Five ways to save on school lunches


There are 180 school days each year. For some parents, that means nearly 180 meals to prepare per kid. Food prices have markedly increased. In this blog will find that saving money on school lunches can be simpler than you think. Our five tips below will guide you on how to save on school lunches through basic planning to the type of packaging and child involvement.

1. Get your kid/s involved:

Prepare the weekly meals on Sunday to avoid the weekday morning hassle, and get your kid/kids involved. You can separate containers with dry food, pre-cut veggies, any appropriate leftovers.  Fill up reusable bottles with water, 100% juice, low-fat yogurt, or homemade smoothies. Planning is essential, and it won’t take much of your time. Get your child/children involved in the process: ask what their favorite healthy foods are, even let them build their lunch boxes, and you’ll find less food waste as a result.

Credit: RuslanDashinsky/iStock /Getty Images. Mother and daughter preparing lunch for school and work. 

2. Buy in bulk instead of pre-packed foods: 

Sometimes, to save money we may have to sacrifice convenience. For example, it is easier to buy baby carrots instead of a pound of carrots, and prepare them yourself.  Pre-prepared foods are more expensive than buying in bulk, however.  You will find that baby carrots will cost you more per pound than conventional carrots. This is the same with other foods: cheese sticks are more expensive than buying a cheese “brick” and preparing yourself.  Fill up a reusable drink container with juice instead of buying single-use juice packages.

3. Transform leftovers:

Consider turning dinner left-overs into school lunches. You won’t waste food, and your kids will enjoy the school lunch, since it is a known entity. Separate leftovers into smaller reusable containers or Bento® boxes, and freeze or refrigerate them. As well, such boxes are a great way to pre-prepare your kid’s lunches. The containers have several compartments, and you can add different food groups to each container, thus abetting portion control.

4. Diversify the proteins:

Try other less affectedmore affordable protein sources such as lentils, beans, humus, garbanzo beans (chikpeas), or hard boiled eggs. These are quite nutritious and provide all essential amino acids necessary to build protein at much lower cost. For example, one pound of lentils costs an avarage of just $2 and can last a long time. Find some kid-approved lentil recipes here.

5. Rethink packaging:

Do you use zip-top bags, paper bags, wax paper, or aluminum foil to pack your kid’s lunch? You can save money by changing from disposable packaging to reusable packaging. Reusable lunch and drink containers help reducing food waste, and you can save around $250 per child a year. Disposable packages are usually tossed away after the meal, and you have to constantly buy more. By packing food using reusable containers, you can better control portions, you kid can eat left-overs later, and the environment is not negatively impacted.  Your reusable containers can last for years!

Posted: August 17, 2023

Tags: #HowToSaveMoneyOnSchoolLunches, #RebeccaElliott

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