Back to school is in full swing for most of us, and even though it just started, I’m already in need of some inspiration for my daughter’s lunchbox. And saving some money in the process wouldn’t hurt either. I’m not trying to send her off with marcona almonds, artisanal cheeses and some Perrier in her thermos. So here are some great tips and ideas on how to save money on your kid’s lunches.
1) Go Bento – I just bought a set of 4 of these lifesavers. You’ll save money (and the environment) by using less plastic baggies. I like to pre-fill all of mine with fruit and veggies at the beginning of week – one less thing to worry about the morning of.
2) Get Creative – I don’t know about you, but after a weekend of barbequing (especially while we’re still in the last part of summer), I inevitably have a bag of leftover hotdog or hamburger buns left in my pantry that I usually throw out. Why not get creative and use these as alternative sandwich holders? The hot dog bun can act as a hoagie roll, and there is nothing wrong with PB&J between two buns as far as your kid is concerned. Take a look at any other food items lingering in your fridge or pantry and if it would be considered “edible” by your kid, throw it in. Like the leftover veggies and bag of dried cranberries from a salad I made that I’ll be packing this week instead of the standard fruit and carrot sticks. And how cute is this banana dog?
3) Don’t Buy Pre-packaged Anything – Snack bags of chips, yogurt cups or pouches, boxed raisins, you name it. If you buy that stuff in bulk and use the tupperware you have at home in creative ways, you’ll be able to stretch your dollar further. I’ve seen people use reusable silicon cupcake liners to hold snackable items like this:
4) Stretch Your Meals – Anytime I can make a meal or side in a big batch that all of us can have for dinner AND take to work and school for lunch, I am a happy mama. It means that my husband and I are saving money by not eating out at work, which is always my goal during the week. Pasta salad, chicken salad, or potato salad are all things that come to mind that are easy to make a ton of and pack for lunch. And what kid doesn’t want cold pizza from the night before in their lunch box? That was always my favorite!
And here is a list of fun and frugal lunch ideas I’ll be mixing into the rotation:
- Homemade Lunchables
- Soft Tacos filled with whatever leftovers we have
- Hummus or Bean Dip with Chips and Veggie Sticks
- Tortilla Wraps or Tortilla Pizza Wraps
- Yogurt Parfaits with fruit and granola
- Homemade Muffins or Pinwheels
- Fruit, Cheese and/or Veggie Skewers
- Mini bagels with cream cheese
This list could go on and on. And while pinterest-perusing, I realized that this “kid’s lunch” thing has been taken to a whole new level where the contents of a lunch box are crust-less works of art, all while being healthy and full of variety of course. Sheesh! One more reason I love to hate pinterest – but in all fairness it was a great resource for ideas. For more ideas, click here. But don’t say I didn’t warn you….feelings of inadequacy may follow.
What about you? How do you save money on your kid’s lunches? And what are some fun lunch ideas that went over well with them?
Photo Credits: Melissa @ anotherlunch.com