, porridge 3/4 different fruits as I chop up and make a fruit salad, toast and yogurt for breakfast, then a decent home cooked meal and lots of veg at night, I sincerely hope his dinner ladies aren't judging me because he likes a variety of food and will clear his plate!

5dcsandallthelittlesantahats Mon 31-Dec-12 18:24:42

my older 3 used to have school dinners which was £10 a week each so was about £120 a month for the three of them. I always thought i was doing a good thing giving them a proper meal midday until doing a week long course at the school I actually saw the food. Non of it cooked on site (warmed up only), one meal was one fish finger, a very small bit of brocolli and what looked like enough mash for a six month old. Apart from the fact it wasnt enough it was really bad quality and imo a complete rip off for the money.

Ruprekt Mon 31-Dec-12 18:24:56

I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS pay £2.30 per child for school dinners. The menu looks amazing but the reality is different.

My boys have

chicken satay
celery, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms
Frube
Fruit bar ie School Bar or Bear Yoyo's
Drink
Small treat like a kitkat or party rings

I really think my packed lunch is cheaper and more nutritious than the hideous school dinners.

EuphemiaInExcelsis Mon 31-Dec-12 18:26:13

How does any school get away with providing "hideous" school dinners these days?

TheSecondComing Mon 31-Dec-12 18:27:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catsmother Mon 31-Dec-12 18:34:11

The dinners at my daughter's school don't look too bad but they aren't as varied as the hot meals I cook at home and would rather she shared family meals with us of an evening most of the time so she gets that variety - and so I don't have to make a hot meal and a cold meal at the same time.

On "special" days like Xmas, Bonfire Night etc the school has themed meals which most of the kids want to take part in so I don't mind spending £2 on that on the odd occasion but I really don't think the usual fare is worth £2 a day and her packed lunch certainly doesn't cost that much with careful planning and buying offers. She always has a little "salad" (usually cucumber and/or tomato and/or olives and/or carrot sticks) plus fruit - and I'm not convinced the school ensures she has that despite what the menu says. Considering my daughter only ever has school meals irregularly, there's been an unacceptable number of times when stuff has run out and she's ended up with a strange mix of things - or a very boring meal which doesn't sound filling. I'd far rather know exactly what she was eating, and was having enough.

ByTheWay1 Mon 31-Dec-12 18:42:11

StateofConfusion what it means is that in our twee middle class area the only kids who eat the food are the ones who have the free school meals and tend to know the value of it - people who haven't got much tend to appreciate what they do get, the kids whose parents pay for the food tend to throw most of it away....

(I speak as one who survived on free school meals and beans or spaghetti hoops on toast for tea )

and school get away with providing hideous dinners because the menu doesn't read - meat in goop with pasta followed by hard stuff in UHT cream, or green unripe banana or an orange -

it reads - diced chicken fillets with broccoli and sweetcorn in a tomato and basil sauce with penne pasta, side dishes of salad and coleslaw, bread always available followed by chocolate crunch and cream, fruit available as an alternative.

At our school the teachers don't eat it, so I'm guessing nothing gets done because they don't see it, we complain from time to time but our voice doesn't get heard - or maybe our opinion is not valued - people pay £2.20 per day without knowing what their kids are actually eating - or sliding into the bin.

amck5700 Mon 31-Dec-12 18:44:16

In the words of my son when he was 5 - "the dinners sound tasty but when you get them they aren't".

Our primary school lunches are cooked off-premises, arrive already half cold and overcooked. Portion size is the same regardless of whether you are a skinny wee 5 year old or a 5' 2", 8 and a half stone 11 year old like my son.

Technically they have a choice but unless you are on first lunch (which the older classes never are) then it's unlikely that you will get what you ordered - you will just get whatever they can cobble together from what is left.

Hence my two have taken packed lunches pretty exclusively.

Eldest is now at High School and does take a school lunch now quite a lot - meals are nicer and there seems to mostly be something to have.......although he is having a few too many hotdogs for my liking.

amck5700 Mon 31-Dec-12 18:50:08

As a comparison, my boys and I were away on a school trip to Italy where they spent a couple of days in the local Italian school.

For their school lunches, the whole school including teachers and head teacher sit down to the same food. The classes sit in their class with their teacher to eat. The teacher knows the kids very well because they stay with the class all the way through primary. They call the teacher by their first name and the teacher happily smokes in front of them which the visiting parents were a bit shock at!

According to my kids the meals were really good - although they did turn their nose up at the spinach and cheese roulade and the fact that my son's piece of chicken still had the foot attached to caused some hilarity - but he did eat it - not the foot bit obviously!

WorraLorraTurkey Mon 31-Dec-12 18:52:19

I think people in general spend far too much time worrying about school dinners.

It's just one meal. If your kids eat breakfast and a decent dinner at night (and I realise some don't so I'm not talking about them) then I wouldn't stress about what they eat in the middle of the day.

It's just a light lunch and most kids can't wait to bolt it down and get out to play.

EuphemiaInExcelsis Mon 31-Dec-12 18:53:06

Having lunch with the kids - shudder! Way to put myself off my food really quickly! grin

MikeLitorisHasChristmasLights Mon 31-Dec-12 19:03:42

My biggest issue with ds having dinners (secondary) is the portiin size. £2.20 gets him a tiny pasta dish, cardboard burger and chips or a stale Sandwich and crisps. He knows it wont be enough for him so he has something at break time before lunch.

With bus fare its costing £5 a day to send him to school. Luckily his dad goes half so its £50 a month each. Dd (primary) costs £1.60 and are much more filling.

notnagging Mon 31-Dec-12 19:09:41

I think it is important worra. To go 6-7 hrs without a decent meal is not good for a 5 year old. It seems to depend on how important it is to the headteacher.

TidyDancer Mon 31-Dec-12 19:18:08

I would never choose to give DS school dinners. It's not the cost at all, it's quality of food. I can provide him with a better meal in a packed lunch than the school will ever do with a hot dinner.

We are also vegetarian and his choice would be cheese or cheese most days.

quoteunquote Mon 31-Dec-12 19:25:09

we use these

I put things like jacket potatoes, pasta, stew,soup,curry anything hot works, use the top for cold or dry, when I make anything at home I make extra, then freeze it in tupperware, so each child just chooses what they want for lunch, very health, and very very cheap.

the school lunches at our school are made with the cheapest ingredients, tiny portions, and greasy, when they have a parents lunch they make an extra effort, but it's still vile.

loads of children at the school my children are at have the insulated tiffin tin or aladdin, they love them.

WorraLorraTurkey Mon 31-Dec-12 19:37:58

Of course it's important but I think some parents worry far too much.

A sandwich, piece of fruit and a drink would see them through to home time.

The people saying school lunches are too small, well it's only supposed to be a light meal...so that they can go out to play or do a PE lesson afterwards.

ChristmasIsForPlutocrats Mon 31-Dec-12 22:18:30

DS gets a repeat of last night's supper as his packed lunch, so not much extra.

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