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?

dayshiftdoris Tue 01-Jan-13 14:00:45

Having been in 3 different school (just don't ask) and done a variety of packed lunches full time, hot dinners full time and part time each...

For one child hot dinners are definitely cheaper - two schools we have been at have had excellent hot dinners - one shipped in and one cooked on site by a cook. The shipped in one was actually a company that supplied care homes - excellent value for money, tasted great (parents got a tasting night) and good size portions.
The onsite cook was utilising the County Council scheme - frozen everything and TINY portions but it was a small school and my son has a beautiful smile so often got a bit more (he's also super skinny and the staff hated me so it made them feel better to think they were feeding when I obviously wasn't!)... I was less impressed with what I was getting for my money.

Now get free school meals and the school ONLY offer a packed lunch or a jacket potato option 3 times a week... and that, if you pay for it is more expensive by 5p than the other two schools... disgusting!

Totally irony that I finally qualify for free school meals and I'm in a school that don't offer a decent service!

SizzleSazz Tue 01-Jan-13 13:47:39

Dd's teacher has school dinners every day, so I'm happy for my dc to!

I do think it is more expensive than packed lunches, especially for a 6 and 4 year old

IAmLouisWalsh Tue 01-Jan-13 13:36:48

My rule is school dinners til you are old enough to make your own packed lunch.

I work in a school. Our dinners are very good - perfectly possible to eat healthily. DS1 eats well at his school and DS2 will have no bloody choice!

EuphemiaInExcelsis Tue 01-Jan-13 13:35:05

I'd happily eat the food, but not in the company of the children!

Meglet Tue 01-Jan-13 13:34:33

DS has school dinners, I like him to have something warm in his tummy in the middle of the day. I don't have time to cook after work, although they do sometimes have hot food for supper. He has more variety if he has school dinners, I don't do things like burgers or lamb as we're mainly veggie at home.

When both DC's are at school in Sept it's going to cost me £80 a month <<gulp>>, but still easier than fannying about with packed lunch and endless trips to the supermarket.

Cadsuane Tue 01-Jan-13 13:30:41

As a teacher we can have a free school dinner if we do lunch duty. Even free I wouldn't eat most of the food.

Our school dinners are £1.85 a day, I have three DC, there is no way I could afford to have them on school dinners as a regular event.

Portions are small - the portions are the same for reception class children and Year 6 kids, when in fact their needs are very different.

Often, by the time the last class is called in (they roster the year groups so they are not last two days running), there is only a very strange selection left.

So my lot have a packed lunch - usually pasta or sandwiches or wraps or pittas, salad or fruit and a yoghurt or cheese portion with a drink.

I would love to give them hot food in a thermos, but they are banned at our school - if they are on packed lunches it must be cold food. confused

Hulababy Tue 01-Jan-13 13:20:17

There is no real answer to this question ime. It very much depends on the packed lunches being given and the quality of the school dinners on offer, and if they can cater for individual children's allergies.

DD's school has a full kitchen and a cook. All meals are cooked fresh daily, with fresh ingredients, and children are given decent sized portions too.

Some school dinners are not very nice at all and some give tiny portions. However some packed lunches I see at my school leave an awful lot to be desired too. Most children's packed lunches at my school are nothing like the packed lunches described by MNetters.

Snowkey Tue 01-Jan-13 13:15:25

I use kids thermos food flasks. Buying the smaller one means that you can fill the flask and it stays warm for longer. Lots of the kids bring in curries from home...they are incredibly popular.

quoteunquote Tue 01-Jan-13 13:09:51

They keep the food really warm, hot and steamy, hot than the school dinners according to my children.

When I'm preparing the food, I fill the container with boiling water, which warms it through, then tip the water out just before I put the food in,

we often put jacket potatoes in the bottom and cold fillings in the top, and the child adds them together when they go to eat, they also have a plastic fork spoon,knife thing that they use, all works really well. soup and a sandwich is far nicer than just a cold lunch.

they are often on offer, so much cheaper, ours have paid for themselves over and over, just filled them with a beef stew to take to the beach. off in a min.

I use them on long car journeys very satisfying to have something wholesome instead of the garbage they offer at the services. They pay for themselves very quickly.

Snowkey Tue 01-Jan-13 12:57:47

The school make a packed lunch style option - according to the dcs, that's the worst thing to chose. I don't worry too much about what my dcs eat because they get a good breakfast and a good dinner but I was shocked when I saw how poor their school dinners are, I wouldn't eat them.

notnagging you may be the lucky one, having chefs to cook at the school. Dinners for my DS's primary are cooked off-site (about 8 miles away) and often arrive pretty much cold.

This is despite the special school on the campus right next door having their own kitchens and chefs, so if this were better organised by the LA, the special school could easily cook the dinners for DS's school, and would at least be warm.

The menus look good, but the reality is not so good, as DS informs me. Small portions, and some meals are "disgusting". DS looked at the bento box linked by quote and has said he still prefers a cold lunch (but it looks good for work for me grin)

XBenedict Tue 01-Jan-13 10:35:43

Quote they look brilliant! DD hates school dinners because the portions are so small. Packed lunches are so boring but they look great! Do they keep the meals really warm?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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