Not Buying It – School Meals

I would like to buy school meals. Really I would. And for almost the duration of an academic year I did, for my Daughter.

The idea that I am supporting the local school and my child is receiving a hot, nutritious balanced meal sounds perfect to me.

However there’s always been a niggling doubt that if I sat down and costed it all out, that the maths wouldn’t add up. And in reality, the meal wasn’t as nutritious as I would have liked. That isn’t to say one wasn’t offered, all the main component parts were available. What my Daughter chose to put on her tray was another matter.

The ‘ole brain started a whirring. I love a price comparison, so I decided to calculate how much a packed lunch costs, the way we do it at Chez Wright.

So, I’m back to prepping a packed lunch each day, and I thought I’d share how I do it. And the costings behind it. Upon starting this post, I haven’t yet done the comparison – so the results will be as much a revelation to myself as much as anyone else.

(n.b the majority of costs are based on Aldi UK April 2012 product/prices and are approximate, I have ’rounded up’ where unsure)

School meals is a topical subject, at the moment, here in the UK.

There’s been talk this past week about the possible removal of free school meals for families on a low-income. Over on Mumsnet there’s a thread on the subject for those wanting to know more.

It’s being reported that for some families, the removal of free school meals could cost, a family with 3 children, in excess of £30 extra a week. Based on what I had been paying this would be £31.50 a week.

Packed Lunch 1 = 62p

3 x Slices of Simple Healthy Home-Made Pizza left over from Saturday dinner = £0.25

50 grams of red grapes = £0.20

1/10 th of a whole cucumber = £0.05

Large handful of popcorn = £0.05

Earlier that day, the Kid’s had made fairy cakes – 1 x home-made cake = £0.07

Packed Lunch 2 = 56p

Scooby Snack Ham Sandwich (double layer) = £0.35

1 carrot chopped into sticks = £0.05

1/2 bag of crisps = £0.05

Small handful of sultanas (approx. 30 grams) = £0.07

1 chocolate digestive biscuit = £0.04

Based on the above 2 packed lunches, the average cost is 59p per day. (Interestingly these lunches are very similar in cost, which was unplanned).

I believe an academic year in the UK is 38 weeks. Therefore school meals (at £10.50 per week) would cost £399 per annum per child, opposed to £112 for packed lunches based around what I prepare (this is an approx. figure as you would need to take into account additional days off and bank holidays etc…). A child can be at primary school for up to 7 years, this is a total saving of over £2,000.

There is, of course, an initial outlay for containers and a lunch bag/bottle. As always, I like a bit of recycling, so the main container is from a recent McDonald’s Happy Meal promotion (which many a friend has commented was the best freebie in their meals ever!). The smaller containers are actually…

…recycled ice-cream tubs from a previous impulse purchase! Perfect size for a primary school child’s lunch!

The lunch bag and bottle was a birthday gift. The bottle is metal and contains tap water. So minimal cost there.

But it’s not all about the money, one of the major benefits for me is:

I know what was for lunch, and I know what was eaten.

This post doesn’t mean I won’t ever buy school meals again. I may well do. There are themed lunches for special occasions, and I may find that when Second-Born stays for all day he won’t eat a packed lunch. Never say never. But now I have an exact figure, a cost in mind that I can compare, it will be difficult to justify paying for a school meal.

What this comparison also made me consider is that for a family currently receiving free meals, should this be removed as a benefit, it could cost a family with 2 children almost an extra £6 a week even by cutting costs and going for a home-made packed option (based on the lunches I’ve suggested). This could easily be a 10% increase on a grocery spend per week. Things are already tough for UK families, this could make them a lot tougher.

(High food prices and a tough economic climate are not unknown to the UK – BBC2 are running a great series at the moment about the 70’s – it seems that times were tough then also – I don’t remember as I was a young child. It was really interesting to see how the UK was ‘making do and mending’ and also participating in some frugal cooking. I adored the lady advising on reducing grocery spend)

What’s your view on school meals versus a packed lunch, I’d love to hear your thoughts… Please share…

Don’t forget I now post most days on Facebook also – so if Facebook’s your thing, why not pop across and join the conversation?

{ 64 comments… add one }
  • Lauren April 25, 2012, 9:18 pm

    Interesting comparison Jo! I like the little containers too. I picked up a set of “baby food” ones from Poundland which are perfect for single portions of snack things.

