The Saturday Weekly Review

Do you send a brown bag lunch with your kid to school?-The Saturday Weekend Review #58

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brown-bag-lunch-school-boyBAG IT OR BUY IT


I’m not sure if it’s only the USA where elementary schools might not use the brown bag lunch system rather they pay for a hot lunch in the cafeteria every day.

What is a brown bag lunch system?

Simple… you make your kid a lunch and send them to school with it! Brilliant idea if you ask me.

Although, I’m starting to wonder if anyone sends their kids to school with a brown bag lunch at all in the USA after watching another Yahoo story this morning about kids being treated different because of delinquent lunch accounts.

If you are thinking what I’m thinking then you are right to say we are teaching our kids it’s acceptable to buy lunch every day rather than make a healthy brown bag lunch at home. This will be the lesson they carry with them as they get older, at least in my eyes.

Then we wonder as adults why the line-ups at the fast food joints at lunch time are jam-packed and why you might find drivers more erratic during the morning rush hour, the lunch rush hour and the rush to get home or maybe to pick up dinner lol after work.

I know I’m talking about kids and lunches again but after hearing about another lunch story today it’s just another one of those topics that boggles my mind because they make the headlines over and over again.

I’m starting to wonder if we are phasing out the brown bag lunch to make it easier on the parents or if a homemade lunch even exists any more in some parts of the world.

Last week I wrote about an elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah but this week it’s about a school in Houston that is still feeding the school kids who owe money on their lunch accounts but just not a hot meal.

The kids are being served cold cheese sandwiches instead of the hot meal their friends are getting because their parents are all paid up on the cafeteria bill. I’d be curious to know just how much each meal costs in the cafeteria and what foods are offered to the children.

I have yet to hear of a Canadian elementary school where the students don’t bring a brown bag lunch and have to wait for a hot meal lunch in the cafeteria line-up.

Maybe there are schools out there like that and I’d love to hear about how that lunch system is run. Maybe these schools in the USA do allow parents to send a brown bag lunch and they are opting not to, I don’t know.

My wife says she remembers in high school the cafeteria served up hot lunches with burgers, fries, salads, grilled cheese etc IF you wanted to purchase it. You were not required to buy a hot lunch every day.

Many students did use the cafeteria service but many students also brought a brown bag lunch to school like they did when they were in elementary school.

I can safely say that my mum made me a lunch every single day and it was pretty healthy if you ask me. My mum didn’t give us crisps and choccie bars to snack on either.

If it was a sweet it was something homemade along with fruits, sandwich and a drink. As I got older I made my own lunches of course.


Canadian schools


I know I didn’t grow up in Canada but I did go back to school to get a new education here and sure there was a cafeteria but again it wasn’t that you had to use it.

It breaks my heart to hear of the young kids having to be subjected to being felt left out because their parents may be in debt or they come from low-income families that are struggling and living pay to pay etc.

We don’t really know everyone’s financial situation but for certain the children will know the parents aren’t paying the bills when a cheese sandwich is what their classmate is eating instead of a hot lunch.

Times may have changed in Canada and since we don’t have any kids and haven’t been in a Canadian elementary school for a year or so we know the elementary schools in our area don’t have cafeterias for the young kids.

We know this because we have friends with kids who attend the local schools and making that brown bag lunch is all part of their nightly or daily routine.

The parents are required to send their child to school with a brown bag lunch every single day. If the child is in walking distance they may go home for lunch like in our area where we are surrounded by family homes. If you are real lucky you live across the street from the school.

Children might not also bring a brown bag lunch if the parents pick them up to go out for lunch as well once in a while.

What’s the lunch deal this week Mr.CBB….?

So this guy in Houston who mentors and tutors at neighbourhood schools found out about the elementary school serving up the cold cheese sandwiches.

He also learned that the kids whose parents owed money for their lunch bill were embarrassed to stand in line because others would see they were not getting a hot lunch rather a cheese sandwich.

