Today’s school dinners are once again hitting the news. I was shocked a couple of weeks ago to read a story about a pupil who had taken photos of her school dinners as they were so bad.
They were really bad! So called meals consisting of a beefburger in a roll, with a couple of potato croquettes, a lump of cucumber and an ice lolly. All served on a vile white “food tray” with indents for sections.
Totally unappetising, hardly nutritious, hardly showing a good example and hardly the type of food that will encourage children to eat school meals.
My Mum worked as a school cook for twenty years or so. In that time she learnt about healthy foods, how to prepare and serve even. She went on courses and acquired certificates for such things. She made what I consider “proper food”. Balanced meals.
So what happened and what can be done?
Jamie Oliver tried and had some success, but it would seem that in our world of convenience and darest I say it, laziness, we’ve slipped again and these vile meals are being served up to our children.
My own children used to have school meals, until things changed for the worse there. They are by no means as bad as the story in the newspaper, but they aren’t great and my children weren’t enjoying them.
So I felt the best way to deal with it was to give them packed lunches. With the cost of school meals being particularly high, I find there is very little difference money wise. Giving them packed lunches also means I can have a say in the type of foods they eat.
Neets Middle school makes a point of advising on healthy food for packed lunches and doesn’t allow sweets, chocolate and such things. Which I agree with.
For Neets lunch she has a sandwich, usually on wholemeal bread, and consisting of cold sliced meat or cheese, with lots of green leaves, like rocket and spinach. She then has a small block of cheese, a yogurt drink and something sweet. I also give her a piece of fruit or a raw carrot or lump of cucumber, which she usually eats at break time.
For drinks, she has either water or a low sugar fruit drink.
Then I was offered an alternative drink. Starburst and Milkyway milk drink. I was a little dubious, simply because they have the names of sweets on them and I was worried they wouldn’t be suitable. Afterall you hear of huge amounts of sugars in milkshakes from popular fast food places.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that these were actually rather good and state on the bottle that they are in fact “school friendly”.
Neets likes to drink milk and I think it’s a good nutritional drink to have in moderation. Good for calcium. Strawberry milk is also her favourite, so I let Neets try these drinks out with her packed lunch.
(I actually took out her yogurt on these days, as I felt she didn’t need both).
Neets thought they were great, and really loved them. Her friends all asked where she got them from and wanted to try them themselves.
So, they were a great hit. successful.
The best way to drink them is well chilled.
They come in a handy 350ml bottle, so it’s a good size for a packed lunch.
Fuss Free Living Ratings
Taste 10/10 Really tasty according to Neets. A tasty strawberry flavour without being sickly.
Value 5/10 Priced at approximately £1.29 per bottle, these would work out expensive for regular use. However, I’d happily buy them now and then and for special packed lunches (birthdays and school trips).
Convenience 9/10 A good drink for packed lunches, particularly if you want your child to have more milk. The bottle is resealable, which is ideal for children. The only qualm I have is that I wouldn’t want to give my child this every day and let them have an association with sweets.