Making Frugal Lunches

Save Money - Pack Your Own Lunches

So many people these days are trying to save money. I find that by packing lunches rather than eating out in restaurants or cafeterias can be very cost saving. Brown bag lunches do not have to be boring, and can be a healthier choice. After many years of making lunches I've learned how to pack a frugal lunch and will offer some suggestions that perhaps you've not thought about before.

Source

Children's Frugal Lunches

When my three children were in school they all loved the Schneiders Lunch Mate Stackers. I didn't mind buying these when they were on sale for a dollar apiece, but when they were full price I found it difficult. After agonizing over the cost and what not, I started to make my own Lunch Mate Stackers. For those of you that are not familiar with these, they're similar to LUNCHABLES by Kraft.

There are various types of Lunchmate Stackers that you can purchase. They have ham, kielbasa, or turkey for the meat, along with cheese, crackers and a small Kit Kat chocolate bar. There is a Nacho cheese one that is made up of tortilla chips, cheese dip, and a chocolate bar.

Make Your Own Stackers or Lunchables

It was quite easy to make up my own by taking a zip lock or Tupperware divided container, and making up the Stakers myself. I would add the meat that my children liked along with cheese, crackers, and either some home made cookies or a small chocolate bar. For the Nacho Cheese one, I would buy a large bag or tortilla chips, a jar of cheese dip and make the individual Stacker lunches.

The thing I liked the most about making my own up was I could add carrot or celery sticks as well as fruit and omit the chocolate bar or cookies. My kids seemed to like my version of this stacker more so than the Schneiders one.


Thermos ELEMENT5 16-Ounce Food Jar
Thermos ELEMENT5 16-Ounce Food Jar

Easily take soup, stews, hot dogs, lasagna, and more to school or work in this thermos.

 

Cost Saving Lunch Ideas For Both Adults and Children

A food Thermos is one of the best investments you can make when it comes to packing a frugal lunch.

  • Home made soups and stews are easy to make, and if you have room in the freezer, individual servings can be frozen in freezer bags or freezer containers. The same applies to spaghetti or lasagna.
  • Hot dogs can be heated and inserted into a Thermos along with the water that you cooked them in to enjoy for lunch.

Save by what you purchase at the grocery store.

  • Lunch and deli meats can be costly. The next time you buy a roast, chicken or turkey purchase these larger than what you would normally buy. Leftover meats make wonderful sandwiches or can be added to a salad.
  • Rather than buying a small box of granola bars, purchase a large box and you'll find that this will save you money, or make you own granola bars. This would apply to cookies and other baked treats as well.
  • Make up a fresh fruit salad instead of buying pre-packaged fruit cups.

Drinks

  • Everyone is going to need something to drink for lunch. Making up your own juice at home using a frozen concentrate, and using drink containers is definitely a frugal way to go. If coffee or tea is your drink of choice, both of these can be made at home and poured into a Thermos to keep them hot. Packing a soda or pop in your lunch is by far cheaper than buying one at a store or out of a vending machine.



Think About The Cost

Write down on a piece of paper what you currently spend on lunches in one column. Now cost out what lunches will cost if you pack a frugal lunch. You may be amazed at what you will save at the end of the week or month.

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Comments 42 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Susan, I hate when I buy something that's moldy. I hope you took it back.


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 4 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

I bought Lunchables once and it was mouldy. Haven't bought it since. Better to make your own.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Susan, Everyone once in awhile my husband or sons want hot dogs for lunch, so into the Thermos they go :)

Thanks so much and hope that you have a great weekend.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

My kids loved the lunchables - they still do. I never thought of the hot dogs in hot water in a thermos. That is a great idea! As a teacher, I see so many kids bringing their lunches more and more. Your frugal lunch tips are very helpful. Votes and shared! :-)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Lesley, It's always nice to have a hot lunch, especially on a cold or chilly day.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Ardie, When my 3 boys were younger I would pack their school lunches along with my husbands lunch. Today I'm still doing it. Some days it's 3 lunches and other days it's 4. There is a big savings by making lunches from home. I'm sure your children will love having homemade Lunchables.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

drbj, I'm looking forward to the day that I don't have any lunches to make :) Thanks for stopping by.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Susan, some great ideas for a frugal lunch, I don't make lunch boxes anymore, but I did buy a thermos flask that we find great for soups and stews on a day out.

Many thanks and voted up


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

This is awesome information JAS! I have to pack lunches for three kids. One day I got interested to see the cost of packing vs purchasing. So I sat down and determined the cost of supplies for a week's worth of healhy school lunches. Then I figured out how much it would cost to buy the school's prepared lunches for all three kids for a week (lunches that I knew included sides my children would not dare to eat). The difference was almost half the cost to pack the lunches! One thing I never thought to make is my own version of the lunchables :) And the kids DO ask for those often. Imagine their surprise when I make my own!!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Karen, It is amazing how much you can actually save. Thanks for reading and for your comments. Nice to meet you too!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

When it comes to making and packing lunches, Susan, I've been there and done that - years ago. But it was fun to read how many folks use those 'store-boughten' lunchables and how to make your own. Thanks for the newsflashes.


