The 2013-2014 school year is upon us. Back to school clothing shopping should be almost complete and school supply lists checked off. But what about saving money on school lunches? A year of school lunches will cost you about $400 per child per year if you purchase them from school (on average between $2-$3 per day). For many families it is more cost effective to prepare your child’s lunch yourself and make use of their cute character lunch box.
A few tips for saving money on lunch:
Bake their snacks!
Bake cookies, brownies, or homemade pudding. Forget about the over-priced prepackaged stuff. Baking your child's snack will be much more cost effective. Plus you could save time and bake one afternoon per month and freeze your sweets. Just pull out that frozen cookie, brownie, or muffin in the morning and it will be thawed and ready to go by lunch time!
Invest in reusable food containers
Don’t throw your money away on plastic baggies and paper lunch bags. Invest in a lunchbox, reusable storage containers and a thermo (or other insulated container). Thermos are great for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods (such as drinks) cold. Reusable storage containers routinely go on sale and are much more cost effective than disposable bags.
Make extra for lunch
Cooking up your kids favorite meal tonight? Cook once and eat twice. Make a little extra and pack it for lunch. An obvious tip, but one that is frequently forgotten.
Avoid Individual Snack Size
Steer clear of individual size packages of snacks. Sure they are cute and fit in their lunch box nicely, but have you checked out the difference in the unit price? Buying one big package and splitting it up yourself will save money. This goes for dry snacks (cookies, chips, pretzels, dried fruit, and nuts) as well as wet snacks (jello, pudding) which you can cook and separate into small reusable containers.
It can be hard to pull lunch together in the morning rush. Having a plan will keep you from getting stressed and making poor decisions during the week. Use the weekend to plan with your child on what he/she would like for lunch. Make ahead as much as you can for smooth sailing in the morning.
Don’t forget about coupons! Picking up your child’s favorite foods and drinks throughout the year by combining a sale with a coupon will help you save even more. I wish all of South Florida’s students a fun and safe first week of school!
Have tips for saving money on school lunches? Share with us in the comments!