Salmon lasagna, lentil salad, organic spinach and more…what French kindergarden kids are eating this week in Paris!

Yay! My ‘French Kids’ School Lunch Project’ is back by popular demand! (For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.)

This week, we’re in Paris (well, virtually anyway), in the 17th arrondissement (Place de la Concorde!). School lunches are organized by neighborhood (arrondissement) in Paris, with all of the kids in a neighborhood eating the same menu (usually prepared in large ‘central kitchens’ before being shipped out to individual schools, although some schools still have cooks on the premises). As usual, the schools post the menu online for eager parents to check out what their progeny will be eating. This menu is for the children in kindergarten (maternelle), from 3 to 5 years olds. Check out the menu for the rest of the month. Impressive!


As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought!

Monday, September 30th
Salad: Lentil Salad with tomatoes
Main: Roast pork or turkey, with peas and carrots
Cheese/Dairy:Brie
Dessert: A kiwi

Tuesday, October 1st
Salad: Cucumber salad with vinaigrette
Main: Salmon lasagna and organic spinach
Cheese/Dairy: Cheese fondu with baguettefor dipping
Dessert: Organic fruit compote

Wednesday, October 2nd
Salad: Macedonian salad with vinaigrette
Main: Veal ‘marengo’ with rice
Cheese/Dairy: Petits suisses (akin to flavored yogurt)
Dessert: An organic orange

Thursday, October 3rd
Salad: Cauliflower with vinaigrette
Main: ‘Hachis Parmentier’ (sort of like Shepherd’s Pie) with organic beef
Cheese/Dairy: Pyrénées with organic baguette
Dessert: Fruit salad

Friday, October 4th
Salad: Red beans and corn
Main: Chicken skewer with ratatouille
Cheese/Dairy: Cheese fondu with bread for dipping
Dessert: Paris Brest’ (a wonderful dessert made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream – yum!)


This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

Olive bread and cucumber salad, lentils and fish filet, bean salad and chocolate ice cream! What French kids are eating for school lunch, this week in the Alps

This week we’re in Saint-Julien-de-Genevois (population 5000), a small town in the Alps in south-eastern France, right on the border with Switzerland (in fact, it’s a suburb of Geneva–many French people choose to live here but commute into town every day).

The Town Hall has a ‘Menus Committee’, where parents and elected representatives approve the menus every month.

Colorful menus (like this one) are sent home, posted on school doors, and available online, so everyone knows what the children are eating.

And it sounds pretty good (see that dessert? It’s on this weeks’ menu!).


As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought! For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.

Monday
Salad: Savory olive bread
Main: Sautéed chicken with green peas à la barigoule (a traditional sauce made with artichoke hearts)
Cheese/Dairy:Fromage blanc (a light, creamy cheese that is somewhat like a thick yogurt in consistency)
Dessert: Seasonal fruit

Tuesday
Salad: Cucumber with balkan yogurt sauce
Main: Roast pork with gravy and lentil stew
Cheese/Dairy:Reblochon de Savoie A traditional unpasteurized cheese from the Alps: richm creamy yellow, nutty-tasting, and a little stinky!
Dessert: Apple compote (sauce)

Wednesday
Salad: Green bean salad
Main: Sautéed veal with bulghur wheat
Cheese/Dairy: A mild, very light cheese (made with skim milk), also from the Rhône-Alpes region
Dessert: Seasonal fruit

Thursday
Salad: Grated carrot salad (a French kids’ favorite)
Main: Filet of fish with lemon; ratatouille and rice
Cheese/Dairy:Mimolette
Dessert: Liégeois au chocolat The treat of the week! A rich chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream, served in a tall glass. Say no more.

Friday
Salad: Cabbage salad with mayonnaise (sort of like cole slaw)
Main: Sautéed beef with sweet and sour sauce, and pasta
Cheese/Dairy: Organic yogurt with organic sugar
Dessert: Fresh fruit cocktail

Like many small towns and villages, Saint-Julien has decided to outsource its meals to a private company, which makes them locally. It’s a more cost-effective approach–particularly because health and hygiene regulations are so strict, making it prohibitively expensive for many small towns to upgrade kitchens, train staff, and follow the complicated healthy regulations (for example, every meal is sampled, and the samples are stored frozen for several weeks in case of any food poisoning). The issue of whether or not to keep the meals ‘in-house’ has caused much controversy in France in recent years, with no end in sight. I’ll be blogging next month about the pros and cons of ‘do-it-yourself’ versus ‘bring in the food company’ — a choice many schools in other countries are facing.

ps The grated carrot salad is on my blog, here.