We are working so hard to stop the teasing and bullying in the school system yet when I hear of schools singling out students this way it bothers me. Are the adults really making it any easier?

Sure we all believe we are bringing up our children right but the fact stands that the bullies are out there whether it be a comment like your parents are poor or not engaging with them and leaving them out of activities because they feel they aren’t worthy it all hurts these children.

Children watch and hear everything that happens around them including how they all interact with each other. Something like this could be devastating to a child not to mention humiliating. So in comes this tutor Kenny Thompson to make a difference and what does he do?

He pays the $465.oo bill for these kids to zero out all the lunch accounts so the school would start to feed them hot meals again. The realistic part which is also briefly talked about in the video is that this will likely happen again as the parents may fall behind the next week.

It’s part of the debt cycle for many because they simply can’t afford the extra expenses in the budget. To be honest I’m stunned why these parents are not sending the kids to school with a brown bag lunch unless the school doesn’t permit it.

I’d find that strange because we all know that eating out always costs more than making lunch at home unless the meals are very cheap in price. Making a healthy lunch for your child would be much easier on the wallet but would this single out the kids again with a hot lunch system already in place?

Sure Kenny may have solved the problem this week but it doesn’t solve the problem moving forward. I don’t know what this school plans to do. Certainly if parents have the option to send their kids to school with a brown bag lunch they should be doing it to save money especially if they can’t afford the cafeteria lifestyle for their child.

Seems bizarre to me because I’ve never had that luxury myself, not even as an adult. I still brown bag my lunch for work each time.


Let them talk behind your back


I’m proud to say that I have no debt as an adult and if that means I don’t get to eat lunch at the local Sushi restaurant or drink lattes at Starbucks every morning like my colleagues, you bet I’d do it all over again.

No one cares what you do when you leave the office so why worry about what others think of you at the office? The kids should be taught to stand on their own two feet and not worry about what others have. They should also be taught lessons in money from a young age.

I don’t know how much that would solve the inner child feelings of being different from their classmates whose parents have money but I know they will learn the value of money from a different perspective.

That in itself may teach them a valuable lesson they will carry with them for life.

  • Do you send your child to school with a brown bag lunch or with money to eat from the cafeteria?
  • Do elementary schools in Canada serve up hot lunches for the kids? Where?
  • If you are a USA resident are their schools that allow kids to bring a brown bag lunch and/or can you explain your lunch system for us please? 🙂


Canadian Budget Binder this week


If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!


CBB at home and the blog


Yes, like many I’m sick of the snow and no I’m still not ready to invest in a snow-blower.

Moving on……

Not much to report here this week although we’ve been in and out of the second-hand stores looking to scoop up some bargains which we did. I’ll be honest and say I found a few awesome CD’s that I wanted for a couple of bucks each and some brand new tea towels.

We also found some hard to find books for our nephew who will be thrilled to have them read to him. Other than that it’s been pretty quiet around here I’m afraid.

Once this snow goes away the household action will pick up and you will all likely tell me to zip it because I have so much to say haha.


Fan deals and inspirations


Submit your Brag or Inspiration If you have a brag that you want me to share email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) [yahoo] [.ca] or fill out my contact form by Friday each week to have your brag considered for the Saturday post.

This week CBB fan Jen Peacock shares how pink stickers and coupons really DO make a difference to your grocery budget.