    I can’t comment on school lunches as it’s a child-free home over here, but I do make packed lunches for work. I need to sit down and work out a proper costing, but we were spending anywhere from £8-15 a day (yes, daily!) on bought lunches for two when I didn’t have time to make them – my husband works in the same building as I do, so lunch is a joint purchase. Our shopping budget is £50/week for everything, so I know we’re definitely saving a LOT. I’d very roughly estimate it’s costing around £5 a week to make them.

    Flatmate takes leftovers every day as I divide all meals into four portions instead of three, so his lunch is effectively free. 🙂

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:14 pm

      Without a doubt you are making a huge saving… even when buying I was buying school meals, I just knew financially it wasn’t the best course of action. Although I did buy for other reasons, ultimately it wasn’t enough to keep buying.
      Glad to hear flatmates eating up leftovers!!

  • Lauren April 25, 2012, 9:18 pm

    Interesting comparison Jo! I like the little containers too. I picked up a set of “baby food” ones from Poundland which are perfect for single portions of snack things.

    I can’t comment on school lunches as it’s a child-free home over here, but I do make packed lunches for work. I need to sit down and work out a proper costing, but we were spending anywhere from £8-15 a day (yes, daily!) on bought lunches for two when I didn’t have time to make them – my husband works in the same building as I do, so lunch is a joint purchase. Our shopping budget is £50/week for everything, so I know we’re definitely saving a LOT. I’d very roughly estimate it’s costing around £5 a week to make them.

    Flatmate takes leftovers every day as I divide all meals into four portions instead of three, so his lunch is effectively free. 🙂

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:14 pm

      Without a doubt you are making a huge saving… even when buying I was buying school meals, I just knew financially it wasn’t the best course of action. Although I did buy for other reasons, ultimately it wasn’t enough to keep buying.
      Glad to hear flatmates eating up leftovers!!

  • Megyn @MinimalistMommi April 26, 2012, 12:26 am

    We are packed lunches all the way! Our schools have HORRENDOUS food, so I can’t envision ever letting the boys buy it. I hope by the time they are in later elementary-middle school, food will get better, but I don’t have high hopes 🙁

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:18 pm

      UK school meals are okay, not perfect but okay. My Daughters selection was questionable however. The one meal consisted of a Tuna baguette with gravy and cucumber… I saw jamie Olivers TV show on US school lunches but wasn’t sure how accurate a representation that was?

  • Megyn @MinimalistMommi April 26, 2012, 12:26 am

    We are packed lunches all the way! Our schools have HORRENDOUS food, so I can’t envision ever letting the boys buy it. I hope by the time they are in later elementary-middle school, food will get better, but I don’t have high hopes 🙁

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:18 pm

      UK school meals are okay, not perfect but okay. My Daughters selection was questionable however. The one meal consisted of a Tuna baguette with gravy and cucumber… I saw jamie Olivers TV show on US school lunches but wasn’t sure how accurate a representation that was?

  • Robert Wall April 26, 2012, 10:41 am

    Okay, this is where I reveal my non-understanding of UK English. 🙂 What are those round yellowish things in packed lunch #2? Based on the summary I’m guessing those are the “crisps”, which I always thought were what people in the US call “potato chips” (as opposed to “chips” in the UK, which I believe people in the US refer to as “french fries”).

    I’ve never seen a cylindrical potato chip though….?

    I just looked up “digestive biscuit”, and it looks like it’s roughly equivalent to a “graham cracker”. So I’ve got that sorted at least.

    Care to clarify for somebody from the wrong side of the pond? 🙂

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:21 pm

      Jess below is spot on they are indeed ‘Hula Hoops’! Well Aldi’s version anyway… They are classed as crisps over in the UK. Crisps are what you’d called chips – we already have chips rather than fries, so that name was taken (unless visiting the golden arches).
      Hula Hoops are as old as The Ark (well maybe not that old – but I don’t remember them ever not being around) .
      Digestives are a crumbly biscuit (normally made with wholewheat) – very British! And get dunked in cups of tea! Also very British!
      How’s that for an explanation?

