A Poll: Hot Lunch or Cold Lunch? 25

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Every night as I pack L’s lunch for school the next day, I can’t help but wonder if most kids prefer cold lunch or hot lunch? Did you want your mom to pack your lunch or did you want to buy lunch at school?

Cold Lunch

Cold Lunch

For now I pack L’s lunch 4 out of 5 days. I don’t know that he has a true preference, but I let him buy lunch once a week at school and the rest of the week he eats “cold lunch”. I try to keep it fun and interesting for him so it’s not always the same few things. Partly because I think it’s fun and partly because I know he eats better / more this way.  With cold lunches I can see exactly what he eats because he just throws the lid back on at the end of the day and doesn’t throw anything away.  And, with the exception of the lunch above (I haven’t been grocery shopping), I feel like I pack more fruits and healthy foods (that he will eat anyway) in his lunches.

Hot Lunch

Hot Lunch

I do see the allure of hot lunches though, both from the mom side and the kid side.  First of all they are easy.  You don’t have to do anything!  And when I was a kid, buying hot lunch was cool!  By only letting L get hot lunch 1x/week, I hope to keep some of this cool factor / special treat belief ;).  But it totally adds up.  Lunch at L’s school is $2.75/day, plus they can buy things from the snack cart (it has fruit, chips, cookies, etc.) which adds on to that total.  Oddly L has never bought anything from the snack cart, but I know it will eventually happen!

So what did you prefer when you were a kid?  Cold lunch or hot lunch?  And if you’re a mom, which do you and your kids prefer?  And what’s your favorite hot lunch?  Taco pizza was always a big hit when I was in school.  And we used to have the BEST cookies in elementary school.  I think they were $0.25 (is that right mom?) and they were so good!

About Jennifer

Jennifer is the author and founder of Subscription Box Ramblings. She first discovered subscription boxes in 2012 and has been addicted since. Current favorites include Popsugar Must Have Box, Boxycharm, Mommy Mailbox and Rachel Zoe Box of Style.

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25 thoughts on “A Poll: Hot Lunch or Cold Lunch?

  • sara

    I usually preferred cold lunch. I even packed my own lunch in high school. The lines were just always too long. But I do remember in grade school we always wanted a hot lunch on pizza day. :o)
    We had these lunch cards in school, not sure what they do now, but my mom would put like $20 a month on the card and we would decide what we wanted to do. Especially since we had a menu a month in advance.

  • Mom

    Yes, I think the cookies were 25 cents each. I feel kinda guilty that your lunches weren’t more creative, but I’ve always disliked making lunch/lunches.

  • Glenna

    I cannot believe that school lunches cost $2.75! I always brought my lunch from home (as I was a picky eater) but I feel like hot lunch cost something like $1.25. I must be getting old!

  • Mary

    I was a cold lunch kind of kid. I have always been a very picky eater so I maybe ate like 1/4 of my hot lunches in elementary. In elementary I always had hot lunch. My parents did not have time to make my lunches. With the exception of a lunchable maybe once a month. Once I got into jr high I made my own lunches or ate snack food from our snack line. We had breadsticks from a pizza place that everyone wanted! It is really the only good food our school served I liked. And that might be because they didn’t make it. I know our meals were not extremely healthy. So I would stick with making cold lunch.

  • Ashley C.

    I remember getting hot lunch was cool in 5th and 6th grade — our school had an additional salad bar, and the popular thing to do was to get cucumber slices and douse them in either ranch dressing, or vinegar. But the only MEAL that was worth paying for, in my opinion, was the holiday meal — thanksgiving and christmas. Turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a roll, and a cup of ice cream. Plus the salad bar, as well.

  • Jenny

    I pack Ns lunch every morning. You don’t worry about things getting soggy by packing the night ahead? I’m always afraid things will get nasty if I make it too early. He has money on his account but hasn’t bought anything yet. He’s kindof a picky eater and says that the hot lunches look nasty. He also says that they don’t have as much time to eat as he does since he just gets to sit down and eat and they have to go through the line. He’s been doing pretty good and most days he starts with his fruit and then goes to his fruit snacks and then moves on to his crunchy and cheese sandwich. LOL Those are the things that are usually left in his lunch box when I clean it out. Of course he then has his fruit snack in the afternoon but with all that fruit and very little carbs he is starving when I get him home. He usually eats at 4 when he comes in and then we have dinner about 6 so he eats again. I’m guessing if he actually ate the hot lunch he may not eat as much when he walks in the door.

  • mary m

    2 notes.

    1.) our elementary lunches are only $2.00, middle/high are $2.50

    2.) they can’t sell anything extra in elementary school, only a few things in middle school but not until 1/2 way through lunch, and the high school has lots of ala carte items, but they can’t sell soda or candy (even in the vending machines).

    My son gets hot lunch daily, and my daughter packs her own lunch a couple of days a week (usually on the days she doesn’t have orchestra before school).

  • Marcy

    I loved it the days they served cinnamon rolls and chili. My school made wonderful cinnamon rolls, I would still like to get a hold of that recipe.

