Picnics and Packed Lunches

Well it’s been picnic week in the UK this week. Still no idea who sets the agenda on these but interestingly enough it has coincided with my daughters switching to packed lunches at school.

I’m sad about this.

Sad because the school meals were one if the key reasons we chose their school. Sad that food is no longer sourced and bought locally. Sad that fresh bread is not now made every day. Sad that the salad bar has now deteriorated. Sad fresh fruit has been replaced with tinned. Sad there is no variety of food to inspire young taste buds but rather menus on a three week rotation. Sad that there are no fun food events to inspire and excite little minds.

I guess it’s because my girls are fussy eaters.

Fussy in that they do not tolerate bad food. Fussy because they don’t want pasta bake every day or vegetables that taste of nothing. Mashed potato that’s runny or chips that are floppy with grease. That’s my fault completely and I make no apologies for it.   I have spent time – a lot of time – helping them to understand what they are eating and why and exposed them to the food I like and don’t like to develop their taste, knowledge and debate for food.

So this week after four years of school meals (two of them great), we agreed that the girls could have packed lunches or ‘school picnics’ as we prefer to call them. I guess picnic infers a temporary state because I am sincerely hoping the school will improve again.

Our school lunchtime picnic

We started with a simple Frittata….

Fritatta Tricolore

Cherry Tomato, Spinach and Mozzarella Frittata

Orzo Pasta Salad with Spinach, Peas, Cucumber and Oregano in a simple lemon and olive oil dressing with a few cherry tomatoes on top.

salad, packed lunch, cucumber

Fresh Pasta Salad with Peas, Lentils and cucumber by Amy

And finally a Cherry and Almond Muffin.

Super Quick Cherry and Almond Muffin

I think that’s a pretty good picnic and at least today I won’t worry that they are tired or lacking energy in the afternoon.

What are your memories of school meals? Does the school your children go to have good school lunches? 

26 responses to “Picnics and Packed Lunches

  1. That’s so sad that it’s changed! My sister and I became the same a couple of years ago which my parents will always say that it’s has increased the cost of the food shop:) How old are your kids?


  2. Also what’s the are the recipes for these? They look great!


  3. Growing up in the US in the 70s and early 80s I remember little tiny and crunchy potato croquette-type things called tater tots with fondness, but not the cardboard pizza squares and the drowned salads. My favourite was beef pot-roasted with carrots, celery and potatoes. Funnily enough we didn’t really have puddings as such, mainly fruit (usually tinned but sometimes fresh) and Jello. And unlike today’s US school’s our milk was unsweetened (yes, they sweeten it now. How sad is that). Luckily my daughter’s school has brilliant food so that’s not an issue – very inventive and wholesome but it’s because we pay a lot for it. But, plenty of her friends are fussy eaters and bring in plain ham sandwiches, crisps, that kind of thing. Perhaps you and I are fortunate that our children love healthy food but I do like to think it is a lot to do with the example we have set at home. Nice post. This comment is so long it is almost one in itself!


  4. I think I was lucky, growing up in Singapore, we had school canteens with fresh meals prepared everyday. Since there were many stalls ‘competing’ with one another for us little kids’ pocket money, they made sure the food were good enough to appeal to us. We had a selection of rice with dishes, noodles, but also simpler sandwiches and stuffs. Of course there were snacks and sweets and we very often went for those, but just having options meant we didn’t always have to suffer processed food.

    great that you’re teaching your kids about good, real food. The packed lunch ideas look delicious, your girls are lucky!


  5. The Cosy Creative

    What lucky children you have with a mum making them chef quality lunches like that. Just had a thought, could you team up with the school to re-write the menu? Obv no idea about your schedule but if you were taken on as an advisory chef or something all the kiddies would benefit? Kate:)


  6. Can I sign up for your school picnics please:)


  7. My Daughter is at Nursery and has been having lunch there for about 9 months. Previous to this I used to provide her lunches, homecooked batch baked and frozen (sadly has to be done as a working mum). We changed because Nursery suggested she would find it more encouraging to eat the same food as everyone else. We pay £1.50 a day. Their menu goes:
    Morning snack – Banana, dry shreddies & cup of milk – same thing, every day. (My daughter adores fruit and will eat anything from blueberries to mango. I’m constantly disappointed that they only offer banana due to health and safety.
    Lunch – Varies from homecooked roast and veg all the way through to fishfingers and smiley faces (grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!)
    Afternoon snack – A cake. A shop bought plain cupcake. Every day.
    Evening Tea – Crackerbreads/cheese/ham sandwiches, crisps, cherry toms, cucumber & carrot sticks (generally turned down)

    I am so frustrated. I have considered taking fruit in for her to have instead, offering to bake homemade low sugar flapjacks, giving them recipes to cook in ‘class’ such as easy biscuits.

