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reception - school meals or packed lunch?

27 replies

mckenzie · 29/08/2009 18:51

Does it matter?
Is it up to personal preference of the child and parent or is one choice better than the other for reception children?


OP posts:
Seona1973 · 29/08/2009 19:37

I go by the menu. If it is something dd likes then she has a school dinner that day. If she doesnt fancy what is on offer she gets a packed lunch.

MIAonline · 29/08/2009 19:56

IME, most have packed lunches and it is easier in the first few days rather than them negotiating collecting trays cutlery, cups and food! Then it will be a case of whatever her friends are doing.

Does she have any of her friends starting at the same time? Can you ask what they are doing and do the same. This works well as in some schools they sit separately for packed lunches and school dinners, so they can be sat away from a close friend.

Clary · 29/08/2009 20:39

seona a lot of schools (includign ours) asks you to give notice of changing from one to the other.

This may be a week or even half a term so your option would be a no-no.

I do school meals because I cannot bear the idea of sourcing 3 x pack-ups a day and making them as well on top of everyhting else in my life

Also I think they are good value as my 3 are good eaters. Good for social skills too.
But I guess the value/eating thing depends on the child.

gemmiegoatlegs · 29/08/2009 20:50

my dd starts next week and will be taking a packed lunch as the food and the lunchbox will be familiar, compared to lugingaround a tray of unfamiliar food and having to queue and pick up her own cutlery,cup etc.

Also, she is my second dc, ds also has packed lunches. At £13 per week each, i would be spending well over a hundred pounds a month. my packed lunches are far cheaper and yet still full of healthy stuff I know they will eat.

mumtoone · 29/08/2009 20:51

My ds started on school meals on day 1 without any problems. Its all he knows and there are no complaints. I went in and tasted them one day and they weren't bad at all. DS was used to having a hot lunch at nursery so I decided to carry this on at school. It saves me a lot of hassle in the evening as he doesn't need a big meal. It really does depend on what works for you and your family

ByThePowerOfGreyskull · 29/08/2009 20:54

DS1 started with school dinners, it was a nightmare for us, his other friends took packed lunches and managed to leave the dinner hall earlier than him so he didn't want to eat anything.

thankfully the school let you switch weekly so we switched to packed lunches for the first half term, then went to school dinners once he was more confident about where his friends would be in the playground and how it all worked.

He goes into year one hext week and will be having school dinners every day.

mckenzie · 29/08/2009 22:16

thanks for all the replies. Our school allow you to change weekly so it wont be a problem to see what suits but I just thought I'd see if there was a large vote for one way or the other. DD would like packed lunches (and her brother is keen to have them too after having had school meals for the last 4 years).
I'm off now then to prepare a fortnightly menu of packed lunches. Wish me luck

OP posts:
notanidea · 29/08/2009 22:22

My DD is a poor eater -so packed lunches give an idea how much she eats during lunch.For her it is absolute waste of money to spend on school meals.

BTW want some lunch box ideas

mckenzie · 30/08/2009 08:49

notanidea - are you offering lunch box ideas or asking for some?

OP posts:
LadyOfTheFlowers · 30/08/2009 08:52

In response to OP, personally, I would like DS to have school dinners, but at £40pm - I can't afford it!
They do really good food, locally sourced and organic.

MIAonline · 30/08/2009 09:02

if you have no life try these

FritesMenthe · 30/08/2009 09:12

A fortnightly packed lunch menu?
At their request mine get virtually the same every day!

noideawhereIamgoing · 30/08/2009 10:21

I prefered mine to have pack ups, school dinners aren't too bad but I know my food is better quality and is tailored to my ds's likes/dislikes.

The packed lunch kids still sit down and eat at a table, actually they can choose to sit with the school dinner kids if they like too - they socialise just fine.

Usually he'll have leftovers from our dinner the night before, things like curries, chilli, pasta, pizza, soup, quiche and pies - occassionally he'll have sarnies but they are not often well received.

mckenzie · 30/08/2009 17:47

Thanks for all the extra replies.
MIAonline - some of those look cute but no way am i going to waste that much time on packed lunches.

Fritesmenthe - I want the variety of a fortnightly menu for my sake as much as the DCs. I'd go stir crazy making the same sandwiches day after day (or night after night, I haven't yet worked out quite when I'm going to be making these dreaded packed lunches )

OP posts:
zebramummy · 31/08/2009 21:57

mckenzie - do you know about the "vegan lunchbox" series - the newest one is called "vegan lunch boxes from around the world" and is really original - btw i am not vegan -
ps. they have their own facebook page

Mspontipine · 31/08/2009 23:01

I love Funky Lunch Wanna try some!!!!

feetheart · 31/08/2009 23:09

When DD started she had 3 school dinners and 2 packed lunches a week.
Found out after a while that she was the only child (out of about 350!) doing this but no-one told me she couldn't so she has done it for 2 years and counting now!

notanidea · 31/08/2009 23:25

I would appreciate lunch boxideas(fumky lunch looks good but dont have time) from others. TIA

fridayschild · 01/09/2009 13:30

DS1 switches between school dinners and packed lunches at his choice - we have to give a week's notice. He is a good and fast eater, but does appreciate decent quality food. I think his decision is determined by what his friends are doing, how tasty the school food has been or has looked recently, and how much he can snaffle from other people's lunches . Your LO might bring home an empty lunchbox - that doesn't mean the LO was the only person eating from it!

gladders · 01/09/2009 15:51

ds started having school lunches in nursery - and his eating has improved hugely since then. he is now happy to try almost anything (despite being a dry pasta boy before hand) and will sit nicely while he is eating (despite being a garb a mouthful while i run around boy beforehand)

dd starts nursery on thurs and will have school lunches too.

peer pressure is great at getting them to try new things.

mckenzie · 02/09/2009 09:58

thanks for all the extra comments. Both DS and DD are quite good eaters. I just found last year that DS was coming home from school ravenous and having a snack and then still eating a full meal in the evening, after having had the £2.20 school lunch, so it was rather a waste. At this school, we can change weekly so I'll go with the packed lunches to start with and see how we get on.

I've bought them both new lunch boxes now

notanidea - when I've got my menu planned I'll post it here in case you can get any new ideas from it, although I doubt it. I don't suppose it will be very original.

OP posts:
MissSunny · 02/09/2009 10:06

Message withdrawn

colditz · 02/09/2009 10:12

I'm with MissSuny on the false advertising of school lunches ...

Ds1 had them for a while. He seemed to be getting an inordinate amount of bread, pasta, chips (in the form of "herby wedges") and cake.

No meat ("None left mummy.") and no vegetables (I don't like it").

It's very easy for tiny 4 year olds to flap ttrembling lashes at middle aged dinner ladies and wobble "oh but I don't like peas, they might make me sick....." - and NOBODY wants to make a child cry when the child is tiny and sweet and scared anyway.

So they end up eating a four year old's preferred diet of beige stodge.

Sandwiches are easier too. They have their own familiar bread, their own familiar treats, all cut up in a familiar way (do you remember the trauma of triangle ham sandwiches when mummy always does squares?)

gladders · 02/09/2009 10:40


our school lunches are genuinely good (meat from village butcher etc) - and the little children are gently encouraged to try everything on their plate by their teachers (not by scary dinner ladies)

ds is always starving - he will need an after school snack regardless of whether he has sarnies or school dinners.

MissSunny · 02/09/2009 23:04

Message withdrawn

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