In this economy, everyone is trying to save. I happened to be married to a frugal man, and really want to transition to be a SAHM, so I’ve always been trying to save! One of the biggest ways to save is school/work lunches. We all need them, and they can be insanely expensive if we order out, and mildly expensive if we go for a school lunch plan. Not to mention, unhealthy. Go for prepackaged food and you still get an expense, not to mention upped amounts of sodium and sugar. All downsides. But, as a working Mom, you’re overworked, and you need a break somewhere, and so home cooked lunches are low on the priority list. It’s easier than you think. Here is how my lunch packing goes down:
- I cook supper. I might cook two dishes at once, if the supper I am making is a popular dish, and I know leftovers aren’t in my future. aka, last night I made tacos. No leftovers EVER happen with tacos, so prior to serving them, I packed the girls lunches, and then I threw together a quick casserole, and popped that in the oven. There! Lunches for a least two days accomplished! Added benefit: portions are easily controlled this way. When I know I have to pack lunches out of a meal, I eat less.
- I keep quick stuff on hand for extras. Chips are expensive, and so are baggies, not to mention, not the healthiest option. So we always have apples on hand. This is an easy extra. Yogurt is fairly cheap if you catch the sales or go generic. This is also an excellent extra to the main course.
- In a pinch, Tuna or PB and J is a crowd pleaser in this house. I can make it quickly, and its healthy. I know that realistically not everyone can make a homecooked lunch the night before. Also, when kids are in school, there is no way to heat lunches, so you have to get creative. sandwiches are a good option, packed with fresh fruits and veggies, and yogurt. There are ways to switch it up beyond sandwiches if Junior is getting bored with the same lunch. Check out this article for ideas.
- Be prepared to get creative with containers. I have found that dip can be wrapped in saran wrap, and that those little tupperware cups are invaluable. And yes, I am one who asks for ketchup packets at the restaurant whether I want it or not, because its easy to pack in a lunch later.
- Freeze it! If you make a batch of muffins, freeze ’em, if you make alot of soup or chili, freeze it, this way you can pack your own “to go” frozen lunches, so that when you’ve in a HUGE pinch, no bread, out of peanut butter, no apples, whatever, its there, in the freezer, and you can grab and run. Who says you need to pay Marie Calender for your lunch, when you can do the same for much cheaper?
There are more ideas and ways to get creative, but like most other things in life, this is only worth it if you commit, and are ok with doing a little extra work. It is well worth the benefits of healthier, yummier, cheaper food.