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Thrifty Tips For Packing School Lunches

Fall is here and school is back in session. When it comes to feeding your kids at school, you may want to take the easier route and have your children purchase the school provided lunches rather than packing a lunch for them. While this can be convenient, this can end up being costly. Instead, there are smart and rather simple ways to save money and pack your children’s lunches. These tips and techniques can help get you started.

Preserving Food
You have likely experienced this at least once in your life – your groceries going to waste because they spoiled early, or you simply didn’t pay attention to the expiration date. This wastes both money and food. Instead, buy only what you need. There are some great bulk deals out there, but they aren’t worth it if you don’t have a game plan. Figure out how you will use your groceries before they go bad, or figure out a way to prolong their shelf life, such as canning or freezing. It’s okay to skip a deal if it’s just going to go to waste anyways.

When it comes to fruits and veggies, choose the ones that will stay fresher longer, such as apples, oranges, celery, or carrots. Refrigerated, these should last for several weeks. Avoid things like grapes, peaches, pears, or plums, which don’t keep as long. Things like bread and granola can be bought in bulk and stored in the freezer. However, try to avoid freezing them for too long as freezer burn may occur.

Skip The Prepackaged Snacks
As alluring as they may be, prepackaged snacks can cost more and contain mystery ingredients that aren’t too great for your health. Instead, try your hand in the kitchen and make your own snacks. The internet is a great source for recipes, even if you are a novice in the kitchen. This way you have some control over what your kids are consuming.

For an even healthier and easy snack, go with cut up fruits and/or vegetables. And if you want to indulge a bit with chips or pretzels, for example, opt for the big bag and divvy up your portions to accordingly to make it last longer.

Quality Containers
It may be wise to spend a bit more on a sturdy container with compartments to make packing lunch easier. This is more cost-effective than bags or disposable Tupperware. Insulated bags for both hot and cold items are ideal. This way you can switch up the menu for some variety. And for drinks, go with reusable bottles or a thermos rather than plastic water bottles or juice boxes. Going for the better quality may cost more, but will last longer.

Leftovers
Last night’s leftovers make wonderful lunches for the next day. When planning for dinner, make a little extra to pack for lunch the next day. Keep it the same or get creative with your leftovers. For example, leftover meats can easily be transformed into a sandwich, and, honestly, who doesn’t love a sandwich?

Meal Prep
Sure, packing lunches can be time consuming, especially if you work late or odd hours. But meal prepping for the entire week can be so much easier, and cheaper, than sending your kids off to school with cash. Make it a family activity on the weekend. Get your kids’ input for the menu, and they can even help prepare their own food. It’s a great way to bond and will save you some time during the week.

Do you pack lunch for your kids? What are some of their favorite foods? Share your tips, advice, or recipes with us and your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Need deli meats, cheeses, or fresh bread to make sandwiches for your kiddos? Visit Your Neighborhood Deli, located on the corner of E Arrow Highway and Garey Avenue in Pomona. We’re open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.