Bon Appétit!


This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

What's for school lunch in France's poorest town this week? Sautéed veal and celery salad, roast pork and cauliflower-curry casserole…and more!

My ‘French Kids’ School Lunch Project’ is back by popular demand! (For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.)

I blogged last year about menus in France’s poorest town: Denain. It’s a small town (population: 20,000) in northern France. It used to be one of the country’s wealthiest industrial cities (and was known as the ‘city of a thousand chimneys’). Denindustrialization, the decline of France’s domestic textile industry, and the closing of the town’s last steel mill in the 1980s have changed the town’s fortunes dramatically. It now has the highest unemployment rate and lowest average household income in France.

Last year, I checked the menus at the local schools, to see whether they would be offering the same types of food as elsewhere in France. And I was pleasantly surprised (see a menu from last year). This year’s menus look similarly wonderful–tasty and nutritious.

As everywhere in France, there are four courses, but unlike the primary and preschools, the high school kids actually get one choice for the main course. No vending machines are allowed in schools (this is a national policy), and kids are strongly discouraged from bringing lunches from home. Given that this sounds better than many of my work lunches this week, I’m doubting that many of them want to!

By the way, I explain more fully in my post on French school lunches that there is no national school lunch program in France. These meals are organized and funded by the local community. Parents pay different rates per meal, more or less related to income (so wealthier families pay more, and poorer families pay less). These menus are an inspiring example of what local communities can do when they decide that good food–and teaching children to love healthy food–is really a top priority.


As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought!

Monday, October 15th
Salad: ‘Marco Polo’ salad (Pasta salad with tagliatelle, seafood (e.g. crab, shrimp), and vegetables (peppers, tomatoes)
Main: Roast Pork or Fish Filet with ‘provencale’ sauce (tomatoes, onions, olives, and Herbes de Provence like rosemary and thyme) with Cauliflower-Curry Casserole
Cheese/Dairy: Saint Paulin (a mild, creamy, soft cheese originally made by Trappist monks)
Dessert: Fresh apple slices

Tuesday, October 16th
Salad: Fresh ‘market greens’ salad
Main: Mushroom crepes (or ground beef) with green beans, with cubed roast potatoes
Cheese/Dairy: Tomme de Savoie (a hard, mild-tasting cheese somewhat like old cheddar)
Dessert: An orange

Wednesday
no school

Thursday, October 18th
Salad: Tomato and celery salad
Main: Omelette with herbs or carbonade flamande (a traditional Belgian sweet-sour beef and onion stew) with garlic carrots and fried potatoes
Cheese/Dairy: none (probably because the meal is so rich!)
Dessert: Fruit ‘velouté’ (a fresh fruit pudding a bit like a smoothie) with ‘Galette sablé’ cookies (a bit like shortbread)

Friday, October 19th
Salad: Soup ‘Crécy’ (a simple carrot soup with thyme)
Main: Sautéed veal or filet of sole, with pasta (macaroni elbows) and creamed spinach
Cheese/Dairy: Camembert
Dessert: A kiwi

If you’re interested in other menus, you can check them out here (in French!). French schools usually post their menus online for parents to consult–partly to do their own menu planning (as the French prioritize variety, they would try to avoid serving the same thing at dinner if their child had eaten it for lunch), and partly just to share information–because the French love talking about food, and knowing what their kids have eaten!


This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

Cauliflower and grilled fish with dill sauce, wheat berries and beets, roast veal and red beans, chocolate flan and more! What French kids are eating for school lunch this week in Poitiers

This week we’re in the city of Poitiers, a medieval town in the middle of France (site of historic battles, Roman ruins, perched on a hill overlooking gorgeous countryside, cobblestoned streets — yup, all of the clichés about France). Poitiers was also the site of a major US Army and Air Force presence after WW II–there was even a Poitiers American high school! The town has now hung its hopes on information technology (it’s home to ‘Futuroscope’, France’s futuristic theme park). As is so often the case in France, it’s an intriguing mix of ancient and modern.

