Author Topic: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!  (Read 1930 times)

LadyMustache

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Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« on: October 11, 2017, 11:30:14 AM »
Hi all,

I'm looking for some ideas for thrifty (and healthy) packed lunches and snacks for kids. I make lunch every day for my two older ones (8 and 6) as well as for my husband. Husband has salad and nuts every day, and is happy with that, but I suspect the kids' lunches and snacks are killing my food budget as I will often pack a ready-made granola bar/applesauce/packaged pretzels. I buy from Costco, but I know I don't need to tell you these things really add up. I know there have to be better options!

What do you make for them? What afterschool snacks do you give? Any cheap/healthy recipes to share? I'm happy to cook muffins/bars/whatever, as long as it's cheap and fairly easy.

Thanks!

LadyMustache

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 12:16:25 PM »
Have you looked into reuseable pouches? I have these and we love them. The super easy route is adding canned applesauce to them, but of course you could go way more DIY than that. They are freezer and dishwasher safe! I think they have multiple sizes too.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00TXBSHBQ/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

elaine amj

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 12:19:07 PM »
Why not just fresh fruit and veggies for snacks? Carrots, cucumbers, apples, grapes, oranges, tangerines, etc etc

I hate lunches though. My kids often take sandwiches, buttered pasta, fried rice, grilled cheese, pizza. So many crappy choices and not enough healthy meals :(
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MBot

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 12:24:04 PM »
This recipe is easy and unbelievably adaptable. Don't let the "low fat" moniker scare you, they just use some applesauce instead  of all oil

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/52635/low-fat-blueberry-bran-muffins/

I make these with half the sugar. These freeze great too.

Substitutions I have made
- for applesauce: banana, pumpkin, zucchini, chopped fruit
- for flour - usually I use all regular flour. I've also done part oats or part oat flour, all white flour and a little extra bran
- for egg - if I'm out I'll use a flax egg
- spices/add-ins - I've added molasses and pumpkin pie spices; added cranberries instead of or in addition to blueberries, or made plain with no add in an
- toppings - putting oats or pumpkin seeds on top looks nice :)

jeninco

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 12:54:37 PM »
The majority of our lunches for years have been a piece of fruit, some veg, a muffin (for a snack) and little corn-tortilla quesadillas: warm corn tortillas, spread with mashed black beans, add salsa or hot sauce and some cheese (not too much), fold in half and toast in a dry skillet.

We also pack leftovers whenever we can make that work. Fallback is PBJ.

But there are always muffins and fruit. I estimate I've made over 5000 muffins since my kids were born. I recommend heavy-duty muffin tins and spray oil so that they are easy to remove. Also, make several dozen at a time: they keep fine in gallon-sized ziplock bags in the freezer, and are easy to either pop into lunches (they'll defrost) or the microwave to eat immediately.

mm1970

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 01:02:39 PM »
I'm finally done with packing lunches! Kids get free lunch at school.

I always sent a fruit, a veg, a protein, and a carb for lunch.
Snacks were a killer. Only way I could limit them was to set a budget and when they are gone, they are gone.

carb: bread, hummus, pita, crackers, muffins, quesadillas, pasta
protein: cheese, sliced deli meat, beans, leftovers, eggs
fruit: applesauce pouches only when I was desparate.  Otherwise, whatever is on sale
veg: raw veg or leftover cooked veg
mixed nuts, homemade granola bars, etc.

100 days of real food has some good lunch ideas.  Her website, FB page, cookbooks.  Even just looking at the pictures gives me ideas on how to change it up.

Snacks at home: fruit, yogurt (in the big tub), cheese, veggies.

