Back to School Lunch Hacks

Back to school for the kids this fall means back to figuring out what to pack in their lunch box or serve them each day. Some schools have hot lunch options, but they can become costly and who knows if your kid is actually eating it. And given the current environment, your children may be eating at home during distance learning. This year, get some fresh options for back to school lunch hacks and money saving options. 

  1. Create a system for snacks – A disorganized and chaotic pantry or refrigerator will be an instant turn off to create a great lunch for your kids during the school year. The dollar store is the perfect place to find a nice selection of bins to sort and organize snacks of all shapes and sizes. You can even separate healthier snacks from treats and beverages as well. This way, even your kids can help themselves to create a lunch they will actually eat.

  2. Buy in bulk – There is no shortage of ways to buy in bulk, from Costco to online retailers like Boxed. The best part is that while you save money stocking up, you do not have to worry about things going to waste. For example, juice boxes, applesauce, fruit cups, squeezable yogurt tubes, etc freeze very well. Use bulk buying and freezing to your financial advantage.

    Additionally, freezing other food is a great way for it to last longer. Consider freezing fresh fruit before it goes bad, or buying frozen fruit at the store. You can also freeze bananas and use them later for a loaf of banana bread or muffins.

  3. Say goodbye to broken chips – If your kids are a fan of chips, you might find yourself with near empty bags of crumpled up pieces. Instead of waiting to get to the bottom, simply repackage a bag of chips into baggies. Before closing the zipper shut, blow some air into the bag. This gives the baggie a little pillow to prevent pieces from breaking off.

  4. Save Your Take-Out Containers – Many parents simply do not consider sending soup or other microwaveable lunch items because of plastic containers. Next time you eat out, save any take-out containers for this purpose. You can now send soup, chili, leftovers etc. and your kids can toss the container after they use them at school. There is one less item to worry about coming home.

  5. Ice Packs – Keeping your kids’ lunches cool can be problematic when winter has yet to come. Ice packs can easily get lost or tossed after lunch is consumed. However, you can create a DIY ice pack that is sure to make it home or not to be a pain if it gets thrown away. Simply freeze a wet sponge and place it in a baggie. When it comes time to use, tape it to the top of the lunch box. That way it keeps food cold, but stays put.

  6. Consider the Presentation – When your kid comes home with a half-eaten lunch, it can be both annoying and worrisome. Did they get enough nutrients? Why were they not hungry enough to finish this meal? Were they just not interested in what you packed?

    One thing to consider is the presentation of the food you offer. Perhaps they prefer a squeezable yogurt over a cup. Or, you could try a deconstructed method of a meal. This means you offer all the components of a meal, but they are present individually.

  7. Go the Reusable Route – Another way to save big bucks this year is to throw out brown paper bags and baggies. Instead, invest in a solid lunch box with reusable containers and a thermos. You will end up saving big in the long run.

  8. Always Involved the Kids – Another great method to packing great lunches for back to school that will get eaten is to have your kids be involved in the process. This means starting at the grocery list making all the way through preparing the lunch itself. This way you can ensure you are giving them a lunch they will enjoy along with a good lesson in responsibility. Most kids can help shop, rinse fruit and vegetables, organize snacks, prep, and pack.

Final Thoughts

Each year, packing back to school lunches ultimately becomes monotonous. This year, however, you can save time and money by using these hacks. Getting your kids involved is a great first step. It is time for a fresh approach to school lunches that include healthy and money saving options.