Poitiers is also apparently a town that takes kids’ food seriously. The website explains that each meal has either fresh (raw) fruits or vegetables; a protein-rich dish (usually meat, fish or eggs); cooked vegetables; a dairy product (cheese or yogurt — milk is never served, as it is usually only consumed at breakfast); and fresh fruit for dessert most days. Two organic dishes are served per week; and one meal per month is entirely organic. The Town Hall (which is in charge of providing school meals) has also partnered with the local technical high school’s cooking program; as part of their curriculum, the high school students make dishes with fresh, seasonal produce and heritage vegetables (focusing on traditional varieties that are only rarely used any more)–reminding cooks and kids alike of the importance of food as cultural heritage. A dietician develops the school lunch menus every 6 weeks, making sure that children’s meals are balanced each day, but also making sure they eat sufficient variety of nutritious foods on a weekly and monthly basis. The town even reports a summary of types of foods offered on its website (so parents can see that, during the 44 meals served in September and October, children were served fish 9 times, fresh fruit 18 times, vegetables 44 times, and fried food precisely twice).

As in other towns and cities, parents pay according to income. For the meals below, the highest-income families pay about $6 per meal, and the lowest-inceom families pay about 60 cents (yes, that’s right, 60 cents), with the average somewhere around $3.50 per meal. (The parents are billed directly, and the tariffs they pay are private information.) This social solidarity is quite common in France — families get special reduced rates for many things (even train travel), and low-income families get reduced prices for everything from meals to after-school activities.

So, what are kids eatings this week in Poitiers?


As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought! For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.

Monday, October 8th
Salad: Tomato mozzarella salad
Main: Roast veal with tarragon sauce, organic zucchini with sauce ‘Provençale’ (tomatoes, onions, olives and Herbes de Provence like thyme and oregano)
Cheese/Dairy: Fromage blanc (a light, creamy, soft cheese that is best described as being halfway between yogurt and cream cheese in consistency), with sugar
Dessert: none

Tuesday, October 9th
Salad: Vegetable-Lemon Terrine (a baked vegetable paté with carrots, broccoli, celery, spinach, eggs, shallots, nutmeg, and cream)
Main: Rice and red beans, with sautéed carrots, zucchini, and red peppers
Cheese/Dairy: none
Dessert: Chocolate Flan (somewhat like a light cheese cake) and an orange

Wednesday, October 10th
Salad: Wheat berry salad with olives, tuna, tomatoes
Main: Scalloped turkey with gravy, and buttered green beans
Cheese/Dairy:Bonbel cheese, a mild cheese rather like Gouda
Dessert: A pear

Thursday, October 11th
Salad: Salad greens
Main: Organic ground beef with roast potatoes
Cheese/Dairy:P’tit Louis
Dessert: Pear-Apple compote (fruit sauce)

Friday, October 12th
Salad: Organic beet salad (a French kids’ favorite)
Main: Fish (hake) filet with dill-shallot sauce, and steamed cauliflower
Cheese/Dairy:Cantafrais cheese (a light, spreadable cheese)
Dessert: Flan Patissier A fresh flan made by a ‘patissier’ (baker specializing in desserts). Nice way to end the week!


This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

Radishes and navy beans, pumpkins and garlic sausage….what French kids are eating for school lunch this week!

This week we’re in Roquefort-la-Bedoule, a small village (population 5000) in Provence (not far from Cassis and Marseilles). Its motto is: ‘a village, grapevines, and hills’–which pretty much sums up the essence of the agricultural economy here, in which wine-making (in this case, Côtes de Provence) has been the core of village life for centuries.

So, what are French kids eating this week for school lunch? The menus are provided to parents in a glossy brochure that provides a breakdown of daily menus, advice on breakfast, and ideas for dinners to serve (featuring local ingredients) throughout the month. Even if you can’t read French, take a look: it will give you an idea of how seriously they take their food!

Another interesting point: the kids get two types of cheese (or yogurt) at each meal. This is how they get their dairy–rather than drinking milk.

Note: just like everywhere in France, these meals are locally funded (as is that glossy brochure). There are no national subsidies. Parents pay on a sliding scale (proportional to income), and the Town Hall subsidizes meals for kids who can’t pay. So everyone who eats at school (and most kids do) get the same tasty, nutritious lunch.


As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought!

(For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.)