  • Robert Wall April 26, 2012, 10:41 am

    Okay, this is where I reveal my non-understanding of UK English. 🙂 What are those round yellowish things in packed lunch #2? Based on the summary I’m guessing those are the “crisps”, which I always thought were what people in the US call “potato chips” (as opposed to “chips” in the UK, which I believe people in the US refer to as “french fries”).

    I’ve never seen a cylindrical potato chip though….?

    I just looked up “digestive biscuit”, and it looks like it’s roughly equivalent to a “graham cracker”. So I’ve got that sorted at least.

    Care to clarify for somebody from the wrong side of the pond? 🙂

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:21 pm

      Jess below is spot on they are indeed ‘Hula Hoops’! Well Aldi’s version anyway… They are classed as crisps over in the UK. Crisps are what you’d called chips – we already have chips rather than fries, so that name was taken (unless visiting the golden arches).
      Hula Hoops are as old as The Ark (well maybe not that old – but I don’t remember them ever not being around) .
      Digestives are a crumbly biscuit (normally made with wholewheat) – very British! And get dunked in cups of tea! Also very British!
      How’s that for an explanation?

  • Jess April 26, 2012, 6:25 pm

    hula hoops! I miss hula hoops, the equivalent just isn’t the same here in Canada. I recently took a job at our school as lunch room supervisor and I would say that 90% of the children bring all snack pack foods such as “lunchables”, individually wrapped cake/biscuits, long tubes of “yoghurt” stuff and crisps, juice boxes and chocolate milk. And then I hear the parents complaining about the cost …..

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:25 pm

      Yay! for Hula Hoops! 🙂
      The convenience foods that make their way into a lunch box/bag, could turn out to be a very costly way of doing it, without a doubt. I’m hoping to get the lunch as package free as possible, and also using it as an opportunity to get the Kids involved making some stuff like cakes and biscuits. They can then be proud of their creations!

  • Jess April 26, 2012, 6:25 pm

    hula hoops! I miss hula hoops, the equivalent just isn’t the same here in Canada. I recently took a job at our school as lunch room supervisor and I would say that 90% of the children bring all snack pack foods such as “lunchables”, individually wrapped cake/biscuits, long tubes of “yoghurt” stuff and crisps, juice boxes and chocolate milk. And then I hear the parents complaining about the cost …..

    • simplybeingmum April 26, 2012, 7:25 pm

      Yay! for Hula Hoops! 🙂
      The convenience foods that make their way into a lunch box/bag, could turn out to be a very costly way of doing it, without a doubt. I’m hoping to get the lunch as package free as possible, and also using it as an opportunity to get the Kids involved making some stuff like cakes and biscuits. They can then be proud of their creations!

  • Jo H. April 26, 2012, 8:10 pm

    What an attractive lunch – lucky kids!

  • Jo H. April 26, 2012, 8:10 pm

    What an attractive lunch – lucky kids!

  • Libby April 27, 2012, 1:10 pm

    I’ve been packing my son’s lunch (and mine) for years and I know it has saved a ton of money. There are days, however, when I dread packing the lunches and wish longingly for a break in the routine……but I think that’s normal for anything that I do on a regular basis ; )

    My son is in high school and one other benefit of bringing a lunch is that he has the full 20 minute lunch period to eat his lunch – no waiting in line to purchase and then wolfing it down.

    There is one thing I include in my son’s lunch that is totally driving up the price – individual servings of organic milk. If I buy them on sale, they cost $0.80 a piece and two go into each lunch. I’m voting with my wallet for a healthier kid and healthier planet.

    And finally, I am old enough to remember the 1970’s in the USA. There was gas rationing in Connecticut. You could only buy gas every other day – if your license plate ended in an odd number, then you could purchase on odd days. I remember going on Saturday mornings and waiting for an hour in line with my father so he could fill the tank. I also remember my mother complaining about food prices doubling – especially meat. We ate a lot of casseroles so that the protein was stretched!

    • simplybeingmum April 28, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Thanks Libby what a great comment. I can see how the milk is driving the cost up for you, I totally advocate spending on what you believe to be important. In the UK the Kids at primary get free school milk – although I doubt it’s organic!
      I too was a child in the 70’s, I know things were tight. My siblings are older than me and spent their youngest years in the more affluent 60’s, and had a different experience to I. I think it was 1971 decimalisation came into the UK and changed are monetary system – all in all big changes appear to have taken place during that decade!

