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Just started at school - school dinners advice needed please...

(22 Posts)
plipplops Tue 13-Sep-11 14:25:37

DD1 started school this year and this week has been there for lunches. She eats quite a limited diet (pizza, spag bol, homemade macaroni cheese, fish fingers, potato smiles, chicken dippers (oh dearblush). I'd really like her to have school dinners as I think it's a really nice social thing to do and also I hoped the peer pressure might get her trying some new things (she suddenly said last week she was going to eat her peas as she was a big girl. Only ate about 3 but it was progress, none since though).

The thing is, yesterday she had pizza and ate a tiny tiny nibble, and today there wasn't anything she liked. The teacher said they tried to cajole her into eating something but she got quite teary. They did have bread but she didn't eat it "because it was hot" (she did burn herself on a fish finger once and is v wary of hot food).

So what do I do? The only day I think she'd definitely eat would be a Friday (fish & chips), so do I cave and give her packed lunches apart from then and see how it goes? Or do I stick with sending her in and risk it becoming a big deal? She's not responded to bribery (told her she could have a sweet if she ate lunch today but no joy). She hasn't seemed to realise yet that sandwiches are an option so she's not nagging for them, and to be honest she hasn't mentioned it at home unless I ask her. I'm worried that if I give in to packed lunches there'll be no going back, and I really would rather she gets in the habit of choosing for herself and eating it.

Furball Tue 13-Sep-11 14:48:25

My ds when he started just had meals on a Friday. Then over time, we studied the menu closely together and got him to have a few more days.

At least if she has a packed lunch you know what she has had, rather than only having a bite of this and a bit of that.

The Friday only meals for now will get her confidence up with the whole system without a) leaving her hungry and b) you paying for meals she's not actually wanting to eat. smile

MegBusset Tue 13-Sep-11 14:56:04

DS1's a bit like this, with added allergies. I've gone the packed lumch route because then I'll know he's had a decent lunch, also it's a lot cheaper! So no advice really, other than that I've taken the line of least resistance...

AMumInScotland Tue 13-Sep-11 14:57:20

I'd go for packed lunches - school is enough to cope with, without lunch being a misery. She can have friends round for tea and learn from their example then without the pressure.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Tue 13-Sep-11 15:07:04

I had this problem last year. Fussy daughter and underweight so I really needed her to eat and try new foods.

I did what you are doing, stuck with it and it worked! She now a year later eats so much better.

One thing that helped was to get a copy of the menu and going through it that morning and helping her choose what to have.

Not stressing if she ate very little in the day or only desert (it's not the end of the world and means she'll eat her dinner at least)

Coming up with a good excuse as to why she can't have packed lunch so she accepts it's not going to happen. Can't remember what mine was but will come back and tell you if I do. Might have been cost.

Now a year later she has packed lunches as it's not an issue any more.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Tue 13-Sep-11 15:08:22

Meant to add that the peer pressure was the thing that did it. Sitting there eating with her friends and watching them try the things she thought looked too scary . . . well she did try them after the 2nd 3rd 4th times of seeing them and in some cases decided she liked them.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Tue 13-Sep-11 15:10:04

Also they have fruit in the morning so she isn't going to starve. Some days I think mine just ate the veg off her plate at lunch but then she would have a nice big dinner at home so it didn't matter.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Tue 13-Sep-11 15:15:30

Sorry, keep thinking of new things . . .

I didn't show her any of the stress I was feeling and kept saying how nice the menu sounded and how lucky she was to have a yummy lunch, how nice the thing she was having that day was going to be. But also not asking too much if she ate it, or nagging or moaning at her. Just left her to it.

If I wanted to know if she ate much I asked the teacher who was keeping an eye on her for me.

plipplops Tue 13-Sep-11 16:31:00

Thanks. I'm sort of happy to carry on as things are, with her not eating much (she has a good breakfast, fruit at school and it might mean she's more likely to eat what I cook for tea!). I'm worried about talking about the menu as I think she'll say she does't like anything and will then worry about it or make a big fuss? School is going ok otherwise (she's sometimes a bit tearful at drop-f but is fine five mins later, and talks about it really positively).

caz1010 Tue 13-Sep-11 17:50:43

I work in my own ds's school as a dinner lady, serving the lunches. We often serve childreb the dinner and watch them enjoy it, and when parents asked what/ how much the child ate they are often astounded at how they tucked into something they would never normally eat at home. I dont know whether its because it looks/served slightly different ti hone or pear pressure.

dikkertjedap Tue 13-Sep-11 18:36:47

I would go for packed lunches. There is no need for two hot meals. At least with a packed lunch you can ensure that she gets a healthy lunch and know what she eats.

