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September 11, 2012

To Have School Lunch or Home Lunch?

Kids are back in school. You are faced with a choice. Should your kids have school lunch, or should you send a lunch from home with them.


All last school year, both of my children were in elementary school, and I choose to have them bring a home lunch to school. I did it, because for me it was more cost-effective. Instead of paying $1.60 a day per child, it averaged me a $1.05 per kid to pack them a lunch.
 This year I was faced with a dilemma. My daughter started Junior High, and I wasn’t sure if it was cool to bring a home lunch. I went ahead, and paid for a weeks worth of school lunch. Within 2 days, she decided that she wanted home lunch. She didn’t like the selection of foods. The pizza line was to long, and by the time she got up to the front the pizza was gone. She spent half her lunch time waiting in line. I personally didn’t like the cost of school lunch at $2.15 a day. So in a way I was kind of happy with her decision.
My son has year round school, so when he went back to school the end of July, I went ahead and let him have school lunch. But now, even he has decided to go with home lunch everyday except Wednesday. Not sure what’s so special about Wednesday, but apparently what ever they fix that day he loves. I’m cool with saving a little bit of money..lol
There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to have your child eat school lunch or home lunch.
  1. Cost – Depending on what your child is willing to eat, it may be more cost-effective to send a lunch from home. I figure I save an average of .50 – .75 cents a day per child. That’s over $35 a month on average. So over the course of a whole school year, that can add up. If you qualify for free or reduced lunches, than your better option would be to stick with school lunch.
  2. Time – One factor to consider is whether you have time to prepare a lunch every day. While it only takes maybe 5 or so minutes to throw a lunch together, you may not have the time to bother with it if you’re in a rush to get out the door for work.
  3. Variety – Kids can get bored quickly if they has the same items over and over again. Some maybe not. School lunch may provide a little variety everyday, but with a little research you may be able to find ways to keep home lunch exciting.
  4. What your child wants – You definitely don’t want to pay for school lunch, only to find out your child throws away most of it. Then comes home hungry. Same goes with home lunch. Don’t pack something you’re not sure your kids will eat. Otherwise it may be traded or end up in the trash. You have a pretty good idea of what your kids like to eat, if you’re not sure ask them. They you tell you what they want, and may be able to come up with some ideas for you, if you’re not sure.
  5. Allergies – In this case, you may not have a choice. If your child is allergic to certain foods, then it’s probably better to send a home lunch with them. Then you’ll know for sure it’s safe for them to eat.
A few things to consider when making the decision to pay for school lunch, or to send a lunch from home. If you would like to share some ideas for home lunch, please feel free to do so. I may write another post later, on some home lunch ideas.
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