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Cheap Food for Kid's Lunches

Updated on April 5, 2010
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Making a child's lunch saves you a lot of money compared to purchasing the meal at school.  Or does it?  If you are not watching yourself, you could spend more per meal than the price of the school lunch.  You want your kid to eat healthy, have variety, and not break your pocket book.  Here are a few suggestions that can help you feed your children good food at a low cost.

Low-Cost and Good for Them

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich -This is the most popular sandwich for children. it is also one of the most inexpensive sandwiches you can make. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and is very filling. The jelly satisfies their craving for sweets. Combine this with a few veggies such as carrots or cucumbers on the side and you have an inexpensive and healthy meal for your child.

Baby Carrots -Here is one vegetable that most kids love.  They are also not that pricey.  Watch for sales and you can get them almost half price.  They last a long time.  Buying the larger bags is more economical.  Pack about five to eight little carrots for their meal.

Jello and Pudding -This might surprise you with the price of the jello and pudding cups that you have seen in the store.  What I'm talking about here is doing it yourself.  Purchase a box of instant pudding or jello and make it yourself.  Place them in small containers and you have the perfect little snack for just a fraction of the cost of already made cups.  Don't be surprised if you get twelve containers for the price of three at the store.  They get their jello and pudding.  You get to keep a few dollars.

Pasta Salad -This is another one that sounds expensive, but if you make it all yourself you'll find that it doesn't cost much at all.  Cook your pasta.  Add some olive oil and/or Italian dressing.  Add some black olives, cheese, some left over ham or chicken.  Look what is already in your fridge and you have the makings for a cheap and really good tasting lunch.

Salad -Salads can get pricey, but a child is not going to eat the same size that we adults do.  You do not have to purchase the highest priced mixture of greens.  Basic lettuce works.  Prepackaged mixtures sometimes will already have some carrots shredded.  If you really want to save money, do not buy the prepackaged.  Shred the greens yourself.  Add a couple of wedges of sliced tomato, a few cucumbers, maybe even a sprinkle of cheese.  Place the dressing in a separate small container.  Watch for sales and you can save some money on basic salads for your child.

Chicken Salad Sandwich -Here is another that seems rather expensive to be on this list.  Let me enlighten you on a way to have a delicious check salad and not spend a fortune.  But a whole chicken which costs no more than $7.  Cook it and shred the meat.  You can get more than ten times the amount of chicken for chicken salad this way for a tenth of the cost of already cooked and shredded chicken.  Add some mayonnaise, some extra grapes in the fridge, a few nuts if you have them on hand, and a couple of boiled eggs.  This can last for several meals and feed multiple family members for less than $10.

Cheese and Crackers -My kids love cheese and crackers.  I found that it can get really expensive if I wasn't careful.  They could get their favorite and I could save money if I looked for the store brand crackers and purchased blocked cheese to slice myself.  One block of cheese for $6 and a box of crackers for $3 lasted a whole week for three children.

Popcorn -Buying plain popcorn and sending to school was a treat for the kids.  I would pop a bag and from that bag would get six or eight sandwich bags for school.  Add some Parmesan cheese or powdered butter and they ate it up.  You can save even more money by purchasing the popcorn in bulk bags and popping it over the store or in an air popper.

Sandwich Wrap -Catching a sale on sandwich meat is fun.  Add a few slices of cheese and maybe a piece of lettuce and they are set.  Instead of putting it between two slices of bread, turn it into a wrap.  Buy a large package of tortillas and you could have 25 - 30 sandwiches ready to go.

Veggies and Dip -We have already mentioned how reasonable baby carrots can be.  Cucumbers are cheap, too.  Look for the vegetables on sale or raise your own.  Add some ranch dressing and they will have so much fun dipping and eating.

Jiffy Muffins - Have you seen the Jiffy brand muffin boxes?  They are so cheap!  One box can give you 6 muffins for less than 50 cents.  Check these out for some sweets for your sweet.


Have some fun with the school lunches.  Keep an eye on the sales and use your imagination what you can create for them.  Let them help.  Healthy and cheap does not have to be boring.


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    • cbris52 profile image

      cbris52 7 years ago

      Always helps to save even on kids lunches... My kids just can't stand the thought of eating cafeteria food.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      Good hub, RGraf and will be a great relief to those going bankrupt paying for school lunches! And you have such healthy choices which is a definite added plus!

    • thehomewriter profile image

      thehomewriter 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Just a note about salads: place your cheese in a separate container as well. I've found that storing cheese in the same tub with the leafy greens causes unpleasant results: too much moisture! When you buy a small container for salad dressing, get two so you can use one for the cheese as well.

      And don't forget to use washable plastic containers instead of throwing away plastic bags! (You can also wash plastic bags a few times before they need to be discarded.)

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      I do not have young children or grandchildren, but I can appreciate your suggestions. I trust parents of young children will find this hub helpful.

      Love and hugs,

      Forever His,

    • BetsyIckes profile image

      BetsyIckes 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Good hub! It is hard to ensure that kids are getting the right nutrients when you are not around. Peanutbutter and jelly has been my long time favorite as a kid!