Lkxe

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 01:27:36 PM »
We only have one school aged child left at home but Sunday is prep day. I bake a round of muffins and roll something in bread dough. Some weeks cookies or brownies. We package some veg ( mix of two) usually carrots, grape tomatoes, pea pods or cucumber slices. Then we pack some fruit -canned sometimes in jello, applesauce or whatever berries we have fruit salad if I’ve made it. Bananas don’t survive boys and apples can be quick to brown if cut (no knives allowed you know)
One lunch will be muffin and cheese. Two will be whatever was baked. We have made pizza Stromboli or ham,broccoli and cheese, pepper steak, chicken spinach and Alfredo, Black bean or aloo empanadas even just a hotdog or a cheese stick. One lunch will be leftovers (middle school has microwave) or I will make Mac and cheese with tuna and peas for his thermos.  One more lunch of triscuits and cheese. Or tortilla roll ups of veggie cream (I pulverize my own) or “squishy” cheese most often with spinach and turkey. And a treat granola bar. Trail mix, mini candy bar, homemade cookie or a dove chocolate square. Pasta salad works well, I can make that ahead or chopped salads.
After school is yogurt parfait ,smoothies or that apple or banana with peanut butter. Or nuts or more cheese or microwaved cheesy roll ups.


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LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 06:57:08 AM »
Have you looked into reuseable pouches? I have these and we love them. The super easy

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00TXBSHBQ/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Ooh, thanks for reminding me about these - actually a friend gifted me three of them  (different brand but same idea). Am going to try them out as just never got round to it. What do you fill yours with?

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 07:00:27 AM »
The majority of our lunches for years have been a piece of fruit, some veg, a muffin (for a snack) and little corn-tortilla quesadillas: warm corn tortillas, spread with mashed black beans, add salsa or hot sauce and some cheese (not too much), fold in half and toast in a dry skillet

Love the quesadillas idea, thanks! My six-year-old is veggie so this would be great for him :)

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 07:02:14 AM »
This recipe is easy and unbelievably adaptable. Don't let the "low fat" moniker scare you, they just use some applesauce instead  of all oil

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/52635/low-fat-blueberry-bran-muffins/

I make these with half the sugar. These freeze great too.

Substitutions I have made
- for applesauce: banana, pumpkin, zucchini, chopped fruit
- for flour - usually I use all regular flour. I've also done part oats or part oat flour, all white flour and a little extra bran
- for egg - if I'm out I'll use a flax egg
- spices/add-ins - I've added molasses and pumpkin pie spices; added cranberries instead of or in addition to blueberries, or made plain with no add in an
- toppings - putting oats or pumpkin seeds on top looks nice :)

Thank, MBot. These look perfect! Better stilll, I have all the ingredients already :)

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 07:04:45 AM »
I'm finally done with packing lunches! Kids get free lunch at school.

I always sent a fruit, a veg, a protein, and a carb for lunch.
Snacks were a killer. Only way I could limit them was to set a budget and when they are gone, they are gone

I like the idea of setting a specific budget for snacks. They work out so $$$ with three kids and a husband with an obsession with almonds and dried figs!

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 07:07:19 AM »
We only have one school aged child left at home but Sunday is prep day. I bake a round of muffins and roll something in bread dough. Some weeks cookies or brownies. We package some veg ( mix of two) usually carrots, grape tomatoes, pea pods or cucumber slices. Then we pack some fruit -canned sometimes in jello, applesauce or whatever berries we have fruit salad if Iíve made it. Bananas donít survive boys and apples can be quick to brown if cut (no knives allowed you know)
One lunch will be muffin and cheese. Two will be whatever was baked. We have made pizza Stromboli or ham,broccoli and cheese, pepper steak, chicken spinach and Alfredo, Black bean or aloo empanadas even just a hotdog or a cheese stick. One lunch will be leftovers (middle school has microwave) or I will make Mac and cheese with tuna and peas for his thermos.  One more lunch of triscuits and cheese. Or tortilla roll ups of veggie cream (I pulverize my own) or ďsquishyĒ cheese most often with spinach and turkey. And a treat granola bar. Trail mix, mini candy bar, homemade cookie or a dove chocolate square. Pasta salad works well, I can make that ahead or chopped salads.
After school is yogurt parfait ,smoothies or that apple or banana with peanut butter. Or nuts or more cheese or microwaved cheesy roll ups.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Great ideas, thanks! I like the idea of prep day. At the moment I get up at 6am and put them all together before I get the kids up. Seems to take forever.

kimmarg

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2017, 07:43:39 AM »
Have you looked into reuseable pouches? I have these and we love them. The super easy

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00TXBSHBQ/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Ooh, thanks for reminding me about these - actually a friend gifted me three of them  (different brand but same idea). Am going to try them out as just never got round to it. What do you fill yours with?

