Each weekday morning I get up and pack some lunches, none of them my own. But that's ok because that's part of the whole budget thing. Mr. Bacon does not have the option to buy his lunch at work. To me this is a huge budget saver for us. We are forced to pack a lunch each day for him or he'd go hungry. Or worse yet eat out of the vending machine! So each night after dinner I pack up the leftovers for Mr. Bacon lunch the next day.
That only takes care of one of the lunches I need to make. The other is for Bacon Jr. Being in school every day, he either has to bring his own lunch or have the school lunch. Now I have to say looking over his school lunch menu, it doesn't sound all that bad! BUT, it's cost is $1.75 a day. And for our family to stay on budget, I get up and pack a lunch. Now you're thinking $1.75 a day doesn't sound all that bad. In fact it's cheaper than a lot of other schools out there. But as Bacon jr. pointed out to me, there are 180 days of school each year. Breaking out my trusty calculator that comes out to $315 a school year. Right now that might be manageable, but in 7 years when Bacon bit is in school full time and we have to pay for 4 kids, that comes to $1260 a school year! Add on the other things they need for school like milk for snack, sports, field trips... It's a huge bust on the budget.
Packing a lunch isn't that much work in the morning. Something to drink, a sandwich, some fruit, a cookie sounds good right? One thing to keep a watch for is making sure what you are packing for lunch doesn't cost more than buying school lunch. Making stuff homemade helps and tastes better. To make sure there is some variety Bacon jr has a menu to choose from at home, but last year he didn't want much variety. He was content taking good old PB&J. The catch, he wouldn't eat the crust no matter what I tried. And I hated throwing away half a sandwich everyday. So I needed a solution. I was browsing blogs one day when I came across a post from my friend the little frugalista about homemade uncrustable sandwiches Here. And it was like a light went off, a true why didn't I think of it moment. So I started making Bacon jr. homemade uncrustable's and guess what, he ate all of it. (and yes I save the crust, dry it out and make breadcrumbs in case you were wondering what happened to it)
As for other things to pack, I use a re-usable thermos for kool-aid, water or milk, I put some of my own canned peaches or pears or a cut up apple (another tip, rub some lemon juice on the cut apple to keep it from turning brown and no it won't taste like lemons when it's eaten) in a small container. Toss in a homemade cookie or granola bar and you've got a lunch without busting your budget. Speaking of those granola bars, I make them too, don't they look good! I made a batch today and added some fun halloween sprinkles to the top.
Here's a really simple no bake recipe.
2.5 cups crispy rice cereal (rice krispies)
2 cups quick oats oatmeal
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
In bowl place cereal, oats and raisins and set aside. In sauce pan, bring brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil, stir often. Once it's boiling, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Once smooth, pour over cereal mixture and mix well. Let cool for a few minutes and then stir in chocolate chips ( if you don't let it cool for a bit and add in the chocolate, they will melt!). Press firmly in greased 9x13 pan and allow to cool. Once cool cut into bars. Store in air tight container.
Once again this is a recipe you can change up. The bars pictured above, I didn't put in the raisins. I doubled the chocolate chips to 1 cup and used mini chocolate chips instead. Pretty much you can add what ever you'd like, some chopped nuts and cranberries, just raisins, how about some peanut butter chips or mini M&M's? The possibilities are endless and the best part is the kids LOVE them. I even sneak some in Mr. Bacon's lunch! Go on give them a try and let me know what you think.