Challenge: Kids to School w/Home lunch vs. Hot lunch
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  1. #1
    Registered User Sumacaroni's Avatar
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    Default Challenge: Kids to School w/Home lunch vs. Hot lunch

    I know this is a big area we could $ave on in our house. Plus I believe my kids wouldn't be as hungry when they get home if they have enough to eat and don't have to wolf it down so fast because they're standing in the lunch line waiting. I just have to learn to get better at this lunch-making thing!

    Currently spending $2.70 (middle school) and $3.70 (high school) every day! It adds up to about $125/month for 9 months minus the weeks or days they have seemingly-random days off throughout the year. Looked back for the past two years and we are definitely spending about $1000 on school lunches annually.

    This has to get better. My goal is to send them with a home lunch at least 2x/week, preferably more if I can train myself and my kids to do it (both the appropriate shopping and the preparing - they can help me, I'm sure, but I have to have the stuff here!) and have them help me learn what they'd like to eat. I wish to cut the expense in half so I don't send more than $60/month to the school lunch account in any given month.

    First assignment: Scour the thrift store shelves to get a good lunch bag for my daughter and get two more Thermos containers. I have one good lunch bag, one wide-mouth shortie Thermos, and one tall drink/sandwich thermal container.

    QM posted a great link for me in another thread:
    School Lunch Ideas - 10 Healthy Kid Lunch Box Tips & Ideas

    And I found a Lunch Box Basics from a site that refuses to post a link here:
    Hill Billy Housewife > Lunch Box Basics

    And I am concerned about how to keep things appropriately hot/cold so I also found this:
    foodsafety.wsu.edu

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the food safety link. My kids have been taking their own lunches for the past five years and I worry all the time about keeping their food safe. I think I've been doing the right thing. Only thing that bothers me is now that they go to school longer, it's longer to wait for lunch time so there's a 4 1/2 hour waiting period until they get to eat. When they get to go they say their ice pack is mushy and by the time they get home it's completely melted. So I hope it's keeping their food cold enough.

    Packing their lunches has saved a lot of money for us but the bigger they get the more I have to pack. Plus by the time school's out they're starving. There's only so much I can pack in their boxes. And they're so picky! Very frustrating trying to come up with something different. I just went and bought one thermos to try it out and now the other kids are dying to have one, lol. I spent 12.00 on just one. I needed one that the five yr old could get open. I hate to go spend that much more on three more :-(

    Hopefully you'll see some savings real soon once you start making theirs.

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    My kids go to private school which only offers a hot lunch on Friday. Kids have to bring lunch the rest of the week. I like this because home lunches are healthier and I know what they are eating. I always make sure they have fruit and/or veggies.
    Frugalista Mama to DD 14 & DS 10
    Crazy Boxer *Sadie*
    **Debt Free Minus the House**

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    We do a mix of take and school lunch depending upon kid and school. Our young ones only buy on breakfast for lunch days (once a week) or if we are running late. Our middle school child buys every day. She doesn't take the time to make her own lunch and for social reasons it works best if she buys. Our high schooler does a mix- he buys some days and brings some days and he figures out when he does each- I'd say half and half. Overall our lunches are a good value and price so I don't feel too bad buying them for the older kids, but my little ones won't eat half the stuff so for them it is a waste.

  5. #5
    Registered User Sumacaroni's Avatar
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    Well we've experimented with the thermal containers and my daughter LOVES having hot chicken noodle soup or Ramen noodles with her sandwich/fruit combos so she's become quite committed, even heating her own Thermos in the a.m.

    I've frozen their drinks overnight and they are thawed by the time lunch rolls around.

    DS14 made his lunch but forgot it yesterday when he left. Ergh.

    But, overall, it's going well and I'm figuring the lunch groceries while meal planning over the weekends. I've told them to pick one day that they'd like to take hot lunch during the week, the other days they will pack a home lunch.

    In less than a week, we've saved $15.50 and it was fairly painless....
    In comparison, I don't think it costs more than about $3.00 to send a home lunch for both of them

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    How much is everyone paying for hot lunch.

    Our (only available on Friday) are $2.50
    Frugalista Mama to DD 14 & DS 10
    Crazy Boxer *Sadie*
    **Debt Free Minus the House**

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    Registered User Sumacaroni's Avatar
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    36.40 so far has NOT been spent at the school cafeteria in the course of two weeks, that's pretty good for a start.

    Middle-school is 2.70, high school is 2.70 per lunch and then he grabs something ala carte every day for another $1 so total spent is $6.40 if they both take school lunch.

    They're doing fairly well, the high schooler, however, is bad at remembering to grab his lunch in the morning and now tonight he forgot to bring his lunch bag home. He's taking a brown bag tomorrow now instead oh well.

    I told them they can choose one time per week to take lunch but now this ala carte thing.... I told him either one school lunch per week or he can take one ala carte item per day, either way I told him no more than $5/week or he will have to work extra around the house to make up for it.

  8. #8
    Registered User Sumacaroni's Avatar
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    Very excited, the total spent on school lunches is dramatically decreasing:
    $125 September
    $75 October
    $55 November

    Aiming at only for $50 for December. The kids are reallly making it a new routine to make their lunches in the evening. Thrilled.

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