Start Thinking About School Lunches
Check out these tips for packing healthy, inexpensive school lunches for your kids.
Thinking about back-to-school? Don’t forget about school lunches.
The average cost of school lunch is anywhere from $1.50 to $3.50 a day. Comparatively, if you pack your child’s lunch, the average cost is about $2 a day.
School lunches usually consist of two or three different main-course options, with sides of grains, fruit and veggies and a beverage.
If you choose to pack your child’s lunch, you naturally have more control over what your child is eating, and you can pack his or her favorites. You can also be sure your child’s lunch meets any special dietary needs (like food allergies) by packing it yourself.
Try to mix it up. If you pack your child the same boring sandwich and snacks every day, chances are good he or she will toss it or trade it away for something less healthy.
- LIVESTRONG.com has some great outside-the-box school lunch ideas, like pita sandwiches, English muffin cheese pizza, and Mediterranean wraps.
- Try a bento box, the Japanese-style elaborate single-serve or takeout meals. These colorful, happy lunch boxes are sure to be the talk of the cafeteria!
- Let your kids decide. Ask them what they’d like to include in their lunch boxes. Getting them to participate in the healthy decision-making process makes them much more likely to eat – and enjoy – their healthy lunch items.
Save on Lunches
- Shop at warehouse stores. Sam’s Club, BJs and Costco sell potential lunch-box fillers in bulk, like lunchmeat and cheese, bread, snacks, granola bars, juice boxes and fruit cups.
- Instead of purchasing individual servings or pre-packaged snacks, divvy up your own. Buy a bag or a box of your child’s favorite snacks, and package them in individual zipper bags or containers when you get home. You still have the convenience of a quick grab-and-go snack, without having to pay extra for that convenience. (And if you use reusable bags or containers, you also avoid the additional packaging!)
- Check your Sunday newspaper for coupon saving on lunch box items, like juice boxes, snacks, even deli cheese.
Make it Quick and Easy
- Make ahead. If you pack lunches the night before, there will be no scrambling or rushing in the morning before school. Better yet, make a whole week’s worth of lunches on Sunday night.
- Outsource! If you have older children, ask them to pitch in and help pack up school lunches. In time, they might even be able to take on the task all by themselves.
- Plan your kids’ lunches before you head to the grocery store. Make a list of what you’ll pack and what you need to buy. You’ll avoid wasting time standing in the snack aisle trying to make decisions, and having to make return trips for things you might have forgotten.