This shop was at RCSS
  • Tostitos (PM FC) $2.00
  • Tostito cheese dip (PM FC) $2.00 – $1.00 coupon (Pepsi booklet)
  • Barilla pasta (PM FC) 3 x $1.00 – 3 x $1.00 coupons (gocoupons)=FREE
  • Royale TP (PM SDM) $3.99 – $1.00 coupon (gocoupons) – $1.00 SnapSaves
  • BD cheese bars (PM FB) 3 x $4.44 – 3 x $.75 coupons (tearpad) – $1.00 SnapSaves
  • BD cheese bars (PM Sobey’s) 3 x $1.99 – 3 x $.75 coupons (tearpad)
  • Johnsonville sausage (PM GT) $3.00 – $1.00 coupon (Canadian Living calendar) – $1.00 SnapSaves
  • Huggies Pull Ups $21.97 – 50% pink sticker (-$10.99) – $3.00 coupon (coupon zone) =$7.98 for 50 pull ups or $.16/pull up
  • Pampers  $29.97 – 50% pink sticker (-$14.99) – $2.00 coupon (P&G insert) =$12.98 for 58 diapers or $.22/diaper
  • Tresemme shampoo $5.99 – 50% pink sticker (-$3.00) =$2.99
  • Tresemme conditioner $5.99 (no pink sticker) – $5.99 coupon (unilever insert – buy shampoo get conditioner free) =FREE
  • Dove deodorant 3 x $2.98 – 3 x $2.00 coupon (mailout from sample) – 3 x $1.00 Checkout 51 =FREE
  • Dove bar soap (4ct) (PM WM) 4 x $3.47 – 2 x $3.00 (unilever insert) – 2 x $1.00 Checkout 51 =$5.88 or $.37/bar
  • Softsoap refill (PM Loblaws) 10 x $1.00 – 5 x $2.00 coupons (redplum insert) =FREE

Coupons $33.49

OOP $49.34

Great shop Jen, well done and thanks for sharing your savings with us.


Making a difference

 money saving dude

If you know a personal finance blogger that is making a difference and want to nominate them please send me an email so I can reach out to them for a feature story.

Note: If you are a blogger who gives back and would like to be featured by all means get in touch with me as I am filling spots up for the rest of 2014 and they are going quickly.

Hello Canadian Budget Binder readers!

My name is Mark Ross and I’m the one behind the newest personal finance blog on the block called the Money Saving Dude.

To start off, let me give a little background of myself.

I am just a student who has a great goal in mind and that is to be financially independent ASAP, maybe 10 to 15 years from now, hopefully.

I like to learn, read and watch anything about personal finance and I’m certainly an addict when it comes to finding ways to save money. I’m intrigued about learning more about investing and about the stock market as well.

I could also say that I’m the most frugal person in our class and I’m not ashamed of it. We all have to save money at some point, why not start now, right?

I think that’s enough about me, let’s talk about my website. The reason why I started the Money Saving Dude is for it to serve as a resource for people having trouble saving their hard-earned money. It is also an outlet for me  to share my thoughts and knowledge when it comes to people and their finances.

Don’t you worry because I don’t only share money-saving articles on my site but also the personal finance books that I’ve read, money-making ideas, ways to properly manage your money, inspirational quotes and much more.

Are you interested in reading those topics? If you are, then head out to Money Saving Dude now and personally see what I’m talking about.

By the way, thank you Mr. CBB for having me here!


What is a blog carnival?


Some fans have asked me just what is a blog carnival so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans.

A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web. Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed.

If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.


Carnival glory


A big thanks to these pages for accepting my blog posts and sharing them in the following carnivals and/or sharing my blog posts with their fans.

Other Mentions


Google search terms



Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog.

Here are a few of my favorite searches that may have even brought you here and you’re reading this, right now.

  • Canadian money guru budget– Not sure if I’m a guru but I do like to budget so thanks for stopping in
  • Please stay with me and help me find all household things like shampoo, laundry soap, dish soap, toilet paper in cheap bulk rates– interesting
  • Welfare meal plan– I tend to think a meal plan is a meal plan but I can understand wanting a frugal meal plan here because they are not all created equal when it comes to budget.
  • Husband spends money after budgeting- caught in the act lol
  • Excel spreadsheet for home budget to build in a new refrigerator– I chuckled but I understand the premise behind this desire.

That’s all for this weeks edition of The Saturday Weekend Review #58-Do you send a brown bag lunch with your kids to school?

Have a great week and catch me here again next Saturday with more updates.