I find fruit is easiest. I've tried various veggies but it never purees as well as the commercial snack pouches.  Canned fruit in 100% juice tossed in the blender works great. A 28oz can drained plus a 15oz can with juice makes about 8 pouches.  Apples, pears, peaches, applesauce, frozen berries also work well. Also you can freeze them. Just grab one from the freezer in the am and toss it in the lunchbox so they become both the ice pack and the afternoon snack.

FLBiker

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2017, 07:55:53 AM »
DD is only 2.5, but here's what we've been doing.

We use one "big" reusable container for the main course, usually either a fried egg or a PB&J.  We have two small reusable containers (very small, like 1/4 cup) that we do fruit or veg (ie sliced grapes, peas and carrots, sliced tomatoes, etc.).  We do include some "readymade" stuff, too, though.  Today, for example, she has an organic yogurt pouch that we got on sale.  Sometimes she'll have a string cheese.  And we use those reusable pouches to include crackers.  Oh, and she has a little jar of "trail mix" -- shelled sunflower seeds, chopped dates and cheerios.

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2017, 09:09:25 AM »
Have you looked into reuseable pouches? I have these and we love them. The super easy

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00TXBSHBQ/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Ooh, thanks for reminding me about these - actually a friend gifted me three of them  (different brand but same idea). Am going to try them out as just never got round to it. What do you fill yours with?

I find fruit is easiest. I've tried various veggies but it never purees as well as the commercial snack pouches.  Canned fruit in 100% juice tossed in the blender works great. A 28oz can drained plus a 15oz can with juice makes about 8 pouches.  Apples, pears, peaches, applesauce, frozen berries also work well. Also you can freeze them. Just grab one from the freezer in the am and toss it in the lunchbox so they become both the ice pack and the afternoon snack.

Yeah I haven't had a lot of luck with adding veggies. Still trying though- I have the most success with orange veggies (carrot & sweet potato) mixed with applesauce. I've got a frozen banana "nice cream" experiment in the freezer to try too.

Most of the time, straight up unsweetened applesauce goes straight from the jar into the pouch :)

jac941

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2017, 11:34:16 AM »
There are some great ideas in here that I'm taking to add variety to my kids' lunches!

Our kids' preschool has a really strict food policy -- no sugar, no salt, no nuts and no disposable packaging. Practically this means no cookies, candy, muffins, dried fruits, crackers, chips, nuts or nut butter of any kind, etc. It also means no prepackaged single serving cheese sticks, yogurt, applesauce, fruit pouches, veggie sticks & dips, etc. unless we unwrap them or transfer them to another non disposable container. While annoying at first, this forced us to come up with a frugal, healthy, easy lunch / snack packing system that we've continued even though our older child has moved on to elementary school which has no restrictions.

So, here's what we do...

Dinner leftovers are our primary lunch strategy -- this covers roughly 50% of lunches. When our kids fail to eat dinner or eat only a small portion of what they've served themselves, the food left on their plates gets loaded directly into the lunchbox for the next day. We tend to cook a little more than we need to make it more likely that we'll have extra for lunches.

When we don't have dinner leftovers, we pack a fruit + veggie + protein + starch.

Fruit: Whatever is cheap or in season. Banana, apple, grapes, oranges, berries, melon, etc.
Veggie: My kids are pickier about veggies & prefer them raw so we just cut a bunch over the weekend and pack whatever we have. Carrots, celery, lettuce, cucumber, etc.
Protein + Starch: Often we can cover this with dinner leftovers -- e.g. chicken and rice, bean burritos or quesadillas, pasta, etc. If that's not possible, we have easy to pack proteins ready to go and pack them with a tortilla or slice of bread as the starch. Hard boiled eggs, lunch meat sandwich, cheese (cut off a block), beans, tofu, nuts or nut butter sandwich (for the elementary school kid only), etc.

The only extra food prep / cooking this requires is precutting some veggies & hard boiling a bunch of eggs at the beginning of the week. I have also occasionally cooked a big batch of beans and brown rice & made a dozen burritos for the freezer which I can pull out and thaw anytime for those days when we've got nothing. This system is mostly healthy, cheap, easy, and meets the strict preschool requirements. It also strongly discourages picky eating -- refused dinner foods are almost always lunch the next day.