KarenCreftor profile image

KarenCreftor 4 years ago from Kent, UK

Great Hub Susan :D

My OH has recently started taking his own lunch to work rather than buying out and is saving roughly £30 a month!

I like making extra pasta and as you say buying a larger chicken and using the leftovers for lunch...I think real rather than processed meat is far healthier too!

It is amazing how much money can be saved from such simple changes :) Thanks for the ideas ~Kaz x


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

denisemai, Thank you.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Kelly, The Lunchables are definitely unhealthy.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

chrissieklinger, I can see how this would be handy for a quick dinner.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Hyphenbird, Frugal is the way to go :) Thank you.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

barbergirl, I've done that with a tortilla too. They're delicious. I find that if you get the actual Thermos brand itself it will keep soup and coffee hot for at least six hours.

Thank you.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

HawaiiHeart, Some days I wish they would all pack their own lunches :) That's great that your husband does.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Ruby, Thanks. My boys are grown now but they work in the family business with their dad and I'm still making them lunches :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Pam, I remember the school cafeterias when I went to school. I brought my own lunch out of choice :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

GoodLady, Thermos' do come in quite handy.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Joan, I've worked in offices that have had microwaves, which is quite handy when it comes to heating up a lunch.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Chris, Nice to meet you. Thank you. I've been packing lunches for my Husband for almost 25 years now and he'll only indulge in a restaurant meal maybe once every three months or so.


denisemai profile image

denisemai 4 years ago from Idaho

Yes. Cheers to you for giving us ideas on healthier, less costly alternatives to Lunchables.


kelleyward 4 years ago

I don't like buying lunchables because they are loaded with sodium and other preservatives. Making your own lunchable is a great alternative. Thanks for the ideas. Take care, Kelley


chrissieklinger profile image

chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

I love these ideas for quick dinners too. My children have sports and some nights we are in such a rush....these ideas will come in handy.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

These are a great idea. I pack my son's lunch for school every day. Usually he takes leftovers or his favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He also loves fruit and veggies so they are included daily. Thanks for these new lunch tips!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

Ummmm... were was this like 3 months ago when I was looking? I love the idea of making your own stackers. I have done that a few times. I have even made banana burritos for my kids at lunch (a tortilla with spread peanut butter on it, add the banana and roll up - Yummy) However, I find it funny because I have yet to do the thermos thing. I just don't know if all that soup and hot meals will still be warm by the time my kids get to it. So, I have always just done the sandwhiches! :) Great hub! Voted up all around and shared!


HawaiiHeart profile image

HawaiiHeart 4 years ago from Hawaii

I always try to make my kids' lunches whenever possible - so much cheaper and healthier than a lot of lunches served in school. My husband likes to pack his own lunch too. We should get more use out of our thermos though...


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Judi, My husband loves home made soups, so I make a lot of them for his lunches.

Thanks.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

twinstimes2, Many people would think ah 3.00/child isn't bad until you have 3 or 4 to buy lunches for :) Here I thought peanut butter was outlawed at most schools. That's good that you can still send peanut butter and jelly.

Thanks.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

You are such a good Mama. I wish i had a school age child to make a frugal lunch for, great ideas for those who do. Thank you for sharing Susan....


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

Great ideas for sending children to school with meals they like and are probably healthier than what the school offers.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

I love the food thermos ides, so helpful for hot leftovers and soups.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

ThePracticalMommy, Thank you.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

RH, I was checking the prices the other day for these here in Canada, and they are 2.99 - 4.99 depending on what store you buy them at and what type of Lunch mate.


Joan Whetzel 4 years ago

My kids also enjoyed lunchables and now my oldest granddaughter does as well. We don't buy these for her for every lunch, so she gets them as treats about once a week. For adult lunches of the brown bag variety, we have sometimes taken meals made from dinners we have eaten during the week. Thankfully our work places or college for me have usually had microwaves that we can heat them with.


Chris Hugh 4 years ago

Good tips. I try to avoid factory food, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do:) Your tips for getting home made food into kids are great.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

I've drifted into the bad and expensive habit of eating at the canteen at work, but you have inspired me to save some money. I like the soup idea, particularly making up a batch and freezing.

Voted up etc.


twinstimes2 profile image

twinstimes2 4 years ago from Ohio

I try this as well. Our school lunches are $3/child. I know I can beat that! I also use my couponing to make the lunches even cheaper. I stocked up on peanut butter and jelly and this has made for very inexpensive lunches. Our kids are still allowed to bring peanut butter to school. I like the idea of the home made lunchables, too! Nice job! Voted up and useful.


ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 4 years ago from United States

My son also loves Lunchables, but I never thought of making them myself. What a great idea! I really like that you added fruit or veggies into the mix instead of the chocolate or candy the pre-packaged lunches include. :)

Voted up and useful!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

My kids love lunchables for lunch! They are only like 1.00 here! I get them and shove them in the fridge for after school snacks or dinner if they hate what I cooked! Lol. They are inexpensive and fun!

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