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  1. My kid isn’t big enough to go to school yet but I definitely plan to send along packed lunch. My mum always did that when we are in school and I continued packing my own lunch when I entered university. The reason was not only related to saving money, but also better nutrition and better taste (our cafeteria was rather terrible).

    1. I agree with you on the better nutrition not only for kids but us as adults. Eating out every day isn’t as good as knowing exactly what is in the food you are eating because you prepared it yourself.

  2. Not required for US students to buy school lunch. Usually, it costs anywhere between $2-5 a meal. Parents buy lunch tickets that week or in advance. Many parents choose to buy a couple even if they pack their kid a lunch because the kid may forget it.

    We got free lunches when we were kids because we grew up so poor. I was really thankful for that hot lunch over my friend’s cold lunches to be honest! When we got to high school, no one bought the cafeteria’s lunches. Everyone brought bags. But again, I’m grateful for programs that allowed me to eat for free as a child. It was often the only hot meal I could get that day.

    1. If it’s not required then how are these parents owing money or a bill? Would they not just buy tickets in advance then and the child gets the meal? I wonder why some opt to get the lunch when clearly it’s not in the budget but then I wonder how much they can buy to feed their kid. It’s a tough place to be in but in Canada we have food banks and other resources to help out if needed. I don’t know what the USA has to offer. That’s great that you were given a free hot lunch. Thanks for sharing that Michelle 🙂

      1. In the US we have food banks, church pantries, etc., in addition to the food stamp program. BILLIONS of dollars are spent in the US every year providing food for people who need it.

        1. So essentially the kids could easily bring a brown bag lunch with the resources around if the parents are unable to pay for the hot cafeteria meal. Thanks for sharing that Sheila. Mr.CBB

  3. When I was in elementary I always brought with me my lunch, but as I grow old the times that I brought my lunch to school lessen all because my parents were too busy. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t save enough money when I was in high school. Now that I’m a college student, I’m able to prepare my lunch all by myself, and it’s saving me a lot these days.

    Again, thanks for including me on this post Mr. CBB! 🙂

    1. Same here my mum would always pack a lunch for us. You are most welcome for being part of the Making a difference series. Thank you

    1. I don’t think the kids in Canada are allowed to bring any peanut type items to school for allergy purposes. That’s great that she picks what she wants to eat every day. Even so if there is a program for these parents why are they owing a bill? Do they not pay in advance or are they billed weekly? Why participate if you can’t afford it? They might as well brown bag it for the kids but again I don’t know if that shows some distinction amongst who has money and who doesn’t. Sad world.

      1. In the schools we have lived in (in 3 different states), you prepay for school lunches. When the money runs out, you can ‘charge’ the lunch for several days – I think it depends on the school. They will tell the kids to have the parent send in money and they also have ways (letter, phone, email, etc) that they remind the parents. In most cases, there is even an online option to be able to pay to make it as simple as possible. Whey do they participate if they can’t afford it? 🙂 I think much of the time they actually can afford it. They just forget, don’t care or are lazy. It is a complete shame that children are embarrassed because of the parents. The article I linked to indicated that 59% of kids are eligible for free lunch (that astounds me), but the parents have to fill out paperwork to get that. The schools ask that ALL parents fill out the paperwork, so there should be no shame in filling it out, but I’m going to assume that some are. I don’t understand it. I would do pretty much anything to make sure my children have food. Brown bag or school lunch does not show a financial distinction. If anything, hot lunch might tend to, as so many get it free, but it’s really just kid/parent preference. There is no difference in the checkout between free and paid lunches. They all just typically type in their number (smaller kids have this done for them and don’t have to know it, older kids have to remember their id #).

        The peanut butter decision is a school by school decision. Some have peanut free tables in the cafeteria. It really varies a lot. Oddly enough, my own daughter tests allergic to peanut butter but eats it every day without an issue and loves it. Her allergist said to let her eat it unless it causes issues.

