Kids around the world are going back to school — that means homework, new friends and… lunch. In the US, the typical school lunch is served on styrofoam trays and can range from salads to a full complement of carbs. As homeschoolers we have the benefit of lots of lunch choices that school children don’t have, and a fun way to include geography in your homeschool is to fix fun lunches from around the world. Get started by learning about school lunches in these countries, then discover some of your own and choose a couple of lunches to fix from different countries.
In Japan, the school lunch ingredients are locally sourced and almost never frozen; in addition, the schools employ nutrition experts that work with kids and teach them the importance of good eating habits. Like the children in France, Japanese kids also eat in a community-like setting with their peers, and even their teachers. The children also wear white hats and robes to serve their classmates, which teaches them teamwork and respect. You can expect to find lots of rice, vegetables, fish, soup, and meat on the plate.
French children enjoy a 3 or 4-course meal that is made from high-quality ingredients, and are mostly made from scratch. The children all sit in the same eating area, the cafeteria. There are no vending machines in French schools; they’re banned due to the high sugar and fat content of the treats they carry. Typical school lunches here can have a variety of dishes and ingredients, such as grilled fish, salad, red beans, seasonal vegetables, garlic sausage, fruit salads and chocolate flan (just to name a few). Unlike most places, the food is served on plates and eaten with real silverware.
Colombian school lunch ingredients usually vary from region to region, but can contain rice, potatoes, fruit, beans, meatballs, and vegetables such as corn and avocados. There’s a special vegetarian menu also available, and children from 2 to 5 years old have their food cut and portioned into smaller sizes.
South African school meals have natural ingredients such as corn, squash, sweet potatoes, and yams. There’s also rice, soft porridge, and meat that is sprinkled in with the vegetables. A special stew is made called potjiekos (named after a potjie, a three-legged pot), which originated from Dutch settlers. The cook puts vegetables, meat, potatoes, and spices into the pot, which is heated by small amounts of wood and twigs. After cooking, the result is a delectable stew.
If your kids enjoy learning about other countries, consider a subscription to Little Passports virtual global travel adventures. Monthly packages arrive filled with lots of goodies and access to online games and activities.