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Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in Back To School | 3 comments

10 Healthy and Frugal School Lunch Ideas

While breakfast is still the most important part of the day, lunch is not far behind. A healthy lunch at school is essential for fueling children through the second half of their school day. You may opt to pack your child’s lunch for several reasons. Perhaps the school lunch offered is not exactly healthy, or maybe your child’s school doesn’t offer a hot lunch at all. In any case, packing a lunch for your child is a great way to not only save money but ensure that they have the nutrients they need to keep their busy bodies fueled and brains well cared for! If you are unsure where to start when it comes to packing your child’s lunch, take a peek below at 10 tips for packing a healthy and frugal school lunch.

It is totally possible to pack a lunch that is healthy, fun and frugal at the same time. You just need to get a tad bit creative and think outside of the “lunchbox”. When you begin, consider food options that are high in protein and low in fat and sugar. Protein will fuel them and they won’t “crash” like they would if taking in sugar filled snacks. That said, take a look below at how easy it is to pack a lunch your child and your budget will be cheering over.

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1. Give “do it yourself” options.

Let’s face it. Kids love playing with their food. Give options that allow them to get creative. Pack cheese and meat slices along with small cookie cutters so kids can cut shapes out of their food before eating. Not only is it fun, but you can find cutters for just a few dollars so this idea is frugal as well. You can find a set of 12 child size cookie cutters for as low as $6.99!

2. Roll it up.

So many food items can be rolled up in tortilla shells. Try peanut butter and bananas, hummus and veggie slices, tuna and celery, and even ham and cheese. Just place the ingredients in and roll! It is great way to get a tasty handheld lunch. Plus, tortilla shells can be purchased for less than $1.50 a package at most grocers.

3. Don’t forget the dip.

Dips don’t have to be unhealthy. Try packing healthy dipping options such as hummus, low fat peanut butter, low fat ranch, mustard, and even hot sauce if your child desires. Pack carrot and celery sticks or fat free pretzels for them to dip and enjoy. All of these dip options are quite inexpensive as well and can be stocked up for less than $2.00 a container.

4. Give some soup to sip.

Soups are not only inexpensive but low in fat and calories. Buy an inexpensive thermos and add a can of soup for lunch. You can even toss crackers or low fat shredded cheese in a baggie for them to add to the soup when they eat it.

5. Be mindful of portions.

Does your child need an entire sandwich? Or an entire bag of chips? Probably not. Be mindful of their eating habits and pack only portions they will eat. When adding in salty snack foods, only put the amount equivalent to one serving size (found on the back of the package) in a baggie for consumption. This way, less junk is being consumed and less food is being wasted.

6. Opt for reusable containers.

Not only do they keep food really fresh, but this way you aren’t using tons of plastic baggies. You can even find reusable sandwich bags which are great for sandwiches of course, and all sorts of small snacks. Keep food fresh and save money since you won’t be buying baggies. It is a win-win! You can find reusable sandwich bags for as low as $4.95.

7. Give fruit a pick me up.

Plain fruit can be boring to a child. Instead add some low fat peanut butter to spread on and raisins, nuts, or granola. Or, place chunks of fruit on fun skewers. You can even sprinkle lightly with cinnamon if you wish.

8. Try reusable bottle beverages.

Find a reusable water bottle that you can fill with juices and flavored drink mixes. This sure beats buying those pricey juice boxes week after week, plus it is much gentler on the planet. You can find a cute assortment for as low as $2.5o. 

9. Give cloth napkins a try.

Cloth napkins are much more reasonable than buying paper ones week after week. Plus you can find them in a variety of colors and patterns which of course can make lunch time more fun. You can find cloth napkins for as low as $2.00.

10. Lunch doesn’t always need meat.

One great way to save money is to remember that lunch does not always need to include meat. You can give a fruit and cheese assortment, tuna and crackers, soup and salad, and many other inexpensive options that don’t require meat. These are all nutrient rich choices as well that will keep your child full and fueled!

See how easy it is to pack a tasty and inexpensive lunch that is also healthy for them? Give some of these tips and tricks a try and see how easy it is to pack a school lunch you all can be excited over.

To learn more about healthy eating habits for children, you can also visit Choose My Plate.

Guest blogger Josie Kapetsonis is a Savings.com DealPro and founder of website SouthernCaliSaver.com, dedicated to sharing awesome deals and showing others how to save in any area of life. She believes making the commitment to be frugal doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice!

3 Comments

  1. Fabulous article, Josie! Smart and fun, as usual!

  2. Love it! This will be my first year packaging school lunches for my child. So many great, frugal ideas!!

  3. Great article Josie! Lots of great tips! Peanut butter is not allowed in schools here but my kids love soy butter, which tastes pretty good I would say. Also, check out my back to school lunches video and let me know what you think. Cheers!

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