        1. Interesting, thanks for explaining that to us. It makes sense. I wouldn’t be ashamed. I’d certainly fill out the paperwork. Money is money and if I was able to have it covered because I need the money to pay for bills then why not? I can understand the embrassment but there’s no room for that when you have kids. You have to do what you have to do.

  4. At various times my kids took their lunches to school. When the older two first started school they were bused in so each had a lunch pail with the lunch in it. High school for them, we lived in town so they came home for lunch most days. The younger boy came home until he hit high school and then he was going over to Stratford for school and he brown bagged it every day. I went to Canadian Tire right before he started and got some plastic dishes for his lunch and we used them every day all through high school. He had a container for his sandwich, usually some meat on a W/W bun, a container for some pudding, and one for some juice. Plus he would have a muffin or two/ slices of quick bread or some applesauce cake. The pudding took the place of a container of milk as the milk doesn’t stay cold for long enough to drink, especially the term he had a late lunch. I would make up his lunch after dinner every night and put it in the fridge for the night. He would have been fine making his own but I was making his father’s lunch for work then so I just did both at the same time. Two lunches, one mess.
    Our grandson is in JK this year and he takes a lunch in containers most days. Our daughter pays for him to get milk every day at school, plus pizza day and one or two days a week for a hot meal. It gives him variety and she picks the days he gets the hot meal from a menu that comes home. With the cold weather we have had the hot meal is nice to have. He is not allowed to have anything peanuty, it’s a peanut free school, and he isn’t allowed to have anything that creates garbage. If she gets a good deal on granola bars, for example, she must remove the wrapper at home and put the bar in a plastic container that can be re-used. He gets a lot of fresh veggies, usually carrots/ cucumber and such plus fruit,cheese and what ever else he wants from the pantry. The school stresses healthy foods. No candy is allowed…more power to them.

    1. Many kids in our village would go home for lunch as well because our village was tiny. It made sense to run home to see what mum had cooking in the kitchen. Back in my time not many mums went to work so my mum was always cooking up a homemade meal. That’s how I learned to cook. INteresting about the lunch containers and packaging at the school. I’ve never heard of such a thing before. I guess each school can be different depending on their goals.

  5. It’s too costly for me to buy lunch each day. My daughter eats a ham sandwich, cost for the WEEK $5 (allergic to dairy so no cheese and she does not like mayo). She gets a mini water bottle (pack of 12 for $1.88). Then I buy her snacks in bulk and they are used on the weekends too so the cost is minimal. Hot lunch at school costs $2.25 daily. Sadly, if the child wants to choose water instead of milk (in this case no choice) it’s an additional $.40.

    She is also an extremely picky eater, so my guess is most of what they serve would be dollars in the trash. She doesn’t even like the pizza they serve (and this kids LOVES pizza!).

    Lastly the options don’t seem all that healthy to me…a lot of meat, greasy foods etc. The menus have come a long way, but still not so healthy. I rather control what goes in her mouth and know that she will eat what I spend money on!

    1. If we had kids you can bet we’d be preparing a brown bag lunch at home no questions asked. I bet lots of food ends in the bin from the kids not wanting to eat it. You know your children and the best thing to do is to ask them what they like and to make sure as parents they are getting all the nutritional benefits they need to grow. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Hello, at my daughter’s school there are two twenty minute ‘nutrition breaks’ in the Owen Sound area. There is one at 11 a.m. and another at 1pm. There no no such thing as a traditional lunch hour or the two recess breaks as there was when I grew up in Kitchener. That being said, I doubt there would any time for hot meals to be served. Tho there are Pizza Days on Thursdays. It is a $1/slice and it is prepaid in four week intervals. There is also a daily milk program that must be prepaid ahead of time too. Also, I’ve heard of some schools where microwaves are being banned….so no warming up food.

    1. Our relatives have children in a school that does the same thing. I was talking to the older boy and he says he eats breakfast and can’t be bothered with a lunch because there is no time with this new system. Sounds odd to me.

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