High School Lunch
Advice, discussions, and reviews from the
Parents of Teens weekly email newsletter.
Berkeley Parents Network >
Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults >
High School Lunch
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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!
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...
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
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.
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
this page was last updated: Aug 15, 2010
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network