Lunch is probably the hardest meal of the day for busy parents. Why lunch? Because many parents take their children to different activities during the summer such as library story time, the pool, daycare, gym time, dance/swim classes, etc. and when it is time to go back home, it is usually right around lunch time. This makes it very difficult to save money and eat healthy because everyone is hungry; you're more likely to stop for quick and easy food that actually ends up being more expensive than preparing a meal at home. As a busy parent with kids back in school, we have a few tips to help your family eat healthy that will save you money.
Planning your meals ahead of time can save you money in the following ways:
- You know what to buy when you are at the grocery store
- Reduces the amount of impulse buying
- Helps you control the need to buy fast food on a whim
Use Lunch Boxes with Dividers
There are many Tupperware options when it comes to lunch time. But if you are really going to commit to saving money and providing varied, fun, and healthy lunches on a regular basis, then you are going to want to invest in a couple of lunch boxes with built-in dividers. Look for lunch boxes with big and deep sections. Also look for boxes that contain lids to seal off each section of the box – this prevents juice and/or smell seepage to the other sections.
Pack a Week of Lunches at One Time
Instead of pulling out all the lunch stuff multiple times a week, take some time to do it all at once. Pull out everything you are going to need, including cutting boards and food items, and prepare everything for the week all at once. Cut the fruit, build the wraps, decide what sides you are going to have with each meal, and you can even decide what kind of drink you are going to have with each meal. Pack the boxes, label them by weekday, and place them in the fridge so that you can grab-and-go as needed throughout the week.
If you pack tortilla wraps, cheese sticks, and a mixture of fruit one week, then try something different the next week, like veggies and dip, pizza bagels, and pretzels. Mix it up so that you and your kids do not get bored with your lunch box food.
Always Carry Food
Whether you are going out for a short trip to the store, or you are planning an all-day outing, you should always carry food with you. Make sure to pack food you and your kids will actually eat and make sure the snack is substantial enough to tide you over until you get to your main meals of the day. This will help cut back on impulse food buying.
When you do decide to splurge, hopefully on rare occasions, try to choose more healthy options and avoid super-sizing. Splurge carefully so that you don’t hurt your routine, your diet, or your wallet.
Save money, and your health, by preparing your lunches ahead of time.