Aug 272014


It is almost time to send kids back to school! That means there will be lots to do before that first bell rings. Saving money on school lunches is at the top of most parents’ lists for back-to-school and it isn’t that hard to do. You can save money with your kids’ lunches with these very simple steps and tips.

Buy the right equipment

If you want to send your kids to school with a homemade lunch, buy the right equipment to pack it all in. When you don’t have the right lunchbox, thermos, and other containers, you will end up wasting food because it will spoil before your child can actually eat it.

Meal plan

It’s a well-known fact that meal planning can help you lose weight, but did you know that it can also save you money? If you plan out your meals, including snacks and drinks, you can cut your grocery bill by as much as 20 percent in one month, and that includes your kids’ lunches. Plan it all out before grocery shopping. This will also save you time on making lunches in the morning.

Make it at home

No- not just the lunch, but the actual food. You’ll pay a lot of money for those single-serve, convenience lunches at the store. How about saving cash and making your own? Cut up the cheeses, meats, veggies, and fruit and place them in small containers. Make a whole batch of Jell-o and save it in small cups with lids, instead of buying the single-serves.

Shop the sales and use coupons

Just like with any other food-buying trip, you will need to shop sales and use coupons to save the most money, but this time of year that is really easy to do! Kids are gearing up for school- and so are the stores by offering sales and steals on all back-to-school items, and that includes food!

Buy in Bulk

If you like those juice pouches for your kids, buy them in large packages. You know you will need them! This may cost money up front, but overall it will save you a bundle throughout the school year. Just don’t so this with foods that have a short shelf-life unless you know for certain you will use them quickly. If not, they could go bad before you use them, which costs you money in the end.

Do you have anything to add?

  110 Responses to “How to Save Money on School Lunches”

  1. I feel the kids should be making their own lunch since they are the ones eating that way they will eat lunch.

  2. Great tips! I made Ryan’s lunch yesterday. I planned ahead and had everything on hand so it really was a snap. You really can save quite a bit of money when you add it up.

  3. All great ideas. I always stocked up at BJ’s for my kids lunches. Things like water bottles and snack items. We saved a bundle by doing that.

  4. Yup, wonderful tips and already bought in bulk on sale here for the next month and hoping this will get us through for now! 🙂

  5. These are all wonderful tips. My kids always take their lunches to school as it’s much cheaper and healthier than buying a school lunch.

  6. Great ways to save money on school lunches! The kids will also eat healthier, I’m sure!

  7. I love buying in bulk. Such an easy way to buy just what you need. Using reusable containers makes it easy to bring your bulk food to school!

  8. We are not looking forward to packing lunches again next week, but we ARE looking forward to having them back in school. So wait, bring on the lunch packing!

  9. No kids here, but I use the same rules for packing my work lunch. I save so much money bringing my own and having a well thought out plan each week. I prepare each meal on Sunday so it is mindless and ready to go when I leave the house at 5:45 a.m..

  10. Great ideas. We definitely buy in bulk and have a cabinet full of containers for school lunches. My daughter loves left over pasta, cut up veggies and cheese for lunch.

  11. I for sure shopped the sales. I would often plan their lunchboxes around the weekly sales!

  12. These are some excellent tips! I always try to make our lunches at home as well. I am guilty of buying the already made jellos though. 🙂

  13. Blissfully sitting here knowing that making school lunches are still a few days away.
    I love that we haven’t gone back to school yet!
    But I know all too soon the “what am I going to pack slump” will come soon enough.
    I pack a ton of fresh fruit and leftovers whenever possible.
    Makes it so much easier!

  14. my kids school has a “no waste” rule — so you cannot even send in those pre-packaged foods anymore. or, you at least have to take them out of the package first — which kind of defeats the convenience purpose. It drove me nuts that my kids would gobble up those Lunch Mates cheese and cracker things — but not eat ACTUAL cheese and crackers that I packed myself.
    really? it’s the exact same thing! I gave them hummus until they came around to my way of thinking 😉

  15. Great tips! I spent over $100 for the month, so saved $60 from buying school lunch, but I should have used coupons.

  16. I am the queen of buying in builk! However my family tends to get sick of having the same thing over and over! I need to get better at planning ahead so I can learn to alternate things a little more!

  17. Excellent tips! I just bought a new bento box for my son’s lunches (so we have a little more variety and I’m not washing dishes 24/7.) And we definitely stock up on the snacks by buying in bulk. Makes things so much easier!

  18. These are great tips! I always try to shop the sales and buy in bulk. Meal planning makes my day a lot easier too!

  19. Great tips! I use just about all these tips in general for my entire family not just school lunches! Coupons, bulk, homemade all definitely save loads of money!

