to think that the food they serve at nurseries is ridiculous?

(54 Posts)
PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 09:47:42

I just went to see a nursery and thought it seemed very fun and cosy. The staff were clearly well trained and were very nice. But when I asked about the food they told me everything was home made while pouring a bag of frozen chicken nuggets onto a baking tray. A look at the menu showed that they serve things like 'hot dog in a roll' for supper. Don't get me wrong I'm fine with my DS having this sort of thing sometimes and yes I am a bit mad about what he eats and don't expect everyone else to be doing kale chips and steamed vegetable dumplings blah blah. But I just think it is not healthy to eat this sort of thing every day and is also very limiting. I want my DS to be trying all sorts of foods all the time.

I don't think I'm being unrealistic I just want some more vegetables in there and one or two slightly more exotic things.

Do I just need to suck it up? Are all nurseries like this? This nursery is quite expensive and projects itself as being quite posh (has a school 'motto' and crest etc).

StealthOfficialCrispTester Thu 16-May-13 09:51:08

Well were the frozen chicken nuggets home made? If so j dont really see the problem

MrsMelons Thu 16-May-13 09:51:34

Are those things actually on the meni every day?

Most nurseries/schools have stuff like that once or twice a week (usually with other choices) but I would not be happy if it was something process with chips every day!

CrazyOldCatLady Thu 16-May-13 09:51:37

Ours is like that. But we live in the middle of nowhere and have a massive commute every day and it's literally our only option. Thankfully everything else about it is okay, but the food really bugs me.

Snog Thu 16-May-13 09:51:39

Lots of nurseries have their own chefs - I would expect fresh cooked healthy food from a nursery

MrsMelons Thu 16-May-13 09:51:47

menu not meni!

ballinacup Thu 16-May-13 09:52:28

Don't they have a menu for parents to have a look at?

Ours has a four week rolling menu and yes, some days have chicken nuggets and chips, but most of the time they eat decent food with lots of fresh fruit and veg.

For example, DS had toast for breakfast yesterday, followed by grapes and rice cakes as a mid morning snack, then chilli con carne with rice for lunch followed by oranges and jelly for pudding, he then had a piece of birthday cake for his afternoon snack (it's usually fruit but one little girl had her birthday yesterday and her DM sent in a cake) followed by turkey sandwiches, apples, pears and banana for tea.

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 16-May-13 09:53:03

That's crazy.

I've worked in a lot of nurseries, and most didn't even have a frozen option at all.

It was all home-cooked curries, chillis, vegetable dumplings, stews, etc...

PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 10:00:51

The sample menu on the website is organic cereal for breakfast, chicken casserole with sweet potato, swede, courgette, parsnip and lentils for lunch. This is the kind of thing that sounded fine to me. There was nothing like this on the menu when I got there. The healthiest and most original thing I saw was tomato and sweetcorn pasta.

CrazyOldCatLady no the nuggets were from a supermarket packet.

They do have a menu that they share with the parents and you can ask for your child not to eat certain things but did say that this is often a problem as unless they are allergic to something they will see other children eating and want what they have etc.

Where can I find one of these elusive home cooked meal nurseries! Chicken nuggets seem to rule supreme in London!

TenaciousOne Thu 16-May-13 10:01:10

Our nursery doesn't do chicken nuggets, sausages and beans yes but mainly things like soup, Bolognese and curry. Although I wish they'd told me before that as DS can't have dairy when all of the children were having pizza he was having toast and wouldn't eat it. I have sent him in with four little homemade pizzas, that was roughly two months ago and they still haven't used them all.

mrswoz Thu 16-May-13 10:03:33

Is it that sort of food every day? I suppose for me it would depend how often my child was going to nursery, all day 5 days a week then no I would not be accepting that as his food options. If he is only going for 1 full day then it's a different matter.

But yanbu to expect an expensive nursery to have better food options.

Did you ask about packed lunch? Tbh if those were the only food choices and he's going full time I would insist on packed lunch, and I bet your DS wouldn't be the only who took it.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 16-May-13 10:04:40

My DS gets toast or weetabix for breakfast, macaroni cheese, or chicken pie and veg etc for lunch and fruit as snacks or toast. No idea if they serve chicken nuggets.

icklemssunshine1 Thu 16-May-13 10:04:41

I'd be annoyed too. My DD is 22 months & the key workers take it in turns cooking meals for the rooms on a rota as they don't employ a chef. The only thing which wouldn't be home cooked would be desserts such as mousse, angel delight etc. All her main meals are home cooked.

