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How to Pack School Lunches for Less
Packing lunches for your kids can be a bit of an expensive endeavor, especially when you're buying items pre-packaged for your convenience. Here are some tips on saving on packed lunches for your school-age kids.
Shop and Prep in Advance
When you shop for other groceries once a week, make sure you add what you need to make your kids' lunches, too. If you're looking not to spend an arm and a leg on several Lunchables or expensive snack items, plan to cook their lunches in advance. Take it a step further and choose dishes you and cook and prep days in advance (perhaps you can do major prep work on a Sunday and pack those items each night before school.) When you plan the lunches out and cook most of it yourself, you'll get more bang for your buck, save yourself packing time by cooking in advance, and reduce the waste generated from expensive, pre-packaged items from the grocery store. Examples of meal ideas would be lunches like deli meat pinwheels, veggie/fruit mixes (chopped in advance), sandwiches, salads, and more.
Choose Inexpensive Groceries
Choose to cook with groceries that are lower in cost naturally. Lots of produce items are great nutritionally and lower in cost. Other good options include string cheeses, buying large bags of pretzels/chips to pack from (rather than small, individually sized bags), avoiding expensive stores or organic items, etc. Shop strategically in this regard and keep it in mind each week when you plan your children's lunches.
Don't Forget Promos and Coupons
As I always say, shop mindfully no matter what. Always plan your kids' lunches around items that are on sale that week. Make sure you're also always using coupons and savings apps for the store you're shopping at, too. Planning your shopping around weekly ads/deals and coupons will save you hundreds a year if you do it consistently, and buying to pack school lunches is no exception.
Free or Reduced Lunch
In most states, there are federally funded programs that offer free or reduced school lunches to students based on eligibility. You have to meet certain criteria and fill out an application for your child to qualify, but if you do, your child will receive free or reduced lunches the entire year from the school. For more information on this topic and to see if you qualify, check out the link below: