Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Packing Healthy Lunches Thrifty Mom Style

We are serious lunch packers around here.  Wasting our money on eating out or purchasing those less than desirable school lunches just isn't something we are inclined to do.  My girls will be the first to tell you that school lunches aren't so great.  Loaded with junk and preservatives it is hard to make a really good and healthy choice from what they have to offer.  I would love to see a complete overhaul of our school lunch system someday, but I doubt that is much of a priority right now.

These are really pretty cool - literally!

We all have insulated lunch boxes.  The girls have the Pack-It lunch bags that go in the freezer and I have a regular one and use the girl's old Sponge Bob ice packs they had in grade school.  Fortunately for me most of the Sponge Bob characters have worn away with time and they're basically blank now.

Soup in a canning jar is a good way to pack it and reheat it
Hardboiled eggs are great for breakfast or a snack

We normally pack the previous night's leftovers for our lunches.  The girls are lucky enough to have teachers with microwaves that are willing to let the students heat up their lunches.  I really appreciate that and it has truly made a big difference in what they are able to take to school.

I try to keep a lot of fresh fruit and veggie options on hand

Along with leftovers I send along milk, water or fruit juice, a piece of fresh fruit or a fruit cup, snacks items like crackers and cheese, crackers and peanut butter, pretzels, trail mix or chips,  Homemade cookies and jello or pudding cups are nice as well.  I do allow the girls to have chips and some junk food in their school lunches.  I figure that we eat so much good wholesome food at home that a little in their lunch won't hurt them.

I find these at Dollar Tree

I am constantly looking for items for lunches.  Since most of what they pack comes from our grocery budget I gave myself a $10 a month allowance for "other stuff".  Ten bucks is a whole lot cheaper than the cost of two kids buying school lunches, believe you me!

These go on sale quite a bit at Fred Meyer

I pick up stuff on sale at the grocery store and I do include those items in my grocery budget.  Usually I buy the big package of assorted individual size bags of chips when they go on sale for $5.99.  I'll get two or three of those a year.  I've shopped Amazon too and one time purchased a big case of 100% fruit juice boxes for $9.98.  That was pretty awesome.

My girls love these

I usually spend my $10 at the dollar store and I hardly ever spend it all, if you can believe that.  They have a nice selection of packaged cracker snacks, individual packages of Teddy Grahams, Hanover pretzels, Little Debbie items, Dole fruit cups, Dole gelatin and fruit cups, Snack Pack pudding (although I don't usually get them there because they go on sale at the grocery stores for 89¢ a lot) applesauce cups, cookies, and even flavored oatmeal packets.

We have water bottles like this that are really handy

I don't really buy a lot of drink items for us because we are such big water drinkers.  We all have water bottles and insulated water glasses.  We fill those up and take them with us most of the time.

I get 8ct packages of these at Dollar Tree

I thought I'd give you an update on how we've been handling our packed lunches lately.  And any ideas you guys want to share with me would be great!  I am always looking for new ways to keep it interesting, more efficient and of course, thriftier!


  1. I think it's hard to improve on what you are doing! I pack a lunch every evening for hubby right after we eat. (our four kids are grown.) The food is out, the kitchen is a mess, and it's a good time to do that dreaded chore. I also pack a breakfast (yogurt, boiled eggs, homemade oatmeal/raisin/nut cookies, bagels etc.) We do a lot of leftovers, tuna and egg sld sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies, chips or fritos etc. He has a microwave in his office. Many of his co-workers buy breakfast, lunch, and a couple coffees each day in the hospital cafeteria. They do have a lot of healthy options there, but the costs really add up.

    1. I personally don't know how some of my coworkers can afford it. I see them eat out, buy Dutch Bros, a lot. Some of them smoke too and have expensive cellphones with all the bells & whistles. I sure couldn't afford to do it and raise my family too. Not sure how they manage it.

      I like to fix lunches at night too like you do. Makes sense!

  2. What do you think your lunch costs average? I am generally at home so I eat the tid-bits left over in the fridge. Though I know there was an initial cost, I really count it as "free" food.

    1. We almost always pack leftovers. Sometimes a sandwich. When I calculate costs I put it all on the original meal so by my system leftovers are "free" too. Our average daily cost for food is under $2 per person so our lunches are probably a third of that. ???

  3. I'm with you on using canning jars to take soup to work and heat in the microwave. I think it works beautifully! My SIL made me the cutest microwave-proof hot pad that I actually set the jar or bowl into the microwave. It has little flaps that make it easy to remove the hot item and carry it back to my desk/office. If I get a spill on it, I just throw it in my lunch bag, bring it home, wash it, and then take it back. Chris M

    1. That is really neat Chris. I might have to figure out something like that. Those jars can get hot. You have a clever SIL.

    2. Here's a pin to something very similar to what I have ...

      Chris M

  4. I just read all your chicken posts. Feed the eggshells to the chickens so they will get calcium and protein from then. Crush the eggshells and just mix with their food. I found mine were leaving the eggshells sometimes, so I just made sure other food was on the shell. They gobbled them up then. Don't wash out the inside because that is nutrition. In order to keep them from eating their own eggs, heat the shells in the oven when you have finished using the oven and it is still hot. The eggs, once slightly browned are not recognizable as their eggs. My mother said they did this during the Depression, so it worked then and for me. I never had an egg eater. I did have a snake once that was eating eggs. The shells with the gooey stuff dried inside provide calcium and protein for your hens.

    Also, chicken wire keep chickens in, not predators out. Raccoons can tear it up. I use hardware cloth, 1/2 inch so they cannot reach through to get chickens. I absolutely love your chicken posts and pictures.

  5. When I worked, I always took my lunch. My fellow workers went out to lunch all the time. I could not afford that. Plus, I lost weight eating from home.


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