The first term of the new school year is upon us and perhaps you’ve been pondering ideas for interesting and healthy, but cheap, lunch boxes.

Here are a few ideas that will keep your kids asking for more, stop them from asking for money for the tuck shop, leaving some pocket money for you.

What constitutes a healthy lunch box? Kids’ little bodies have to be fueled to make it through a whole day of school with their minds bright and clear for learning. Make sure you include all the food groups:

Protein

Protein is an important part of your growing child’s diet, and in combination with starch will aid energy levels and promote growth.

Starch

Carbohydrates boost energy levels and will satisfy your child’s hunger. According to experts, starch should make up a third of a healthy lunch box.

Fruits and vegetables

Providing an instant vitamin injection, fruits and vegetables are an indispensable part of any lunch box.

Dairy

The calcium in dairy products strengthens teeth and bones, which is very important for growing, active kids.

Water

It’s summer, which means it’s important to hydrate. Fill a 500ml bottle with water and freeze it. Instill a love of water in your kids from a young age – there really isn’t any alternative quite as good as the one Mother Nature provides.

Ultimate money-savers:

• It’s cheap and easy to repurpose leftovers and create yummy lunch box favourites. For example, chicken, beef or pork leftovers can be used as a tasty filling for quesadillas or wraps.
• Don’t use plastic bags, tinfoil or wax paper to pack school lunches as these are wasteful and expensive. Invest in plastic containers that are divided into different compartments for the different types of food. You’ll find these at bargain prices at plastic wholesalers.
• Don’t buy the snack-sized prepacked crackers, crisps or biscuits – rather buy in bulk and pack as much as you need.
• Don’t buy veggies that have already been diced. Prepacked and processed products are always more expensive. It takes a little more effort to cut them the night before, but you can always chop these up a week in advance and have them ready for the lunch box the night before.
• Plan lunch boxes over the weekend so you don’t have to scratch your head and resort to giving the kids money for the tuck shop.
• Periodically clear out what’s left in the fridge and cut everything into bite-sized chunks that kids will love.

Here are a few ideas to help you through the first week. Feel free to alter the suggestions and mix things up a little:

Day 1:

Canned tuna combined with mayonnaise on whole wheat bread,
One small tub of yoghurt,
One banana
500ml water, frozen the night before so it’s still chilled at break time.

Sandwiches can be cheap lunchbox options

Day 2:

Rice cakes with melted cheese.
Peanut butter in a tub for combining with one apple, cut into slices.
Cold meats
500ml water

Day 3:

Crackers and cheddar cheese, cream cheese or soft cheese.
Diced carrots and peppers.
Hummus for dipping the veggies in.
500ml water

Day 4:

Leftover Day – use leftovers from the night before on a sandwich or in a wrap.
Fruit of your choice.
500ml water

Day 5:

Clear out the fridge and cut all the fresh produce and fruit into chunks. Pack cream cheese, hummus and yoghurt for dipping.
Muffins
500ml water or fresh fruit juice

Happy packing!

Cheap lunchbox ideas

About The Author

Angie Gallagher

Angie Gallagher is a freelance writer in the Upper Karoo. Aside from writing content for Counting Coins, Angie has tried her hand at a few juvenile attempts at poetry filled with storms and stress, and a marginally successful radio station, Radio Grootoor, recorded on cassette tapes when she was ten.

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