How to Make School Lunch Healthy and Affordable

sack lunchIf your child’s lunch isn’t part of your back to school plans, consider putting it on the list. While the lunches at school are often more convenient and maybe even more affordable for some, they are generally void of nutrition. School cafeterias dish out as much processed food as a fast-food restaurant, only they try to pass it off as a balanced meal. Corn dogs, football game-style nachos, fruit cocktail, french fries and even those frozen PBJs are common players on the cafeteria tray.

Fuel your child’s body to get through reading, writing and even recess with a wholesome lunch. Shop smart for more nutritious foods and you’ll be able to fill a lunch box in a healthy and affordable way.

  • Buy a reusable lunch container. It’s more environmentally sound and you don’t have to keep paying for new bags. Plus, the insulated bags allow you to pack fresh items.
  • Buy a reusable beverage bottle. Again, it’s a one-time investment that pays off by not wracking up a bill on juice boxes, travel-sized milk containers, or cases of bottled water.
  • Shop store brands. Sometimes they’ve got better ingredients than the name brands and they’re always cheaper. Your kids might be too concerned about the brand on their sneakers, but it’s hard to be label conscious about a slice of wheat shopping mom
  • Buy in bulk. If you know you’re sending raisins or a cup of juice in their bag each day, then stock up. Buy a large bag of raisins and make your own portions in baggies or plastic containers; and buy an economy-size jug of 100% juice to fill the reusable bottle. You’ll save money over the long-haul and be less likely to run out in a pinch.
  • Buy fresh fruit with a shelf-life. Grapes, apples, melons and oranges are going to outlast berries or bananas throughout the week. Make sure you’re not throwing away produce.
  • Avoid pre-portioned packaging. When you buy those individual sized boxes of raisins, crackers, meat and cheese, or beverages, you’re paying for packaging. Buy a cheap box of small baggies and a larger container of the food product to make your own portion-controlled servings.
  • Don’t send seconds. Send only enough that you know will be eaten to avoid perfectly good food from hitting the garbage.
  • Get milk. Save money on the beverage container and juice and put change in your child’s lunch box to buy a milk at school. Save money and help them get an extra serving of dairy.

For more healthy school lunch tips visit

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