Have you asked why they don't prepare cooked meals?

Decoy Thu 16-May-13 10:05:01

YANBU to expect healthy food to be on the menu.

mrswoz Thu 16-May-13 10:07:51

*the only child who took it. Sorry. And I've cross posted - menu on website sounds nice, but can they give you a menu of planned meals for the next 2 weeks, for example? Might give you better view.

PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 10:10:17

They supposedly do serve cooked meals. Maybe I just caught them on their bad day?

Good advice to ask about packed lunches. That's what I do at the moment for his CM but it is often a struggle because the other children have something different (what she cooks) and he always wants that etc.

I'm a bit worried about the ethos though. The website says 'organic cereals' for breakfast but looking at one of their sample books that they send home with children daily it said shreddies for breakfast.

It is a nice place and one of our only options for nursery. Perhaps I should go down the CM route instead. I just think my DS (18 months) would really benefit from being in that kind of environment. He is very very naughty and structure might be a good thing?

MonstersDontCry Thu 16-May-13 10:18:10

YANBU. That would annoy me too. Once a week is fine but not every day.

EasilyBored Thu 16-May-13 10:18:55

I'm not thrilled with the food DS gets at nursery - it's OK, but not brilliant (lots of typical nursery foods, and every couple of weeks they will have a 'party tea' for some reason or other and as far as I can work out he mostly eats sausage rolls and fairy cakes then) BUT he only goes threes days a week, and I love love love everything else about the nursery and the staff and DS adores it and comes home filthy with paint and food and sand, knackered and happy as a clam. So I kind of grin and bare the sausages mash and beans/cornbeef hash/pasta/shepherds pie/etc rotation. They do eat fruit every day though, and he's not a fussy eater.

I think the odd chicken nugget is hardly the end of the world, so you kind of have to balance exactly how much it matter to you. I would be a bit bothered by the differences between the sample menus and the actual menus though. If they're going to give them nuggets and beans, I'd be happier if they were honest about it.

Saski Thu 16-May-13 10:21:35

A posh (expensive?) London daycare serving frozen chicken nuggets?

I would assume in this case that you'd have options, and I'd keep looking. It's bad enough when they do that with older school-aged kids, but babies and toddlers eating frozen food every day is going to totally screw up their food preferences (and of course on top of that it's not good for them).

wishingchair Thu 16-May-13 10:24:18

Food was always made on site and was homemade at the nursery mine went to. Was sometimes a bit weird ... "stinky pie" was tinned sardines in tomato sauce topped with mash and served with veg. Would not be something I would necessarily cook but was good for them and they would eat it!

notso Thu 16-May-13 10:25:33

After working in Nurseries I would always ask to see the actual food being served if my child was going there.
One I worked in had a sample menu for parents which said;
Home-cooked cottage pie, and vegetables,
Home-cooked Sausage, mash and vegetable,
Home-cooked Fish, potato and vegetable,
Home cooked Macaroni cheese,
Home-cooked Chicken, potato and vegetable.

The reality was;
Frozen value cottage pie and value baked beans,
Value sausage and beans in a can and smash,
Value Fish fingers, smash and value beans,
Tinned Macaroni cheese,
Chicken nuggets, chips and value beans.

There was one little girl who was vegetarian and ate smash and beans or chips and beans EVERYDAY and on sausage day the beans were 'contaminated' with sausage sad
The only time I saw anything Home-cooked was when we had an inspection and the manager made fish pie, chicken casserole and tomato pasta for the vegetarian option.
Needless to say I only lasted 7 months there.

OneLittleToddleTerror Thu 16-May-13 10:26:39

I'm not happy with the food they serve at DD's nursery, but I admit I'm just being picky. They don't do chicken nuggets type of frozen food, all home cooked meals, and the menu looks good on paper. But we can take away the meal if we pick up DD early. It's shocking the proportion of the different things. The cake she has for lunch is as big as her main. The tea has as much sandwich and fruit as there are crisps and cake.

Do you remember that school dinner blog never seconds by a scottish school girl? It's basically the same as that. So I assume it's normal at school/nursery to have half the meal as pudding. It's so different if you look at a lot of the foreign school dinners you see feature on her blog.

