A busy school year is soon upon most families and the expense of back to school shopping and affording healthy lunches is on the mind of most parents. Depending on how many children are in the family, school time lunches can get to be very expensive. Parents who are unable to fund several lunch dues five days a week may want to explore their options.
Here are some ideas on how families can save money on food during the school year:
Buy in Bulk
Bulk stores like Sam’s Club and Costco can help you cut costs by buying items your kids want in larger quantities than you can at a grocery store. While not all products including fresh produce and short-term expiration date products are a good buy in bulk, families can save on snacks, drinks, and even breakfast items like oatmeal and cereal.
If warehouse stores are not close by, families can utilize Sunday paper and Internet coupons to stock the pantry full of lunch time staples like tuna, snacks, drinks, and other non-perishable products. Coupon shopping doesn’t have to be extreme to save money. Pay attention to local grocery fliers and shop where the deals are.
Stick with Basics
Instead of purchasing expensive pre-packaged kids meals, create them at home yourself. Use plastic sandwich bags to create your own Lunchable-type lunch. Keep the refrigerator stocked with fresh veggies and add different kinds of kid-friendly dips to accompany the veggies. Drink pouches can be cheaper if purchased in bulk or from a dollar store rather than a large chain grocery store.
Ask for Assistance
Don’t let pride prevent you from securing reduced or free lunches for your children. Depending on your income level within the household, your family may qualify for discounts on lunches in school. Today’s technology in most schools allow children involved in such assistance programs to scan a pre-programmed lunch card or punch in a PIN code in order to pay for meals. Others will not be able to tell who receives special financial assistance. Applications are usually available through the school directly or local government offices.
When you run out of time, especially during busy mornings, you are more likely to hand over cash to your kids for lunch as they rush to the bus. The more time you give yourself to proper planning, the more likely you are to save money each week. While lunch time programs are still reasonably priced in most areas, it can get very expensive without proper planning. Get the kids involved in packing lunches every evening before school starts to prevent morning chaos.
Lunch is an important part of a student’s day but it doesn’t have to break the bank or be boring. There are many recipes available for free online that parents can review and utilize to come up with inexpensive yet fun and tasty lunches outside of the standard peanut butter and jelly.