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How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

Last post Tue, Aug 30 2011 12:58 PM by Stacycue. 38 replies.
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  • Sat, Nov 15 2008 10:11 AM

    How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

     I had a discussion with my neighbor about school lunches. She said she can't make lunches much cheaper than what the school charges so she just lets them buy everyday. This adds up to 7.20 a day (3 kids). I know they are financially strapped and this really adds up!

    I went through her lunch preparation. She makes a normal sandwich but it is the extras that added to the cost. Each kid got a Capri Sun, a small bag of name brand chips, and small bag of fruit-like snack or she would just get them Lunchables. This cost her about $6 a day.

     I showed her our lunch preparation. We usually do a sandwich but have a piece of fruit(.15-.30), pretzels in reuseable container(.10), and reuseable water container with water,kool aid, juice (0-.10). My total is .60-.85 per child per day. 

     She couldn't believe it. She doesn't feel her kids would like this basic food (i.e. they like what they see on tv), its a hassle to shop for these items, or it would take too long to prepare. 

    I would like to show her that other people around the country do what I do everyday. Please share your success and ideas.

     

    Thanks!!!

  • Sat, Nov 15 2008 11:43 AM In reply to

    • Toni B.
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Apr 5 2008
    • Seneca Falls NY
    • Posts 3,826

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    JH in Portland:
     She couldn't believe it. She doesn't feel her kids would like this basic food (i.e. they like what they see on tv), its a hassle to shop for these items, or it would take too long to prepare. 
    My first reaction was "Tell her to turn off the TV". Its those commercials that have people convinced that convenience food is worth the money. She is making excuses for not wanting to change. Wait till the schools have no choice but raise the costs of lunches. Sometimes I don't think the kids would even care, its the parents who make a bigger deal out of changing.
    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Stages of Life
  • Sat, Nov 15 2008 12:37 PM In reply to

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

     JH,

     You're also saving money in the future, and teaching your kids good eating habits. School lunches are notoriously nutritionally void (at best, and nutritionally negative more often), full of simple carbs, HFCS, little fiber or protein, few real vitamins and minerals...etc. Her packed lunches were better, but still full of junk food. In the long run, both of these options will prove to be more even more expensive than your packed lunches by leaps and bounds than the obvious costs now.

    I do not pack for children, but I do lunch for DH and myself. On days when I am away from home and so is he, we can pack lunches for well under $1/each. Sandwhiches, leftovers, carrots & celery, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese, yogurt, etc. All in reusable containers.

    Warning: Soapboxing ahead!  This is a particularly sore topic for me at the moment, for reason I won't go into here (it's work related, and very frustrating). It's a bit of a vent, so feel free to stop reading. 

    I don't get people who let their children determine so much about their diet. Children simply aren't qualified to do this, and allowing them to decide they'll only eat "convenience foods" is setting horrible, life-long precendents in many areas of their life that range from diet choices to behavioral issues to social interactions to relationships. People wouldn't let their kids decide on household finances, cleaning their rooms, doing their homework, etc.; but, they'll let them choose their own diet and increase their risk of obesity, diabetes, etc.  I've said it before, children are not born "liking" only convenience foods, and they aren't going to starve to death if they're switched to whole foods. Countless generations of people worldwide have survived laudably for time predating written history without bagged chips. Their children didn't starve to death for the lack. Feeding children whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats and not giving into temper tantrums insisting they'll only eat pizza and candy bars is not abusive, it's good parenting.

    *sigh* 

    Okay, I think I got that out of my system. Thanks for listening.

    "This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in oncomming traffic." -Terry Pratchett

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  • Sat, Nov 15 2008 12:44 PM In reply to

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    Falconinburgundy:

    Feeding children whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats and not giving into temper tantrums insisting they'll only eat pizza and candy bars is not abuive, it's good parenting.

    *sigh* 

    Okay, I think I got that out of my system. Thanks for listening.

     

    Rant on! Smile You said it so well.

    Children are not able to make those decisions and many more. That's why they have parents - to parent them, i.e., teach them what they need to know and stop them from doing the wrong things.  

