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school dinners or packed lunch??

(21 Posts)
mrsmerryberry Tue 16-Aug-11 16:40:14

My lo will be starting school full time in the middle of sept and I've no idea whether I should let lo have school dinners or provide a packed lunch. How did you do you decide??

sequinart Tue 16-Aug-11 16:42:26

I have three kids and resent the time spent making packed lunches so all mine have school lunches.

BeehiveBaby Tue 16-Aug-11 16:42:37

Laziness led me to school dinners TBH but I really believe that the quality and variety of meal is worlds apart from what I'd be able to muster up for a packed lunch. I am a good cook, it's just the packing bit. Most kids who have dinners eat loads more at school than they would tackle at home. The downside is social, they seperate them at school which is silly.

sixpinetrees Tue 16-Aug-11 16:49:28

I have 3 and I can't easily afford £30 a week so mine have packed lunch. I also don't think the quality of the food or the quantity is very good. It only takes 5-10 mins to make them and for some reason I loathe it. They like having packed lunch because you don't have to queue. You can sit where you want but, like Beehive says, it can be an issue if you get split from your mates who all have dinners.

MrsAJB Tue 16-Aug-11 16:53:09

I'm a primary school teacher and when my lo starts full time education, he'll be on packed lunch!!! Giving him a packed lunch means he'll get much better quality food than what a school kitchen produce with their small budgets! Kids just want to eat quickly and get back out into the playground anyway, 10 - 15 minutes with other children eating packed lunch only helps to extend their social skills if they're eating with children outside of their usual friendship groups x

midnightexpress Tue 16-Aug-11 16:53:15

Both - we get a three-week rolling menu, and so the DC can choose which days they like the look of for school dinner, and then I do packed lunches the rest of the time. I really like that system and it allows me to be lazy at least one day a week.

roisin Tue 16-Aug-11 16:59:25

My boys don't like change/unpredictability and I don't like making packed lunches.

So I told them at age 4/5 that they were having school dinners until they were 11. Then at that age they could choose whether to continue having school dinners or to make their own pack-ups.

They're not fussy eaters and have been fine with this. It also means they have something more substantial/hot in the middle of the day, so in the evenings we just have something quick - eg soup, pasta or sandwiches.

roisin Tue 16-Aug-11 16:59:40

Oh and btw they're 12 and 14 now and still on hot dinners!

cjbartlett Tue 16-Aug-11 17:18:00

Mine have school dinners
Mostly because then I don't have to cook for them 5 days a week grin
and they get more variety than I'd cook
They get bread with their dinner so no worries about them being hungry

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Tue 16-Aug-11 17:21:14

The dinners at ds's school are very good, so he has those. He's about to go into Y6 (so he's been at school for 6 full years already) and has never asked to have packed lunches; I do sometimes ask if he'd like to change but he always declines.

I couldn't give him as good a lunch for that money everyday but if you have more than one child at school I imagine packed lunches would be more economical.

2BoysTooLoud Tue 16-Aug-11 17:22:39

3x days pack lunch.
2x days school dinner.

Seona1973 Tue 16-Aug-11 21:32:50

Dd's school has a rolling 4 week menu and dd decided day to day whether she wants a school dinner or not depending if she likes what is on offer.

crazycarol Tue 16-Aug-11 21:45:15

When DD started school she took packed lunches. I couldn't afford the ££ for school dinners and as I was cooking each evening for me and dh it was easy for her to get her main meal in the evening. When she went to secondary school we opted for school dinners as I thought it was one less thing for her to squeeze into her bag each morning! Plus there were other options eg salad, pasta bar, etc. However 2 years later she begged to start packed lunches again. But this time she takes full responsibility for making it herself.

blackeyedsusan Tue 16-Aug-11 23:44:46

packed lunch. cheaper and healthier and allergy safe, and I know what she has eaten so i can plan the rest of her meals.

sixpinetrees Wed 17-Aug-11 09:40:14

You can give them a substantial, hot packed lunch.

teacherwith2kids Wed 17-Aug-11 10:05:20

Both mine have cooked lunches every day. The school meals are good, and both have a lot of after-school activities which can make it very difficult to give them a hot meal after school. If I know they've had a decent meal at lunchtime, then giving them sandwiches to eat during a break in evening dance lesson, or on the way to football practice, is much easier than trying to cook them a hot meal when they get in at 7.30 after 12+ hours out of the house!

mrsmerryberry Wed 17-Aug-11 13:22:41

Thanks for the responses, it's nice to hear so many views on packed lunches verses school dinners. It seems that most have opted for the school dinners, although I note that the school dinners need to be checked out for quality and healthy foods, not junk first.

teacherwith2kids you make a valid point, in that if they do after school classes, then they will need a hot meal at some point in the day, so school dinners are going to probably be the best option for me, provided they are quality meals.I too will not have the time cook when we get home after lo's classes.
Thanks all.

UniS Wed 17-Aug-11 19:10:40

depend on kid and family....
Check the school system out before you decide , some schools allow you to opt in to school dinners on a day by day basis. So kid can have cooked lunch when it suits family or when its a meal they like/ will eat.

At my DSs school School dinner hall is noisy, kids have to be able to carry their plate back to table and they will be asked to make choices about which veg. There is no going back on that choice once made.While children are encouraged to drink their cup of water it is not forced. This does not suit my son at all, he has pack lunch mainly with the odd day of school dinners if he has asked to do it, so thats about 5 times a term.
Pack lunch they eat in a classroom which is quieter, I control what is in the box so I know he will eat it all and drink all the drink I send.

The quality of school diners at DSs school is fine I see them regularly as I'm a dinner lady, the menu is fine, but DS will not eat several of the meals offered .

pointythings Wed 17-Aug-11 19:16:11

School dinners are very good where we are (schools have proper kitchens, lots of home-cooked stuff) so my DCs have school dinners - I hate having to do packed lunches on those days when they're in holiday clubs, we have a very early start due to my working hours anyway (out of the house by 7am) and I don't need any more stuff adding to the morning routine!

netherlee Wed 17-Aug-11 20:02:48

I don't think packed is a question of 'laziness' on our part. Most of my DC have dinners except youngest DD who doesn't like the food and has her own dietary requirements (yes we can ask the school but much safer making ourselves).

oooggs Wed 17-Aug-11 20:08:25

In september I will have 3 in ft school. I can't justify £33 a week (£2.20 per dinner per child) so they have packed lunch.

This is only a cost point of view, I am happy with what they feed them and I think the 3 week rolling menu is a fab idea

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