      • Libby April 29, 2012, 7:26 pm

        Free milk in primary school – what a good thing for taxes to be paying for!

        Two oil crises in the 1970’s plus rapid inflation……and interest rates at 19% by the end of the decade – yikes!

        Just heard on this morning’s news that the UK is officially in a double dip recession. My condolences……..although I know you live frugally so I hope it won’t have much of an impact.

        • simplybeingmum May 1, 2012, 4:28 pm

          Hey Libby had to pop back to this – Carmen below made me click I’d relayed incorrect info. My youngest gets free milk but my eldest (7-year-old) doesn’t. It’s available at school at 20p a day for her. Because she doesn’t drink it, it totally slipped my mind that the older ones have to pay!
          As for the UK news, they are telling us we are back in recession – I didn’t know we’d come out of it so was news to me! Apparently we are also on the brink of a drought – but it hasn’t stopped raining for a month now (seriously!) 🙂

  • Libby April 27, 2012, 1:10 pm

    I’ve been packing my son’s lunch (and mine) for years and I know it has saved a ton of money. There are days, however, when I dread packing the lunches and wish longingly for a break in the routine……but I think that’s normal for anything that I do on a regular basis ; )

    My son is in high school and one other benefit of bringing a lunch is that he has the full 20 minute lunch period to eat his lunch – no waiting in line to purchase and then wolfing it down.

    There is one thing I include in my son’s lunch that is totally driving up the price – individual servings of organic milk. If I buy them on sale, they cost $0.80 a piece and two go into each lunch. I’m voting with my wallet for a healthier kid and healthier planet.

    And finally, I am old enough to remember the 1970’s in the USA. There was gas rationing in Connecticut. You could only buy gas every other day – if your license plate ended in an odd number, then you could purchase on odd days. I remember going on Saturday mornings and waiting for an hour in line with my father so he could fill the tank. I also remember my mother complaining about food prices doubling – especially meat. We ate a lot of casseroles so that the protein was stretched!

    • simplybeingmum April 28, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Thanks Libby what a great comment. I can see how the milk is driving the cost up for you, I totally advocate spending on what you believe to be important. In the UK the Kids at primary get free school milk – although I doubt it’s organic!
      I too was a child in the 70’s, I know things were tight. My siblings are older than me and spent their youngest years in the more affluent 60’s, and had a different experience to I. I think it was 1971 decimalisation came into the UK and changed are monetary system – all in all big changes appear to have taken place during that decade!

      • Libby April 29, 2012, 7:26 pm

        Free milk in primary school – what a good thing for taxes to be paying for!

        Two oil crises in the 1970’s plus rapid inflation……and interest rates at 19% by the end of the decade – yikes!

        Just heard on this morning’s news that the UK is officially in a double dip recession. My condolences……..although I know you live frugally so I hope it won’t have much of an impact.

        • simplybeingmum May 1, 2012, 4:28 pm

          Hey Libby had to pop back to this – Carmen below made me click I’d relayed incorrect info. My youngest gets free milk but my eldest (7-year-old) doesn’t. It’s available at school at 20p a day for her. Because she doesn’t drink it, it totally slipped my mind that the older ones have to pay!
          As for the UK news, they are telling us we are back in recession – I didn’t know we’d come out of it so was news to me! Apparently we are also on the brink of a drought – but it hasn’t stopped raining for a month now (seriously!) 🙂

  • Carmen May 1, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Jo – is milk in school common where you live? Mine have never had it (Surrey); I assumed it was long gone.

    We’re a school/packed lunch mixture in this house. I have always allowed the kids to choose and they switch with the seasons. A packed lunch can be cheaper and is usually more filling, but I don’t think we personally see a huge cost saving (except with hubbie’s lunch, he works in London!) I’m intrigued by your very low prices, especially the ham sandwiches and grapes. Is bread & ham really that cheap in Aldi? What’s the quality like?

    We often include smoothies, milkshake, cheese or yoghurt in with lunch, plus salad items in sandwiches, which bumps the cost considerably. Good yoghurt, preferably organic, is ridiculously expensive (but tastes much better than the awful stuff I’ve made in the past!) I think our packed lunches come in at around £1.50 each (£4.50), but otherwise it would be £10/day between the 3 of them. I also send everyone with snacks. For hubbie & eldest, the train commuters, this is 2+ snacks a day. Flapjacks, fruit & nuts work well here.

