Beef tongue, goulash, grated organic carrots: What French Kindergarteners are eating this week!

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 St Etienne de Rouvray, a small industrial town of about 28,000 people in Normandy best known for its unusual 16th century church.

The menu below is for the children in kindergarten; in France, children begin at the age of 2 and a half or 3 (whenever they are toilet trained), and attend kindergarten for three years before starting school at the age of 6. From the age of 4 onwards, they spend a full day at school (typically 8 to 5 pm)–so lunch is definitely an important meal. In fact, it’s supposed to be the biggest meal of the day for French children.

Keep in mind that children can’t bring lunch from home (unless they have allergies), and that they are all expected to taste whatever is served–even if they don’t eat it. Food education–introducing children to a wide variety of flavors and tastes–starts right from the early years!

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 10th
Salad: Cold tomato potage soup
Main: Chicken sausage with lentils
Cheese/Dairy: Yogurt
Dessert: A pear

Tuesday, September 11th
Salad: Macedonian salad with hard-boiled eggs
Main: Minced chicken with ‘sauce suprême’ and pasta
Cheese/Dairy: Fromage blanc (somewhat like Greek yogurt)
Dessert: Fruit compote (sauce)

Wednesday, September 12th
Salad: Watermelon
Main: Vegetable goulash with carrots ‘vichy’ style
Cheese/Dairy: Mini Babybel (a miniature cheese much like Gouda, in an individual red wrapper that kids tend to love)
Dessert: Apple pie

Thursday, September 13th
Salad: Organic grated carrots
Main: Minced beef tongue with spicy sauce and vegetable puree
Cheese/Dairy: Yogurt
Dessert: None

Friday, September 14th
Salad: Tomatoes with vinaigrette
Main: Filet of hake with cream sauce and bulghur
Cheese/Dairy: None
Dessert: Abricotine (a flaky fruit-filled pastry)

Now, how many of these dishes would your kids have tasted (much less eaten) when they were in kindergarten?

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.

3 thoughts on “Beef tongue, goulash, grated organic carrots: What French Kindergarteners are eating this week!

  1. You’re so right – it does require work on the part of parents. Just like teaching kids to read! Patience, persistence, and loving support required; and above all, lots of practice!


  2. I definitely found this blog, and the article that linked me to it (that I believe you wrote?) very interesting. So much so, that I forwarded it to many friends and family of mine. I grew up a picky eater (didn’t even try asparagus until collage, and zucchini until a few years ago, and I love both), and I am working very hard to make sure that my kids are NOT picky. I am happy to say that they love zucchini and squash and asparagus and edamame…and many other veggies that I know other children would quickly say “eeww!” at. So I really like this article, and how it shows that the parents have a big part to play in what their children are willing to eat.


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