Moms and dads, are you ready for one of the biggest challenges for parents of all school age children? Incorporating some frugal tips into your household for school lunches. With the escalating costs of all the paraphernalia children need for school such as; books, stationary and so forth, the strain on the budget can certainly deplete your bank account in a hurry. Consequently, parents look for various ways to ease the financial burden.
With the global economic crisis in play nowadays, rising food prices and the added burden of escalating school meal costs, parents are continually seeking solutions to providing healthy, but affordable lunches for their children. Fortunately, there are a host of solutions. Read on to learn some frugal tips for school lunches.
Prepare double-duty dinners:
Get a head start on the next day’s brown bag lunch by making a double batch of meals which keep well and taste great the next day. You’re already in the kitchen so it takes very little extra effort or time to do so. Fried chicken always goes down well hot or cold. So does pizza as far as most young children and teenagers are concerned. Pasta salads are a treat and so are bean salads. Simply ensure that these are packed in airtight containers and placed into cooler bags.
Buy sandwich spread/fillings etc in bulk:
A vast array of sandwich spreads can be bulk purchased. Bread can be purchased in bulk and frozen until needed. Often times, one can even purchase a baker’s dozen at the bakery. Buying in bulk adds to your saving. Canned foods such as tuna can be bulk purchased, divvied up into portions, then frozen for later use. One can reuse bottled water containers, so skip the boxed juices and squeeze your own juices when possible. Rather than purchasing pressed chicken for lunches, purchase a whole bird, strip the meat off the bones and freeze until needed.
Make good use of national, state and district meal plans:
By law, all schools are obligated to provide meals to their students. These meals are either free or are offered at reduced prices. One must qualify for these specific programs. Families must be below a specific income level before they qualify. If you are facing hardship by all means make good use of these. They are there to help families. Other programs even offer financial assistance or discounted meals. Take advantage of all that is offered, others do so there is no need to feel embarrassed.
Pack a bagged lunch:
The easiest way to avoid those high priced school lunches is to get your children to brown bag it. While a myriad of school promise cheap meals, they frequently work on a credit line. The students basically control how much food they eat and how much the parents will owe. This can drastically increase expenditures when parents have no control over what they are purchasing. Often times, children add the extras such as second helpings, desserts, drinks and meals for friends. Parents can end up shelling out hundreds of dollars. If parents pack nutritious meals the children enjoy, they won’t be so quick to refuses a bagged lunch.
Discuss school meals with your children:
Teens in particular expect to have some say in what they eat. Be sure to tell your children exactly what is happening as far as frugal school meals are concerned. Explain that the expense is getting out of hand and what your objectives are in regards to savings making. Be flexible and compromise if you must. Unless this is discussed, your child will be totally unaware of why there is a need for financial restrictions. Try to agree on a mutually acceptable school meal plan. Let the kids participate in every way possible. This will help lighten your load and teach your children about financial responsibilities, healthy options and important life skills.
Lighten your load by cooking ahead, packing lunches ahead of time and freezing them. Place leftovers in packable containers the night before school. Most sandwiches can be frozen overnight unless they include salads. Many foods can be frozen overnight.
Remember that larger boxed items aren’t always cheaper:
Don’t take it for granted that the bulkier packet is the cheapest. Calculate exactly how much each item works out individually. Sometimes this can be quite misleading. Most single serve packs of energy bars work out more expensive but still do the sums. Transfer energy bar to airtight containers. Often times when the temperatures drop, energy bars and similar foods go mouldy quicker.
Make some hearty soup:
Teenagers are mature enough to cope with hot foods packed in thermos. Cook up a large pot of minestrone or pasta soup for the evening meal. Now add some set some aside for your child’s lunch the following day. Simply reheat it in the microwave. Pasta soups help stretch the budget and certainly fill you up. Simply add some Grahame crackers, rye bread of wholemeal bread to the lunchbox. Add some fruit and a spoon and the teens will have a lovely warm nourishing meal their friends will envy.
Healthy delicious wraps:
Most teenagers love wraps. One can choice whole wheat wraps of white bread depending on your child’s likes and dislikes. Left over beef, chicken, turkey or ham is ideal for these. Grated some carrot, add a layer of avocado, top with off with some lettuce and mayonnaise. One can add tomato slices if they wish or substitute the lettuce for alfalfa sprouts.
Make some home made bagels:
Homemade bagels can be filled with a variety of tasty treats. Try some cream cheese and turkey slices topped with avocado. Or use up some left over ham with dill pickles and cream cheese. Meals that look interesting and tasty will be well appreciated.
Invest in a yoghurt maker:
Make your very own healthy fruit yoghurts and transfer these to airtight containers for the kids lunches. One could add some sultanas for more flavour or sprinkle crushed nuts throughout this if the child is old enough to eat nuts. Those pre-packed individual tubs of yoghurt can cost a small fortune. When you make your own you know exactly what your child is eating.
Boiled Eggs and potato salad:
Most young children love hard boiled eggs. These fill the little stomachs well. Even the older child will enjoy hard boiled eggs accompanied by potato salad or coleslaw. One could pack mixed container filled to the very brim with boiled eggs, sliced peppers, a little potato salad, lettuce, tomato wedges, carrot and celery sticks with a little mayonnaise.
Using a little creativity, some pre-planning and the incentive to provide healthy meals for your child, you can embark on a frugal lifestyle with very little effort. There are a host of books available through the Internet which are ideal for those who wish to live a frugal life but still retain their health. Many of these contain unique frugal tips for school lunches.