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Here we are again – Packed lunches Vs School Dinners….

Packed lunch vs school dinners

In the real world, we don’t all agree on everything.  Sometimes, you think you’re right and actually, someone comes along and shares their point of view with you and you start to think that they have a point.  So, once a month I’m going to post my opinion on a particular issue and ask another blogger to share their differing views.

As we’re in back to school mode right now, we’re kicking off with the packed lunch vs school dinners vote and I’ve asked the very lovely Jen from Mum in the Madhouse to share her thoughts too.  You can find her post here.

This year I’m going to have children at two different schools for the first time – one will be on school dinners and the other on packed lunches.

Miss Frugal is going to be on school dinners at her new secondary school at a cost of around £2.20 a day. I say around £2.20 a day because it’s a case of loading up a card daily / weekly and then her choosing what she wants to eat every day. The average cost of a meal including a drink is £2.20 and she’s asked to go on school dinners rather than packed lunches as that’s what ‘most kids’ will be doing apparently.

Whilst I like the idea of not having to make a packed lunch for her, it’s so much cheaper to send her off with a packed lunch!

I wouldn’t consider packed lunches for Master Frugal because again, at £2.20 a day, I know I can do it cheaper myself by sending him with a packed lunch.

It’s not just the cost issue though although that’s a big factor for me!

Master Frugal is a fussy eater and on the two occasions when he has forgotten his packed lunch in the last few months (yes, twice) he hasn’t really liked what was on offer so has hardly eaten hardly anything and been starving when he got home.

I don’t like the way the dinner ladies tell him he has to try things but he really doesn’t want to as that puts him off trying things with us at home although I do appreciate that they can’t let a child have an empty tray. A packed lunch means that we don’t have to worry about that.

I much prefer him taking a packed lunch to school because I know exactly what he’s eating and I can vary it so he has different foods each day and I can use up leftovers in his packed lunch which makes it even cheaper.

When I’m feeling particularly organised, we bake packed lunch cake and cheese straws on a Sunday to last us for the first part of the week at least and if I’m cooking pasta for tea, I usually save a little bit to use for packed lunches the next day.

packed lunch cake

cheese scones

I think a packed lunch takes a little bit more organisation but it’s worth it to save so much money and to know your child is taking a lunch that they will eat and more importantly, enjoy!

If you’re still undecided, here’s last years packed lunch vs school dinners post including a costing of how cheaply you can make a healthy nutritious packed lunch and if you do decide on packed lunches you might find this post helpful as it includes 50 nutritious and frugal packed lunch ideas.

Are you a packed lunch or a school dinners family?

Don’t forget to add your posts to the Back to school linky over at Jen’s blog while you’re there!

If you can’t beat them….

Miss Frugal seems to be growing up very quickly and I’m only a year or so away from the dreaded Kevin and Perry moment when she’ll turn 13 and I’ll be the parent of a teenager!  I’m not even thinking about that just yet though, I’m just enjoying the fact that she still wants to spend time with me.

As much as I love the fact that she likes to do things with me, I think a lot of it’s down to the fact that I try to do things with her that I know she likes to do.  She’s not going to want to spend time with me if I’m sat on my phone or at my laptop so I do things that I know she’ll enjoy doing.


We do things like mini home spa nights where I let her paint my nails and we do each others make up.

sketching at the beach

She likes drawing so we sometimes go somewhere just to sketch and I even learnt to loom band with her because it’s something she enjoys doing.


Sometimes, we make mocktails together and sit and drink them in the garden with our coats on while she catches me up on all of her gossip and I savour every moment because I know that it probably won’t always be like this.

Another thing we’ve been enjoying doing together is watching TV which sounds off I know!  We don’t watch any of the soaps or any other shows like that but we do love to watch the Great British Bake Off and we love a good girly film night.

The problem is that over the past year or so we’ve been having a girly film night once a week so we’ve seen a lot of the films that we want to see and it got to the point where we were spending more time choosing a film than actually watching it so we thought we’d see if we could find a box set that we could enjoy watching together.

