School Lunches: How to Pack Healthy on a Budget
As a parent, we know how important it is for our children to maintain a healthy diet. However, it is not always convenient for us when we are the ones who have to make their school lunches: the price adds up! It seems the only way to reduce the amount that we spend on school lunches is by purchasing cheap, unhealthy food. Luckily, we have collected some accessible tips and tricks to help tackle kids lunches in an inexpensive yet effective way.
School Lunches: Quick and Easy Recipes
- One thing I remember from my childhood is my mom always buying a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. Instead of spending a few dollars on a grilled chicken breast, you spend about five dollars on an entire chicken that will be able to provide for six lunches instead of one. The chicken can be used to make a sandwich, eaten plain, or even made into chicken salad.
- Vegetables can be difficult to get kids to eat. All it takes is a delicious, low-fat dip to distract them from what they are really eating. Depending on your kids’ preferences, ranch or hummus are both great options. Hummus is especially healthy and you can easily make it with a food processor, potentially with help from the kids. Ranch for vegetables can be found in small packets at the grocery store, along with hummus. Both are easy to toss in a lunch bag and are easy to clean up.
- One fun snack is the traditional “Ants on a log”. It’s composed of celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins spread on top. You can even put all components in the lunch separately so that they get to make it themselves at school, letting their imagination run wild!
- I’ve also found that applesauce is an easy go-to. They now sell apple sauce in flexible packets that you sip on, like a juice box. Not expensive yet easy, quick, and also healthy. What more could you ask for?
- Another snack that kids love are “Go-Gurts”. They are sold in bulk and can be frozen, lasting a long time. It is a low-fat yogurt that comes in fun colors and flavors. The packaging is usually interactive, meaning there are cartoon characters and jokes on the Go-Gurt package. This will further encourage kids to eat it.
- When you shop: buy lunch meat in bulk and freeze it. It is expensive to buy Lunchables for younger kids who like to play with their food and make food fun. The last one can be done by using cookie cutters to cut the lunch meat and cheese into shapes. It’s fun for kids to do, entertains them, and makes your job easier. In addition, you can pair healthy grains with the lunch meat and cheese by using crackers that have flax seed and whole-grain ingredients.
- Believe it or not, everything goes on sale at one point or another. It is just a matter of knowing what you need and figuring out what is on sale. The biggest thing to remember when you are grocery shopping is to shop smart. If your regularly visited grocery store has a rewards program, sign up! You will receive coupons daily that will contribute to a huge reduction in your grocery spending.
- Keep in mind that food stays fresh longer if it is frozen. You can do this with fruit, juice boxes, meat, and many other lunch-related foods. Avoiding trips back and forth to the grocery store will save you time and money.
- Fruit snacks, cookies, granola bars, and all the latest fun foods that your kids see on commercials can be bought with coupons too. It may not be the healthiest, but every now and then surprise your kids. You’d be surprised at how much it means to them to get an unexpected treat once in a while.
The lunch you pack for your kids is an excellent opportunity to connect with your kids even when you are not with them. Leave them a short note or small treat to remind them how much you love them.
Additional Resources: www.thegrocerygame.com