  • Norma

    I pack both kids lunch for several reasons… One it’s pricey ($2.10) and I have two kids, it’s gross (both my kids swear they will throw up if I make them eat it) and its just overall not healthy for them… Not to say they never eat junk food but a whole meal that’s junk, other than unripe fruit, I try to avoid. Our school used to make the food but from my understanding the government now regulates it because they pay for the free/reduced meals some kids qualify for so its all processed and prepackaged.

    When I was in school I ate hot and cold lunch… But it was only like $1.00 in elementary and $2.25 in high school and we had multiple options everyday like pizza, nachos, salad bar.

  • brandy

    The old school hot lunches, yes. The new ones – NO WAY! I taught for a year, and they were terrible. Fortunately the lunch ladies made the teachers old school hot lunches and I was pregnant and man that was good. They even made us the old school huge white rolls that used to be a quarter. For the kids they served such delights as chicken buttholes (chicken rings) and other nasty crap.

    For most of school I made my own lunch (when I was in elementary my family helped of course). I totally cooked for myself and everything. I was pretty much an odd child but I will still have school friends say I WAS SO JEALOUS OF YOUR LUNCHES! I made everything from split pea soup to pita sandwiches with peanutbutter, raisins, and shredded carrots. I made my own hot lunch most days and took it in a Thermos. I miss having notes snuck into my lunchbox by my grandma. What was really funny is that the kids decided they were going on safari today and forced me to pack lunches for them. I served pretzel rods, peanut butter, craisins, apples. And vanilla stevia sweetened milk. I thought to myself that this was good practice. And I need to get better at it.

    In high school we could leave for lunch (not anymore), or they had pizza hut & taco bell in addition to school lunch, there was always a pizza & fries line (grody), but my favorite school lunch in high school was a pimento cheese sandwich on white bread. They made the pimento cheese themselves. Not healthy but deeeelish.

    I am really pretty hardcore with my kids about what I call garbage food and I won’t buy it and I rarely let them eat it. I don’t even serve juice anymore (though they can have it on airplanes and at disney world).

    And i love how your mom comments on your blog as mom.

  • Liz

    When I went to school in Pennsylvania I loved the hot lunch, 1-6 grade if you didn’t buy the hot lunch they would make you sit in a different section. Lame! When I moved to Colorado I only ate cold lunches at the local “hippie market” because the school only offered pizza and fries or an option to buy Chick-fil-A or Chicken fried rice, those got old quickly!

  • Jenny

    I can’t really say for me, we didn’t have hot lunch at our school (I went to a small private school). But John prefers to take his lunch and I prefer to send him, we have eliminated MOST processed food from our diet. He has bought it twice in the 3 weeks he’s been, one day he didn’t like it (pizza day), last week he got fish nuggets and to go to the salad bar and was happy with that. They can’t buy extras either, there’s just the main line and salad bar line for the upper elementary students. I’m not sure about the middle school, think it’s the same, but high school looks like it has a lot of options, actually stresses me out, if I had to chose from that much, I would totally bring my lunch anyways, LOL!

  • Sarah Z

    When we were kids we always had hot lunch. My daughter has always had hot lunch untill this year. Now that I stay at home full time I make her lunches and give her the option to have a hot lunch once a week but she always wants the cold lunch. She says that the lunch line is so long that she barley gets enough time to eat. I don’t mind because what I make is far better than the chicken sandwich or pizza she would get at school!

  • Ellen A.

    Growing up, I preferred hot lunch, but that was because I only got it on the rare occasion… maybe once a week, if that! By only allowing L to have hot lunch once a week, it will make it a special treat 🙂

  • Alyssa

    My nieces school charges $2.25 for lunch and their lunches provide a fruit, a veggie, milk and the main thing which they seem to try to do a lot of whole wheat and healthy options as well as having a different vegetarian option every day.
    Back when I was in school I loved getting hot lunch cause I’m one of those weird people that love cafeteria food lol. My niece seems to really like hot lunch too and has barely taken cold lunches to school this year so far. But she packs her own lunch when she does take it.

  • Tori

    My favorite hot lunches in high school were completely unhealthy now that I think about it, but oh so delicious! We had toasted ravioli (it’s a St. Louis thing) Wednesday with buttered noodles, then we also had Bosco Sticks that I would have a Mountain Dew with. And, of course, ya gotta love when we have the holiday meal. Well, I’m starving now…haha!

  • Mrs. L

    Hated the hot lunches at my elementary school in Oregon. They made you eat everything or you couldn’t go out to play. They served the most horrid (think congealed ball) spanish rice at least once a week and this sour, drippy coleslaw mess all the time. I rarely got to go out to recess until I started bringing my cold lunch.

    But OMG LOVED hot lunches in high school. That taco pizza was the bomb!

  • Mel

    I can’t win for losing. I pack one kids lunch the other buys. Then they switch and I pack the others and one buys. If they have a cold lunch they wish they had a hot. If they don’t pack they complain about the menu for that day…. choosy kids!