    As an aside, If you know anywhere that sells individual sized cartons of milk, please let me know. I don’t often buy single size servings of drinks (or food), for environmental reasons more than cost, but it’s handy to have some on hand and milk would be ideal for sports camps etc.

    • simplybeingmum May 1, 2012, 4:24 pm

      Hi Carmen
      Firstly milk in schools – I’m so glad you’ve commented as it made me click I’ve relayed this incorrectly in the comment to Libby. My youngest get’s free school milk, but my eldest doesn’t. We have to pay 20p a day for hers, but as she doesn’t drink it we don’t pay – and it had totally gone out my mind that if the older children want it there’s a charge! But regardless it is available. It is also the UHT version (hence why my Daughter won’t drink it, she doesn’t like the taste).
      In terms of what I pack, it’s very basic. There’s no dairy product (so cheaper), my Kids don’t like yoghurt – in fact they despise it! No idea why! We aren’t allowed to send snacks, the Kids can have toast at a 20p charge – which eldest does and youngest doesnt (he doesn’t like butter – my Kids have some strange likes and dislikes!) .
      You mention you don’t have a huge cost saving, but it is a saving even with the additional snacks…
      Coming onto pricing… the Aldi bread is okay, I prefer to use my home-made which is cheaper, but I’ve based on shop-bought for ease. A wholemeal loaf is 69p and has about 20 slices (I believe) so for a 3 slice sandwich it comes in at 10p and the ham is 99p for 4 slices (and I use 1 slice) so 25p plus the 10p = 35p. Now I don’t eat cooked processed ham myself and limit what the kids have also. But Leah likes it, so I alternate between ham and cheese in lunches. I prefer to slow-cook a piece of ham and use that (which I am today). The grapes are £1.99 for 500g, and I approximate that she takes 50g in a lunch – so 10% or 20p worth. Like I say the lunches are basic! For example she would never finish a whole bag of crisps so takes just half, and at Aldi prices this is 5p for half a bag. A carrot, again, very basic and also very cheap.
      I’m sure as they grow my costs will increase!!!! The Hubby tends to take my home-made slow-cooked soup which tends to work out at 30p-50p a portion plus a bread roll or two – which I believe come out at about 10p each.
      Hmmm milk cartons – not sure, but I love a challenge so I’ll investigate and pop back here if I track any down.
      Hope that helps!

      • simplybeingmum May 1, 2012, 4:49 pm

        Back again – milk in cartons doesn’t seem hugely popular in the UK. No idea why – maybe it’s the shelf life so supermarkets steer clear? Anyhow tracked this producer down who does it, they may be able to advise where they distribute.
        http://www.tomlinsondairies.co.uk/our-products.aspx

        Also McDonalds do it…but unsure who the producer is – may be worth an e-mail, you never know there may be someone who’s happy to help!
        Good luck and if you track any down – please let me know?

  • Carmen May 1, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Jo – is milk in school common where you live? Mine have never had it (Surrey); I assumed it was long gone.

    We’re a school/packed lunch mixture in this house. I have always allowed the kids to choose and they switch with the seasons. A packed lunch can be cheaper and is usually more filling, but I don’t think we personally see a huge cost saving (except with hubbie’s lunch, he works in London!) I’m intrigued by your very low prices, especially the ham sandwiches and grapes. Is bread & ham really that cheap in Aldi? What’s the quality like?

    We often include smoothies, milkshake, cheese or yoghurt in with lunch, plus salad items in sandwiches, which bumps the cost considerably. Good yoghurt, preferably organic, is ridiculously expensive (but tastes much better than the awful stuff I’ve made in the past!) I think our packed lunches come in at around £1.50 each (£4.50), but otherwise it would be £10/day between the 3 of them. I also send everyone with snacks. For hubbie & eldest, the train commuters, this is 2+ snacks a day. Flapjacks, fruit & nuts work well here.

    As an aside, If you know anywhere that sells individual sized cartons of milk, please let me know. I don’t often buy single size servings of drinks (or food), for environmental reasons more than cost, but it’s handy to have some on hand and milk would be ideal for sports camps etc.

