How to Save on School Lunches – 4 Ways to Keep Lunch Frugal, Fast, & Fabulous

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I wanted to take a minute to tell you how I plan to make packed school lunches fun, frugal, and fast.This is my first year that I will have a child that will be in school every single day. Plus, in a month my other three will be in school three days a week. That is a lot of lunches to pack. I do have a plan though… Here are 4 ways to help you save on lunch this year.

1. Buy reusable containers.

Ditch the old school plastic baggies and pay the small amount for reusable containers. Not only can you reuse them which will save you more money in the long run, but it will also save you time. Opening and closing baggies is very time consuming, but tossing stuff in a container is much quicker.

I purchased the Ziploc rectangle divided containers. I bought them at Crest for $2.50 for a 2 pack. I like them because I can divide the food all in one container, which means there is only one lid for me and on lid for my children to open. I will have 4 children going to school when September comes so this is a huge time saver for me.

2. Ditch the Juice Boxes, buy an reusable water bottle instead.

Juice boxes can be really high, even with a coupon. Save them only for special days. We splurged and bought my children an insulated water bottle for their school boxes. They will drink water (toss in a lemon for a fun surprise), crystal light (which is much cheaper), lemonade, or even tea (yes, my kids love tea).

The point is… your kids can have a fun drink without the extra sugar and cost involved with juice boxes.

3. Menu Plan… Menu Plan… Menu Plan

Planning out your lunches will definitely save you money. It will help you use the food you already have on hand and keep you from packing the same lunches every single day.

Have you children help you with the menu plan. If they help you create it, then they will be more likely to eat it. ;)

4. Keep a Variety in your menu

You don’t have to pack a sandwich every single day. In fact, sandwiches can get a little expensive. We are going to have a rule at our house that you can only eat the same meal twice per week. For those of you that have children who will only eat PBJ sandwiches, this will help your children think outside the box.

Here are a few more “out of the box ideas”

  • Quesadillas – cheese or chicken (cook and shred the chicken and then freeze it. That way you have it ready to make one quickly)
  • Turkey Roll Ups (with tortillas or with cheese) – My kids love slices of turkey rolled up around cheese
  • Homemade lunchables (make your own with slices of cheese, turkey or ham, and crackers)
  • Tacos (use a thermos to help keep the meat hot) – toss in a tortilla and cheese in there and they can make their own tacos
  • Hot dog mixed with macaroni and cheese (my kids still love this) – you can use a thermos to keep it hot
  • Soup – my kids love soup – make a big batch and then freeze it in small batches (you can even freeze them in ice cube trays) so you can heat only what you need – use a thermos to keep hot

Those are a few ideas to get you started. I’ll definitely be thinking of more ideas. Don’t forget your vegetables,  fruit and dessert with each lunch. ;)

These are very easy ways that you can easily implement in packing your school lunch to help you save time and money. Remember, I am a newbie in this field, so I would love to hear your suggestions. What do you do to save time and money when packing your children’s lunch?



  1. Brandi Young says

    I used this ziploc container last year for my boys. It made it a lot easier to fix their lunch. In fact, I made their lunch everyday they went to school. My boys did not eat in the cafeteria all year! I am very proud of that. I had to buy new containers for this year, because last yrs cracked on the edges. But it only cost me $2.50 for 2 and I will use it all year long.

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