Save Money on School Lunches
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Save Money on School Lunches

Posted on Friday, August 16th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Your child's school lunch can cost more than you might think over the course of a year!  Here are some tips to help you save money on school lunches.Parents are aware that the purchase of new school supplies, and new school clothing, adds up. What is often overlooked is the amount of money that you will end up spending on your child’s lunch every school day. Here are some tips that can cut down on the cost of school lunch (without sacrificing nutrition).

How to Save on School Lunches

Get a reusable lunchbox.
One package of paper lunch bags, and a box of plastic sandwich bags, doesn’t appear to cost that much at first glance. You are going to use them up quicker than you might think. Over the course of the school year, that cost adds up!

A reusable lunchbox (or lunch bag) isn’t expensive and can be reused the entire school year. Pick up some small plastic containers and you can avoid the need for plastic sandwich bags. The price of a reusable water bottle is much less than how much you would spend on juice boxes, plastic bottles of water, or cans of soda during the school year.

Skip the prepackaged snacks.
Purchasing family sized snacks, and dividing them into individual portions, will cost less than buying individual packages. Put some chips or pretzels into a small plastic container. Divide up a large bag of baby carrots instead of buying a bunch of individual bags. Skip the Lunchables. You can prepare the same stuff (crackers, small pieces of lunchmeat, and fruit) yourself for less money.

Ask about reduced or free lunch.
Stop by the office at your child’s public school and ask if they have information about the free (or reduced) lunch program. It is a federal program that is designed to assist families that make under a certain amount of money. In some states, the free lunch program includes breakfast before school starts (or shortly after school begins).

Plan ahead.
Use some coupons to cut down on the cost of the snacks that you plan to put into your children’s lunches this week. Put those snacks in an out of the way place (like on top of the refrigerator) so your kids cannot eat them all before they make it into a lunch bag! Planning ahead will help you avoid spending extra money on the school lunch (when it isn’t in your budget).

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.