    • simplybeingmum May 1, 2012, 4:24 pm

      Hi Carmen
      Firstly milk in schools – I’m so glad you’ve commented as it made me click I’ve relayed this incorrectly in the comment to Libby. My youngest get’s free school milk, but my eldest doesn’t. We have to pay 20p a day for hers, but as she doesn’t drink it we don’t pay – and it had totally gone out my mind that if the older children want it there’s a charge! But regardless it is available. It is also the UHT version (hence why my Daughter won’t drink it, she doesn’t like the taste).
      In terms of what I pack, it’s very basic. There’s no dairy product (so cheaper), my Kids don’t like yoghurt – in fact they despise it! No idea why! We aren’t allowed to send snacks, the Kids can have toast at a 20p charge – which eldest does and youngest doesnt (he doesn’t like butter – my Kids have some strange likes and dislikes!) .
      You mention you don’t have a huge cost saving, but it is a saving even with the additional snacks…
      Coming onto pricing… the Aldi bread is okay, I prefer to use my home-made which is cheaper, but I’ve based on shop-bought for ease. A wholemeal loaf is 69p and has about 20 slices (I believe) so for a 3 slice sandwich it comes in at 10p and the ham is 99p for 4 slices (and I use 1 slice) so 25p plus the 10p = 35p. Now I don’t eat cooked processed ham myself and limit what the kids have also. But Leah likes it, so I alternate between ham and cheese in lunches. I prefer to slow-cook a piece of ham and use that (which I am today). The grapes are £1.99 for 500g, and I approximate that she takes 50g in a lunch – so 10% or 20p worth. Like I say the lunches are basic! For example she would never finish a whole bag of crisps so takes just half, and at Aldi prices this is 5p for half a bag. A carrot, again, very basic and also very cheap.
      I’m sure as they grow my costs will increase!!!! The Hubby tends to take my home-made slow-cooked soup which tends to work out at 30p-50p a portion plus a bread roll or two – which I believe come out at about 10p each.
      Hmmm milk cartons – not sure, but I love a challenge so I’ll investigate and pop back here if I track any down.
      Hope that helps!

      • simplybeingmum May 1, 2012, 4:49 pm

        Back again – milk in cartons doesn’t seem hugely popular in the UK. No idea why – maybe it’s the shelf life so supermarkets steer clear? Anyhow tracked this producer down who does it, they may be able to advise where they distribute.
        http://www.tomlinsondairies.co.uk/our-products.aspx

        Also McDonalds do it…but unsure who the producer is – may be worth an e-mail, you never know there may be someone who’s happy to help!
        Good luck and if you track any down – please let me know?

  • Carmen May 2, 2012, 9:48 am

    Jo – thanks for your comment. Really helpful, I appreciate it.

    We definitely save money overall, which is why I spend so much time putting food together (& looking at your cost breakdown, I need to check if my kids’ lunches aren’t cheaper than I think.) Today I have prepared a packed breakfast, 2 packed lunches, 3 morning snacks and 3 afternoon/evening snacks for the travellers/after school sports club folk. I’ve been saying for a while now that I’ll be in the market for a ‘cook’ as soon as I win the lottery 😉

    Snacks are the big saver for us. A piece of fruit and carb item will cost 20-50p. If my daughter or hubbie bought a similar snack on the way home, it would be £1.50-2, which they could/would both do, every day.

    I like the toast at school idea! (I have a a child that avoids bread so I understand about weird – and very inconvenient – dietary dislikes!)

    Thanks Jo – off to tackle a garage clear out now, when really I want to research milk …

    • simplybeingmum May 2, 2012, 10:51 am

      Oh my that is a lot of packing. It must be really tempting to just go with purchased snacks, so hats off to you for sticking with it! Good luck with the garage! I’m up to a similar thing today – starting another declutter…
      Ref the milk – I have just been into Asda. I don’t shop there but had parked on their car-park to save paying on a council one. I grabbed some milk and eggs. They do small (250ml) size plastic bottles at 38p each but… 1)there’s no straw attached, which I find really odd and 2)they are branded Disney Cars and Princess…

      • simplybeingmum May 2, 2012, 10:51 am

        ps – they are fresh semi-skimmed not UHT

        • Carmen May 2, 2012, 2:06 pm

          Thank you!
          I’ll check it out, starting online, since we don’t have an Asda nearby.
          It’s great that they’re available, although at 12, I don’t think DD is going to be impressed with the kiddie branding! x

  • Carmen May 2, 2012, 9:48 am

    Jo – thanks for your comment. Really helpful, I appreciate it.

