Selling fast: the child's packed lunch at pounds 7

THE traditional schoolchildren's packed lunch has become the pre- packed lunch. It can now be bought ready-made from a shop - at a premium.

Parents who have no time to prepare sandwiches for their children are increasingly relying on shop-bought fare. In the wealthier areas of Britain, signs have appeared in delicatessens and coffee shops advertising a children's lunch service. On offer are treats such as stuffed ciabatta, seedless grapes and fresh fruit milkshakes - costing as much as pounds 7 a day and often provoking classroom rivalry.

In Kensington, west London, The Pie Man sandwich shop offers a school packed lunch for pounds 6.99. It contains four different sandwich triangles, a scotch egg, sausages, fruit and an array of little biscuits.

In Hampstead, north London, a coffee bar called The House is doing a roaring trade with a slightly cheaper deal. "We offer a school packed lunch for pounds 3.75," said "Christian". "The children can have a sandwich, a soft drink, a piece of fruit and a packet of crisps."

Andrea Lowell, who teaches infants at a neighbouring independent day school, has noticed the trend. "Lunches are always a big topic of conversation and even of teasing," she said, adding that children were often disappointed by the contents of the pack they had been bought. "Children are creatures of habit. They don't seem to have the same need for variety that adults have and they prefer the same biscuit or sandwich spread every single day."

Beyond the privileged neighbourhoods of London, other parents are far from impressed with the latest attempt to make a living from the requirements of schoolchildren.

Gill Fairhall, from Portsmouth, who has three children, said: "Everyone has to live their life in their own way, but it does seem extravagant. I prepare packed lunches every morning. I buy in bulk and keep stores in the cellar, so the children can have a little variety."

Mrs Fairhall, a full-time mother, says she would be happy to make packed lunches even if she had paid work. "It only takes five minutes and it is just a question of making the time," she said.

Her nine-year-old daughter Pippa usually takes a filled bagel to her Church of England school in Old Portsmouth, along with a sausage roll, a packet of crisps and a cake.

Connor Dawson, six, who attends a state school in neighbouring Havant, has less adventurous tastes. He takes Marmite sandwiches and a packet of crisps to school every day and accepts nothing else.

Ten-year-old Adam Chambers, who goes to Ditcham Park, an independent school in Petersfield, is used to a lunch of a sandwich, a yogurt, a piece of fruit and a sweet, prepared each day by his mother Gina. "There seems to be a lot of competition between the boys," she said. "Adam sometimes comes home with an entirely different wrapper in his lunchbox and tells me he swapped."

Sampling the contents of five shop-bought packed lunches, Pippa, Connor and Adam were unanimous. They all swooped on the sweetest food first and, perhaps predictably, turned up their noses at a stylish Sashimi raw fish selection. "I think I'll pass," said Pippa.

Even The House's avocado- and-chicken sandwich was a little too exotic for this panel, as was a ciabatta roll filled with tomato and mozzarella. "I think Pippa was put off by the fact it was cold," her mother said. "At home she is used to ciabatta that has been warmed."

The sausages in the pounds 6.99 lunch were universally approved of, as were the crisps and chocolate biscuits.

"Adam's school doesn't really approve of chocolate," Mrs Chambers said. "It was a bit of a novelty for him."

Parents who wish to pamper children now accustomed to pesto and avocado do still have an option in reserve for special occasions. Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly offers a child's tuck box containing Cox's orange pippin biscuits, a tin of drinking chocolate, a banana, a pot of lemon curd, ginger biscuits and bon-bons for only pounds 55.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk