Frugal Tips for School Lunches

Preparing your child a school lunch can be an every morning hassle or it can be a breeze with just a little smart planning. Don’t get bogged down in the sandwich rut, use your imagination and make your child’s lunch not only nutritious but fun and delicious too. Here are some frugal tips for school lunches that might help.

Use leftovers

Plan ahead and cook supper a few times a week, with the next day’s lunch in mind. Many leftovers are well suited for use in school lunches such as mustard potato salad, roast beef sandwiches, pizza, tossed salads, stews and soups, puddings and bean dip with tortilla chips.

I never met a kid that wouldn’t eat cold pizza and bean dip made with re-fried beans, salsa, cheese and sour cream is filling, nutritious and delicious. Stews and soups served in a small thermos will still be warm at lunchtime. Add a small baggie of crackers and a piece of fruit, a box of raisins or some granola for dessert.

Consider buying In bulk

Resist the urge to buy the small pre-packaged bags of chips and snacks. Buy the large family size and repackage in small sandwich baggies. Buy large containers of foods your child eats regularly such as peanut butter and jams, raisins, cookies, cheese, yogurts, lunch meat and other sandwich fillings.

Make it nutritious

Nutritious foods are sometimes the same as comfort foods and most are frugal foods. Pimento cheese, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, pureed chick peas with herbs and spices, fruit pies, macaroni and cheese, rice pudding and black-eyed pea patties are just a few of the frugal yet delicious and highly nutritious foods that your child will scarf down at lunch time.

Make it delicious

No matter how nutritious your child’s lunch is if they won’t eat it, it’s a waste and waste is never frugal. Get your child involved in the decision-making about lunch and you’ll never need to throw out lunch food again.

Make it safe

Use care when packing your child’s lunch and never pack anything containing mayonnaise, meat or eggs unless you use a cooling pack, especially in the warmer months. Many lunch foods can be packed frozen and will thaw out for lunchtime.

Make it fun

Making your kid’s lunch fun is easy to do and cost you no more. An example is packing celery sticks with a small container of peanut butter and some raisins so your kids can make “ants on a log” for themselves. Another idea is to cut sandwich bread with a cookie cutter and save the scraps for making croutons and bread crumbs or pack shredded veggies and other fillings with cheese and pocket bread or make your own Lunchables.

Discuss with your child the need for good nutrition as well as saving money when it comes to his or her lunch. Ask their opinion and be willing to make a few compromises so they don’t approach the lunch bag with dread. Try these frugal tips for school lunches and have peace of mind about your child’s lunch.