To think that you should not bring a lunch box into a cafe

(369 Posts)
Chocolateandcrisps Sat 15-Feb-14 14:53:44

There is a lovely cafe in a church which we visit often. There is a little play area which my ds loves and reasonably priced lunches, cakes and a sandwich lunch deal for the kids.

Last week two people walked in with their kids, who were about 3 years old, ordered coffees for themselves and brought out a lunch box for the kids. They did not order cake, lunch etc for themselves - just coffee.

I have given my ds rice cakes, water from cup, snacks in cafes before but never taken out a lunch box.

Am I being unreasonable / judgy to think that you should not bring a lunch box into a cafe for your kids?

Pagwatch Mon 17-Feb-14 11:33:11

I suspect that Couthy is responding because although, like me, she has reasons that people broadly accept as valid it can be astonishingly to read a thread like this where it feels as though people are looking at you from the outside thinking 'cheapskate, cheeky cow'.

I used to try to explain because our kids are already different enough without another thing suddenly seeming like a big sign we are flashing every time we go out.
I am lucky now though that I don't give a shit grin

It's two different conversations being carried out on one thread which always gets fraught.

LEMmingaround Mon 17-Feb-14 11:42:06

I would only tend to do this in cafes that are part of "places" eg a castle etc as part of a day out. It is generally accepted that people do this. I wouldnt do it in an independent cafe. That would be wrong. Unless there were dietry requirements or a toddler

LEMmingaround Mon 17-Feb-14 11:43:15

Am j7st en route to cinema with dd
Will stock up on drinks and goodies on the way is that ok?

drivenfromdistraction Mon 17-Feb-14 11:51:57

ChocolateWombat, I'm glad that you are able to find places to eat as an adult coeliac. I don't know where you live, but I can tell you that where we are (rural north of England) it's not that easy - particularly when we're at a children's attraction type of outing. Often there is nothing at all available. Also, the gf options that we do find are often very adult-orientated and really not suited to a 4-year old.

Whenever I have explained and asked if it's okay for the DC to eat their own food, cafe owners have been very polite and helpful. It is nothing like lighting-up a cigarette in someone's home. Their gf sandwiches do not pollute the environment around them.

I buy food for the non-coeliacs, drinks for everyone and take all the lunchbox rubbish away with me. I also tip well. I am not going to condemn my DC to never going on a full day out or to freezing, wet days spent without any shelter just because there is no cafe nearby that can provide a children's gf meal.

And I don't believe that any other parent of a child with a dietary requirement would either.

ChocolateWombat Mon 17-Feb-14 12:11:49

Driven, I did say upthread, on numerous occasions, that those with dietary requirements are a special case. I think you are right to ask permission to eat your own food and explain the circumstances, and as you say, owners are usually understanding.
I do think that in terms of rudeness, people getting their own lunch boxes out (dietary requirements and weaning babies aside...as said lots further up) is similar to smoking in someone else's house. Of course there is no smoke from a lunchbox! It is the rudeness and lack of respect I was referring to, of not asking first, by those who simply want to save money. You don't sound rude at all.

For info, I have found gf cakes in Cafe Nero, Starbucks....most chains. (Often a choc brownie). I also eat a burger without a bun in McDonalds. Places like Pizza Express have gf pasta and pizzas now. Marks and Spencer cafe have gf soup and gf rolls in their cafes. National Trust also have gf soup and rolls in a
have gf soup and rolls and cakes in alltheir cafes. Pret a Manger do gf salads and soups. Pub chains like Wetherspoons mark their menus with gf and do childrens meals and snacks which are gf. Many cafes and places such as soft play do a kids pick and mix deal, with things like raisins, cheese portions, crisps etc. just mentioned chains here which are all over the country. I find independents more variable. Some great, others have nothing. I go to the good ones for me.

I have been coeliac for 20 years so am familiar with the cafes. Realise you maybe less so. This list might help, as may Coeliac magazine (boring, but useful sometimes)

drivenfromdistraction Mon 17-Feb-14 12:30:19

Thanks ChocolateWombat and sorry if I sounded harsh.

Yes, more places are doing gf food now. Although the 'meals' on offer are often 'soup and a salad'. That is fine (if doubtless a little boring) for adults, and I am sure that my DC will take that option when they are older, but they really would not eat it nor feel filled up by it now (and they are pretty good eaters generally). I don't think many 4 and 6 year olds would select a 'soup and salad' option from a menu.

We don't eat out often. If we're going out specifically to eat out then we pick somewhere that caters well for g-f kids - usually Pizza Express. But, it's more common that we are eating out in order to facilitate a day out somewhere like a castle / museum / theme park type of place - where often there is a very limited choice of eating options on site. I don't drive, so we don't have the eating-in-car option. It's fine picnicking out in the summer, and we do it in all but the worst weather. However, at this time of year, we really need to go indoors to eat. If the places available don't have anything suitable for my kids, I will feed them what I've brought.