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  • Sat, Nov 15 2008 1:12 PM In reply to

    • Toni B.
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Apr 5 2008
    • Seneca Falls NY
    • Posts 3,826

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    Falconinburgundy:
    I don't get people who let their children determine so much about their diet. Children simply aren't qualified to do this, and allowing them to decide they'll only eat "convenience foods" is setting horrible, life-long precendents in many areas of their life that range from diet choices to behavioral issues to social interactions to relationships. People wouldn't let their kids decide on household finances, cleaning their rooms, doing their homework, etc.;
    Falcon, You are right on target! Rant Away!. The problem is that parents give in too easily and DO let kids determine and influence how the household is run and how money is spent by default. That's why shows like the Super Nanny are on. They've gotten to the point where parents need a stranger to come into their homes and show them how to consistently deal with their children. I just happen to catch last nights show with a single mom & three kids and the bedtime scene. The 4 year old boy got out of bed (NO JOKE 91 times) and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to deal with that. Its the parents who fail to set the standard and enforce it. If the kids had the choice of a healthy lunch or no lunch, they would eventually give in to healthy when they get hungry.
    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Stages of Life
  • Sat, Nov 15 2008 11:14 PM In reply to

    • kb999999
    • Top 100 Contributor
      Female
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 26 2008
    • Arizona
    • Posts 950

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

     Hi ... I would always include my two girls in the decision making - why send something that was just thrown away or left uneaten in the lunch bag? They had only two choices at our home - school lunch pass or take from home. Also, they did chores and earned 'allowance' - they could use this money to purchase snack/other lunch items (helped them learn money, a budget and cost). They are 18 and 19 now  - one still packs her own to college and the other buys junk.

  • Sun, Nov 16 2008 1:37 AM In reply to

    • MarthaMFI
    • Top 10 Contributor
      Female
    • Joined on Wed, Apr 16 2008
    • New Westminster, BC, Canada
    • Posts 10,850

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    Well the school lunches are my dd school are great.  healthy and cooked from scratched. salmon burger with fruit and milk for example.  cost is about $2 a day.  I would do it but my dd wouldn't eat most of it because of her pickness. 

    lunches for dh and our student would be more expensive.   I do use some convenience foods and I am bad for buying subs from safeway for the guys.

    No pb allowed at schools so sandwiches are meat . dh doesn't like tuna, no egg.     dd eats the same few things over and over.  

    lunches cost me more because for dinner I can cook one meal for example for $5 instead of 3-4 lunches with snacks and drinks.  They need snacks too.

    lunches are always  sandwich, drink, fruit and treat.

    Officially recognized Stretchpert in Hobbies and Crafts
  • Sun, Nov 16 2008 2:43 AM In reply to

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    Wow I can not imagine spending $7.20 for only 3 lunches a day. I make very good home made lunches for 12 with that for day-care 3-6 year olds and when schhol ist out we have 22 with additionl 6-12 year olds and only spend about $10 more the older kids eat more protein.

     I guess the thing is I spend the TIME and effort to make home made and never buy pre-made anything if I can make it. Is healthier!!! and much cheaper.

  • Sun, Nov 16 2008 7:41 AM In reply to

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    I agree with Falcon!  Children shouldn't have so much power.  We are the parents; we are the adults.  You can give choices, but they should be the choices you give them!  My DD is only 4, but I will say to her, "Do you want an apple today or an orange?"  It's that little trick they teach you when your kids are young.  It makes them feel they have the power b/c they are choosing, but the parent is really the one with the power b/c they are giving the choices!

    Since her kids are probaby older than my daughter, she could also try letting them determine the money, to a degree.  She could use this as a teaching tool, explaining to them how much their lunch cost, how much homemade cost, and how much money she has each week for these lunches.  And really, I think we need to look at the bigger picture.  $7/day or $35/week with 36 weeks in a school year is $1,260/year!!!  Together they may be able to come up with an idea of what kind of homemade lunches they would like and maybe just buy from school once a week (twice tops is what I would allow).  She could also teach them how to pack the lunch and packaging of the bags of items into single servings could be a chore that is rotated weekly with each child taking a turn.  So many great teaching lessons here.

    Also, I think they need to explore some different types of lunches.  My daughter loves cheese and crackers, fruit, yogurt, and tomato juice for her lunch.  Simple, healthy, no sandwich.  They should also look into Japanese-style bento box meals.  Or insulated containers, like thermoses, for soup, pasta, and chili.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • Mon, Nov 17 2008 9:42 PM In reply to

    Re: How much do you save $$ by making lunches for your kids? How do you do it?

    Toni B.:
    That's why shows like the Super Nanny are on. They've gotten to the point where parents need a stranger to come into their homes and show them how to consistently deal with their children. I just happen to catch last nights show with a single mom & three kids and the bedtime scene. The 4 year old boy got out of bed (NO JOKE 91 times) and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to deal with that.

    Toni, I have only seen a couple episodes of Super Nanny. It brings up my blood pressure to watch it and I just want to shake some sense into the parents of those kids!

    As for the question, My kids are adults now, but for a long time I made their lunch and we saved a good deal of money by packing school lunches. They also had nutritious lunches from home and loved it! Sometimes they would trade with their friends who also brought lunch from home to try new things. I never got a complaint about anything I packed, though.

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