I probably could not have taken on this project if I didn’t have a nice long summer break in the middle of the year. I’m looking forward to eating lunches I prepare myself.


I’m thinking about doing some kind of extension of the project over the summer. I am definitely going to do some kind of “cleanse” in June. Nothing crazy, but more of a “30 days of whole foods.”

It would be fun to travel to a country where school is in session and see what they are eating. That would be hard to swing, but it would be so interesting.

Or I could try to make a healthy lunch every day for the cost of a school lunch $2.92 (per the School Nutrition Association). The average school lunch program gets reimbursed at $2.68, leaving a shortfall. I think I could make a healthy lunch for $1.00 per day.

Have any ideas for what I should do over the summer? You guys are so creative.

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68 thoughts on “Summer

  1. I really like the idea of seeing what you can make for $1 or so, but would that translate into something workable for you school/district? I wonder if the better option would be to find out what school have implemented successful, healthy programs, contact them, and gather information that way – if you are actually looking for something for you can take your higher-ups as a possible solution.

  2. Love the idea of making a healthy lunch for the same price as a school lunch!
    School lunches where my children go to school in NJ are $2.75.
    I'm horrified every time I visit your site. As a single mom, I started buying school lunches for my children to cut down on things I had to do at home.. your site is strongly convincing me that I'm doing them a disservice.

    I've asked my children about how their lunches come and it doesn't seem like they're prepackaged, but I'm getting frustrated with the repetition of hot dogs and pizza and burgers.

  3. I think preparing a fresh, healthy lunch for the same (or less) cost as the school would be a great idea.

  4. I love the idea of trying to prepare healthy low cost meals. If it's possible, though, try going to France (the school years ends June 30). I am American but have been teaching English in a low-income area in several public schools for the past 2 years. Every day the kids get home-cooked, real meals that are quite good and well-balanced. they pay between nothing and maybe 3 euros depending on family income, and for teachers it's 2.50 per meal.

    Great idea and great blog!

  5. In Washington, we offer federal school lunches at parks. The city parks department offers them at the parks where they have a drop in program. It consists of a PBJ Uncrustable or a turkey wrap or a cold pizza pocket, broccoli or carrots and ranch, an apple, orange or banana and a milk. It is served in a brown paper bag.
    Later they offer snack: a cheesestick or Sunchips or cookies(w/calcium added) and 100% juice(usually Caprisun). Lunch is served promptly at noon, snack at 4pm.

  6. You could come to Brazil – our school is in session starting in the beginning of August. Our lunches are fantastic, although we are not at all typical (typically you don't eat lunch at school – you go home at 12).

  7. I would love to see what you can make for a dollar during the sumer. I am really suprised at what I am seeing but I know that is basically what my daughter gets for both breakfast and lunch at her school. The same plastic covered trays and mini juice cartons. The funny thing I do see is that the children pour chocolate milk over their non-sugar sweetened cereals to eat them. I understand why my daughter begs me for a lunch as a special treat. I am a single mom in CA where the cost of living is very high so I have to get her the free meals even though I really wish I didn't have to. Thanks to your blog, I will try to make more special treat lunches for her for the rest of the school year.

  8. I wasnt sure where else to post…but I was looking through some of your lunch meals and although they dont look so great, I was thinking about when I was in middle through high school (96-02) and we never recieved any fruits or veggies as sides unless we paid .50 extra for it. My usual lunch was mexican pizza, french fries & ketchup and chocolate milk. I bet it continues today 8 years since I graduated.
    -West/Central Florida.

  9. I like the idea of cooking for the same price.
    I also wonder about you trying to eat once a day for about the same or less cost AND trying to mirror the basic components you have found in your lunch menu at the schools. We need kid friendly foods, obviously. IE – a way to serve sliced fruit that conforms to any health standards and kids would eat. chips like sunships that are multigrain yet actually taste good to most kids. the ease and eatability of a hotdog – without it being a hotdog. ways to include protein, veggies, fruits, juices, etc.

    seriously cool idea. 🙂

  10. okay, since im on the internet im not going to say my age but i will say this.. i am in middle school and i would like to see what you can come up with for the same or less price than a school lunch.. but also i have noticed that my cousins who go to a private catholic school tend to get better food then us which are in public school. Do you have any idea why this might be? Just wondering….

  11. You should visit Malaysia.. I think it's the food capital of the world.. Although we have half-day school sessions, our school canteen provide really yummy and reasonably healthy choices. 🙂

  12. Also, I've just found this really good nutritionist Meghan Telpner, who has youtube videos and blogs about eating healthily.. 🙂

  13. When I was in High School I did an summer exchange program through the Lions Club and I went to Finland. Since I went towards the end of summer my second host family had the first day of school when I was there and I went. I was astonished with the meal. It was hot beef stew with carrots and potatoes plus a salad, and they always had these whole grain (usually rye) hard cracker crisps. It really really tasted homemade and it was served in real dishes. It was so delicious. Of course they also took time to walk over to a church and have a service to celebrate the first day of school (I think-I didn't pick up too much Finish) and walk back during school hours.

    I almost always packed lunch myself at home (in high school, prior to that my mom packed it), but at least at the high school I went to they always had a salad bar (pay by weight) and a sandwich bar in addition to the regular hot lunch items.

  14. Though I am sure school lunches could be far better and more healthy thatn they are at their ~$3 price point, I think a $1 a day for a lunch that is also healthy will be a very hard target to hit because of the very high price of fresh fruits, veggies, proteins and whole grains these days and I'm not even talking for organic but factory farmed. Even on sale, an apple or an orange costs between 50 cents and a dollar, often much closer to the dollar figure so that leaves you like 20-40 cents to have a full portion of some grains, some protein, some veggies and a drink. Maybe you can do it but seems impossible to me. I think the better goal would be to see what really can be done with exactly what is now being spent and how much better it really can be if we just take all the high profit margin, low food value (esp flavor) middle man factory made processed items out of the mix.

  15. Being a "retired" teacher, I completely agree. I have seen the quality of school lunches fall for years and have been saying the same thing, I just left teaching before there were blogs. When I was a child our lunches were actually cooked all the way from elementary through college. You go, girl!

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