Seona1973 Tue 13-Sep-11 18:42:43

dd and ds decide day to day whether to have a school dinner or packed lunch. DD likes the pasta, pizza, fish and chips, etc but ds doesnt like the pizza (tried it last week) and doesnt like pasta much at all. DD therefore goes for a school dinner more often than him.

plipplops Wed 14-Sep-11 13:43:20

OK, quick update - so this morning before school she asked for a lunchbox. I said I didn't have time today but would do her one tomorrow. Then while I was dropping her at school she asked if she could do alternate days of lunchbox and school dinners. I feel like it's a happy compromise - I'm really proud of her for wanting to have them at all so we're going to try it for a bit. I'll do a (really really boring) lunchbox tomorrow, and Friday's fish fingers so she'll like that (as long as she can handle it being hot hmm), then we'll see how we get on next week.

Today she had some bread so at least she's sitting with her peers eating somethingsmile, so if I can get her to do that every other day I reckon she'll give in and try something at some point!

mumeeee Wed 14-Sep-11 15:08:56

Just give her packed lunches. She can still be sociable eating a packed lunch as other children will also be doing this. I found that as DD3 was a very slow eater at this age she wouldn't gave been able to finish a cooked meal in the time given. But if she didn't finish her packed lunch she was allowed to eat the rest at afternoon break or I'd she didn't want to do that she just ate it t the end of school.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Wed 14-Sep-11 15:16:18

plipplops That's great. I wanted to do the alternate thing as well but the school don't allow it. My way round it was to do my dcs packed lunches at the weekend which they would have in the garden like a picnic or just in front of the telly, but it made sure that she didn't completely miss out on packed lunches that looked so exciting (that some of her friends were having at school) but she just had them at home instead. She actually really loved that.

Seona1973 Wed 14-Sep-11 20:05:09

the other thing about school dinners is that they have to queue up and you then have less time to play after eating. One of dd's friends has never had a packed lunch as she misses out on playing time afterwards. Packed lunches also work out cheaper.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Wed 14-Sep-11 22:12:10

Don't they let the reception kids go in first though? They do at my dcs school. They also get an extra 10 mins as they eat so slow.

plipplops Thu 15-Sep-11 11:06:09

Yes I think reception go in first, and the dinner ladies really help them if they need it (it's a very small school). So she was pleased to go in with her lunchbox, and is looking forward to having fish fingers tomorrow lunchtime. The only issue now is the hot food thing, but I'm just trying to remind her to wait for it to cool down and blow on it etc.. I think if all her friends are eating carefully then she should be fine, fingers crossed!

gurgling Thu 15-Sep-11 19:37:39

I'd give her packed lunches at first and just have the fish and chips on Friday. Before long, she'll be asking to have whatever's on a Tuesday, because it looks nice. Mine was a bit like yours. By year 1 she was having school dinner 4 days a week. I wouldn't force it on her - give her packed lunches (it's better to have something in her tummy) and then start going through the menu with her and let her choose. As mine learnt to read, she'd start reading the menu herself and dictating what she'd like that week.

CocktailQueen Thu 15-Sep-11 19:40:02

There's no choice in school dinners at our school so that wouldn't work here - I'd personally do packed lunches then at least you know she's eating what she likes and she's happy.

plipplops Fri 16-Sep-11 14:48:25

So today she ate all her fish fingers and chips (well it's a start smile) Monday's spaghetti with meatballs in tomato sauce, and since she'll eat spag bol we've talked about it and she's says she going to have it and leave the meatballs if she doesn't like them. I'm so proud of her and I think it'll be great if she can try a few new things, and I think the positive influence of eating with her peers will really help. I'm not that worried if she doesn't eat much as she has a good breakfast and tea and isn't underweight or anything, so as long as she doesn't seem upset by the situation I'm happy to stick with it on alternate days...

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Sat 17-Sep-11 09:28:58

Glad it's going ok.

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