The kids will be heading back to school before we know it. You have probably started thinking about to school clothes and back to school supplies since all of the Back to School sales started this past weekend. Have you thought about lunches? Are you going to have your child eat school lunches or are you going to pack a lunch for him or her? No matter which option you choose school lunch can be expensive. Personally, I suggest packing your son or daughters lunch if at all possible. Not only can you save money but you are in control of what your child eats. Our budget was out of control with lunches so this past year, we decided all our kiddos would be packing their lunches.
Are you looking for ideas and ways to save on School Lunches? If so today’s post will give you lots of tips on how to save big.
10 Ways to Save on School Lunches
1. Reusable Packaging – Investing in reusable packaging will save you a lot of money over purchasing brown bags and plastic zip lock bags. Of course there will be times when you need to use zip lock bags, but when possible stick with the reusable packaging. Reusable packaging is easy to pack and very easy to clean at the end of the school day. You can see many reusable items in my Back to School Amazon posts here each Friday. I will also have a very detailed post this upcoming week on all the various packaging we can use to help make lunch packing much easier.
2. Look for Sales – Even if you don’t use coupons you can still rack up some major savings by looking for sales. Grocery stores often offer promotions of buy 1 get 1 free or other promotions that will allow you to stock up on your children’s favorite lunch items! Some hot lunch items you can typically find on sale are juice boxes, granola bars, fruit, crackers, yogurt and much more!
3. Pack Fruits and Vegetables – Packing fruits and vegetables in your child’s lunch can help with your savings. Fresh fruits and veggies will keep your child full longer and provide them with healthy lunch options. When grocery shopping look for fruits and vegetables that are in season to increase your savings. Consider shopping Aldi to score inexpensive fruits and vegetables.
4. Coupons – Using coupons is a great way to save on lunch food and reusable packaging! We can always find a great coupon sale on lunch type items. If you are new to using coupons you can read all about how to get started here. One of my favorite grocery stores to get awesome savings on lunch items is Aldi, you can check out the up-to-date Aldi Deals here. Using coupons can dramatically increase your savings so be sure to watch all of the coupon matchups for items you think your child may like in his or her lunch!
5. Use Gel Packs – No matter how much money you save on your lunch items you really aren’t saving anything if the food spoils. Make sure to use gel packs or anything else you have to keep the lunch food cold during the day. Using gel packs will ensure your child will have a safe non-spoiled lunch.
6. Pre-Cook – Spend a Sunday afternoon preparing as many of the lunch items as you can. Preparing that weeks lunch in advance will ensure that you are ready for the school week. This will also prevent you from running to the local gas station to pick up expensive items because your running late.
7. DIY Convenience Items – Anyone that has been in a grocery store lately has come across convenience foods in cute packaging. Most of these items are loaded with preservatives and very expensive! Most of these items you can also make at home. If your son or daughter insists on bringing a lunchable to school, make your own! Buy a big block of cheese, slice up some lunch meat and put some crackers with it. You will be able to make a week’s worth of lunchables for half the cost of pre-buying them. If your children like those packages with fruit and dip, make your own. I will be providing all of you with many “Lunchable” options in the next few weeks so be sure to keep an eye out for those great posts.
8. Use Leftovers – Using leftovers from a previous lunch or dinner can really help cut down on your lunch grocery budget. Not all leftovers will be school lunch friendly, but take advantage of the ones that are!
9. Freezer Cooking – Use your freezer to prepare lunches weeks in advance! You can freeze peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, granola bars and much more!
10. Bake Your Treats – Kids love to have sweets in their lunch! However, buying cookies, cupcakes and other baked goods can get extremely expensive week after week. If you are using coupons to shop we quite often score FREE or cheap baking goods with our coupons. Stock up on those items when they are available. Make it a point to bake a special lunch treat every week. You can store your yummy baked goods in an air tight container or in the freezer. Your kids will love getting a special treat and your budget will stay in tact!
What tips do you have for saving on back to school lunches? I would love to hear all of your ideas you have for your kiddos lunchboxes.