Our Experience With Early School Lunches

Our Experience With Early School Lunches


Not too long ago I created an Instagram post for Lilydale Canada (it was sponsored – this post is not) and I mentioned that my kids don’t eat sandwiches.

One of my highschool friends seemed floored by the idea that my children do not eat wraps or sandwiches.  (Her kids are still babies – she hasn’t yet experienced the fun of packing lunches for kids who have no interest in eating…)  I had to backtrack a bit and say that IF they could have peanut butter, sandwiches would be a favourite, but no nuts allowed at school, so that took some getting used to.



After that conversation, I thought I’d share with you our early struggles with Emma and the idea of making lunches to eat at school.


As a picky eater, Emma was catered to a bit at daycare.  Our amazing day care provider would make sure there were foods Emma would eat every day as part of lunches.  And she was a miracle worker – she got Emma to nap when she would NEVER nap for me.  But that’s a post for another time.  (Emma never did nap well for me – we always had to take a drive in the car in order for her to fall asleep.)

Read about our Daycare years here.


Junior Kindergarten was a big adjustment for everyone.  Emma went to school Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday.  Confusing much?  And on the days she wasn’t at school she was still at daycare – Rose was going there every day.  So we had to create 2 or 3 lunches a week for Emma to take to school.

In the early days of Emma’s schooling, kids were allowed to take Wow Butter sandwiches.  It’s a soy product that (supposedly) tastes similar to peanut butter.  Emma ate it once or twice then declared “NO!”  And now kids aren’t allowed to take it because it looks too much like peanut butter and some kids with allergies have anxiety about it.

School Lunches

Because Emma is (was?) such a picky eater, we would send snack lunches.  You know, goldfish, grapes, maybe cheese, stuff we know she will eat!  Well, we used to get notes home that Emma didn’t have any “lunch” to eat.  I’m sorry, what?  All the food in her lunch pail is “lunch.”  Just because she doesn’t have a sandwich (which she wouldn’t eat anyway) doesn’t mean she doesn’t have “lunch.”

After many notes back and forth with the teachers, it was revealed that the Kinders have access to a microwave.  That meant I could send leftover noodles or similar and they would heat them up for her.  Sadly the kids lose that privilege as they move along in the grades.


There was actually a spell where a teacher would make Emma an english muffin with butter, just so they felt she had something for “lunch.”  I’m sorry, but you are teaching my child that the world will cater to her – she needs to learn if she doesn’t eat the lunch that is packed, she goes hungry.  While that may not be ideal for supporting her learning during the school day, it is essential to her learning how to make decisions for herself.


We did find a few foods that Emma ended up taking routinely for school lunches (that looked like lunches):

A tortilla with cream cheese, folded and cut into 2 triangles

A bagel, untoasted, with cream cheese

Soup in a thermos (this is a new one for us – and some days it gets eaten, but other days a lot comes home)


cold in a container – chicken breast pieces, ham, other meats

hot in a thermos – meatballs, pasta, casseroles


Our Experience With Early School LunchesWe still struggle some days to get Emma (and Rose sometimes) to eat healthy lunches at school.  We do pay for them to have milk every day, and we send fruits and/or vegetables with them, but it doesn’t mean it gets eaten.  Sometimes Emma will take the same 3 carrot sticks back and forth to school for the whole week!

You may also like 5 Tips For Packing Lunches For Picky Eaters


Did you struggle in the early days with school lunches?  And what do you send your kids now?  I’m always looking for new ideas of things to try!  Share with me in the comments, and maybe I’ll find something both the girls love.



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  1. I am really lucky that my son will eat almost anything. I was so pleased when he went to school because I didn’t have to make packed lunches anymore. I hate making them. Now we get the menu in advance so we can see what he is going to eat. On the days he doesn’t like anything they will give a jacket potato.

    Before he was in school, when I was organised enough, instead of packed lunches I used to do filled jacket potatoes and freeze them. I’d then take them out of the freezer so he could take them to the childminders and she could heat them up. He loved them. Perhaps that’s an idea? #FamilyFun

    1. I wish our school had more hot lunch programs. They do hot dog day, pizza and pitas once a week (I think.) Rose gets pizza, and if the hot dogs didn’t have a bun Emma would eat them, but that’s not how they go.

      I love the idea of the potatoes, but I know my girls would not eat those. Sad but true!

  2. Oh gosh I find lunch boring enough at home with the two
    Kids I haven’t even started to think about lunch at school yet! I’ve not heard of places saying no to nuts before but I guess that is very valid!! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

    1. It’s very common in Canada for the “no nuts” rule to be enforced. There are a lot of kids here with nut allergies (and other things, but nuts are easier to avoid.) They’ve repealed the “suggestion” to avoid giving nuts or peanut butter to children under the age of one (this is a potential cause of the allergy) as well as are developing a treatment for people who have this sensitivity. It’s very frustrating to me who has children with no sensitivities to food – I know we’re lucky! – but who are also picky eater and don’t like lunch meats or other sandwich options.

    1. There are no every day hot lunches at our school. They do have pizza and hotdog days, and we have to pay for them in advance. So let’s hope they still want that slice of pizza when the days roll around!

  3. I am a mum of three fussy children so know how you feel. My boys love sandwich thins as they are not bread and thick… as for lunch well crisps and ham sandwich maybe some veggies cut up #stayclassymama

  4. Lunches are hard, at nursery my daughter has a cooked meal but the days we are at home its sandwiches. Always seems so dull, no wonder they aren’t popular with some kids! My daughter doesn’t eat raw veg so things like carrot sticks with houmous is out as well. #FabFridayPost

    1. I wish my kids liked hummus! As it is Emma will take the same 4 carrot sticks to school for a week, and if I’m lucky she’ll eat 2 of them. Lunches suck.

  5. My 7 year old won’t let them eat any sugar snacks for snack time. She was only eating grapes or apples. By 11:30 she was feeling wobbly and shaky. I had to write a note to the teacher begging her to let her eat her gummies…organic…all natural! It was a battle. Instead I would send a spoon full of peanut butter to give her some protein. #fabFridayPost

  6. I often pack cold pizza which goes down well with my two. They have been disinterested with sandwiches recently 🙁 Savoury muffins are a great idea if your LO will eat them. Mine love bananas which are quite filling. I love idea of packing a thermos with warm food. Great for this time of year. Thanks for sharing and linking up with us #FabFridayPost

    1. I would love to eat savoury muffins, but I’m not sure my kids would be down for it. I could maybe do those eggs in muffin cups things – with some ham or something in them. And Rose loves bananas, but if it gets a bang in it she turns into a fuss-pot! We’re still a work-in-progress, but thanks for the ideas Lara!

  7. I pay for the kids to have a meal at school because I feel packed lunches are very limited. I can appreciate not everyone is able to do that or can afford to do that but for us it’s a life saver. All I need to pack is morning and afternoon snacks. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassymama

    1. I wish I had the option to do that, but besides hot dogs, pizza or pitas weekly there is no lunch to buy! Also I do like seeing what they didn’t eat, so I can help them find things (or ways to present things) that they will enjoy.

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