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School lunches - frugal or cheap?
Old 09-03-2011, 07:13 PM   #1
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School lunches - frugal or cheap?

Recently introduced to public school meal cost... $1.40 a day for breakfast, 2.10 a day for lunch is what DW told me.

Is this reasonable or should we pack lunches and do a hot lunch on Fridays for our DD? DD doesn't care either way.

DW thinks it would cost $1 a day if she packed a lunch (1/2 sandwich, veggies, fruit slices, milk/juice), but will DD feel "different" or leftout in school?

When I worked downtown, I could find early bird or late lunch places, for example - Asian restaurant, before 11:30am or after 1pm, $1 scoop. I could get lunch (2 main entree scoops, pass on the rice or noodles unless I was very hungry) for $2.

DW is a SAHM so she is ok with making lunch. DD will have breakfast before leaving home. I told DW make an extra lunch and I'll take it with me.

Are we being frugal or just cheap?
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:19 PM   #2
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You say that your DD doesn't care. Would she tell you if she felt different or left out? If so, then you have no problems. Besides, who knows? She might feel different if her mother didn't make her a lunch to bring to school.
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:37 PM   #3
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It isn't just a $ decision. What kind of food do they offer in the school program and if given choices will your daughter pick the veggies or the fries?

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Old 09-03-2011, 07:50 PM   #4
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Make her lunch every day as long as she will let you.

I have done some on call Job Coaching with special ed kids and we frequently work in school cafeterias washing dishes. The food is so high carb and processed. For instance, one day they had breakfast pizza for breakfast and regular pizza for lunch. Most of the kids throw away any fruit or veggie that is given to them. some of the veggies are swimming in salty water so I don't blame them. Things with fake syrup are often on the breakfast menu, like french toast sticks. Lots of sugar and carbs, low on nutrition.

You will lose control soon enough of what she eats. Take advantage while you can. We would never be retired by our early and mid fifties unless we did things like take lunches. It is not cheap, it is looking out for the health of your family and being frugal. Cheap is if you sent her to school every day with a sandwich of the cheapest white bread and bologna you could find when you could afford a more healthy option.

I don't think she will feel left out, and part of learning and growing is to have family values. If your family values their health and well being you will try to have her eat healthily as long as possible. If you do a good job raising your kids there will be many times when they are not doing exactly what many of the other kids are. Bedtimes, controlling TV and videogames, controlling sugar and processed foods are just a few of the things you need to be prepared to stick to your values. It is for the kids own good, believe me.

If you do want to let her buy on certain days (Taco day is very popular in our school) then you can probably find the menu on line. In our schools you can specify what your child can and cannot have. For instance, they sell ice cream and other snacks. Many parents let their kids get ice cream once a week as a treat. Reasonable and fun for the kids.

by the way, most kids choose Chocolate milk that go through the line which is higher in calories and has more sugar than plain low fat white milk.
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:59 PM   #5
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Our kids make their own lunches. It often consists of leftovers. My son also loves to take sushi in his lunch. Octopus works well because of the gross-out factor.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:02 PM   #6
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Do what ever helps the kids the most and causes them less stress in their day.
Or, at the very least take that into consideration also.
A couple dollars a week is not going to matter much in the long run.
Just my thoughts at a quick glance,
Steve
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:02 PM   #7
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My kids ask for homemade lunch, not only because we can choose what to put in it, but they say it saves on time. They don't want to stand in line to pay, then wait for food, hurry and eat then off to next class.
Now if I just weren't too lazy to make it
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:06 PM   #8
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My son gets to buy his lunch on Mondays and every other Friday. The food we send him is better tasting and better for him, but the main purpose of not letting him buy his lunch everyday is to teach him that eating out is a treat, not something he should get used to doing all the time.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:18 PM   #9
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DD would say if she wanted something for a meal or snack. I'm not sure if she would say anything if she felt left out. She might say "it's not fair", then I just have to give her one of my looks.

True on DW not making her meal at least for the start.


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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
You say that your DD doesn't care. Would she tell you if she felt different or left out? If so, then you have no problems. Besides, who knows? She might feel different if her mother didn't make her a lunch to bring to school.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:21 PM   #10
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It's a school state funded program, it's the best they can offer from the food pyramid

Choices - we r going thru a grown phase, last month it would of been veggies and fruit. Last week on vacation, fries and plain white rice. Go figure.

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It isn't just a $ decision. What kind of food do they offer in the school program and if given choices will your daughter pick the veggies or the fries?

DD
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:23 PM   #11
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Go point on type of foods and quality. I thought I lost control at age 25 probably not huh?

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Originally Posted by 52andout View Post
Make her lunch every day as long as she will let you.

I have done some on call Job Coaching with special ed kids and we frequently work in school cafeterias washing dishes. The food is so high carb and processed. For instance, one day they had breakfast pizza for breakfast and regular pizza for lunch. Most of the kids throw away any fruit or veggie that is given to them. some of the veggies are swimming in salty water so I don't blame them. Things with fake syrup are often on the breakfast menu, like french toast sticks. Lots of sugar and carbs, low on nutrition.

You will lose control soon enough of what she eats. Take advantage while you can. We would never be retired by our early and mid fifties unless we did things like take lunches. It is not cheap, it is looking out for the health of your family and being frugal. Cheap is if you sent her to school every day with a sandwich of the cheapest white bread and bologna you could find when you could afford a more healthy option.