I assume not many here will give their preschoolers as much pudding as this? Or am I just being precious?

LondonMan Thu 16-May-13 10:27:02

Our nursery (London) has a chef and has never served anything like hot dogs or chicken nuggets. (Assuming they're telling me the truth when they list what she's eaten on the daily report.)

They do have parties quite often when some sweets are eaten, but slices of cake are wrapped in film and sent home with parents so they can decide if children should eat it.

Gonnabmummy Thu 16-May-13 10:29:09

I live up in west cumbria and when I did my childcare level 3 we had to do placements and none of the nurseries served anything I would give to my child day to day! It was rubbish but they have kitchens like a beds it would and some stupid crazy amount to have to spend for food that's what was always said.
Healthiest thing I ever saw was a turkey dinner. However it was tesco value Yorkshire blob of mash two slices of carrot and PRE-PACKED sliced turkey (all value range) followed by a value range cupcake.
The rest of menu was things like value nuggets and pizza!

LondonMan Thu 16-May-13 10:31:24

DW did complain when they cooked Quorn. She reckons for what we pay we shouldn't get fake meat!

(I don't object to Quorn myself.)

olivertheoctopus Thu 16-May-13 10:34:29

MY DCs nursery has an onsite chef kitchen and I have never in 4 years heard mention of chicken nuggets or chips on the menu. Or hot dogs for that matter. I'm not sure they ever have pizza either. Menu this week that I can remember are vegetable pasta followed by semolina and jam for lunch and then pitta bread and crudites with tuna dip then yogurt for tea and then some sort of tagine with couscous followed by cake and custard and English muffins with something (can't remember what) then fruit.

There is a semantic difference between home-made (ie made from scratch on the premises) and home-cooked (ie pre-made, bought it and then then heated up).

Beehatch Thu 16-May-13 10:37:16

notso that's dreadful!

However just to give a happy story, I'm more than happy with the home cooked food at our nursery. There are 2 chefs and a 4 week rolling menu. They cater for all kinds of diets, and I know from DS being veggie that they try their hardest to make food that looks similar to the meat option. I have seem the food coming from the kitchens and it looks great, and I have even tried it on occasion and it tastes great too! Even better the chefs run cooking classes for the kids, today they were making bread for example. So good food can be had, and it is worth looking round.

Sirzy Thu 16-May-13 10:41:56

The nursery my son goes to has a fab menu, it is published on the website and each weeks goes on a notice board every day what is served is what they say will be.

Typical meals include home made soup, moussaka, fish pie, chicken and sweet potato curry. None of the meals are sausage/nuggets type (not that I would have any issue with them serving things like that occasionally)

Sirzy Thu 16-May-13 10:43:30

I also like the fact that they don't serve puddings as standard as I don't think that's needed every meal

I dont see an issue but then again I'm not strict or fussy about what my son eats.

Chilliandbanana Thu 16-May-13 10:51:27

Our nursery has a fab menu too. Examples are potato and
leek soup made from potatoes and leeks grown in the garden and picked by the children, curries and tagines, fish and cottage pies. No nuggets or chips about. Have been there plenty of times at meal times and seen what they serve and it's looks great.

Sirzy Thu 16-May-13 10:54:04

I don't think not wanting a diet for up to 5 days of the week to consist of fish finger/nugget type meals is about being fussy or strict its about wanting a balanced diet which is unlikely to be provided by a diet consisting of so much processed food.

PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 10:55:28

You aren't being precious! Gosh I thought I was going to be under fire on here for being too snobbish about food!

This place doesn't do any puddings and say only fruit for snacks so that's a big plus. I have emailed asking for more menu samples to get a better idea. The 'hot dog in a bun' and the nuggets are haunting me! Maybe I am not remembering the rest of the menu and it was better.

I actually don't have any other options other than finding a childminder which I am not opposed to but think nursery would be great. It seems to be a bit of a no man's land round where I live for nurseries.

Tanith Thu 16-May-13 10:56:27

I'm a childminder that loves cooking. Everything prepared from scratch, using fresh, natural ingredients - you know the blurb! - I am very proud of my menus and healthy eating policies.

So I was mortified when DD started nursery school and told them her favourite dinner was fish fingers shockblush

She'd never had any before and I didn't work it out until much later:
To prepare her, and the old children starting school, I'd shown them a DVD about "My First Day At School". It shows them having school dinner and the narrator says clearly "Mmm! Fish fingers! My favourite!"