  20. That’s a great idea to buy in bulk, especially for the juices. We go through tons of those!

  21. Those are some great ways to save. Planning ahead is so important.

  22. My son eats cold lunch 95% of the time. I need to buy in bulk more often to be prepared and save!

  23. Great ideas! I do find meal planning saves me so much and makes me less crazy .. lol

  24. Great tips. My son gets the school lunch 2xs a week – but I do the rest. I def need to plan out his meals more in advance.

  25. Get the kids involved. The more they can control their choices, the more likely they will be to eat it!

  26. These are great tips and I love the idea of meal planning. Thanks for sharing these!

  27. I agree with Emily, if you get the kids involved with making and planning their meals then they will be more engaged and more likely to eat what they are given.

  28. Great tips! I’m packing lunches for the first time now that mine are in preschool.

  29. buy cute snack bags (washable) and containers ONCE and don’t buy packaged items. that saves a TON!

  30. Meal planning your lunches can save so much time and money! I cook extra at night so I can send leftovers in packed lunches.

  31. Those are some great tips. We’ve resorted to giving Isaak water for lunch. He just doesn’t drink the milk. After awhile milk spoils even in a thermos. With water I can make him drink it after school.

  32. we homeschool so our school lunches are mostly at home or packed lunches if we are at a field trip or co-op. As a family of 7 we have to buy in bulk and shop the sales and coupons are a must!

  33. These are great tips. I’ve always lived by the greatest tips of all… You can’t go wrong with PB&Js. Of course, my nephew would say differently.

  34. Great ideas. I definitely don’t miss the days of having to pack lunch for my kids!

  35. These are great tips. Packing lunches for school requires more planning than most people think.

  36. My daughter starts kindergarten next year, so I always love a post like this. Knowledge is power… and good lunches!

  37. Great tips! Buying in bulk is something we HAVE to do. I usually cut up fruits and veg for a few days and store it in the fridge ready to go too! Helps save time, not really money that way though..

  38. I am finding awesome coupons online lately! Such great deals.

  39. Real great saving tips. Buying bulk can really save.

  40. I feel that anything I can make myself is going to trump anything not fresh from the grocery store. I have some meal plans already for kiddo.

  41. Great tips! We actually just got a new salad container that includes an ice pack. The kids (9 and 11) asked to take cucumbers and dip just so they could use it. Sometimes the novelty of a new container helps!

  42. I always get mad at my kids when they eat pouches of snacks when they are at home. How many times do I tell them those or for school they cost too much to just snack on.

  43. These are some wonderful tips. I definitely like the meal plan one – you should always have a plan that way you’re not standing at the fridge 10 minutes before the kids are supposed to be on the bus, wondering what to make them.

  44. Great tips. I love making lunches and though we haven’t tried a bulk store yet, I’d like to to cut down on long-term costs. Any thoughts on Sam’s Club vs. Costco?

  45. Great pointers! I am always looking for a way to cut costs! Thank you for these ideas!

  46. Great tips! I always feel so much more organized when I meal plan. After Labor Day I vow to get back on track with that!

  47. I agree meal planning and buying in bulk has helped us stayed within budget

  48. Those are some great suggestions… I am new to the whole packing lunch thing, so this really helps…

  49. Last year when my daughter when to school (we home school now) I learned that buying in bulk really, really helped me out!

  50. Awesome tips! I should work on meal planning! I think it will save me alot of time!

  51. We usually buy in bulk when there is a good sale. My cabinets are full of lunch items I bought for cheap.

  52. We purchased a lunch box that he likes. Firetruck!! And 2 drink bottles. I am so glad I bought 2 drink bottles.

  53. These are really great tips. I am always amazed how much money we save when we plan it all out even though it seems like we are buying so much more.

  54. Great tips! We always make the lunches – but do something simple like tuna or PB&J plus a couple of snacks. Apples or pears, carrots, some crackers, yogurt, etc.

  55. I definitely wished my daughter wanted to take her lunch. We could probably save tons. She wanted to eat in the cafeteria though.

  56. This is great advice! We got a Sam’s Club membership this summer, specifically for those back to school lunches and stalking up so I didn’t have to make so many trips to the store.

  57. Great tips to save money! Our family will benefit from this list – thanks!

  58. i defintley shop with a meal plan AND sale ad in mind. This includes lunches. If lunchmeat is on a great sale I’ll buy extra and freeze for a later date.

  59. I love your tips and agree that it makes a huge difference to have the right containers! I love the divided containers that have a place for a sandwich alongside cut up fruit or veggies and throwing in a little container of something that has been bought in bulk for less waste but a lunch-size portion!

