Back to school lunches: Save time and creative energy


Every Sunday night, I would load the drawer with easy grab-n-go snack packs, usually made with reusable snack bags. Buying prepackaged snack size anything is terribly expensive, and taking 5 minutes to make up a few snack bags is well worth the dollar savings.

Also, it’s good to teach your children (and spouse) what to do with their lunch box and lunch supplies when they get home from school, and where to find what they need to pack their lunches. And then, you just get to supervise and make sure they take a good balanced lunch with them out the door every morning.

Put Your Freezer to Work for You

There are a number of freezer friendly items for the lunch box:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Alternatives

The reason PBJs are such a staple for lunches across the country: they are mindless.  It takes absolutely no thought or energy when it comes to making them.  They are what we turn to when we are in “haven’t had enough coffee yet, and I wish I didn’t stay up for the late night comedy” default lunch. So even though we can freeze PBJs in an attempt to streamline the lunch packing process, it’s also nice to have a little variety in the lunchboxes we pack each day.

  • Soups. They make for fantastic leftovers and lunch the next day. Microwave and put in thermos before school.
  • Individual pizzas. Pack the crusts with toppings. These work best with child who has access to a microwave in their school’s cafeteria. Add a note with instructions on how long to microwave, along with paper towel to keep any rogue sauce from splattering.
  • Soft tacos. Place the tortillas in the bottom of their lunch container, then add a few favorite taco fixings into silicone mini muffin cups. Kids can assemble tacos and enjoy!

We share many more creative meal planning tips, time savings strategies and grocery savings secrets at our Savings Nation coupon class. Find one in your area.

Tell us how you get lunches, folders, homework and gym clothes into your kid’s backpack each morning. What strategies do you include in your morning routine to avoid the “rush to the bus” stress of busy school mornings?

Erin Chase is the founder of $5 and author of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbooks. When not helping others spend less on their groceries, she can be found chasing her brood of boys around the house, neighborhood and soccer fields.


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  1. ChuckG

    2 years ago

    When my son was in elementary he tired of sandwiches so I got him the crackers/lunch meat boxes, apple juice fruit drink and sometimes a snack bar. For some reason my son liked crackers like ritz over bread.

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