    We definitely save money overall, which is why I spend so much time putting food together (& looking at your cost breakdown, I need to check if my kids’ lunches aren’t cheaper than I think.) Today I have prepared a packed breakfast, 2 packed lunches, 3 morning snacks and 3 afternoon/evening snacks for the travellers/after school sports club folk. I’ve been saying for a while now that I’ll be in the market for a ‘cook’ as soon as I win the lottery 😉

    Snacks are the big saver for us. A piece of fruit and carb item will cost 20-50p. If my daughter or hubbie bought a similar snack on the way home, it would be £1.50-2, which they could/would both do, every day.

    I like the toast at school idea! (I have a a child that avoids bread so I understand about weird – and very inconvenient – dietary dislikes!)

    Thanks Jo – off to tackle a garage clear out now, when really I want to research milk …

    • simplybeingmum May 2, 2012, 10:51 am

      Oh my that is a lot of packing. It must be really tempting to just go with purchased snacks, so hats off to you for sticking with it! Good luck with the garage! I’m up to a similar thing today – starting another declutter…
      Ref the milk – I have just been into Asda. I don’t shop there but had parked on their car-park to save paying on a council one. I grabbed some milk and eggs. They do small (250ml) size plastic bottles at 38p each but… 1)there’s no straw attached, which I find really odd and 2)they are branded Disney Cars and Princess…

      • simplybeingmum May 2, 2012, 10:51 am

        ps – they are fresh semi-skimmed not UHT

        • Carmen May 2, 2012, 2:06 pm

          Thank you!
          I’ll check it out, starting online, since we don’t have an Asda nearby.
          It’s great that they’re available, although at 12, I don’t think DD is going to be impressed with the kiddie branding! x

  • Carmen May 2, 2012, 10:04 am

    Typing the above, I feel compelled to talk about snacks because some people must be thinking ‘what on earth!’ Whilst I believe they aren’t strictly necessary (oh how I love the 3 meals a day philosophy), they are for us during our working week.

    Hubbie eats a banana for breakfast at 6am, so is ready for something else at around 10am. He also has a long stretch of about 8 hours between lunch and dinner, hence he takes an afternoon/train snack (=nuts: I buy a variety in bulk and put some in a container.) He is also the same weight and size as when I met him 22 years ago, at 18; annoying!

    Eldest commutes to school by train. She is finished breakfast by 7am and doesn’t get lunch at school till 1.30pm. It’s too long, so she has something at her midday break (typically half an apple and a biscuit.) She isn’t naturally a snacker, but daily sport, early mornings and her long day means she needs them during the school week/term. Likewise, she isn’t home till gone 5 (6.45pm once/week) and claims starvation on the train journey home, where she typically has the other half of her apple and something else ;-).

    Youngest struggles without food every 3 hours max! She is very sporty and eats little and often, usually at our insistence at the weekend (she claims she is never hungry.) Her snack is usually a piece of cheese and a drink mid morning and an after school snack which I usually take to her. If she doesn’t eat something before 4pm, I suffer the devil all afternoon and reach for the chocolate more than I should!

    • simplybeingmum May 2, 2012, 10:55 am

      Being out the house for that duration of time IMO does require snacks. I totally appreciate the Kids getting hungry, my 7-year-old easily eats 4 x weetabix before school, toast at school, then lunch and by 3.30pm is hungry again!!!

  • Carmen May 2, 2012, 10:04 am

    Typing the above, I feel compelled to talk about snacks because some people must be thinking ‘what on earth!’ Whilst I believe they aren’t strictly necessary (oh how I love the 3 meals a day philosophy), they are for us during our working week.

    Hubbie eats a banana for breakfast at 6am, so is ready for something else at around 10am. He also has a long stretch of about 8 hours between lunch and dinner, hence he takes an afternoon/train snack (=nuts: I buy a variety in bulk and put some in a container.) He is also the same weight and size as when I met him 22 years ago, at 18; annoying!