    I think at the end of the day we are going to have no choice but to go onto packed lunches. It makes things so much more difficult though, getting a hot meal in before bedtime.

    Does anybody have any suggestions on how to approach the Nursery to change?


  8. It’s so sad to hear that the dinners at your school have gone so downhill. I’m going to be making packed lunches in Sep too. Have no idea what i’m going to make yet but dont want to do sandwiches all the time. Your girls are very lucky to have you as a mummy. What you have made them looks amazing.


    • Thank you. Have been alternating between rice, pasta, bulghar wheat, couscous salads, their fave sandwich of ham, cheese and cucumber and a treat think like cake. It’s helping me save on buying food at lunch too!


  9. alison birch

    Having recently moved to France I am thrilled by the difference in the meals offered by my youngest’s primary school compared to the brought in stuff he endured in the uk. He has a freshly cooked, three course meal. Starters like radishes and strawberries, little spinach tartlets, main courses of steak and fries, fish with interesting sauces, finishing with fresh, seasonal fruit and yoghurts or the occasional chocolate mousse. There is an onsite kitchen and lovely staff who help the children. In contrast my older children go to a college and have a large international food company providing the food which they find utterly revolting and are hard pressed to identify most of the time. So it’s not all perfect!


    • Wow! That’s the kind of food we eat at home and would love the girls to get that at school. Sadly they put couscous on the menu had to remove because parents complained their kids didn’t know what they were eating. Sigh. It must be such a hard job planning school meals. I don’t envy them
      But am rather annoyed they don’t take more action and are too pupil led. I went to Uni in Aix en Provence and LOVED the canteen food. A favourite was endives in creamy cheesy sauce. Yummmm


  10. I am so impressed by your girls and am sad to hear about the fact you have had to switch them to packed lunches. I fear that this is the way things are going in any schools. Having said that our little primary school offers delicious food with the bread and fruit options always available. I am confused as to how the policies vary from school to school but would love to promote healthy eating more. I am hoping to do through healthy lunchbox workshops via the Council I work for. We have to try don’t we!


  11. My girls both have school dinners, it is also £2 per child per day. They love them and have learned to compromise when they don’t entirely love a day’s dish. There is a 4 week menu with 2 options daily, and there is fresh fruit every day as well as a home made hot pudding. Of course the younger one also has fruit or veg and milk at morning break.
    It is a nut free school, so your lovely looking muffins wouldn’t be allowed, and pesto pasta is out too. But I have tasted the meals at parents evenings and it is a very high standard. Our school is small and has no kitchen, so meals are made at another school very near by, and there is freshly made organic bread and organic yoghurt every day and all the kids love the salad bar which has variations from time to time.
    I dont enjoy the odd days when they have needed a packed lunch for outings etc, they miss the hot meal and much comes back uneaten unless i.do.something yummy mummy like calzone or weelicious like!
    Real shame your school’s meal standards have slipped, good luck with getting them back on track.


  12. Oh that is so sad to hear! Whilst I do love the occasional tinned peaches, kids need to eat better. My mum made us (sis & I) packed lunches for almost 9 out of the 12 years we were in primary & high school. She kept us away from sodas and junk food, but that’s how I learnt to appreciate vegetables, fruit and the joys of home cooking. We had some good food in school but back in those days there was no rule against using ‘MSG’ in food and that was pretty unhealthy. I hope things will improve, so important for little ones to eat right in these developmental years. Your girls are so lucky to have you x


  13. I have no children. But my Mom was so mad about vegetables that she would put romaine lettuce in our peanut butter sandwiches — when we removed the lettuce, most of the peanut butter came with it and we were left with dry bread. Fortunately, she didn’t send peanut butter and lettuce everyday. The most famous lunch at our school was Robert Routier’s custard sandwiches — we never did find out what was in them, but they were legendarily weird.


  14. Pingback: Inspiration for National Cherry Day | The Botanical Baker

I love reading your comments. Thanks so much for taking time to leave one

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s