Back at school: lunch time, junk food and mom’s home-cooking

Every day they want to eat dinner. Right?

This means someone’s gotta cook. That would be me. Good thing I don’t mind cooking, most days…

The other day my mom was telling me she was out at lunchtime. She noticed long lineups at fast food joints located around some schools. She looked closer and it was all middle school and high school kids, waiting in line for a burger and fries, or some such junk.

She was astonished and so am I. I mean, I know kids buy food at these places, but every day at lunch?

My question is, at what point do kids have so much money they can afford a fast food lunch on a regular basis?

I have seen the tween and teen girls go shopping for packaged junk (Joe Lois, twinkies, cookies, chips) at the grocery or convenience stores near the schools while the boys go to the soccer field to play ball. The girls then return with their junk and whatever is uneaten gets left for the boys who are more than happy to inhale that stuff.

At least now I know where some of the junk my teen consumes is coming from…

I don’t know what to do other than keep the dialogue open and, when the kids feel like crap due to eating crap, educate them as to why.

“I have a bad headache”, they might say to me after school.

“Did you drink enough water today?” (This is always my first question. Dehydration is the biggest headache causer in kids.)


“Did you eat your lunch I packed you?”

“Yes.” (Their answer varies; sometimes they ate most of it, sometimes all of it…)

“Well I know you had enough sleep last night, are you getting sick or did you eat junk today?”

“Some girls brought junk to the field and we had some.”

At least they’re honest still. And, at least they can now make the connection to their undesirable symptoms.

I tell them, if they have a game later, perhaps it’s not in their best interest to load up on junk that day. I can’t micromanage what they do away from me, but I can educate. And calling in sick because of stupid choices like this is not an option.

Competitive sports are expensive, time consuming and impact the whole family. And if they don’t do their part, then they won’t play next year.

It’s a message we’ve imparted on them since they began in competitive sports. Mostly, they listened and understood.

It’s a learning curve and for the most part, I think they get it. They still make mistakes, but all it takes is one bad afternoon and two parents incessantly reminding them as to the reasons why they feel crappy. It leads to them making better choices next time. Mostly.

My daughter is now in grade 6. For the first time in her school life, she is allowed to leave the school property at lunch with written permission (more note writing, more forms…sigh). Her friend wanted to have lunch with her at the local McDonalds down the street from her school today and she pleaded with me that she would be allowed to go.

I get it. A little taste of freedom, and her friend asked her, and it’s a special occasion (first week of school, last lunch for the week)…so I compromised.

I gave her a few coins and she had a few coins which will be enough to buy her a some fries.

The condition is that she must bring with her the lunch I packed which was some fruit slices, some veggie slices, water and a juice box. The fries will be the carb portion and the protein? I don’t know. She’ll have some when she gets home from school.

It’s not ideal, but I allowed it this one time.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I’m back to cooking casseroles for dinners, some of which go into the freezer for future use.

Like this one:

I made extra meatballs and put half in the freezer. The sauce came from the freezer as last time I made some I cooked it in the crock pot and had enough for three servings. Two went into the freezer.

My teen had hockey last night and he ate three servings of the casserole for dinner.

And so it begins again, the monitoring of food, health and associated peer pressure to go out at lunch and pick up junk food.

Send thoughts and prayers and wine and chocolate. 😉


13 thoughts on “Back at school: lunch time, junk food and mom’s home-cooking

  1. I remember my mom giving me money once for the food truck that came to the small high school I attended. My wise choice was to buy a piece of pumpkin pie for lunch. It had a piece of cardboard on the bottom of it and I ate some of that too before I realized what I was doing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your amusing post prompted memories from my childhood (and possibly the reason I follow mommy blogs, hmm there’s a thought!) I can clearly visualise at age 10 or so, sitting down with my sibling and being served up beef stew with onion gravy and potatoes homemade by mum! And I didn’t like it! However all these years later I long for those warm comforting meals, I miss them so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s purely a social thing. Last summer my son worked full-time and spend most of his money on fast food. His friend did too. I’ve talked to several moms who said the same thing. Also, it is convenient. There are always groups of friends that hang out at peoples houses. No parents want to feed 5 teens last minute. If I were going to sell ads for fast food, I would market to the teens. Most parents I know don’t eat that crap and aren’t happy that their kids do. But finding fast food packages in the garbage sure beats liquor and drugs. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The whole fast food phase is a little different with each kid. Setting up fast food joints next to a school is genius especially when school food notoriously sucks. Good for you for packing lunches. Best wishes on the fast food fight. Especially since they want to be independent and do what their friends are doing which is completely normal unfortunately.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s so tough because he’s in competitive hockey, and a growing teen. Bad food consistently makes him miserable, sluggish, so we’re trying hard here to make the connection in his brain. He wants to compete and have optimal performance, well in that case he has to pay attention to what his body is telling him. It’s an ongoing dialogue with him, not exactly a battle, but we’re working on it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Once they hit late teens, you start finding stuff in the garbage can – like a hot dog wrapper from the convenience store or Subway sandwich wrappers. The other day, I woke up to a pizza box in the garbage can. I’ll have to instantiate a “save me a piece” practice.

    Liked by 1 person

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