So that's my culinary reputation now in tatters grin

She has since tried fish fingers (seeing as she said they were her favourite) and she does like them very much!

PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 11:00:10

Oh my god chillandbanana that is the absolute dream!! Where is your nursery? Maybe I can helicopter DS there everyday.

WeAreEternal Thu 16-May-13 11:02:12

DS (6) goes to a childminder run nursery (it's four childminders working out of one large cottage) two days a week.

They offer breakfast lunch snacks and dinner to children.

Their sample menu on their website has things like homemade chicken pie and homemade fish pie, homemade burgers.

DS often has toast on a morning there before school, but I like to give him dinner myself so have always asked that he just have a snack and no dinner.

I recently found out that they only offer a sandwich and a biscuit with a drink at lunch and their 'dinner' is often things like toast and a piece of cake with a drink, or a (shop bought) sausage roll, a biscuit and a drink or a piece of (shop bought) quiche, a bun and a drink. Apparently they have toast at least three days a week as 'dinner'.
As DS never has 'dinner' there I wasn't bothered but several other parents were very unimpressed, the owner explained that there are too many children for them to be able to cook homemade meals, so they just do whatever is quick and easy.

I would not be happy about the quality of the food you describe, but I would be even more uncomfortable about the misrepresentation of the type of food they will be offering. What else are they being dishonest about?

CheesyPoofs Thu 16-May-13 11:06:31

DD went to a Sure Start nursery and I thought they'd really be on top of nutrition. Whilst their meals didn't involve chicken nuggets, there was a lot of tinned spaghetti and beans.

They'd have things like cottage pie and tinned spagetti hmm

I think they thought tinned spaghetti counts as one of your 5 a day, since tinned beans did hmm

Luckily she was only there for lunch 3 times a week so I didn't sweat it.

Icelollycraving Thu 16-May-13 11:07:57

The first nursery ds went to served entirely organic meals in his baby room. When I moved him,I asked what % organic the menu was at his new nursery. Slightly thrown manager replied 'er,er'.
The menu is ok,I've loosened up a lot. He eats pretty well there. I told them I didn't want an abundance of bread,he loves it but gets constipated.
It took time for them to completely get me. They have improved,I'm under no illusions though,they are about profit.

SuffolkNWhat Thu 16-May-13 11:12:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

poopnscoop Thu 16-May-13 11:29:46

As a prospective parent I would advise you always go and see the childminder/nursery when they're actually feeding the children to see what they're eating. We take photos often (to show how well they're self feeding etc.) and parents often see what we make/bake this way... we have quite a gallery of photos on our website too, which includes meals/snacks/baking in the photos.

4 week rolling menu, ALL freshly cooked on site every day, delivered by Ocado, organic where possible:

- Porridge/bran flakes with sultanas/weetabix
- Am snack: strawberries/humzinger fruit bars/bread sticks/rice cakes/grapes/raisins/apricots/banana/blueberries
- Hot meal at lunch: Cottage pie/beef casserole/mushroom risotto/sweet potato wedges with (nice!) fish fingers, peas and spinach - with fruit and/or plain yoghurt (unsweetened) as pudding
- PM snack: strawberries/humzinger fruit bars/bread sticks/rice cakes/grapes/raisins/apricots/banana/blueberries
- Evening tea: French toast/pita with hummus/omelette with mushroom, peas and cheese - omelettes are wonderful for putting loads of veges inside... love making them for the kids! - fruit for pudding

We bake bread, oat cookies, fairy cakes etc... we only bake cake when it's a little one's birthday and then there's no icing on it. They are NEVER given biscuits/jelly/cake unless it's a birthday... so it's deemed a treat and not part of every day nutrition. Small, appropriate sizes.

We use unsalted butter etc. Are really aware of the ingredients within our meals. I'd never consider being less fastidious/feeding the children less well... it's crucial they eat good quality food. And that what it says on the menu is exactly what goes in their little tummies.

The nursery my DSs went to in Northwood was absolutely fantastic, and the food was outstanding. I think they won prizes for it. At parents' evenings they used to serve us tasters - all organic (I am not so good at home), but really tasty and interesting. There was a chef and she had an assistant. I wish their school dinners were as good.