I also struggle with being certain about no cross-contamination in smaller non-chain places that say they have a gf cake or similar. If I'm not convinced that the preparation is strict enough, I won't feed my DC their food. My 6yo is a sensitive coeliac, and gets very ill very easily. After 2 years of being strictly g-f (with some accidental glutenings), his blood tests are still not yet negative, so I have to be extremely cautious.

The last accidental glutening was 8 months ago from a cafe that did g-f sausages. Something wasn't g-f, because 2 hours later he was vomiting and writhing in pain. Horrible to see and my mistake for taking the risk on that occasion.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 17-Feb-14 13:02:51

Pagwatch makes a point that I hadn't considered at all... kids don't always want to be 'excepted' or 'marked out' as in any way different.

I've come to the conclusion that we really can never know what the reasons are for people taking their own food in. It's up to the proprietors to address it if they want to and in the meantime, people like LEM - and a million others - will take the mickey and actually spoil it for people like Pagwatch, Couthy and others.

Mrscupcake23 Mon 17-Feb-14 13:06:57

When I worked in a coffee shop yes we would rather we didn't get the profit from a coffee to have all the mess to clear up.

Don't get me started on the mother that asked for the colouring pencils.

I just don't get the arrogance of some people.

You are not just paying for the food it's also the service.

candycoatedwaterdrops Mon 17-Feb-14 18:08:36

I wonder how many of the lunchbox takers (allergies excepted) actually ask permission before they crack open their child's lunch.

Caitlin17 Mon 17-Feb-14 18:41:46

Couthy of course you are free to choose who to give your custom to. But equally cafe owners should be free to say actually paying for a few cups of coffee but assuming you can occupy a picnic space for double the number is custom we can do without. And I see no reason for you to complain or denigrate the cafe.

Mrscupcake23 Mon 17-Feb-14 18:44:31

I was never once asked if they could eat their own food they all just did it . Really rude

Mrscupcake23 Mon 17-Feb-14 18:46:48

Actually i still think even if they have allergies it's nice to ask.
If we knew there was a reason would save us getting wound up in the kitchen. I nice manners to take rubbish with you.

Waltonswatcher1 Mon 17-Feb-14 22:27:58

I totally agree with you Mrscupcake23.
As I said in my post yonks ago,I always explain the allergy issue.I also don't go in if its obvious that its really busy and I always remove my mess.I will check if there is a fruit drink that's ok for my dd and buy it knowing it won't be even a quater drunk. I feel it is polite to always be aware of both sides however,if anyone did ever dare refuse me the right to feed my child safe food then I would blow.
Allergies are a misery ,the stress on the whole family can be intense. Any situation that normalises life is welcome .
Anyone who eats their own food without medical reason is in my opinion bloody rude ,cheeky and cheap.. I would approach anyone who did that in my imaginary cafe and sling em out!
I am also always horrified by the scabby mess lots of carers leave ,if your kid has dropped grub then pick it up .

Mrscupcake23 Tue 18-Feb-14 08:29:36

I don't think any cafe would refuse this, and if they did they deserve to be shut down.

But all the other people that do it for no reason or just to save pennies while they drink their expensive coffee is totally out of order.

Hope your daughter is ok I know how miserable it is living with allergies I think in the last few years cafés are getting slightly better at catering for allergy sufferers.

divisionbyzero Tue 18-Feb-14 09:38:18

Not only are dietary requirements a consideration - an awful lot of churches, I suspect, would very happily tell people it was OK to bring their food from home if they didn't want to spend money.

Mrscupcake23 Tue 18-Feb-14 09:57:42

Church cafés are so cheap they really can't make much profit anyway.

ChocolateWombat Tue 18-Feb-14 16:50:30

Division, I suspect some Church cafes may well not mind people bringing in the odd bit of food. There are a variety of Church cafes. Some do not need to make money at all, others to break even and others are run as profit making businesses. It isn't always obvious. The thing is, no cafe selli g food can 'advertise' people are welcome to bring their own food, unless they are providi g a picnic area not a cafe. I guess people visit and get a sense that it might be acceptable to bri g your own there. However, It would be good to ask wouldn't it.
Some churches run thigs like toddler groups, where you pay 50p for a cup of tea. They are not cafes and getti g out a child's food at those would be absolutely fine. Quite different though, as not selling food or there for that purpose.

Mrscupcake23 Tue 18-Feb-14 17:28:50

Well I am just sat in Costa waiting for children to finish swim lessons.

There are quite a few people with lunchboxes, one family are all eating tuna pasta out of Tupperware .

Another mum who does have a coffee has three children eating sainsburys crisps and cheap fruit shoots not from here.

Mother has ugg boots on and barbar jacket so she is hardly short of money. Crisps are all over the floor while she us on her phone .

sicily1921 Tue 18-Feb-14 18:51:15

Could possibly be dealing with a food allergy, I have done this for my DS but only after checking it ok with staff. That said I would probably be buying food if bringing in food, not just a drink.

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