Making school lunches saves money and ensures your kids have a healthy lunch every day, but the costs can still add up if you aren’t careful.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to send your kids to school with lunches they’ll love and still leave money in your pocketbook.
Use Reusable Containers
Stop using disposable bags and containers and instead invest in good reusable containers. You’ll save money not buying disposable plastic and paper bags, and you’ll help the environment. It takes only a few minutes to wash containers, water bottles, and reusable bags, getting them ready for the next day.
Use Frozen vs Fresh Fruit
Frozen fruit is the perfect way to ensure your kids get a healthy dose of nutrients at lunch without breaking the bank. Slightly defrost your child’s favorite fruits under warm water in the morning, place them in a container slightly frozen, and by lunchtime, they are perfect.
This is especially helpful if you have picky kids that only like certain fruits that aren’t in season year-round.
Keep it Simple
Making your kid’s school lunch isn’t a contest. You don’t need to send the fanciest or most exciting lunch. Keep it simple to ensure your kid will eat the food, and you’ll save money.
Ideally, your child’s lunch should have:
- A small serving of protein to keep him/her full
- 1-2 fruits and veggies
- A healthy fat
- 1 serving of a whole grain carb
Use Fresh Ingredients vs Prepackaged
The convenience of prepackaged foods is enticing, but it wrecks your budget. Rather than buying prepackaged string cheese, individual yogurts, and snack mixes, make your own.
Buy a brick of cheese and slice it yourself, put yogurt in reusable containers from one large yogurt container, and make small containers of snack mix using your child’s favorite options. You can buy the ingredients in bulk and customize them to how your child likes them versus grabbing prepackaged snacks and throwing them in their lunch.
If you made a big dinner the night before and it’s something your child loves, send it for lunch the next day. A reusable thermos keeps foods hot if you have soups, pasta, or casseroles to send.
If you need to keep foods cold, such as salads or sandwiches, a reusable ice pack and thermal lunch bag will keep the food cold and fresh for your child’s lunch.
Make a Rotating List
Don’t get stuck in a rut. Create a list of a handful of your child’s favorites. The list should include:
- Various sandwiches (meat and meat alternatives)
- Pasta and soups
- Favorite leftovers
- Favorite fruits and veggies
- Favorite whole grains and fun snacks
Watch the sale ads and stock up on your child’s favorites when they’re cheap to save the most money.
Final Thoughts – Saving Money on your Kid’s Lunch
Saving money on your kid’s lunch doesn’t have to mean boring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. There are many ways to switch things up and have some fun. While PB&J may be on the menu a few times a year, with the right rotation and your child’s help, you can come up with fun ways to make great lunches without breaking the bank.