I have this love/hate thing with school lunches. All our kids are in school all day and while I will agree our school lunch price is cheap, multiply that by 3, 5 days a week........I just can't even.
However as parents, I fully believe in creating systems that WORK FOR YOU and YOUR BUDGET. It is a delicate balance for sure and every home is different. At our house, every kid gets hot lunch one time per week. The other 4 days, mom or dad makes a cold lunch.
We have simplified and eased the process by creating a simple lunch rotation. Our lunches take 5 minutes to prepare (or less) with simple ingredients from our local Aldi store. We always use in season fresh fruit with our lunches. Our kids are older so adjust portions as needed for your family.
Here our some of our top favorites:
Peanut butter and Jelly
Peanut butter and jelly + cucumber or other fresh veggie + orange slices + chips + cookie
Make your own "lunchable"
crackers + salami + cheese + applesauce + cookie
Turkey and Cheese
turkey and cheese sandwich + applesauce + fig newton (add some chips, crackers, or popcorn for older kids if necessary)
cheese quesadilla (we make ours in a panini press)+ grapes + cucumbers + chips + fig newtons
We love these divided lunch containers. Be sure to have plenty of extra on hand for lost lunch boxes or days when the dishwasher just doesn't get started. I try to fill the big part with the main course. The smaller ones can be filled with fruit or a treat.
Cold lunch making can be daunting for sure. It can feel like we have to reinvent the wheel each week. Keep a simple journal of your kids favorite lunch foods and then rotate them each week. It saves time, money, and your peace of mind.
What are YOUR kids favorite cold lunch meals?