High School Lunch

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Is it uncool to take lunch to high school?

Feb 2010

My daughter will be starting Albany High School in September after 8 years living outside the US. She often takes her own food to friends and events because she is a vegetarian who doesn't eat candy, junk food, etc.

She is eager to start high school but wonders if bringing a healthy lunch from home will make her unpopular and ruin her chances, as a new student, of making friends. Does anyone have any experience with this? I know this is a small thing but I'd like to calm her fears if I can. Many thanks! Deborah

If your girl likes sushi, offer to buy her some vegie variety at least once a week for the first month or so (or longer!); she can always share it around with new friends. Same goes for really good chocolate/chocolate chip cookies, high-quality trail mix (available at Trader Joe's and in bulk sections of some markets), etc. Someone who shares her sushi and chocolate cookies is automatically cool. Also, sharing lunch will lead to talking about food, and that's a good icebreaker among people of any age. Melanie

My son is a freshman at BHS and I pack his lunch everyday and give him money once a week. He actually likes it because he says going off campus is a hassle and it takes a lot of time out of his lunch time to go off campus and get lunch. A lot of his friends bring lunch too. anon

I checked in with my daughter who is a Freshman at AHS. She reports that plenty of kids bring their own lunches. No one makes a big deal of it. The kids seem to understand diet preferences, cultural dietary requirements, as well as health-related dietary restrictions. Put your mind to rest and Bon Appetite with the healthy food! Jeanne

My son attends Campolindo High School. A majority of the kids bring their lunches. So far he only averages buying one or two days a week at most, mostly when we're short on time in the morning. I think all of his friends bring their lunches.

Also, it isn't a dumb question. I actually asked his counselor when I met with her last year (when he was still in middle school). She assured me that it was actually a good question because those are the little worries that add up to eventual freak outs for the kids.

I see lots of kids at AHS sitting down with their lunches on campus. Some buy, some bring. My kids have done a combination of both, and they are sort of middling ''cool.''

The campus lunch facilities are now indoors and much improved. There are usually vegetarian options on the menu. No candy or soda is sold at school, although desserts are sold as club fundraisers, usually after school.

AHS is an open campus, so kids eat in the park, go to Solano or the El Cerrito Plaza for food, or go to nearby houses at lunchtime. Hope this helps!

I have two AHS students (freshmen and junior). They've both been in the Albany School District since kindergarden and have always brought their lunch to school for health, economics, and timing issues (you have to wait in line to get your purchased lunch) Many students buy lunches but many bring their own. To this day I make designs-like writing their names with special lettering - in their brown bags for a little smile when they open their lunch... Even in 'must be cool' high school they get compliments about their lunches - just fresh, loaded up sandwiches mostly. And a few times my son brought an extra home-lunch to school as a special b-day gift to a friend ! Also, for a while my daughter brought home ideas for lunches from her Asian friends... and so we packed her Asian style noodles and such in a special food thermos. I don't think this will be an issue for your daughter, there are lots of healthy eaters in AHS. Home lunch is cool

My daughter is a junior at BHS. She makes her lunch at home & brings it to school most of the time. It's often leftovers or a sandwich. She might go off campus for lunch once a week. Some of her friends bring a lunch from home, too. No one gives her a hard time about it. I'm sure it really depends on the circle of friends your student has & who they hang with at lunch time. I similarly bring my lunch to work most of the time, eating out maybe once per week. I like to model that home lunch is healthier & far cheaper than buying all the time. BHS mom

We did something a bit different with our kids when they were in high school. We gave them a certain amount of money for allowance/lunch each week ($15/20). If they chose to take lunch each day, then they have that money for personal spending. If they wanted to buy lunch, they had less pesonal spending. I always had lunch items for them and they packed their own lunch. I don't think my daughter has ever bought lunch at school - she says its disgusting. And they are at a closed campus so its bring it or eat what the school has. Many kids bring lunch. anon

Son won't pack his own lunch - should I?

