Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Frugal School Lunch Ideas

You stare at your kiddos lunch box/bag and try to think of what you have on hand that you can fill it with that (A) your kid will eat (B) is fairly healthy & (C) don't have to work more than a couple minutes to put together. It's the joy of school lunches. Time to get creative.

Due to allergies, we have no choice but to send a packed lunch with my son to school. While many of these ideas we can't use - this is a big list that we can all refer back to during the school year when our creativity is waning.

  • Lunchmeat
  • PBJ or use Sunbutter or Almond Butter**
  • Carved meat - leftover ham, turkey, chicken, etc
  • Wraps - pizza, lunchmeat, taco, fajita, etc
  • Cheese
  • Subs
  • BLT
  • Cream cheese & jelly (think on a tortilla)
  • Instead of bread - use a tortilla, flat bread, pancake, waffle, crackers, English muffin, bagel, biscuit, pizza crust, pita, etc

  • Sandwiches
  • Wraps
  • Cut up with crackers & cheese (think homemade lunchables with ½ the sodium)
  • Wrap around a piece of string cheese

  • Peanut butter, sunbutter, almond butter, nutella** (With pretzels, apple slices, vanilla wafers, carrots, etc)
  • Salsa & chips
  • Hummus
  • Ranch or veggie dip
  • Yogurt

OTHER - Great way to use leftovers.
  • Salad
  • Waffle
  • Lasagna rolls
  • Pizza
  • Hot dog
  • Quesadillas
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken Strips
  • Spaghetti (unless they are a messy eater)
  • Soups (Use a good insulated thermos/cup and make sure your kid know they HAS to bring that part home.)

  • Veggies - raw carrots, celery, green beans
  • Fruit - apples, pears, peaches, bananas, mangos, melon, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, blueberries, cherries, etc
  • Pretzels
  • Pita or bagel chips
  • Banana or zucchini bread
  • Breakfast cookies**
  • Cornbread
  • Dried fruit or fruit leathers
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Pasta
  • Rice or quinoa
  • Potato - hash browns, mashed, etc
  • Parfait - yogurt, fruit, granola
  • Yogurt
  • Jello
  • Rice, wheat, saltine, or whole grain crackers
  • Granola bar
  • Occasional sweet treat - cupcake, cookie, chocolate, fruit snacks, pudding, brownie, etc
  • Energy bar**
  • Cereal
  • Popcorn
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Cheese
  • Nuts **
**(use caution with potential allergies of classmates)


  1. Hi Jenelle,
    We are in the process of figuring out what is cheaper, and healthier... packing a lunch, or buying the school lunches. We have cut out HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) from our diet and I want to contact the school to find out how much of what they serve has that ingredient in it. I won't be surprised to find that probably every meal has some. This will probably be the deciding factor. Our kids favorite lunches are the homemade lunchables (and they're both in middle school now). Carrot sticks and string cheese are also big hits. Here's to another school year!

  2. Yogurt parfaits! Genius!! My kids would LOVE these!


I'd love to hear your feedback.