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School dinners or packed lunches

(16 Posts)
Masika Wed 17-Oct-12 10:03:03

Iam doing an Independent research project at college on the title "School dinners or packed lunches - which is more nutritious?"

I will appreciate your views on this .


InherentlyCantankerous Wed 17-Oct-12 10:19:16

Depends on what the parents put in the packed lunches and which catering company the school uses. It's not exactly black and white is it? One child could have a white bread, cheap ham sandwich, packet of crisps and a club biscuit in a packed lunch and another could have a pasta salad, a side portion of cherry toms, an apple and a home made flapjack.

Beanbagz Wed 17-Oct-12 10:26:59

Mine have hot lunches at a school where taking a packed lunch isn't a option. I'm happy with the quality of the food on offer as there's always hot vegetable with the meal plus a salad car.

I'm not always happy with what my DCs choose though.

Sometimes DS will forget to have potatoes or pick too small a portion, which means he comes home hungry. On the day when it's sandwiches they never eat enough.

My veggie DD is slightly older and more sensible so i can rely on her to take an adequate portion but her choices are sometimes limited. Am thinking of lobbying for the school to adopt Meat Free Mondays.

mumnosbest Wed 17-Oct-12 10:30:57

we've tried both (do healthy pack ups) and although £2 a day is a lot for a school dinner, we ended up spending more on packed lunches.
I prefer school dinners because i know my dc will eat their veg and don't choose a hot pud/cake every day. They also talk to me so i can monitor what they eat. for some a packed lunch is a better way to ensure a balanced diet (especially fussy eaters)

halloweeneyqueeney Wed 17-Oct-12 10:31:21

I agree with InherentlyCantankerous, you can't say one is better than the other, there are a whole range of packed lunches from the bad to the good, same with school lunches

some people get stuck in a rut with packed lunches so school dinners offers more variety, other people will be unhappy with the menu at THEIR school..

there's no way of saying which is better unless you can see the individual menus and individual packed lunch!

sorry I don't think its a proper question

iseenodust Wed 17-Oct-12 10:34:40

At DS's state primary school lunches are cooked on the premises. While I could prepare an equally nutritious packed lunch I doubt I would rotate it as much. School lunches always have a tleast 2 veg, fruit is a dessert option and they can have milk to drink.

achernikov Wed 17-Oct-12 17:58:53

Some school dinners will be better than paced lunches, some packed lunches will be better than school dinners. None of my 3 DSes are especially keen on bread-y things, so they have school dinners for the variety.

achernikov Wed 17-Oct-12 18:00:49

Just remembered this is in 'Primary' section. DS1 and 2 are in secondary blush

TigersChick Wed 17-Oct-12 18:08:13

I agree that it is very variable as to which would be more healthy.

Having worked in a variety of school in 4 areas of the country I would say ...
Some schools have a 'no chocolate' policy on packed lunches while crispy cakes/chocolate sponge are available on the dinner menu ... other schools don't monitor the packed lunches at all.
We had 2 girls in year 6 last year who preferred to have school dinners but brought cereal bars for pudding and had the fruit option rather than the hot pudding which made it healthier for them.

DD has school dinners which we pay for half-termly so it works out expensive once every six weeks but it's a 3-week cycle and she always says that she enjoyed it. We have a menu at home and we talk about what she has - she has to choose the day before (very small school so cook needs numbers) so we know in advance what she is having.

radicalsubstitution Wed 17-Oct-12 18:23:14

For us, school dinners are definitely more nutritious.

DS will eat just aabout anything, and so happily eats most school dinner options. He tells us that he has 'cake' for pudding - the school menu for the day actually reads 'butternut squash cake'. Sounds truly foul to me, but he seems to love them. School lunches save me a lot of time and effort, and I know he's had a decent dinner to last him through to evening (goes to aftercare).

He has packed lunch as an occasional 'special treat', and sees it as his excuse to eat unhealthily. Pepperoni sandwiches (white bread of course), jaffa cakes, crisps and an obligatory salad bowl + fruit for good measure. Thank the Lord the school doesn't have a healthy lunch box policy - I'd be stuffed.

auntevil Wed 17-Oct-12 19:05:29

Don't have an option. Schools dinner service refused to provide for my DS dietary needs as prescribed by an NHS gastroenterologist - they said they couldn't provide a healthy meal within the constraints.
Another DS apparently ended up eating an apple only at most lunches as they did not provide suitable dairy free alternatives - very costly at £2.20. By suitable I mean they still had crackers and cheese, but used to give him dry crackers and not even provide a dairy free spread!
Other DS they couldn't cater for either.
Personally I would love to give my DS a good hot meal at lunch rather than packed lunch. I think its much better for their concentration levels and digestive systems.

MJandherdog Wed 17-Oct-12 19:33:52

Depends on what you put in the packed lunch surely?

I know the packed lunches I prepare are far healthier than the hot meals she has, but my daughter wants to be like all the other kids who have hot meals.

stargirl1701 Wed 17-Oct-12 19:40:23

Depends on the country you are in.

Depends on the LA's catering contract.

Depends on the school have in house catering.

Too many variables.

RottenLuck Wed 17-Oct-12 19:51:57

For us it's packed lunches. My daughter has issues with food so when she faced with a school hot meal she may only eat all the carbs or the protein. I can make her a balanced lunch I know she will eat. I do wish she was more adventurous but she isn't. She improves slowly but a packed, time pressured lunch hall is the not the type of environment for her to be introduced to new foods.

Supertex79 Wed 17-Oct-12 20:18:39

For us we do packed lunches for the younger 3 DC's at primary. DS2 had hot lunches for the best part of a year, and the two choices on offer were well received by him and his friends. However, the portion size gradually got smaller and smaller until he -and the others - complained about it to us Mums. As DS2 has a VERY small appetite at the best of times I found this worrying and reverted to packed lunches. HATE making them and as a Student Nurse I could well do without it at times! But its much more importnant they are refuelled well at lunch!

scootle Thu 18-Oct-12 16:47:02

I do school lunches if I am really busy at work, and switch to packed lunch if I have more time - partly because it is cheaper, and partly because I think it is healthier. My dc often have white pittas or white pasta but also have carrot, cucumber, fruit or fruit smoothie plus dried-fruit bar. Overall it has more vitamins (I think) and they are less hungry after school than when they have school dinners.

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