For our own sanity, we use lunchbots bento boxes ($$$) instead of our regular tupperware to pack lunch because it means only 1 container & 1 lid per child to wash every day rather than 3-4 tupperware containers each. Plus, our older kid only gets 20 min to eat, and we've found that he tends to eat a wider variety of food when he only has to open 1 lid to get to all of it versus only eating 1 of the packed items when he has to fumble with a different lid for each food item.

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2017, 04:39:57 PM »
There are some great ideas in here that I'm taking to add variety to my kids' lunches!

Our kids' preschool has a really strict food policy -- no sugar, no salt, no nuts and no disposable packaging. Practically this means no cookies, candy, muffins, dried fruits, crackers, chips, nuts or nut butter of any kind, etc. It also means no prepackaged single serving cheese sticks, yogurt, applesauce, fruit pouches, veggie sticks & dips, etc. unless we unwrap them or transfer them to another non disposable container. While annoying at first, this forced us to come up with a frugal, healthy, easy lunch / snack packing system that we've continued even though our older child has moved on to elementary school which has no restrictions.

So, here's what we do...

Dinner leftovers are our primary lunch strategy -- this covers roughly 50% of lunches. When our kids fail to eat dinner or eat only a small portion of what they've served themselves, the food left on their plates gets loaded directly into the lunchbox for the next day. We tend to cook a little more than we need to make it more likely that we'll have extra for lunches.

When we don't have dinner leftovers, we pack a fruit + veggie + protein + starch.

Fruit: Whatever is cheap or in season. Banana, apple, grapes, oranges, berries, melon, etc.
Veggie: My kids are pickier about veggies & prefer them raw so we just cut a bunch over the weekend and pack whatever we have. Carrots, celery, lettuce, cucumber, etc.
Protein + Starch: Often we can cover this with dinner leftovers -- e.g. chicken and rice, bean burritos or quesadillas, pasta, etc. If that's not possible, we have easy to pack proteins ready to go and pack them with a tortilla or slice of bread as the starch. Hard boiled eggs, lunch meat sandwich, cheese (cut off a block), beans, tofu, nuts or nut butter sandwich (for the elementary school kid only), etc.

The only extra food prep / cooking this requires is precutting some veggies & hard boiling a bunch of eggs at the beginning of the week. I have also occasionally cooked a big batch of beans and brown rice & made a dozen burritos for the freezer which I can pull out and thaw anytime for those days when we've got nothing. This system is mostly healthy, cheap, easy, and meets the strict preschool requirements. It also strongly discourages picky eating -- refused dinner foods are almost always lunch the next day.

For our own sanity, we use lunchbots bento boxes ($$$) instead of our regular tupperware to pack lunch because it means only 1 container & 1 lid per child to wash every day rather than 3-4 tupperware containers each. Plus, our older kid only gets 20 min to eat, and we've found that he tends to eat a wider variety of food when he only has to open 1 lid to get to all of it versus only eating 1 of the packed items when he has to fumble with a different lid for each food item.

Our preschool was picky too: no chips, no nuts, no cookies, no muffins, no juice and so on. And nothing disposable!

I LOVE that you give them for lunch what is left over from the night before! Kudos! On a similar note,  my new rule is that whatever they bring home from school (like uneaten carrot sticks/whole mandarin) they eat for snack after school. They always leave the healthy stuff even though they are good eaters, but I am done with throwing that away and giving them something fresh for snack when they come in. Yes, they actually hate me now, but I think it hit home :)

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2017, 04:45:52 PM »
For people sending leftovers or rice or pasta, does your kid have the ability to heat the meal up? I didn't have that option when I was in school.

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2017, 04:56:15 PM »
For people sending leftovers or rice or pasta, does your kid have the ability to heat the meal up? I didn't have that option when I was in school.

My kids don't. I use a mini Thermos for pasta sometimes. My son tells me it is still warm at lunch.  Not done it for rice as Im paranoid about rice and food poisoning, but that's probably just me. 

jac941

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 07:07:48 PM »
For people sending leftovers or rice or pasta, does your kid have the ability to heat the meal up? I didn't have that option when I was in school.

