With the rising cost of school supplies, clothing, backpacks, and other items to get your children ready for school, finding a way to save money is a relief. One of the best ways to do that with your school-age children is packing their lunch. Below you’ll find 10 back-to-school lunch ideas that will save you money this year.
The Cost of School Lunch
According to the School Nutrition Association, the average prices for school-provided meals in the United States are as follows:
Only 8 million of the student in U.S. public schools pay full price, however. Individuals who meet the requirements are offered a reduced price lunch ($0.40). Of the 4.9 billion lunches served in public schools each year, 20 million are absolutely free.
Where breakfast is concerned, fewer children eat breakfast at school. They still manage to serve 2.4 billion breakfasts, more than 11 million of which are free.
However, if you don’t qualify for free lunch for your kids; the price of school lunch can stack up quickly, especially if you have a large family. For just one elementary school-aged student, you’ll spend about $45 per month on lunch alone (and $90 if you have two children).
10 Cheap Back-to-School Lunch Ideas
1. Lunch Kabobs
Lunch kabobs are an easy and fun lunch to prepare for your child. All you’ll need is cubed cheese, your choice of ham or turkey, and your child’s favorite veggie. With a pack of lunch meat averaging around $5, a block of cheese available for $2 and a single cucumber or tomato costs around $0.25. You’ll wind up paying less than $1 per lunch.
Cheese quesadillas are another great cheap lunch idea you can easily make at home and it will cost less than $1 per serving. You can get a pack of 8 tortillas for around $2 and shredded cheese for $2 as well. Each tortilla will provide a serving and there will be more than enough cheese for your child’s quesadillas through the week.
3. Egg Salad
Egg salad is an extremely cost-friendly lunch idea as well. You can get one dozen eggs for around $1.30 and a loaf of bread around $2. If you don’t already have mayo in your fridge, you can also pick up a jar for less than $2, making each serving less than $1.
4. Pepperoni Bites
These pepperoni bites will take a little more effort than the options listed above. However, your kids will look forward to this meal in their lunch boxes. All you’ll need is a 4-count can of refrigerated flaky biscuits, a package of pepperoni, and pizza sauce. Altogether, the ingredients will cost around $7 and will make a single serving. You will have plenty of pepperonis and sauce leftover though!
5. Classic PB&J
Of course, there is always the trusty PB&J. A jar of peanut butter will cost around $2, and jelly and bread cost about the same. So, for $6 you can make as many sandwiches as a loaf will allow (less than $1 per serving).
6. Banana Burritos
You can buy a pound of bananas for about $0.56, peanut butter, jelly, and an 8-count package of cost $2 each making each serving cost less than $1.
7. DIY Lunchables
DIY Lunchables can save a ton of money too. Lunchables in the store cost about $3.50 while making your own version at home can cost less than $1 per serving.
8. Lunch Meat Rolls
Lunch meat roll-ups are another great budget-friendly lunch idea. All you’ll need is ham or turkey, pickle spears, and the sauce of your choice. Each serving, as with the other options on this list, will cost less than $1.
9. Tuna Salad
Another classic back-to-school lunch idea is tuna salad. A can of tuna will run you about $0.50, a jar of mayo will cost you less than $2, and bread will also cost less than $2. A serving will cost less than $2.
10. Ants on a Log
Ants on a log is another classic lunch/snack idea. You can buy a large bag of raisins for less than $3, peanut butter for around $2, and celery for less than $1. Each serving costs less than $1.