When we're kids, we don't usually want the lunches that our mom packed for us, right? There we are sitting in our school lunchroom (or classroom if that's where some had their mid-day meal) with a nice homemade lunch... but it just didn't always appeal to us. I can't really blame us back then or even our parents. When we're eating our own lunch, everyone else's lunch always looked so much better.
When it comes to school lunches, they can drastically vary depending on where a child lives. Children are having all kinds of food for lunch these days, whether they live in the U.K., France, or Japan, and it's pretty interesting to take a look at what other cultures eat. Some of these jealous might make us jealous while others will make us happy we had what we had. But one thing's for sure: the world is a big place. From artichokes being the main entree to hot dogs being the real crowd pleaser — these meals vary drastically. Read on to find out all about 20 different school lunches from around the world. And who knows, maybe some of these lunches will inspire our own lunches for our children or families.
20 France: French Fries, Mussels, And An Artichoke
Yeah, that's an entire artichoke on the left... On a school lunch tray... For a child.
This is how they do things in France according to one IMGUR post. A typical school lunch can include French fries, a whole artichoke, a roll, an orange, a piece of pie, and some mussels. It's super sophisticated for a child, no? It honestly looks delicious. I'm sure there a bunch of us North Americans who don't even know how to tackle a full artichoke, but those in France seem to have it down pat.
19 Italy: A Protein, Pasta, Bread, Fruit, Tomato Salad
According to the Huffington Post, it looks like a typical school lunch is well-rounded: you've got a beautiful salmon, arugula, pasta, grapes, tomato salad, and a nice roll that looks amazing. I definitely wouldn't complain if I were given this for my lunch back when I was a kid. I mean, even as an adult I wouldn't complain about it!
This is definitely different from what a lot of kids eat for lunch in North America, since not every kid is so keen on fruits and vegetables here, so it's cool to see that kids in Italy will happily chow down on arugula and tomatoes.
18 Spain: Shrimp, Rice, A Roll, Peppers, Soup
Shrimp is not an ingredient that we usually see in a kid's school lunch, but in Spain, it's part of it, according to IMGUR. Accompanying those shrimps are some rice, a multi-grain roll, soup, some peppers, and a juicy orange.
This is a beautiful school lunch that totally puts a typical lunch of a sandwich, cookie, and maybe some carrot sticks to shame. Just the shrimp alone is a very sophisticated thing for a kid to eat! I think many parents can agree that not many of their children chow on shrimp for lunch.
17 Japan: Fish And Rice
This school lunch from Japan features rice, fish, and what looks like a noodle soup along with a carton of milk and a piece of fruit.
Since Japanese food does feature a lot of fish and rice, this is most likely what we would assume a child living in Japan would eat for lunch. Truth be told, maybe some of us parents should start introducing these ingredients to our children to help them be more cultured. I know I definitely wouldn't mind eating this for lunch.
16 Buchach, Ukraine: Soup, Hot Dog, Pasta, Bread
Kids in North America absolutely love hot dogs. It's just one of those things that we adore like chicken fingers, fish sticks, potato chips, and ice cream (so, junk food...). There are certain foods that excite kids more than others (junk food is typically pretty loved over kale, for instance) and hot dogs are one of them for sure.
In Ukraine, a school lunch for a child includes hot dogs, pasta, bread, and soup, thanks to IMGUR. It might not be the presentation of a hot dog that we're used to seeing (aka: a hot dog in a bun with ketchup and mustard), but this is what kids are eating there and it's really cool to see it this way.
15 Belgium: Paella
Who wouldn't want a plate of paella for lunch (or dinner and even breakfast when I think about it)? Paella is a delicious dish of rice and vegetables and sometimes meat, and this version that kids eat for lunch in Belgium is chock full of vegetables. It looks truly colorful and healthy.
It's also impressive that kids eat this since a lot of kids seem to be picky eaters and might not be so big on the whole vegetable thing. This might be comforting for parents who are trying to get their kids to eat more veggies. Maybe veggie paella is a good way to do that.
14 Chile: Rice, Meat, Avocado
Avocados have been having a moment in the foodie world for a while now, and nothing is cooler and trendier than avocado toast (not to mention we love posting about it on social media as much as we love eating it). Knowing that much, it's awesome to see that kids who live in Chile eat avocado as part of their school lunch. They also have rice, some meat, along with a cabbage salad, and what looks like a few carrots.
13 United Kingdom: Potatoes And Peas
IMGUR posted this image showing the children in the U.K. eat peas and potatoes as part of their school lunch, along with what might be a kind of chicken dish in a sauce. It's honestly tough to tell what it is, but that seems like a pretty good guess. It also looks like this school lunch included a small piece of bread and a tasteful amount of soup (maybe carrot or butternut squash?).
It's common to hear about children being picky about what they eat, and it seems like even something like peas would be a no-go for some of them. It's cool to see that kids in the U.K. seem to eat peas with no problem.
12 Czech Republic: Dumplings, Ham, And Soup
If you're living in Canada or the US, it's rare to hear about lunches in other cultures unless you actually research them. Most of us just know what we ate as kids (probably lots and lots of sandwiches) and what we send our own little ones to school with (maybe the same thing). It's fascinating to see what kids around the world are eating.
IMGUR says a school lunch in the Czech Republic can include soup, a pear, ham, dumplings, and what looks like some kind of green sauce or green puree.