My kids canít heat it up, but they also donít mind eating it cold. So itís cold pasta, cold beans and rice, etc. There are a few things my kids prefer warm (soup for example) so I donít send that. Occasionally Iíll heat stuff up and put it in a Thermos for them to take, but I really donít think that increases their likelihood of eating it and itís more work for me in the morning.

ChiefMomOfficer

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2017, 04:10:16 AM »
We try to make school lunch packing as easy as possible. Our two older boys never buy lunch-they have no interest in doing so and think school lunches are gross. Since my oldest is now 14 that means we've been packing lunches now for almost 10 years.

We also buy in bulk (at BJs) and typically will pick up whatever is a good bargain or has a coupon. Sandwiches and sides are packed in reusable containers. For drinks they mostly have water or juice boxes bought in bulk. I'll also bake on the weekends so they have things to bring during the week. I bet you could make an amazing batch of applesauce for much less than the cost to buy.

One other tip is to keep it simple. My kids usually get something similar every day, and we have a box filled with sides that we already packaged and ready for the week. So morning of we just assemble and it's ready to go.

I also echo MM1970 above with the 100 days of real food recommendation. It's a great site. She focuses more on healthy food than cost though.
Mother of three boys, breadwinner & sole income earner with a stay at home dad husband. Writes at www.chiefmomofficer.org

Poundwise

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2017, 07:23:18 AM »
For our own sanity, we use lunchbots bento boxes ($$$) instead of our regular tupperware to pack lunch because it means only 1 container & 1 lid per child to wash every day rather than 3-4 tupperware containers each. Plus, our older kid only gets 20 min to eat, and we've found that he tends to eat a wider variety of food when he only has to open 1 lid to get to all of it versus only eating 1 of the packed items when he has to fumble with a different lid for each food item.

This is a great tip! I also do leftovers; if the kids liked last night's dinner I ask if they want another go at lunch and they are often happy to do so. 

I never buy prepackaged  snack sizes; I usually get a big economy size bag of  pretzels, etc. and repackage it into snack containers myself.  Or scoop applesauce from the jar into a tupperware. I'd like to start making our own cheese-powdered popcorn (like Smartfood) but have yet to pin down a source of bulk powdered cheddar.

School lunch in our system is only $2.50 so my kids often take hot lunch since they don't mind it.

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2017, 06:50:22 AM »
Made the blueberry muffins yesterday. Very yummy and a big hit :)

LadyMustache

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2017, 06:53:54 AM »
I'd like to start making our own cheese-powdered popcorn (like Smartfood) but have yet to pin down a source of bulk powdered cheddar.

School lunch in our system is only $2.50 so my kids often take hot lunch since they don't mind it.

I'd like to start making cheesy popcorn too. I have a maker and use it at least twice a week for my three kids for buttered popcorn. Was such a good investment! I have some nutritional yeast, which is apparently good for getting the cheesy flavor but not actually tried it yet.

chaskavitch

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2017, 07:08:03 AM »
Have you looked into reuseable pouches? I have these and we love them. The super easy

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00TXBSHBQ/ref=yo_ii_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Ooh, thanks for reminding me about these - actually a friend gifted me three of them  (different brand but same idea). Am going to try them out as just never got round to it. What do you fill yours with?

Oh boy.  I bought some of the 7 oz squeeze packs after I read this thread, and they're SO BIG!  I might have to go back and get a different size, these ones might not even fit in the kid's lunchbox, haha.

On the bright side, they do look very durable.  If they were a tiny bit smaller in dimensions they'd be perfect.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2017, 12:21:00 PM »
My kids love "peanut butter parties".  I put a small container of peanut butter (or almond butter or whatever) in their lunch kit with a mix of crackers, apple slices, grapes, carrots, celery, bananas,  strawberries, etc.  The kids then just dip stuff in their peanut butter and eat it all.  I usually make them take a cheese slice or some yogurt too.

One child loves these - a tortilla, with something spreadable like peanut butter on it, with teeny diced apples and granola, then rolled up.   She eats two or three of those at a time.

I actually have my kids make up their own lunches starting in first grade.  We cut up fruit and veggies on the weekend and portion applesauce and yogurt into reusable containers.  The kids then have to pick one dairy, a minimum of two fruits/veggies, and something else mostly healthy (make a sandwich, a rollup, leftover sausage, etc).

