Does the idea of packing school lunches have you seeing dollar signs? Packing a school lunch five days a week, especially for multiple children, can really add up. If you aren’t careful, you can find yourself blowing your entire grocery budget on just lunches. Don’t let that happen! Instead, take a look below at 10 ways to save money on back to school lunches while still feeding your child foods they will enjoy. With some careful planning, it is easier than you might think. Here is how you can get started.
10 Ways to Save Money on Back To School Lunches
1. Skip the snack sized packaging.
Sure it is easy to grab and go with the pre packaged chips, crackers, and cookies, but you are paying for that convenience. Instead, invest in reusable snack baggies and fill them up. It takes a few seconds longer, but in this case you can buy cookies and crackers in bulk and really save.
2. Buy in bulk.
As mentioned above, items like crackers, cookies, dried goods, snack mixes, granola bars, etc. can be bought in bulk and then rationed out into smaller sizes. Stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club all offer great prices on these lunch items.
3. Use re-usable packaging.
Invest in some plastic containers and re-usable snack bags for packing food items in. This way you don’t have to buy box and after box of zip close bags during the year which get used once and then thrown away.
4. Let your child help with menu planning.
Allow your child to make suggestions about the items he wishes to see in his lunch. This way you can make sure you are packing items they will actually eat as opposed to items that will get thrown in the trash. While you still need to make sure their lunch is healthy, this at least gives you some insight as to what your child really enjoys and what you might be able to skip.
5. Make your own Lunchables.
Buy some cheese, meat, and crackers in bulk. Slice them up and arrange them in a Bento box or some similar container. Kids will love making their own mini sandwiches and you will love that the food is real, fresh, and in the end costs less.
6. Invest in a thermos.
Your child can still enjoy a hot lunch while you stay on a budget. Invest in a thermos for a few bucks so you can pack a $1 can of soup and some crackers for a hearty, cool weather meal. You can also try other inexpensive lunch ideas such as pasta, stews, or even a warmed up hot dog.
7. Skip bottled drinks.
Bottled drinks can cost as much as $2 a piece. Instead, pack a water bottle and some drink mixes that your child can add in when ready. Powdered drink mixes cost pennies a serving and are much more budget friendly.
8. Use cloth products.
Skip the paper napkins and add a cloth napkin in your child’s lunch instead. It is not only better for the planet but cheaper than buying package after package of napkins.
9. Go meatless.
Choose 1-2 days a week to go meatless. Instead try something like tomato soup and crackers, or fruit skewers and almonds, veggies with dip, cheese sandwiches, and other meat free dishes. Your child will still get full and you will save a few bucks by skipping the meat.
10. Get fancy with leftovers.
Try to turn last night’s dinner into a fun lunch. Leftover chicken can be made into chicken salad or put on skewers. Leftover soup can go in a thermos. Leftover steak can be put onto a salad. Get creative and try to make leftovers part of the lunch menu.
Packing lunches doesn’t have to leave you broke. Instead, give these tips for saving money on back to school lunches a try!