Lunch is an important part of the child’s day. Packing a good lunch ensures that the child will eat well and have enough energy and attention span to make it through the second half of a long school day. Packing a good lunch without killing your budget takes practice skill and a little trial and error but after awhile you will find your groove. The end result is happy, healthy children and a better bottom line on your budget.
Forget the apple.
Or the carrots, or whatever it is that comes home uneaten day after day. Accept that your child isn’t going to eat it and find something else to send in its place. You are wasting money. You are not present with your child when he opens his lunch box. Therefore, this is not the time to teach him a lesson about trying foods he doesn’t like. Save that for when you are home together and can work with him on good eating habits.
Invest in reusable containers.
Forget the brown bags and plastic sandwich bags. Reusable bags and containers can save a lot of money in the long run. High quality containers and lunch bags can last over several years, saving you money on constantly buying the disposable versions.
Make your own Kool-Aid.
Using a Kool-Aid packet that costs about twenty cents to make a pitcher will save you a lot of money over juice boxes that cost as much as $3.00 for just six. If sweetened drinks are not allowed, do the same with unsweetened fruit juice made from frozen concentrate. For a dollar or less you can make enough juice to last the entire week. Don’t forget to pack it in a reusable sports bottle to save even more.
Shop the sales.
Don’t let your children get into the habit of needing a certain snack every day. Every week, buy the snack that’s on sale whether that be fruit snacks, granola bars, dry cereal or something else. The change of pace will be good for the kids and you will save money because you are buying whatever is cheapest each week.
Skip the lunch meat.
The cost of lunch meat can be a budget-buster, especially if you have more than one lunch to pack. Instead pack leftovers from dinner, a thermos of soup or a meat-less sandwich.
Save the extras.
When you end up with an almost-empty bag of pretzels and three boxes of cereal that are still about 1/4 full, toss the leftovers together in a large bowl and make a snack mix. Add raisins, chocolate chips or any other “extras” you have in the cabinets to make a snack that’s different each time you make it. Add that to the lunches instead of chips or cookies and you can save substantial money on dessert.