Frugal School Lunches

Children need a healthy balanced diet in order to function at best to be able to learn and grow. It is important to pack a healthful and nutritious lunch that will provide energy for the day. Packing a lunch is already cost effective; however, there can still be ways to cut back on cost during these cut-ridden times.

 Here are some tips for frugal school lunches:

Keep it fresh

Select the correct lunch bag or box that is favorable, as this can encourage your child to eat the food within. Invest in some reusable containers and utensils, and a reusable sports bottle or thermos flask. Another essential item for a lunch bag is an ice pack, as these keep food chilled and fresh. Alternatively, freeze a bottle of water and take it out of the freezer in plenty of time so that it can thaw before lunchtime, this way everything stays cool at no extra cost. In summer put a bottle of drink in the freezer, and in the winter put it in the refrigerator the night before, place it in the centre of the lunch box to keep everything cold and fresh.

Pack the right food

Pack what your children like, as sending food that they won’t eat is just wasteful. However, keep it healthy, and try to encourage good habits. It does no harm to have a few favorites, providing there is a good balance of foods. By packing tasty food that is preferable, it is more likely to be eaten. Get your children involved with selecting the foods and preparing the lunch the night before. Give them options of foods they can have, and guide them to healthier alternatives, with the prerequisite of packing a fruit or veggie. This way they get to eat what they like, and they still get a healthy item to eat, too.

Buy fresh foods

Avoid buying processed ready-made individually served packed foods, as these are generally more costly, as you are paying for the convenience. These are geared towards children with their fun packaging, however, they are unhealthier than their non-processed alternatives and the portions are generally small. Fresh food is not only more healthful, it is also cost effective. It may take more time to prepare, however, get the children involved with preparing lunch the night before and they will enjoy it more the following day, as they had a helping hand in preparing it. This makes everyone happy, and saves money.

Wise food buys

Involve your children with the food shop. Teach and guide them to healthy foods and food that costs less, and in time they will know which foods are better for them and the environment. Give them options, and allow them to select the fruit and veggies for the week and other tasty foods that they would like to see in their lunch box. This gives them the opportunity to choose food that they are more likely to enjoy, and you can guide their choices, so everyone is happy. Buy in bulk, as larger packs are generally better value for money. Certain items that are in high demand such as fruit and veggies, and non perishables can be bought in bulk, and this will save time and money. Make use of the freezer, and freeze any extras to reduce waste.

• Don’t let it go to waste

Leftovers are ideal to use for lunch, and these provide a tasty healthy alternative to sandwiches. Cook extra with the evening meal and use it for the following day’s lunch to save time and money. Time permitting, cook a batch of cookies or muffins for a tasty treat, these will not only taste better, but they are healthier and cost a fraction of the price to bake. Baking extra while cooking the evening meal is a cost effective way of producing healthy alternatives to give the lunch box a bit of diversity.

School lunches can be fun, nutritious and inexpensive. Being frugal doesn’t mean it has to be boring or plain. Healthy options can still be provided, without compromising on taste. Being frugal not only reduces expenditure, it is also better for the environment, as there is less waste.