School lunches served to the French kids in school cafeterias makes parents jealous all over the world. But what exactly makes these lunch menus so popular? While traveling around the world with school lunches, we looked into the basics of lunchtime in France. Today we decided to go deeper into the specificities of the French school menus that we can easily apply to our lunch packing routine!
1. Start with the main course
French kids who eat at school get a menu as if they were in a restaurant: the menu includes, most of the time, an appetizer, a main course, “cheese”, and dessert. The main course is the most important part of the meal, with vegetables, proteins (meat, fish, eggs, beans, or lentils), and cereals.
Our first advice when thinking your next menu is to start with the selection of the proteins you want to include: fish? meat? vegetable proteins?
Then, what cereals would pair well with these proteins? Here are for you some combinations founded in french school menus.
Note that if you don’t want any cereal in your main course, you can always add some bread to your menu, as you can see it in a lot of French School Menus available on Teuko.com
Last but not least, what vegetable(s) would match your previous choices?
This looks like a difficult question only a chef would be able to answer but, let’s have a look into safe food combinations made in French school lunch menus.
2. Add a side
An appetizer is most and foremost what restaurants in the USA call “sides”. So just add extra raw veggies or fruits to complete your food groups, and you’re all set! See below exemples of food that you can find as a side in french school menus.
During winter, kids can be served a soup as an appetizer: leek soup, carrot soup, pumpkin soup, mushroom soup, …
3. Don’t forget the cheese!
One of the most loved French cartoon characters are Astérix and Obélix, and in the movie “Astérix and Cléopâtre”, there is this song that sums it up…
A good meal without cheese, It’s a beast that only has one eye,Extract “Astérix and Cléopâtre” Movie
It’s a bird without feathers, It’s a forest without squirrel…
So, if you want to pack lunch the French way… don’t forget the cheese!
What if your kids are not into cheese? You can always switch to a yogurt to make sure to pack all the calcium they need to grow strong. Pick fruity yoghurt, or just plain yoghurt and add yourself some fresh fruits… yum!
4. The cherry on top
Fruits lead us to the last part of a French meal: the dessert! What’s interesting when looking at all the school menus demystified in Teuko.com is that the desserts served to the French kids are mostly fruits in season!
From time to time, they get also sweet treats like cakes, pies, cookies… You can make it simple by adding one chocolate chip cookie or a mini donut. French schools allow “beignet” sometime, – it’s like a donut filled with applesauce, jam, vanilla cream or chocolate cream!, so why wouldn’t you dare?
5. What about the drink?
Water is the only drink served to the French schoolchildren nowadays. It was not always the case. Indeed, in 1956, the French government required that no wine would be served to the kids under the age of 14yo! And it’s only in 1981 that the law was extended up to the kids in high school.
Play with plain water, sparkling water, or just add some slices of lemon in tap water… and voilà! Your lunchbox is finally complete… the French way.