Back 2 School: Ideas for Cheap Homemade Lunches

With school returning to full swing for teachers, kids, and parents, I will be sharing Back 2 School with you this week- a series geared towards parents from a teacher's perspective. I taught 3rd grade gifted and talented for 2 years, and I taught kindergarten last year. Even though I only have three years of teaching experience, hopefully I can share with you some ideas and insight that will help you and your child have a better school year.

All good Moms want to send their kids to school with a homemade lunch, but this can get to be expensive! Here are some ideas on how to keep the cost of the contents of that lunchbox down. 

Ideas for Cheap Homemade Lunches 

1. Use a sturdy, reusable lunch box. Some parents send their child's lunch to school in a plastic bag, or in paper sack, both of which are thrown away at the end of lunch. A reusable, even insulated lunch box, would not only do a better job of keeping lunches fresh, but would also safe parents a lot of money in the long haul. 

2. Pack food into reusable containers. Plastic baggies can quickly run up the cost of packing lunches for kids. Depending on how may different items you are packing in their lunch, you could use anywhere between 3-6 plastic baggies easily. And where do these baggies go at the end of lunch? To the trash. After a while, throwing away pennies will add up. 

3. Buy your child's favorite items in bulk. I would encourage you to shop at discount clubs such as Sam's Club, Costco, etc. and stock up on the things that your child loves the most. Produce at these places is often much cheaper than what you will find at your local grocery store, which leads me to my next idea. 

4. Make it homemade. If at all possible, make your child's lunch entirely homemade. The thought that cooking from scratch is more expensive, is a myth. When you buy pre-made food items, you pay for the individual packaging that provides the convenience of throwing together a lunch last minute. Instead, try preparing the items that you want to include in your child's lunch that week on Saturday or Sunday, store them in large plastic bags or in plastic containers. Then all of the prep work is done when it comes time to actually putting together the lunch for the day. 

5. Shop the sales at the grocery store. When you do shop at your local grocery store, buy what is on sale. Only buying what is on sale will save you money in your budget and will give your child variety in their lunches. 

6. Pack less food. As a parent, you naturally want your child to be full and not be hungry at school. However, so many parents pack way much more food for their child than they could ever eat in one meal. Pack only what you know your child will eat to be full, and save the rest for another day. 

Looking around online, I found these great links sharing fun lunch ideas from simple sandwiches to meals that even the pickiest kid would love. 

Kaboose: Easy School Lunches 
Disney Family Fun: School Lunches and Snacks 
Parents Magazine: Let's Do Lunch
Good Housekeeping: 30 Ideas for School Lunches: Sandwiches and Munchies 

What are some ways you save money when planning your child's lunches? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments. 

Much love, 

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