Frugal Living: Healthy School Lunches
NOTE: I published this article last year but I found it again and though it would be a good thing to republish. Let me know if you have ideas for healthy lunches too!
I can’t believe summer break is coming to an end and school is starting for everyone, in some cities it has already started! This brings up one of my least favorite jobs during the school year….packing lunches. So, what I’ve done is come up with a menu of a week’s worth of healthy frugal lunches that you can use as a guide. The keys to packing an inexpensive lunch are the same as making frugal dinners for your family.
- Buy whatever fruits and vegetables are in season
- Match coupons to the sale ads
- Homemade is often cheaper than prepackaged convenience foods
- Stock up when an item you use is on sale to get it at its lowest price
Here is a sample week long menu with prices I’ve paid over the last few weeks to give you an idea of what you can make a lunch for. If you see other items on sale, just substitute them. My son has food allergies, so you’ll see where I have substituted a few items as well.
Hard-boiled eggs (2) $.20
(We can’t do eggs in our family, but these are great for those without egg issues. Not only are they healthy, but inexpensive too).
Homemade mini muffins (2) $.08
Apple or orange $.25 (Aldi – $.25/each)
Juice Box $.15
Sliced Cheese (or Tofutti) $.10 (Reasors 12 hr sale, 8 oz – $1.25 – $.55 coupon)
Whole Wheat Crackers $.10
Veggies w/ ranch $.20
Milk in a thermos $.10 (CVS $.99/gallon after ECB and coupon)
Peanut butter and jelly (Of course, in our family we use SunButter) $.25
Yogurt (dairy or soy) $.40
Water in a sports bottle $.00
Leftovers (mac ‘n cheese or spaghetti in a thermos) $.25
Raisin Bread w/ cream cheese (or Tofutti) $.25
Capri Sun $.10
Cheese stick wrapped in lunch meat $.30
(For us, I just roll lunch meat)
Apple slices w/peanut butter $.30
Juice in a sports cup $.10
As you can see, using the menu above, an entire week’s worth of lunches only cost $3.48. Now, just to keep it real, I will tell you that our personal cost is double that because of the specialty food we purchase for food allergies. However, the cost is still relatively inexpensive. The trick is again, to plan your child’s menu around your coupons, sales and stockpile. Enjoy!