Monday
Salad: Pasta salad with navy beans and pistou sauce (a traditional sauce in Provence, made from basil, olive oil, & parmesan — like pesto without the pine nuts)
Main: Hoki (fish) with lemon sauce and pumpkin puree
Cheese/Dairy: Petit Cotentin cheese and goat cheese BÛCHETTE (shaped like a little log)
Dessert: Fresh fruit

Tuesday
Salad: Mushroom salad with chives, radishes and butter
Main: Chicken with Provençal sauce (think: tomato sauce with onions, garlic, onions, and Herbes de Provence) and couscous (semolina)
Cheese/Dairy: Gouda and Saint-Bricet cheeses
Dessert: Fruit yogurt and chocolate ‘entremets’ (little chocolate mousse cakes)

Wednesday
no school

Thursday
Salad: Cucumber salad with bulghar (greek yogurt) sauce and marinated red cabbage salad
Main: Roast pork and ‘gratin dauphinois’ (a delicious potato casserole often served with a with crunchy breadcrumb topping)
Cheese/Dairy: Tomme (a mountain cheese from the alps) and ‘fromage frais’ (like a tangy yogurt)
Dessert: Ice cream

Friday
Salad: Garlic sausage and pickles, hard-boil eggs ‘disguised as tomatoes’ (honestly, your guess is as good as mine here!)
Main: Breaded fish with parsley-topped carrots
Cheese/Dairy: Yogurt (flavored or plain, with sugar)
Dessert: Fresh fruit

In case you’re wondering about the caloric contents of these meals, lunch is the main meal of the day in France – at least 40% of kids’ daily caloric intake. Breakfast is quite a light meal in France. And the French know that eating a little fat with each meal increases your ‘satiety’ (fullness feeling) — so that you don’t feel hungry for a longer period of time. After lunch, kids will wait until 4:30 pm for their afternoon snack (the only snack of the day). So it’s important that lunch is a satisfying meal. I don’t know about you, but many of these menus sound better than what I had for lunch at work last week!


This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

Back by popular demand: The French Kids' School Lunch Project

Many readers have written in asking for a repeat of my ‘French Kids’ School Lunch Project’. I’m happy to oblige!

Last year, I blogged every week about the menus served in French school lunches. For full details (including a discussion of the pros and cons of the French approach to lunches), visit the home page for the French Kids School Lunch Project. Happy reading!

Beets and goat cheese, fish and fruit: What French kids are eating for lunch….this week in Paris

My ‘French Kids’ School Lunch Project’ is back by popular demand!

(For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.)

For the yummy menus French kids are eating this week in Paris, read on! These menus come from the 17th arrondissement (similar to a borough), a very mixed part of Paris, with two former industrial zones (Batignolles and Épinettes) which are rapidly gentrifying. It’s off the tourist track (and not even listed in many tourist guides), so this is about as ‘ordinary’ as you can get — for Paris, that is! But their school lunch menus are far from ordinary!

Note the ‘English menu’ on Thursday. Each month, children are served a ‘typical meal’ from a different country. This is meant to introduce French kids to world cuisines and broaden their palates. Seems like the menus the rest of the month are doing that anyway!

As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought!

Monday, September 17th
Salad: Rice, tomatoes, surimi
Main: Turkey scallop with Spanish sauteed vegetables
Cheese/Dairy: Organic ‘fromage blanc’ (a white, smooth cheese somewhat like Greek yogurt)
Dessert: Kouign Aman (my favorite cake from Brittany, where my husband is from! A simple buttery cake, with a thin sugar glaze.)

Tuesday, September 18th
Salad: Piemontaise salad (from the Alps, which traditionally includes cooked potatoes, tomatoes, ham or chicken, hard-boiled eggs and pickles)
Main: Omelette with ‘fines herbes’ (herbs: usually parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil)
Cheese/Dairy: Comté (a hard white cheese a bit like cheddar, but drier and tangier)
Dessert: An orange

Wednesday, September 19th
Salad: Beets with vinaigrette
Main: Lasagna with organic beef
Cheese/Dairy: Organic camembert with organic bread
Dessert: A pear

Thursday, September 20th: ‘English Menu’
Salad: Crunchy goat cheese and beet salad
Main: Cottage Pie
Cheese/Dairy combined with Dessert: Cookie with ‘Crème anglaise’ (a sweet vanilla flavored cream)

Friday, September 21st
Salad: Lettuce and cheese salad
Main combined with Dairy: Fish blanquette (fish with vegetables in béchamel sauce) with noodles
Dessert: A kiwi


This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.