In one of my previous posts, you must have seen that I’ve talked about how single parents can save big on their back-to-school budget. And why wouldn’t I? After all, back-to-school time is just around the corner! The casual summer is over and the season of “busy morning” has arrived.

It's almost time for buying new backpacks, dresses and other school supplies. Maybe you have already stocked up all the necessary school supplies, but have you thought about the lunch box which you must fill with different types of yummy items for your picky eaters? Packing lunch for kids is not an easy task. You need to plan beforehand because packing exciting lunches can be expensive and it takes time as well. However, this doesn’t mean you’ve to fill the lunch boxes with pricey packaged food bought from the supermarket. Packaged foods are not healthy and they are expensive too. So, here are some ideas to pack easy and affordable lunch and 3 recipes of yummy lunch items.

5 Ideas to follow while making lunch for back-to-schoolers

Planning beforehand is the key to pack healthy lunches without pinching your pocket. With some little planning and effort, you can pack the perfect lunch box for the picky eaters. Following are some tips for making homemade lunch, which can save money, reduce food waste and can boost the nutrition level as well.

1. Involve your kids

If your kids are unpredictable with their food habits, then try to get them involved while planning for lunch. Give some food options and let them choose their lunch for the whole week. You can take your kids while shopping groceries and ask them to pick the veggies and fruits of their choice. Thus, you can minimize the food waste and can pack their favorite lunch as well.

2. Pack a healthy lunch with a twist

If you have some extra time, then you can turn the regular lunch into fun foods. Use a cookie cutter, kid friendly skewers to give fancy shapes to daily bread, cheese, cookies, and kebabs. Or, you can get several lunch theme ideas from the Internet to make special lunch everyday.

3. DIY is the key to save on lunch

Snacks are energy boosters for kids. But make sure they are not prepackaged. Try to make homemade muffins or oatmeal cookies instead of packaged foods such as, chips, crackers, cookies etc. Add beans in baking to make the food more nutritious. You can go for ants on a log, fruit leathers, yogurt covered raisin as well.

4. Pick the right items for your kids

Try to pick local and seasonal vegetables and fruits such as, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, grapes, apples so on. These are affordable and full of taste and nutrition as well.

5. Try some tricks

Try the tricks given below to save some dollars in your everyday life. If you do so, you can make both your kids and wallet happy at the same time.

  • Reusable lunch containers are good for daily use and save money.
  • Use an insulated container to maintain the temperature.
  • Try to pack some extra fruits to satisfy larger hunger.
  • Let your little one pick his/her favorite water bottle. Tell him/her to finish the bottle at least two times at school.
  • Use some flavor in the water to make them happy.

Read more: Nutrition made budget-friendly: Healthy food that appreciates wealth

Well, your kids’ preference matter the most when you pack lunch-boxes for them. But, you can’t possibly spend all your money on back-to-school supplies and lunch-boxes. You need to think seriously about your budget as well, since the festive season is just a few months away, which means more shopping and splurging.

Here are some tips for you that will help to save on your kids’ need during the back-to-school season and save money for the remaining months.

3 Easy and quick recipes specially for back-to-school time

Here goes some ideas and recipes that are ideal for lunch during back-to-school season.

1. Scrambled Egg Cupcakes

These bite sized cupcakes are very easy to make. Egg is the main component and you can add your favorite ingredients including cheese, broccoli, ham, bacon, spinach, peppers, corn, etc.

Ingredients required

  • Frozen corn: 1/4 cup (50 ml)
  • Eggs: 3
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: 1/3 cup (75 ml)
  • Milk: 1/4 cup (50 ml)
  • Diced cooked ham: 1/4 cup (50 ml)
  • Sliced onion: 1 tbsp thinly sliced

How to cook (Preparation time: 20 minutes)

  • At first, spread the frozen corn on paper towels to make them dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 350-Degree F (180-Deg C).
  • Whisk together eggs, cheese, and milk in a glass.
  • Spread oil in all mini muffin pans and pour the mixture carefully.
  • Sprinkle the sliced onion, corn and ham into each cup.
  • Bake for 14 minutes and let them stand for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully scoop out the muffins using a spoon and refrigerate them in an airtight container. Scrambled Egg Cupcakes are ready for next day lunch.

2. BBQ Chicken Sandwich

You can make a tasty BBQ chicken sandwich with the leftover chicken, barbecue sauce and carrots. The recipe of this healthy yet tasty lunch is as follows:

Ingredients required

  • Shredded cooked chicken 1/2 cup
  • Shredded carrots ¼ cup
  • Barbecue sauce 2 tbsp
  • Ranch dressing 2 tbsp
  • Small whole wheat sandwich bun 1
  • Romaine lettuce leaf 1

How to cook (Preparation time: 10 minutes)

  • Mix the precooked chicken, thinly sliced carrots, BBQ sauce in a bowl.
  • Spread the light ranch dressing on the bun and top with the mixture and the lettuce leaf. BBQ Chicken Sandwich is ready to pack.

3. Chocolate-Banana Grahams

For the sweet toothed kids, this lunch is ideal. It also takes very less time to cook. So, you can pack this item along with some other dish as well.

Ingredients required

  • Rectangle shaped graham cracker: 2
  • Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut: ½ tbsp
  • Sliced banana: 1
  • Sweetened shredded coconut: ½ teaspoon (if desire)

How to cook (Preparation time: 5 minutes)

  • Spread the nutella on the graham cracker and top with the slice of banana and sprinkle the coconut.

Read more: The gastronomic delights: Best ways to enjoy your meal on a budget

Final words

Chop up veggies and store them in an airtight container, mix up the ingredients for tossing salad, the night before. Thus, you’ll be able to make the lunch quickly and your morning will go more smoothly. Try to skip the brown bags to save some extra bucks. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot or sacrifice eating nutritious lunch just because you have busy schedules. With some efforts and tricks, you can combine health and budget together while packing attractive lunches for your back-to-schoolers.

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