With another one of my children starting Kindergarten this year, the money I shell out packing lunches has once again increased. Packing lunches for three (yes, I still pack a lunch for my husband!) can really add up if I am not careful. Allowing myself to be lured by the ease of the prepackaged treats in the grocery store can make packing three lunches (and their afternoon and morning snacks) tempting, but way too pricey! Here are some ideas I have used to keep my lunch-packing prices down.
Think reusable. • 3 lunches times 5 baggies per day for lunch equals a box of baggies that is used up WAY too fast! • Consider 1 purchase of ziploc containers, reusable sandwich or snack wraps, or • I don’t even have to wash all of the containers when they come home…often I just shake out the crumbs and pack it up for the next day • Instead of juice boxes, we use thermoses. I fill them with milk, ice water with lemon, even lemonade for a special Friday treat.
Buy large. • Instead of the more convenient but wasteful individual sizes, I buy the large bag, box, or tub. • Then I dole out some each day into reusable containers.
Use leftovers. • Little bit of soup left in the pot? Don’t throw it out. Leftovers make a great lunch. • Consider lunch when you are making dinner. Intentionally make a little extra to pack for lunch the next day.
Buy seasonal. • On regular days, I pick fruit that is in season (and on sale!). • When my mom comes to town, she always lets my kids pick ANY fruit they want from the grocery store as a treat and they LOVE it.
Look for generic. • Whether it is pretzels, animal crackers, yogurt or peanut butter, store brands are almost always just as good and cost much less.
Make homemade. • When you make cookies or granola bars from home, you know exactly what goes into them: generally inexpensive ingredients (flour, sugar, oats, eggs) and a lot of love! • Makes for a good afternoon project for the whole family. • Double the recipe and then freeze so they go a long way to save time next week.
Think ahead. • Make lunches the night before. • This may not save you money, but it will save you plenty in time and sanity.
What are some things you do to save money when packing school lunches?