Do you rack your brain trying to make lunches your kids will eat? These 15 cheap and easy school lunch ideas will save you lots of money and time while satisfying your picky eaters!
Easy School Lunch Ideas
It’s that wonderful time of year that lightens your heart and fills your soul with peace & tranquility. No, I’m not talking about Christmas! I’m talking about school starting!! Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s a bitter-sweet time for most moms. Bitter because you’re back to hectic mornings, finding everyone’s books and papers and trying to get them out of the door on time… because you now have 180 lunches to make over the next nine months if you have one child and 720 if you have four — But hey, who’s counting?
It is sweet because the peaceful quiet that penetrates the house is like gentle music to your ears and you can take a lovely relaxing bubble bath without what sounds like the whole US army trying to break down the bathroom door. Well, now that I think about it, I haven’t known many moms that had the luxury of a bubble bath in the middle of the day but I can dream, can’t I?
I can’t help you find time for that bubble bath but maybe I can help you with those 720 lunches by sharing some healthy and easy school lunch ideas.
Here are some easy school lunch ideas and snack ideas that will satisfy all of your picky eaters:
School lunches don’t have to have exotic ingredients to be healthy, so don’t overthink it! A well balanced lunch including some protein, fruit and veggies and carbohydrates is healthy and kids need a lot of energy throughout the day.
- To keep drinks cold in lunch boxes, pour a small amount in the bottom of the container (not glass) and then set the cap loosely on top. Put it in the freezer overnight. The next day fill with the rest of the drink. The ice should slowly melt all day long, keeping the beverage cool.
- Have the kids pre-package chips and cookies in baggies on the weekends. Store in a basket. Grab one as needed for lunches. This is one of the school lunch ideas that will save you the most money.
- Make a large batch of puddings and gelatins on the weekends. Pour into individual containers and refrigerate.
- Save the ketchup and mustard packets and napkins you don’t use from the fast food restaurants. Use them in lunch boxes.
- Puddings – sprinkle with marshmallows, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips (for chocolate pudding) or berries (in vanilla pudding)
- Banana bread, pumpkin bread or zucchini bread
- Tuna, egg or chicken salad sandwich
- Tuna salad and crackers
- Sandwiches made from last night’s dinner meat (ie. roast beef, chicken, turkey)
- Ants on a log – celery with peanut butter inside and raisins on the peanut butter
- Hot dogs
- Canned fruit
- Carrot sticks, celery sticks or radishes with Ranch dressing
- Homemade granola bars or cookies
Here is a recipe for easy homemade granola bars you can use to save money on an easy lunch filler!
You will also find more easy school lunch ideas below in this post and in our post 50 Breakfast and Snack Ideas for Picky Eaters.
Easy Granola Bars Recipe – Healthy And Delicious!
This easy granola bars recipe makes homemade healthy granola bars everyone will love! They’re perfect for breakfasts, snacks or packed lunches!
- Yield: 24 bars
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy.
- Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well.
- Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch pan.
- Bake 20-25 minutes.
- Press the ingredients into a microwave safe dish.
- Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate the dish every three minutes.
- The bars will firm as they stand.
- Cool and cut into bars.
- Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping.
- 1 cup coconut
- ½ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
- ½ cup nuts
- ½-1 cup raisins, dried apples or apricots
- ½ cup fruit preserves
If you like these easy school lunch ideas, check out our Dining On A Dime Cookbooks, which are filled with quick and easy recipes to make your life easier!
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Save money on school lunches or any time the kids need to pack a lunch! Use these easy tips for preparing school lunches for the week in 30 minutes on the weekend.
Save $600 on school lunches this year!
These days in America, it seems that everyone is so busy that preparing school lunches is liable to push a typical mom right over the edge. When you have to choose between making school lunches or spending that extra 15 minutes in bed, it seems like buying ready-made school lunches at the store is a no-brainer, but your budget doesn’t agree.
The average mom packs $3.00 worth of pre-packaged goodies into each school lunch she sends to school with her kids. (That works out to $1080 for 2 kids.) What mother hasn’t wondered if those lunches are even getting eaten and if there’s an easier way to save money on school lunches?
Try these easy school lunch ideas and tips for things you can do in 30 minutes or less on the weekend to save money on school lunches and make preparation a snap!
Easy School Lunch Ideas To Save Money!
- Those snack bags of munchies cost a lot! Make your own by pre-packaging chips, pretzels, animal crackers and other snack items into sandwich bags on the weekends. (Have the kids help!) Store them in a big container or basket and just throw them in the lunch box in the morning.
- Let the kids create their own Pizza lunch kits- Toast bread and cut out little circles with a biscuit cutter. Add small containers of pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings.
- Make fruit gelatin and pudding and put in small plastic containers for the week. Make a large batch of granola bars, cookies, pumpkin bread, banana bread or muffins. Divide them into zip top sandwich bags and freeze so that you can grab one or two when needed.
- Brownie bites are simple to make. Bake brownie mix in mini-muffin pans and put three “brownie bites” in a sandwich bag for each child’s lunch. They freeze well too!
- Fill thermos (not glass) half full with juice the night before and freeze. In the morning, remove from freezer and fill the rest of the way. The juice will be cold when the kids are ready to drink it and it keeps their food cold too.
- Clean vegetables, slice into pieces and bag. Preparing a weeks worth of veggies at a time for lunches and snacks saves money and time.
- Purchase cheese in blocks, cut into pieces and put in sandwich bags.