OP - I would not be happy.

PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 11:44:50

Just spoke to nursery called Nelly's. They sound like the absolute dream. Make meals with vegetables that the children grow in the vegetable garden!!! Beyond expensive though and likely a waiting list for years. :-(

moogy1a Thu 16-May-13 11:45:35

"I just think my DS (18 months) would really benefit from being in that kind of environment. He is very very naughty and structure might be a good thing?"
a good CM will be a far better option than a nursery as they can give structure to the day alongside more personalised care. Small children benefit more from the smalller numbers of a childminder rather than being a bit "lost" in a nursery.

MrsMelons Thu 16-May-13 11:49:19

Balance is the key, I don't cook from fresh every day and the DCs like to have nuggets and chips once a week which I have no issue with.

They both have school dinners and would object to them having chips every day but I am fairly laid back about it as I do believe everything in moderation is fine. If its only a couple of days a week I really wouldn't worry. If its every day and that is your childs main meal then it is an issue.

I always cook dinner in the evening anyway as both boys eat a lot so I know they are eating healthily in general.

PP2291 Thu 16-May-13 11:50:43

thanks for your response moogy1a. He is with a CM at the moment. I was thinking that having a structure i.e. nap is always at certain time, activities are structured, other children to copy etc might be a good thing? My CM is wonderful but has a more casual approach (like I would at home) and he gets packs and packs of love and attention (no bad thing obviously!) but not many boundaries. Don't get me wrong she doesn't just let him run the show but obviously nursery is more structured. I would also really like him to interact with out children a bit more and learn things (there is a bit of telly watching at the CM's that I am not crazy about).

We are moving so have to leave our CM otherwise I wouldn't be thinking about it yet.

MrsMelons Thu 16-May-13 11:52:22

I have to disagree with Moogy if it is a good nursery a child will never be 'lost' and a childs behaviour can show huge improvements when they are in a class of children at nursery rather than just one or two at a CM.

This is just IME of course, the CMs I know have been really good but I still don't think it is a replacement for the valuable social skills the children learn. Sometimes at a CM there are only 1 or 2 children and this isn't always enough.

ReallyTired Thu 16-May-13 12:16:25

dd's private nursery served excellent food every day.

Moogy there are advantages to childminders and nurseries. A good childminder is worth her weight in gold, and babies do well in good nurseries.

A Really bad childminder is worse than an inadequate nursery. An inadequate person working one to one with a child has no one to see what they are doing.

MrsMelons Thu 16-May-13 12:19:46

Absolutely agree with ReallyTired, I wasn't suggesting a good CM is worse than a good nursery, just different and IMO for different things.

Wishiwasanheiress Thu 16-May-13 12:25:29

Depends on how much u pay I guess. Mine costs rather a lot, veg is in every thing, muffins and all sorts. Meals are often on a rota and they try to include 'fun' items like pizza slices as well as peas/veg type.

I think ur sounding rather harsh tbh.

allmycats Thu 16-May-13 12:26:39

Mt thought is if they lie about the food they serve what else do they lie about.

Groovee Thu 16-May-13 12:37:37

The private nursery I worked in had a disaster one day. The owner who did the shopping was called away to the other nursery due to a major emergency. Then the cook phoned in sick. So one member of staff went to the shops and got strong wholemeal flour, yeast, passata, cheese and eggs. 2 members of staff made the pizza base and then the pizza, and I made chocolate cake and custard for pudding. It was all done by lunch time but the best we could do as none of us had much money on us, it wasn't pay day for another few days and the petty cash was locked away and no way round it.

Most of the parents were great about what had happened but one was so upset that her child hadn't got the home made soup and yoghurt on the menu that she put in a complaint to SW who inspected us at the time. Once the social worker stopped laughing, she said we did pretty well in the circumstances as she knew everything was home cooked by a brilliant cook, it had just been a bad day and we'd fed the children what we could as healthily as we could.

But I did go to visit nurseries when I was pregnant and was shocked at one thinking it was ok to serve up packets of savoury rice to babies.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 16-May-13 12:53:17

There are nurseries out there that do fab food. The one DD attended one of the other mums was the cook everything homemade roast dinner once per week carved from a massive joint, fish pie, fish cakes, shepherds pie, spaghetti Bol etc all great food.

Dorange Thu 16-May-13 12:56:46

I worked in the same nursery ..............

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