Thankfully, we have Netflix so we have plenty to choose from and after a couple of stops and starts with different TV shows, we finally settled on 90210 which is rated 12+ so she’s almost there.  She is loving watching it and actually, I am too (don’t tell anyone though).  It’s very similar to the 90210 that I used to watch when I was her age in that it covers lots of current teen issues with lots of glamour and romance thrown in.

We’ve had some very interesting conversations off the back of the show and she often pauses it to ask me to explain something to her – whether it’s something she’s heard on there that she doesn’t really understand or just to have a chat about the way someone is behaving.  She has the remote control and it’s great the way she pauses to discuss things.

Now I just need ideas for our next box set as we’ll be finished with 90210 soon – there’s so many on there that we’re a bit spoilt for choice so and ideas would be greatfully received!

Disclosure: Although we’ve had Netflix for several years, we’ve recently been asked to be part of their #StreamTeam to share our love of Netflix with you.  I received an Ipad mini as a welcome to the #StreamTeam but this doesn’t infuence my opinion in any way – I love them as much as I did before. :-)

How Butlins saved Ethel the Unicorn….

If you ask Master Frugal what his proudest moment is, he’s likely to tell you that it’s the time he won me a unicorn from one of those grabby machines in the arcade at Butlins.

He’ll tell you that he spent his own money on it and that he (and his big sister) got a round of applause from the people stood around them when he won her and he’ll even tell you how good he felt walking back to where we were sat with the unicorn hidden behind his back so he could surprise me with it because he knew I really wanted one of the cute cuddly toys I’d spotted earlier in the day.

He probably won’t tell you that he talked about his ‘victory’ frequently during the rest of the week away but unfortunately, he probably will go on to tell you that I loved Ethel so much (great name for a unicorn, yes?) that I left her sitting on my bed on the day we left Butlins and that I didn’t realise until we were too far away to go back!

In my defence, I hadn’t packed her as I’d been joking that she would suffocate in a suitcase!

I felt awful, really awful about leaving her so I picked up my phone and tweeted Butlins.  Here’s what happened next….

Thank you Butlins for helping us get Ethel home!


Getting Physical….


Miss Frugal isn’t unfit and she’s certainly not overweight but she does seem to have a bit of an aversion to organised exercise!

She has no problem spending hours doing all sorts of acrobatics on the trampoline, having a game of badminton in the back garden or playing rounders at the park.  She loves horse riding, cycling, scooting and rollerblading and even enjoys a jog with our next door neighbour every now and again. But, ask her to do any sort of organised sport and she’s pulls that ‘Do I have to?’ face.

In fact she’s so bad that last term at school, they had to do cross country running and she actually came in last out of her class of 32 children – she told me that she simply had to stop running because she thought she could die if she kept running.  Not that she’s a Drama Queen or anything!

So you’ll understand what I mean when I tell you that she wasn’t overly impressed this week when I told her we needed to get her a pair of trainers as wearing her Converse for PE was no longer going to be acceptable according to the very strict school uniform list that we’ve been issued with.  She doesn’t really wear trainers and certainly didn’t want to have to think about the fact that real trainers mean that shes going to be expected to participate in actual sport when she starts her new school!

Luckily, the lovely people at JD Sports asked us if we wanted to review some trainers from their Back to School range so I didn’t have to drag her kicking and screaming into town to choose some because they have a great range online.  Actually, their whole Back to School range is really good so it’s well worth checking out – I like how they have quite a wide variety of products to suit all budgets.

Miss Frugal spent a whole of three seconds looking at the page before settling on a pair of Pink and Black Nike Lunarglide trainers.  I honestly think she just picked the first pair that she liked and then didn’t look at any others in protest that she was actually being forced to actually wear a pair of trainers! It’s such a hard life being an 11 year old!

The trainers came soon after and she tried her best to look uninterested when she opened them but by the time she had them on her feet she was a convert.  She genuinely loves them – she says they’re way more comfortable than any of her other shoes and they do look amazing on.  When I was helping her lace them up, I couldn’t help but notice just how lightweight the trainers are.


She’s had them on almost every day since she got them which is high praise indeed from someone who hated trainers until she tried these on!

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