  60. These are fantastic suggestions. I’m working on meal planning so I can make more than one meal at a time.

  61. We always buy in bulk. I also pack lunches and make our own food. It saves a ton of money! This is a great list.

  62. Great info here! Thanks. Though we don’t do back to school in our house, I do pack a lunch for my husband almost every day,so these tips are great year-round for me!

  63. I love this post. My daughter started Kindergarten this year and is a picky eater. We’ve been packing quite often this year!

  64. My kids are not yet in school. But these are great tips!

  65. can’t agree more….buying in bulks is always our choices as well…

  66. great tips! meal planning is definitely the way to go!

  67. I pack lunches every day and buying in bulk is HUGE for my growing family. I have also found that if I take some of the food and put it in snack size containers, my children can help pack their own lunches and have a say in what they eat each day. These are wonderful tips!

  68. I’m making every lunch for my son right now. So far so good…except when I forget, LOL

  69. Great tips. We buys snacks etc in bulk from Costco. I also make his lunches the night before. Better chance of me putting together a healthy and price balanced lunch.

  70. Great tips! Especially buying in bulk. That’s the way to go!

  71. This a great list for saving money on school lunches. Thanks for sharing.

  72. Love love love your tips especially buying in bulk! I love doing the leftover thing for lunch. We all love leftovers.

  73. I love these tips! This year, I am preparing to jump on the coupon bandwagon…

  74. These are great. I really like making their lunches but sometimes they like to eat at school so we strike a balance. 🙂

  75. The kids in my State are already back to school. Planning is essential – it makes a big difference in time and expense, and especially in quality of the meals that we have. You are right on point with everything you are saying and I got some new information.

  76. This year I have tossed the ziplock bags and I am trying to use the reusable cartons. Also, def buy bulk, that can be a big $ saver.

  77. These are great tips but this year Bella will have free lunches at school with occasional lunches from home.

  78. Great advice. I love shopping at Costco for easy ready-to-go and bulk foods.

  79. Great tips! My son usually buys the lunch at school because the most of the other kids do that too in his school.

  80. These are great tips! Buying in bulk is a great idea for lunches and dinners!

  81. great tips! we buy in bulk and it has saved us a lot, especially when its stuff you can freeze for months.

  82. I love these tips. All children at our house make their own lunches, that way they only put what they want to eat in there.

  83. Packing lunches is a challenge. My son can be such a picky eater.

  84. I always pack my kids lunches & it is amazing at the price of some of those small baggies of cookies. It’s called make your own & put them in a baggie or container people! Not to mention that they taste way better than what you buy.

  85. This is hitting home right now. I was doing the single serve but nothing beats homemade

  86. We don’t have to worry about lunches until next year! Not really looking forward to it!

  87. It’s crazy how much single serving things cost!

  88. These are great tips. My son isn’t old enough for school yet (other than preschool), but I hear the other moms talking about how expensive school lunches are.

  89. Great ideas! I have such a picky eater too lol

  90. We buy a lot in bulk and that really does save us!

  91. Sales and coupons are the bomb best way to save. Plus packing your own lunch is always better.

  92. These are all great tips. They could also work for taking your lunch with you to work. :]

  93. Making lunches at home definitely helps save money! We also send our daughter to school with snacks, that helps keep her away from the vending machine!

  94. All great tips! It definitely makes a huge difference when you do just have them bring their own lunch. Plus it’s probably better variety 🙂

  95. These are all great tips! The not only work for kids, but teachers as well. 🙂

  96. I always plan out lunches for a week! It is so time saving! Great tips here!

  97. Those single serving snacks are convenient but way more expensive than if you do it yourself. Great tips.

  98. These are awesome tips. I will have to remember as I return to corporate America soon!

  99. These are excellent tips. I am going to incorporate them into our household now that my son is back to school.

  100. I totally agree with buying in bulk. It might be a higher upfront cost, but it really comes in handy. I go to BJs to stock up on dried apricots…the best price around.

  101. Great tips! Buying in bulk saves so much money!

  102. I think buying in bulk is a big one, especially if you have 3 or more kids. Having the right containers and lunch pails is important too to make everything flow right.

  103. My son’s school has paid lunches and he wants to do that, but I told him, it will be just once a week. A Friday treat!

  104. I really like the idea of a “meal plan” for making your own lunches. I plan dinners, but I would think planning lunches, too, would make a big difference as far as ease and time.

  105. Oh gosh the memories of school dinners it all seems so long ago! x

  106. These are great ideas. School lunches can get expensive. Thanks for the tips.

  107. Great tips! I always hated taking my lunch to school since I had to take a sandwich every day. But buying lunch at school gets expensive and most of the food isn’t very healthy.

  108. I love these ideas, especially buying in bulk.

    – HilLesha