I don't think she will feel left out, and part of learning and growing is to have family values. If your family values their health and well being you will try to have her eat healthily as long as possible. If you do a good job raising your kids there will be many times when they are not doing exactly what many of the other kids are. Bedtimes, controlling TV and videogames, controlling sugar and processed foods are just a few of the things you need to be prepared to stick to your values. It is for the kids own good, believe me.

If you do want to let her buy on certain days (Taco day is very popular in our school) then you can probably find the menu on line. In our schools you can specify what your child can and cannot have. For instance, they sell ice cream and other snacks. Many parents let their kids get ice cream once a week as a treat. Reasonable and fun for the kids.

by the way, most kids choose Chocolate milk that go through the line which is higher in calories and has more sugar than plain low fat white milk.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:25 PM   #12
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Sushi for lunch... can I have a lunch to go too

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Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
Our kids make their own lunches. It often consists of leftovers. My son also loves to take sushi in his lunch. Octopus works well because of the gross-out factor.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:32 PM   #13
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Thanks for the comments, I guess it's not being just cheap.

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Do what ever helps the kids the most and causes them less stress in their day. Steve
It'll probably be a balance, maybe one or two days as a treat.

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... it saves on time. They don't want to stand in line to pay, then wait for food, hurry and eat then off to next class.
wow, time management in elementary school. I never had that problem, I was always late

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My son gets to buy his lunch on Mondays and every other Friday. ...that eating out is a treat, not something he should get used to doing all the time.
Good point.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:37 PM   #14
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One thing I would like to say, the school lunch would be a fairly new diet for her as she's use to eating chinese stir fry meat/veggie, rice, noodle and salads.

Going out to eat is a treat for us (once/twice a week) except for this weekend. DD actually already mentioned she wanted to eat at home.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:55 PM   #15
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Thanks for the comments, I guess it's not being just cheap.



wow, time management in elementary school. I never had that problem, I was always late

I think it was "I get more time for recess" time management scenario.
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:23 PM   #16
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Make her such a good lunch that she will not want to eat school food. Good way to teach a healthy diet.
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:26 PM   #17
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My kids brought their lunches when most bought at the school cafeteria. The International School in Caracas - not the same situation, lots of affluent kids, but not totally different - social pressure has always been tough for kids (and adults).

DW always prepared their lunches, the kids always had "friends" because their lunches were so tasty (and negotiable). They still talk about them now when they get together. If your kids can take a lunch that they enjoy, it makes sense and is probably a better option vs school lunch.
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:29 PM   #18
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My daughter wanted to bring her lunch. The poor kids ate school lunches (free lunch program), and so doing that had negative prestige among her peers. Besides, she didn't like the school food very much. So, I packed her lunch for her every day until she was old enough to do it herself.
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:59 PM   #19
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Recently introduced to public school meal cost... $1.40 a day for breakfast, 2.10 a day for lunch is what DW told me.
Packing a home lunch and getting the good cafeteria seats because you don't have to stand in line waiting to be served... priceless.

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DD doesn't care either way.
DW thinks it would cost $1 a day if she packed a lunch (1/2 sandwich, veggies, fruit slices, milk/juice), but will DD feel "different" or leftout in school?
What you have here is a teachable moment. Maybe your DD needs a reason to care.

For the first few years of elementary school, our kid used to get up early and hustle out the door to school. After a couple weeks of this extraordinarily odd behavior we realized it was because she could watch cafeteria TV cartoons with her friends over breakfast... something that only caused dawdling in our house and eventually was not allowed.

By the time DARE kicked in, she was on a home-lunch kick of her own. She really appreciated being able to get a good seat (without waiting in line, and all the ensuing cut-in-line drama), snarf down the food quickly, and get out to the playground.

By middle school we were checking the upcoming week's menu and giving her the money for those lunches that she wanted to eat. If she brought a healthy lunch from home on the other days then we'd split the savings with her. If she was lazy & disorganized (she had to pack her own lunches!) then she was buying lunch out of her own allowance/jobs money. It didn't take very long to align her financial/nutritional incentives with ours.

By high school we were counting the number of lunch days in a semester and giving her that entire sum every August/January. She had enough money to buy herself a school lunch every day, but she had to ration herself with a budget* and make sure she controlled her spending. She could dip into her pocket to "upgrade" to a Burger King lunch, or she could pack a home lunch and keep the profits. She had one December in 9th grade where she was simultaneously poor and mightily tired of home lunch because she ran out of money before she ran out of school days. There was no parental sympathy for her plight, so after that she figured it out.

* Our best-ever budget-training idea was the clothing/toiletries allowance. Starting around age 13 she got six months' worth of clothing & toiletries money twice a year. Her choices were to look really good or smell really good. It took her just five months to figure it out for herself.
We only raised a girl, so I'm skeptical that this system would work for a boy.
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:57 AM   #20
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From what I remember as a kid, the school lunch meals are all junk food.

Ketchup on fries as the vegetable, tacos made from low grade meat as the main meal, canned peaches as the fruit and to drink - chocolate milk.

As an adult, it all still sounds delicious, but it would also put me to sleep. The food is terrible nutritionally. Refined carbs, sugar, no fiber, little protein, unhealthy fats, etc.
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