Frugal Tips for School Lunches

When you have children that are school age, you will find that you usually have to spend more money than you did in previous years to get them the things that they need.  From school supplies to school field trips and a whole lot of other things in between, you will be spending and handing over those hard-earned dollars with a speed that you couldn’t have imagined prior to this time. 

There are some school-related expenses that are set in stone and you can’t change them, but there are others that you can save money on if you are careful and frugal.  One of the areas that you can save some of that money on is the cost of school lunches.  The following are five frugal tips for school lunches. 

Pack nutrition

It is often tempting to purchase items that are unhealthy because they seem to have a lower cost attached to them than their healthy counterparts do.  This may be true as far as the price per pound, but unhealthy foods are not high in nutrients and they will not leave your child feeling full and satisfied for long.  You will find that you have to pack more food in the lunch if it is unhealthy than you would with healthy foods.  Don’t let the price tags fool you, unhealthy foods aren’t the bargain that they appear to be. 

Avoid character packaging

Those cute little cartoon characters are just fine on the television screen, but there is no need to pay a premium price for them to sit on your shelves.  Even if the food itself is shaped like the character(s), it tastes no different than the varieties that aren’t.  The packaging, shapes, and colors are all what can be referred to as “hype” and it is designed to get you, as a parent, to give in to your child’s desire for them.  The best way that you can avoid this is to shop for school lunches on your own.  Have your child help you to write a list of general items that they want and you can go to the grocery store and get them in the form and packaging that you select.

Buy in bulk quantities

Whenever possible, purchase your children’s lunch foods in bulk quantities so that you will get a better price per pound.  Some items you may be able to purchase in the actual bulk foods section of your local grocery store and you can separate them into Ziploc baggies at home.  You will usually find the best prices in this section of the store.  If you need items that aren’t in the bulk foods section, you can usually get them in larger packages for a discounted price per pound. 

Use up left-overs

If you have left-overs from dinner the night before, try and use some of them in your children’s school lunches.  Meats can be used in sandwiches to give the kids a break from the standard peanut butter and jelly or cold cuts.  Fruit or vegetable salads can be packed in plastic containers and sent for lunch and of course, left-over desserts are always welcome.

Shop the outlets

Grocery outlets are excellent places to shop for school lunch supplies.  You will be able to stock your pantry for much less than you would at the standard grocery stores.  There are also specialty outlets, such as bakeries or canned food stores, that can save you quite a bit over the course of a school year. 

Having school-aged children most definitely begins to cost more than toddlers do, almost without exception.  There are more requirements that they are going to need to satisfy the school and themselves while they are away from home.  School lunches are one of these, and they can get quite expensive if you aren’t careful.  Taking heed to the above five suggestions will help you to pack lunches that your kids will benefit from having to eat…and your wallet will benefit, as well.