BACK TO SCHOOL AUTHORITY: Saving on school lunches

Eyewitness News is your Back to School Authority, and today we look at how to save on school lunches.
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 8:28 PM EDT
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(WFSB) – Eyewitness News is your back-to-school authority, and tonight we’re focusing on saving on school lunches.

We have some tips and tricks on how to save.

“That saved us a lot of money over the years,” said Sarah Ladden with Better Family Meals.

Packing lunches every day could get pricey, not only for the gear to bring it in, but also for the food itself.

A lot of work goes in to packing a lunch that doesn’t always get eaten.

Luckily there are ways to save when it comes to buying lunch packing supplies and food for the week.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Sarah Ladden has tricks on how to help the pack come back empty after school.

“If you can keep the food small and bite size and easily accessibly that’s the easiest way for it to get eaten the best way to do that is to think of bento boxes,” said Sarah.

A bento box is any kind of container with small compartments.

“You can spend lots of money on an expensive bento box you can spend $30 or $40, or you can do what I do and buy these wonderful little packs of 4 its under $15,” Sarah said.

The most inexpensive option we found was at Walmart. A four pack of compartment tupperware for $7.

“They have lasted me about 5 years. Throw them in the top rack of the dishwasher,” said Sarah.

Some ways to save in the long run might mean spending a little more up front.

Sarah says getting a good, insulated lunch bag could save you from buying a new one each year.

Kohl’s, Amazon and Target are having sales on lunch boxes this month.

“These are about $20, and they have lasted me 3 children. The oldest on top is 10 years old,” said Sarah.

Instead of buying plastic bags every month getting reusable plastic baggies is a big saver.

“It’s a little bit more of an investment but these are not expensive maybe $10 for a pack of 8 or 10 but they’re reusable. They’re always there for you,” said Sarah.

That also saves when it comes to buying the jumbo bag instead of snack packs.

“If you have a big bag of pretzels rather than buying the mini pretzels which are great and convenient, but they do add cost over time. Get the family size bag take five minutes and take these little bags and pre portion them so they’re ready to go,” Sarah said.

So how else can you save on lunch?

Sarah gave these tips:

  • A cost free option to keep lunch cold - skip the freezer pack and instead freeze a water or yogurt to keep in the lunch box. Then it’ll defrost and be ready to drink or eat when it’s time for lunch.
  • Replace fresh fruits and vegetables with canned, dried or even frozen options.
  • Think small when packing a lunch. Kids get overwhelmed by big options and this will help make sure you won’t be wasting food.
  • Frozen water bottles and yogurts instead of ice packs
  • Canned fruits and veggies
  • Pack small bites

“For lunch I find the less you pack the more it actually is that they will actually eat it,” said Sarah.