Every once in a while my children come home from school asking me if they can have packed lunch instead of school dinners, and my answer is still the same one I gave my daughter six years ago: ‘NO’.
My daughter is now in year 5 and she has asked me if she can have packed lunch if she prepares it herself. And my answer is still ‘No.’ ‘But Mummy, I’m the only girl in class who is having school dinner.’ - my daughter complains. But I’m standing firm on my decision.
I know I sound like a mean mummy, which I’ve been called by my daughter many times, albeit only jokingly. I’m not refusing packed lunch on the basis of principle, or because I want my children not to give in to peer pressure.
I also don’t believe that children on school dinners eat better than children on packed lunch. I tell everyone that I prefer my children to eat cooked lunch every day because we always have cooked breakfast and tea, and that is what they are used to. And I’ve convince my children that they will be bored with sandwiches every day. Of course, other parents tried to convince me that there are other foods suitable for packed lunch.
The fact is - if I let my children go on packed lunch, I’m afraid they end up hungry. I just dread the thought that they get to school and I realise that I’ve not prepared them anything to eat, and they will tell their teachers that they are hungry because I have not packed them any food. Or worse still, that they will turn up at school late every day because I forgot to prepare their lunch in time. I’m sure that social services will have a great case against me.
I still remember when I go to an office to work. The office is in a residential area and the closest shop is about five minutes’ drive. And often I will forget to prepare lunch that my husband, who works from home, has to drive to my office to deliver my lunch. It was not a one off. It was a regular occurrence. And when my son was at playschool, they didn’t provide any lunch, so all kids had to bring their own packed lunch. At least, once a week, I have to get there before lunch to deliver his lunch because I forgot to prepare it beforehand. At the end, it was too complicated, I moved him to a nursery that provide lunch to make sure he gets a decent lunch.
So, on the debate between packed lunch and school dinner, I would always side with school dinner. Not because it’s healthier or better for my children, but it is much convenient. But I do admire mums who take the time to prepare their children’s packed lunch because I think it requires a lot of planning and organising.