    Eldest commutes to school by train. She is finished breakfast by 7am and doesn’t get lunch at school till 1.30pm. It’s too long, so she has something at her midday break (typically half an apple and a biscuit.) She isn’t naturally a snacker, but daily sport, early mornings and her long day means she needs them during the school week/term. Likewise, she isn’t home till gone 5 (6.45pm once/week) and claims starvation on the train journey home, where she typically has the other half of her apple and something else ;-).

    Youngest struggles without food every 3 hours max! She is very sporty and eats little and often, usually at our insistence at the weekend (she claims she is never hungry.) Her snack is usually a piece of cheese and a drink mid morning and an after school snack which I usually take to her. If she doesn’t eat something before 4pm, I suffer the devil all afternoon and reach for the chocolate more than I should!

    • simplybeingmum May 2, 2012, 10:55 am

      Being out the house for that duration of time IMO does require snacks. I totally appreciate the Kids getting hungry, my 7-year-old easily eats 4 x weetabix before school, toast at school, then lunch and by 3.30pm is hungry again!!!

  • Little Green Village May 11, 2012, 4:07 am

    Great post about School Lunches. I haven’t done the costings myself, but I know that we have made a considerable decrease in our school and work lunches and dinners ( my husband works evening shifts). Sometimes it a freshly made sandwich with homemade bread, fresh salad from our garden and ham or cheese, always a piece or 2 of fruit of vegetables, and a homemade cookie or muffin, or home cooked pumpkin.
    One day someone at work asked my husband what cafe he bought his lovely looking sandwiches from?

    • simplybeingmum May 12, 2012, 8:10 am

      I can see your packed lunches in my mind! Looking good! I’m imagining a rustic look, with thick bread and salad peeking out in a variety of colours. The cookie or muffin with that fantastically totally un-manufactured non-chain-production look. Maybe you could set up a sideline selling to workmates? 🙂

  • Little Green Village May 11, 2012, 4:07 am

    Great post about School Lunches. I haven’t done the costings myself, but I know that we have made a considerable decrease in our school and work lunches and dinners ( my husband works evening shifts). Sometimes it a freshly made sandwich with homemade bread, fresh salad from our garden and ham or cheese, always a piece or 2 of fruit of vegetables, and a homemade cookie or muffin, or home cooked pumpkin.
    One day someone at work asked my husband what cafe he bought his lovely looking sandwiches from?

    • simplybeingmum May 12, 2012, 8:10 am

      I can see your packed lunches in my mind! Looking good! I’m imagining a rustic look, with thick bread and salad peeking out in a variety of colours. The cookie or muffin with that fantastically totally un-manufactured non-chain-production look. Maybe you could set up a sideline selling to workmates? 🙂

  • h.spars@hotmail.co.uk August 9, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Would you pay for a healthy pack lunch service? no more packing your kids lunch boxes all done for you? how much would you pay?

  • h.spars@hotmail.co.uk August 9, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Would you pay for a healthy pack lunch service? no more packing your kids lunch boxes all done for you? how much would you pay?

  • Tina September 1, 2013, 5:32 pm

    School Lunches are a good idea if parent(s) work all day, and don’t want to start the pans a jiggling, but it only works if they are getting a balanced hot meal (and no choices in primary school other than for dietary/religious reasons), this means that when the parent(s) get home they only have to do stuff like sarnis or boiled egg and toast etc. I lived in America when my 2 children were small (1990’s) and the school lunches were terrible, hot dogs, mac n cheese, it was awful, no fresh cooked vegetables (they might get canned green beans), but I do agree the prices are far too expensive, and if your kids are happy to have a packed lunch then it works for everyone, the above ideas are great!!

  • Tina September 1, 2013, 5:32 pm

    School Lunches are a good idea if parent(s) work all day, and don’t want to start the pans a jiggling, but it only works if they are getting a balanced hot meal (and no choices in primary school other than for dietary/religious reasons), this means that when the parent(s) get home they only have to do stuff like sarnis or boiled egg and toast etc. I lived in America when my 2 children were small (1990’s) and the school lunches were terrible, hot dogs, mac n cheese, it was awful, no fresh cooked vegetables (they might get canned green beans), but I do agree the prices are far too expensive, and if your kids are happy to have a packed lunch then it works for everyone, the above ideas are great!!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.