Feb 2006

What do your high schoolers do for lunch? My son is a freshman at AHS. I feel he is old enough to make his own lunch and bring it to school (I supply plenty of sandwich making food and good snacks. Choice is not a problem. He could make his lunch at night before bed. He has done this on occasion. Mostly he wants to go out and buy lunch with his friends. He uses his allowance for some of this but at $5-$10 per day, maybe 3 or 4 days per week his allowance doesn't cover, especially if he's spent money on other things. I'm wondering how other families deal with this issue. If I made his lunches, he'd be happy to take lunch. I make his lunch sometimes, but I really think he should. Any input on this would be appreciated. In past years he either got great hot lunches at school or brought his own that mostly I made. Thanks, made my own lunches in HS

I, too, made my own lunch, from age 10 on. But my husband thinks our sons (both seniors in HS) will eat better if he makes their lunches - so he does, and they do. I remind him that they are certainly old enough to make their own, but he has the time and enjoys doing it. According to our sons, their friends who buy their lunches, are envious of the homemade lunches. Ours have never bought school lunches. Too expensive! But, they are pretty lazy; I'm not sure they'd make their own! Another mom

My youngest just left for college, so I am writing in the past tense. The deal we had in high school was I made his lunch every day. If I didn't feel like making it, I gave him money to buy lunch. If he wanted to eat out with his friends, he paid for it out of his money. Because I did the food shopping and made most of the meals, I knew what we had on hand and could assemble interesting lunches quickly. I also know he could have made his own lunch but it gave me pleasure to know, that no matter what else was happening in the world, my son had a healthy and good tasting lunch which I had prepared for him. Janet

It got to be a bit of a family joke (especially when my daughter announced in church that she was thankful for her mother who made her lunch everyday) but I made lunches until my kids graduated from high school. If it's any reassurance, both kids (now 22 and 20) are able to cook and do make their own lunches. :-) (well, it's reassuring to me anyway)

I think it's up to you. Do you resent making lunches? Then definitely don't do it. Have the supplies and don't give extra allowance money for lunches. I've had lunch many a time in Berkeley where I've seen BHS kids out with friends, some with bag lunches from home, some buying. If you don't mind, look at it as one way you can show your son how much you love him! Sally

When my older daughter (now a college sophomore) was in 10th grade at Berkeley High, I decided to stop feeling guilty about making her lunch, and instead to think of making the week-day lunch as a lovingkindness practice, and also a way to get her to eat healthy, not buy junk food, and save money. I am still making lunches for my high school junior. I think to myself - i would be happy if someone made my lunch, and in less than 2 years there won't be anyone to make lunch for! It may not work for you, but it worked for me. signed -- lunch-making mom

My daughter is a freshman at Alameda High School, and I have the exact same problem. She gets $10 a week allowance and manages to eat lunch for under $3 a day at a japanese fast food place. I have a feeling she is going to get tired of sushi very soon. I also made lunch myself in high school and feel she should also, but she only takes it if I make it. I made a deal with her. If she wakes up early enough to have a decent breakfast (that she prepares and cleans up) then I will make her lunch the following night. If she doesn't have breakfast and ran out of allowance money, she has no choice but to make her own lunch. Hope that helps. Now, if I just had a system for piano practice, feeding the dog, cleaning her room etc... AHS mom

In regards to high schoolers buying or bringing lunch. Here is the solution we came to with our three children.

You have the opportunity to help your son learn two valuable lessons here. One is how to budget money and the other one is a lesson in taking care of himself.

We established an allowance for our daughters, and then let them spend it as they wished. The often bought lunch, but learned that when the money ran out, they either had to take lunch from home, not ear or hope to mooch off someone. We agreed on minimum lunch requirements (one protein, one fruit or vegetable and then whatever else they wanted). We discussed this with them so they understood our thoughts, and then made sure that the cabinet had choices they wanted.

It worked well. They learned quickly to budget their allowance, plan ahead and to eat lunch. In the long run it saved a lot of hassles and they felt independent and mature. Carolyn

I sympathize with you. My son is a senior in high school and hasn't brought a lunch from home since elementary. He'd just rather buy whatever's there, usually for $3.00 or less. My daughter is a freshman at another high school and she bought lunch the first week of school and then asked if we'd make her lunch. We do it. Maybe that is spoiling her, but her schedule is so packed with school/homework/soccer etc that she's already staying up until 10:00ish to get things done, and getting up at 5:30 just to get out the door on time. I don't have the heart to make her get up earlier or stay up later to make lunch. So I make it for her before I go to work. I guess I also feel like it's a small expression of love/support for her ... she gets to have a little something from mom in the middle of the day ... I can surprise her with a favorite candy or whatever. Too sentimental? Perhaps, but she'll probably be off to college and adult life in a few years, so I'm willing to keep the little links we have as long as I can! Usually I'm more insistent on self-reliance but this feels like a little ''connection''. If you feel that you're too busy for it, or your child has more time than you do, you can certainly make the decision that feels best to you. Lunch Mom