11 Greece: Stuffed Grape Leaves, Fruit, Chicken, Orzo
Behold, the most sophisticated school lunch I've ever seen (okay, maybe it's tied with the school lunch in Italy). Greek food is truly delicious and many of us are probably big fans of everything that the cuisine entails, from souvlaki, to salad, to lemon soup, to a lot of the things that are included in this school lunch!
Huffington Post says that children in Greece are enjoying chicken, orzo, some oranges, grape leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers, and Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds. Is this sophisticated or what?! It's awesome that kids are eating grape leaves for lunch.
10 Brazil: Rice, Beans, Roll, Banana, And Salad
Life Buzz says that children in Brazil are eating rice, beans, a banana, salad, a roll, and what looks like meat and veggies for their school lunch.
There are some common foods in these school lunches from around the world, though. A lot of these lunches include some fruit on the side—like oranges or a banana—and many also have rice as the carb. This lunch definitely looks like something that kids would love to eat since many children seem to love rice and bananas.
9 Sweden: Fish, Potatoes, Peas, And Sauce
That looks like a delicious piece of salmon, doesn't it? In Sweden, children are enjoying fish, sauce, peas, and potatoes when they take a break at school to eat lunch.
When children are picky eaters, they're most likely not eating fish (and if they are — good for them!). They might eat some plain chicken or plain pasta with butter (sometimes even tomato or pasta sauce is way too much) and foods like white rice or fruit might be okay as well. But fish? It's not really high on kids lists of favorite foods or even foods that they are willing to try a little bit of.
8 Slovakia: Bread, Tomato, Fruit, And Smoked Mackerel
This school lunch from Slovakia looks pretty fresh with all of those tomatoes! It reminds me of lunch plates that I might make nowadays, to be honest. You know those days when you want a little bit of everything so you make a plate with some protein (maybe canned salmon or tuna or chicken), some veggies, maybe some fruit, and some crackers or a piece of bread? That's essentially what this lunch plate is. With tomatoes, smoked mackerel, two pieces of bread, and two kinds of fruit (an apple and a kiwi), Slovakian kids have it all!
7 Singapore: Omelette, Fried Anchovies, And Cabbage
An omelet, fried anchovies, and cabbage are what's on a child's lunch plate when they live in Singapore. Talk about sophistication!
You've got protein from the egg and anchovies, and the cabbage counts as a vegetable, so it seems like there are definitely some nutrients here. This proves that around the world children are eating really sophisticated foods that we would typically think of as something that only adults are eating. It also proves that we don't have to assume that kids will only like chicken fingers dipped in ketchup. They might like some foods that we would never think they would.
6 Finland: Chicken Curry, Rice, And Salad
This school lunch from Finland includes chicken curry, rice, a salad on the side, green beans and carrots (that look like they're steamed), and what looks like two glasses of milk.
This lunch has protein, carbs, and vegetables (there's even a salad with a side dish of veggies), and it's got double the calcium from the two glasses of milk. It appears milk is a really popular drink for kids in schools across the globe since it seems like most of them will happily drink it (even if there's no chocolate in it, although that helps too, of course).
5 Philippines: Liver Sauce And Rice
It's always fascinating to learn about other countries and what daily life is like for them. While many of us love traveling for that reason and getting to discover new places and have new adventures, most of us would probably agree that we're super curious about the types of food that people around the world eat. In the Philippines, for instance, Life Buzz says children are eating rice and liver sauce for their school lunch. While it may look plane in their individual sections, this lunch is probably fantastic mixed together.
4 Japan: Soup And A Piece Of Bread
Here's another example of a school lunch in Japan that is different from the other example. Instead of fish and rice, this particular school lunch includes soup, a piece of white bread, and what looks like some veggies and chickpeas (it looks like this is maybe green beans or another type of green).
This doesn't look that far fetched from some lunches in North America, since many lunches include soup and a piece of bread. That's often a great bonus when you go out to dine and get some soup with bread before your meal.
3 Sweden: Carrots, Cottage Cheese On A Cracker/Bread, And Chicken Salad
In Sweden, this is what a school lunch looks like: carrots, cottage cheese on what looks like either a cracker or a thin piece of bread, and some chicken salad.
You have your major food groups here: vegetables (carrots), protein (chicken salad and cottage cheese), and a carb (the cracker or bread). Did your school lunches look like this? It's interesting to see that in different countries, a lunch is not necessarily a sandwich. It can be a bunch of different foods, like pasta with some protein, fruit, and vegetables on the side. This gives us some lunch ideas for both ourselves and our children.
2 Prague: Chicken, Soup, Rice, Tea, And Juice
IMGUR says that in Prague, kids are eating chicken in a sauce with rice and enjoying soup on the side. They're also drinking hot tea and juice.
This looks like something we might think of eating for dinner and not necessarily lunch, depending on where we live. Most of us think of sandwiches and chips when we think of lunch. Most of North Americans view lunch as a cold meal, right? As opposed to hot?
This example of a school lunch is an awesome reminder that warm, cooked foods can totally be lunch, too, and that our own kids might be into something like this.
1 The States: Pizza, chocolate milk, fruit salad, and snack
And here we have a typical school lunch that kids in America tend to eat: pizza with corn on the side, what looks like canned fruit, a soft pretzel with mustard, and a carton of chocolate milk.
It's safe to say that we can agree that this isn't the healthiest lunch on this list. There isn't going to be a lot of protein in the pizza since there's only cheese on it, there's sugar in the canned fruit, and there just aren't a lot of nutrients sadly. I think nowadays, schools might be switching up their lunch-time ingredients, and after viewing this list, maybe they should...