Parents are getting back into the routine of school as much as the kids are – we’re grocery shopping, prepping lunches, and freezing baking and meals in preparation for the busy days ahead. In our household, we’re also looking at the family budget after the hit that back to school shopping took! Now is the time to refocus and get on a good spending pattern ahead of the holidays (yes, Christmas is coming!)
Abby Langer RD is a communications and consulting dietitian based in Toronto, Canada and she’s believes that school lunches should not cost parents as much as a lunch at a restaurant yet, many parents are spending way more than they should, mostly because of poor planning. Here are her tips to help trim that school lunch budget:
First off, you’ve got to check out Flipp. To make great lunches, you’ve got to be prepared! That means hitting the grocery store for all the food you need. What better way to organize yourself and save money than to use Flipp?
Flipp is a free shopping app that brings you local flyers to your smartphone to help you plan and save on the things you need, at the stores you love to shop at. With coupons, price matching, a personalized grocery list, and more, you’ll be on your way to being lunch-savvy in no time! Use Flipp to easily find healthy ingredients that are on sale and build that week’s lunches around those key ingredients.
A balanced lunch doesn’t have to cost a lot! Buy in-season or frozen vegetables and fruit, add cost-effective protein such as beans, lentils, eggs, tuna, or tofu, and a source of whole grains such as brown rice or pasta. A dish like pasta with tuna and peas is the perfect example of a low-cost lunch that’s a favorite in our house.
Protein is paramount! Aside from helping to build strong muscles, protein also helps kids focus and stay mentally sharp for anything their busy day throws at them. Protein keeps kids full for longer, so they’ll be satisfied all afternoon long. Some easy, cost-effective protein choices include tofu, beans, tuna, and eggs. More expensive proteins like chicken and beef can be stretched by adding them to stir fries or rice dishes, such as fried rice with chicken and mixed vegetables.
Get kids invested. Kids tend to eat more when they’re involved in the planning and preparation of meals. Why not bring the kids with you to grocery shop? They can choose the fruit and vegetables they’d like to bring in their lunches. At home, organize a lunch shelf with preprepared items in your pantry and refrigerator and get the kids to help make their lunches. The only rule? Each lunch should have at least four of the five food groups: fruit, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.
Be creative with leftovers! Leftovers are one of the easiest and most cost-effective options for lunches. Leftover sweet potato and black beans can be put into a soft tortilla with cheddar cheese and bam: a burrito! Leftover pasta? Add a can of tuna in olive oil, some Parmesan cheese, and a few green peas to make my kids’ all-time favorite meal, served hot or cold. Got some extra macaroni and cheese? Heat it with broccoli and put it into a thermos. Rice hanging around the fridge? Fry it up quickly with a leftover chicken or a beaten egg, some sesame oil, and frozen vegetables. Easy!
These are some great tips from Abby Langer RD! I hope they’re helpful for you in your lunch budgeting and planning this fall!
Heads up – Flipp is hosting an amazing contest for the month of September! They’re giving away a $2000 Kitchen Prize Pack! All the details can be found here – I encourage you to check it out and enter. Someone has to win, why shouldn’t it be you?
We’re hosting our own Flipp giveaway this month! One of our readers is going to win the above Flipp lunch prize package along with a $100 Visa Gift Card to help in your shopping! Enter your name and email address in the form below to get started. Your first entry is to simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us about your experience with the Flipp App! Have you downloaded and used it? If not, you’re spending too much!