I wrote this article 2 years ago and decided to republish it since my kids head back to school next week.
An important task for me once the school year begins is making lunches for the kids (and hubby). Packing lunch is a great way to save money! In my area, it costs $2.60 for lunch and milk. Hubby can easily spend $5 a day at work. That’s about $10 per day on lunches if I don’t pack at home!
The expense is not the only thing that keeps me packing lunches day after day. I don’t know what Monkeyboy is eating when he buys lunch at school. I have noticed fairly healthy options, but I know what I send is better. He does get to buy lunch once per week now - “My friends buy lunch, Mom!”
1. Pick a lunch box: Pick a lunch box that your child will use and be mindful of how the lunches will fit into the box or bag. Consider purchasing containers to send sandwiches, snacks and drinks to avoid buying baggies and juice boxes; plus it’s more eco-friendly.
2. Prepare the night before: I always find it beneficial to pack lunches the night before. It saves me time and hassle in the morning. It also helps me to make sure the ice packs are in the freezer and ready to add to the lunch box the next day. On Sunday night I like to get snack containers together for the week. Use what you have in your stockpile to put together a snack container of goodies. You can try gold-fish, cheez-its, raisins, pretzels, dry cereal, anything.
3. Think variety: I tend to pack lunches with 4 categories: main dish, fruit or vegetable, snack, and a drink. I want my kids to always have a healthy option, but they want a treat too. Most days they’re beverage is water, but I do throw in a little surprise 1 or 2 times a week and add juice to they’re drink bottle. Remember to be mindful of what your child will eat. There is no sense in sending food that will just be thrown away!
4. Consider convenience items: I like to keep juice boxes, uncrustables and individual snacks on hand for crazy days. I’ll even pick up lunchables when I can score them at a great price. The kids get excited when I pack these items, and they can be a real timesaver for me. I just try to make it more of an exception than a rule.
School Lunch Ideas
Sandwiches and wraps: meat, cheese, PB&J, tuna, or egg salad
Cheese and crackers
Thermos of soup
Cereal-I put dry cereal in a small container and give milk money
Boiled egg and muffin
Favorite fruit whole or cut up
Favorite veggie-carrot sticks, celery, cherry tomatoes (sometimes I put ranch or peanut butter in a tiny container for dipping)
What are your ideas for packing school lunches?