They each get a budget for school lunches and snacks.  I put the money on their accounts on the 1st of the month, and they can use it to buy lunches on days they or running late, or to buy chocolate milk or a snack to supplement their lunches. When the money's gone, they have to wait until the next month to buy things.  Even the first grader learned to budget and pace himself.

Also - I'm perfectly fine with eating the exact same meal every day for months.  One of my kids is, too.  We found his perfect lunch and he just eats that every day.  Much easier.
Boldly leading a blended family into (future) financial independence

StarBright

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2017, 09:53:03 AM »
For people sending leftovers or rice or pasta, does your kid have the ability to heat the meal up? I didn't have that option when I was in school.

We have one of these for our kindergartener and it works great!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017SGIMV2/ref=asc_df_B017SGIMV25240915/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=394997&creativeASIN=B017SGIMV2&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167125544335&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17918046929628692807&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9015099&hvtargid=pla-312795471838

We got ours on sale on Prime Day. It is still pricey but my kid eats healthy, warm lunches everyday and it is still cheaper than paying 3 bucks for lunch everyday. The thermos only holds about a cup of food so I don't know if it will be enough food once he's in third or fourth grade. But it is fine for now.

Some of my sons favorite lunches to take are Rice and Beans, turkey meatballs in tomato sauce, Spinach Pasta, Creamed Spinach over Cous Cous, mashed sweet potatoes w/ a lit bit of BBQ pork. He's big on leftovers :)

When looking for cold lunches we'll do pita w/ hummus, whole wheat mini bagels w/ peanut butter on them and the occasional PBJ.

Lunches also include a veggie and a fruit and milk or yogurt drink. Sometimes he gets homemade minimuffins as treat.

We're only a few months into K so far, but after the first week have had no complaints about bringing lunch from home.


Chesleygirl

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2017, 01:13:48 PM »
Has anyone else done the pay system where you pay money into the school cafeteria for your child's lunches? And does it cost more than packing a lunch?  My child eats a lot so it seems we pay a good amount for lunch no matter what.

mm1970

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2017, 03:14:42 PM »
Has anyone else done the pay system where you pay money into the school cafeteria for your child's lunches? And does it cost more than packing a lunch?  My child eats a lot so it seems we pay a good amount for lunch no matter what.
Yep.  We have that system in our school district.

For many years, I packed a lunch.

My big kid went to a private preschool on a public school campus.  So we paid for preschool.  They had school lunch, but I packed him a lunch instead, because I could pack him a lunch for $1- $1.25 and school lunch was $2.50.

Year 2 of preschool the school got a grant to provide free lunch to ALL students, as a large % of the school was already on free lunch.  It was glorious!

But then on a kindergarten, in a different school.  Back to packing lunch because, again - $1-$1.25 vs. $2.50.

As the years went on, he wanted to eat more school lunches.  They made him more adventurous (even though we already are).  So, it started with wanting to eat at school on Thursday, because it was nacho day or posole day or tostada day.  Then he wanted to eat 2x a week, because he really liked pasta day too. 

In 4th grade, 2 months in I was getting frustrated that he wasn't eating his packed lunch.  (He got 2 snacks at school.)  We'd get home and he'd eat his lunch before dinner.  I finally said "enough!" and made him pack his own lunch.

That lasted 2 weeks.  He still didn't eat his own lunch.

I washed my hands of the whole thing, and let him buy school lunch every day.  And I love it.  He hates the school pizza, so he just doesn't eat lunch that day.

Now here we are in 6th (with a kindergartner) and our current school just went to free lunch for all students.  On occasion, the little guy wants a cold lunch.  I feel like i should pack a lunch so I know he's eating his veggies.


Chesleygirl

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2017, 05:05:57 PM »
I suspect my child throws out a lot of her packed lunch food. But she also wasted food she bought in the school cafeteria. She was also  buying bottled water which I think is a waste of money. I don't know if we're saving money or not.

samusugiru

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Re: Help with economical packed lunches and snacks for kids!
« Reply #30 on: November 08, 2017, 05:39:24 PM »
I have different sized containers for snacks but mostly I just cut up fruit in their lunch box. I like the sistema containers, today they had cut pair in one and carrot with houmous in a dip size container. I also use the dip size for things like sultanas.