21 May
Pros of School LunchesCons of School Lunches
ConvenientIt can be expensive
Sometimes can qualify for free lunchesA lot of school lunch food is highly processed
Your child gets a hot mealSo much food goes to waste
Many food optionsYou and your child can choose what to eat
No need for a lunch boxYou get less time to eat lunch.

Pros of School Lunches

  1. School lunches are convenient. Any parent knows, that school mornings are crazy. Packing a lunch and making sure your child doesn't forget their lunch is one more item that most parents would rather forget. 
  2. It is relatively easy to qualify for free. Who doesn't like free food?
  3. Your child receives a hot meal without you dirtying a dish.  I loved when my mom let us have school lunch. I loved the mashed potatoes and chicken fried steak, the chocolate milk,  and the freshly baked rolls. 
  4. There are so many food options for your child.  Would they like chicken nuggets or mac and cheese? Would they like chocolate milk, strawberry milk, or white milk? What fruit would they like? 
  5. No need to worry about a lunch box! Lunch boxes are forgotten in lockers and lost at playgrounds.

Cons of School Lunches

  1. A lot of the food is highly processed food. During college, I was a substitute for school cafeterias. Many of the schools' main menu items are highly processed. Yes, your child will get fruits and veggies, but there is a lot of unhealthy food to go along with it.
  2. So much food goes to waste. Do you know that your child has to grab fruit, milk, and vegetable? Yet they do not have to eat it. It is so stupid! So much food is wasted at your child's school. Don't believe me? Go have lunch with your child. 
  3. School lunches can start bad habits. While working lawn care, I was shocked at the number of people that ate out every day. Eating out is easy $6-$10/meal. That is $1,680-$2,800 /year spent on lunches! I could easily feed two people three meals a day for that much money. When children don't get in the habit of having home lunches, they often carry that into the workplace. 
  4. Your child will have less time to eat lunch.  Your child may find that their 30-minute lunch becomes 15 minutes after standing in line. 
  5. You get to choose what your child eats.   It is nice to be aware of what your child is eating. 
  6. If you don't qualify for the free lunch, it can be expensive. In a nearby school district, the cost of lunches is $2.35 for a high school/junior high student and $2.05 for elementary students. That is $423/year for high school and $369/year for elementary. That cost adds up, especially if you have several kids. Although you may not think you can get much cheaper, you can! Below I provided some meal suggestions that are under $1.50. These meals are meant to show quick, affordable, balanced lunches. To lower the cost and create healthier lunches, try using vegetables from your garden and making food from scratch.

* Prices based on my local Walmart

Kid's Lunch Ideas for Under $1.50

#1 Lunch IdeaQuantity /Ingredients
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich2 slices of
Franz White Bread
(Hint: Homemade Bread is significantly cheaper)
2 Tablespoons of Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Welch's Grape Jelly
Great Value Canned Sweet PeasSuggested Serving Size.15¢ 
Lay's ChipsSuggested Serving Size.38¢ 

#2 Lunch Idea

Quesadilla 1 Mission Flour  Tortilla
Suggested Serving Size of Cheese 
Great Value Canned CornSuggested Serving Size.14¢
Great Value Apple SauceSuggested Serving Size.22¢
Great Value Chocolate MilkSuggested Serving Size .21¢

#3 Lunch Idea

Three Bean Soup
(Serves 3 about a cup and a half/serving)
1 Great Value Tomato Soup (10.75 oz. )
1 Great Value Bean With Bacon Soup(11.25 oz.)
1 Great Value Chili with Beans (15 oz. )
Great Value Steamtable Vegetable Mix
Suggested Serving Size.25¢
Great Value Canned PeachesSuggested Serving Size.28¢

#4 Lunch Idea

Bowtie Spaghetti  Suggested Serving Size of Great Value Bowtie Pasta
Suggested Serving Size of Great Value Pasta Sauce
OlivesSuggested Serving Size.13¢

Bagel1 Lender's Bagel.33¢
Cream CheesSuggested Serving Size.18¢
Great Value Fruit CocktailSuggested Serving Size.28¢
Yogurt1 Go-Gurt.27¢


"Our goal is to help the world make decisions with a list of Pros and Cons. We invite all to add to our lists to help others make the most educated decision possible. We are all in this world together to help each other and learn from what others have learned from their lives journey."    - Pros and Cons Team

Written by: Kristen 

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