Monday, May 9, 2011

Save money by packing your lunch

I always begin to lose steam about this time of year when it comes to making my kids lunches. It seems like we are all out of creative ideas and it just seems easier to let them have hot lunch at school. I remind myself that although school lunches are better than they used to be what we send from home is usually healthier and actually costs less per lunch than what they could get at school. 

It really is a good way to help stretch the family budget. My husband goes into work early enough that he takes breakfast and lunch with him every day. He could easily spend $50-$75 dollars each week if he were to grab fast food or go out with one of his buddies from work. We've gotten quite creative over the years at figuring out recipes for breakfast and lunch that freeze well so he can have some quick options as he pulls out of here each morning. He is eating healthier and we are saving money. 

Here are some ideas to give you some inspiration for these final weeks of school.

Try a new kind of a sandwich. Tuna, chicken, or egg salad can be sent in a container to be placed on the bread just before eating so it isn't a soggy mess when the kids open their lunch box. You can also trade out the type of bread you are using. Try a bagel, English muffin, or tortilla in place of traditional bread.

Heat up leftovers and send them in a thermos. This is quick and easy. Warm your thermos up first by pouring boiling water into it. Let it sit a minute or two and then pour the water out. Quickly place your warm leftovers inside and close it up. This step will help the food stay warm until lunch. I send sloppy joe mix this way and they put it on the bun before eating. I also send taco filling this way and a bag of corn chips for dipping.

Think food groups and then be creative. Send pretzels from the grain group and peanut butter (or soy butter) as a protein. The kids seem to love anything they can dip. Add a fruit or veggie and some cheese squares and you've covered your food groups. We also make our own lunchables by sending crackers with slices of lunch meat and cheese for stacking. A muffin can replace the need for a sandwich and if you've made it with pumpkin or applesauce they get their fruit in that way too.

Hope these give you a few ideas for these final weeks of school - They work for summer time lunches at home as well.

When you are putting together your meal plan, don't forget to include the ingredients for making cold lunches. Your kids will still need a lunch if you are ever in a food storage time of your life.

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