Six Healthy Money Saving Lunch Ideas

school lunch

Many times lunch seems to be the last-minute, forgotten meal of the day. How many times have you gotten to lunch time, and realized “oh no I didn’t plan for this”? With a little planning you can save some money, avoid eating out, and avoid having your kids eat expensive school lunches which for the most part aren’t always healthy. These tips go for adults as well as children, because we are tempted to eat out with the group everyday, aren’t we?

Here are six healthy money saving lunch ideas for for back to school.

1. Take Your Lunch. This one seems kind of obvious, but many parents as well as kids don’t do this on a regular basis. Eating out adds up after awhile. Insulated lunch bags make it easy to carry both hot and cold items. And you don’t have to use those brown bags, but instead try some reusable options which are more environmentally friendly. When you pack your own lunch, you know what is in it, so it is easier to avoid a lot of unhealthy fats and junk food.

2. Make a Sandwich. I’m not talking about just any sandwich. This can be a wrap, pita, crust-less bread, or bun sandwich. Varying the bread each day will help you decide what ingredients to put on it. You may want turkey with alfalfa sprouts, tomato, and onion on a pita or chicken strips with barbecue sauce, lettuce, and shredded cheese in a tortilla wrap. Many kids like bread without crust for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This makes lunch fun and your kids are more likely to eat it if they have a creative variety.

3. Drink water. Avoid sugars, added calories, preservatives and other harmful ingredients by choosing to drink water with your lunch. This also saves you from spending money on sodas, juices and milks. If you don’t like the taste of water, try flavoring it with some mint leaves, fresh lemon or orange.

4. Bring Dessert From Home. Instead of grabbing an unhealthy candy bar from the nearest vending machine, choose a better option. Homemade granola can be shaped into bars and used as an after lunch snack. Dried fruit is also a good option, and it is sweeter than candy bars and won’t spike your blood sugar. Make a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies and pack a few in your lunch, or bring along a leftover piece of that homemade pie or cake.

5. Use Ice packs. Don’t underestimate the power of an ice pack. Bring them along in your insulated lunch bag, so that you can take yogurt or that sandwich with meat and not have to worry about it getting warm before it’s time to eat.

6. Bring Veggie Sticks. Eat them with your sandwich and add some homemade dressing for dipping. Kids love stick finger food, and dipping. This is an easy way to encourage them (and yourself!) to eat veggies.

You don’t have to have lunch in the cafeteria or a the local fast food joint. These places can be expensive and unhealthy. By planning ahead and bringing your food from home, you can save money and eat healthier meals.

What are some of your tips for saving money and eating healthy this back to school season? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of a la corey.

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11 Comments:
  1. I pack lunches every day and always take a cooler w me everywhere we go. I rarely get caught without food on hand. Tursunov cheaper And it helps us maintain our healthy eating habits

  2. I also love weelicious.com because she has great inexpensive and easy recipes for different sandwiches. She has other recipes like granola bars and such. I love how easy they are and how easy it is to substitute ingredients.

  3. I pack a lunch to work everyday. I like to include something sweet so I’m not tempted to eat junk later in the day. It could be something as simple as an apple or a yogurt cup.

  4. I can’t imagine NOT packing my girls’ lunch every day. It would cost so much money! Now that they are 6 & 8 they have decided they want to pack their own lunch so they do! (From a list of options of course.)

  5. I pack my little guys lunch everyday, its so much more practical, school lunches are expensive, plus I know what he’s eating and know that he will eat it and not be hungry!

  6. I pack my girls lunches everyday (one is in kindergarten, the other in preschool 2 days a week). I like knowing that they are eating a healthy lunch each day and they get to choose what gets packed (ham & cheese on wheat, pb&j, or dinner leftovers if available) fresh fruit, and a homemade dessert. To drink it’s usually lemonade or juice, we drink lots of water at home. All our containers are reusable so they don’t throw anything away and I see what they didn’t eat – there is usually not much left! :)

  7. Both my kids stay home with me but for lunch I sometimes like to mix it up and make them little bento box lunches and surprise them with it once lunch time comes around, I do this more often when we have playdates to attend around lunch time. They love it.

  8. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m seriously preparing myself for it: Bento lunches! You basically create a theme or idea and then create lunch based on it. I’ve seen Pokemon lunches (why wasn’t MY mother into Bento?), superheroes and the like. It’s about using your creativity to make food more fun. Besides everything is fair game so you can use as many vegetables as you want

  9. I especially like your idea to bring dessert from home! What a great way to still satisfy a need for a sweet ending without temptation for something I might regret.

  10. I always pack leftovers in portion-sized microwaveable containers. When you are rushed to get out the door in the morning, the fridge is a grand buffet of easy to grab-and-go, wholesome favorites!

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