BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS MADE EASY AND INEXPENSIVE
Since our son will be starting junior kindergarten this September I thought it would be fitting to start a small series on Back to School Lunch Ideas and tips for parents.
We are first-time parents sending our child to school so we don’t know what to expect.
However, what we have learned comes from one school meeting, online research, and random chit-chat with other parents.
Sending your child off to school especially for the first time can be terrifying for parents.
Some children are equally nervous because everything about school is new from the environment, teachers, and children.
If you’re child regularly visited a daycare for the first years of their lives then perhaps this type of scenario may be similar.
However, for the kiddos who did not, it’s an entirely new ballgame.
Since Mrs. CBB stays home with our son we decided late last year to put him in daycare one day a week.
The reasoning behind that was to get him used to the process of going to school.
Surprisingly the most important part of daycare has been consistency.
Our daycare provider offers a school-like schedule with snack breaks and lunch along with indoor and outdoor activities.
We also found that our son eats different foods offered by his daycare provider which has given us school lunch ideas for September.
At home our son is different and as much as we want to keep him on a schedule it tends to fall apart.
So far his daycare experience has been great with expected ups and downs but he loves going and has made new friends.
Our main goals with daycare were to give him responsibility, a new environment, and an opportunity to be given options from someone else.
Just recently we’ve ramped up daycare to 2 days a week since we are one month away from the start of junior kindergarten.
Food Allergies And Nut Free Lunches
One of the biggest challenges over the past almost 4 years has been to feed our son because he’s not a big eater and when he does eat it involves some foods he can’t bring to school.
Luckily for us, our son is simple with food but he does love his milk something we’ve been trying to cut back on a bit so he eats more food.
It works from time to time but drinking is a favourite thing to do.
We must pack a nut-free lunch!!
Nut-free was not new to us but it certainly put a wedge in our menu plan for our little guy because peanut butter is King in our house.
At our school, the teachers post a list of what food allergies are in the school and classroom.
From there they ask the parents to not include these items in the lunch for kids to protect the other children.
I’m on-board with this because if I was a parent of a child with a life-threatening allergy I’d be terrified.
If you’re not sure talk to your child’s teacher or school administration for information on school allergies and lunches.
Simple Lunch Boxes For Kindergartens
Now that we are 4 weeks away from day 1 of Junior Kindergarten we started thinking about lunch ideas for our son.
We purchased a huge Roots backpack and Roots lunch box from Costco for a reasonable price which came in under $30.
Other popular options are Yumbox, Bento boxes, Bentgo, Planet Box, Tupperware lunch boxes, and Rubbermaid Lunch Bloks.
There are so many brands out there that you have to find one the fits your child because they are not all created equally.
I’ll be doing another post on lunch box and bag ideas along with costs but for us, we went strictly inexpensive and functional.
Healthy School Lunch Ideas For Kids
Healthy lunches for kids are important for everyone from the parent, to the teacher, and of course, the child even if they don’t know it yet.
At our daycare, she provides very healthy meals and snacks for our son but in small amounts and with options.
Her sons love Lunchables which include crackers, deli meat, cheese, and a treat most often a small chocolate bar.
Although we’re not fans of feeding our child chocolate every day since he’s already an energy-filled monster we opt for fresh fruit and bake homemade snacks such as sugar-free cookies or brownies.
On occasion, we like to buy a bag of Oreo cookies or let him choose a bag of cookies from the grocery store.
This is so he has a snack and we find he appreciates them more than if we had an array of sugary snack options available to him.
Once we purchased a Lunchable for him to try which he wasn’t a fan of eating the crackers or the cheese but he did eat the deli-meat and the chocolate bar.
The important thing that we noticed was that he liked the little compartment lunch idea and that it was the perfect amount of food for him.
Last month we found a brand-new Rubbermaid bento-style lunch box at Value Village for
$2.99 so we bought it. The reason for this was so that we could introduce our son to the lunch box idea to get him ready for back to school.
In a way, it reminded us of the Lunchable so we considered all the types of foods we could put into each little section that he might eat.
If your child loves Lunchables simply add crackers, cheese wedges, grapes, hard-boiled egg slices, bacon, sliced deli-meats that they enjoy and away they go.
A small lunch will be enjoyed by your child.
Instead of adding a sweet treat opt for seasonal fruits such as cherries, apples, pears, peaches, watermelon chunks, plums, bananas, etc.
School Lunch Ideas- Sandwiches and Wraps
If you find that you need to add a sandwich or tortilla wrap because it’s not enough food then opt for healthy sandwich ideas such as;
- Ham and Cheese
- Egg salad
- Chicken salad
- Tuna salad
- Salami and cheese
- Plain cheese
- Mashed Chickpea and Avocado
- Vegetables and Cream Cheese
- Bologne and Cheese
- Club Sandwich With bacon, cheese, tomato
- Fried Egg and Cheese
- Meatball and Cheese
- Italian Sausage
- Chicken Bacon Ranch
- Cold Grilled Cheese
If you’re not a fan of store-bought mayonnaise to mix your salads you can make healthier versions at home without all the added preservatives.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of texture or shape as in this case which is why the fairy sandwiches have been popular lunch ideas.
I know some parents will shape sandwiches with cutters or cut the crusts off for their child to eat their lunch.
Whatever works for the parent and child is important and never-mind what others say.
Do what’s best for your child and stuff, cut and create the best sandwiches filled with whatever will get eaten.
Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
Bacon, Bacon, Bacon
I know our son is a huge fan of cold pizza and when we make homemade pizza we make extra for the next day.
Another sandwich or wrap filler that our son loves is bacon or baked pepperoni chips and crispy salami chips.
He is not a huge fan of bread in general but when he does eat bread there has to be something on it like bread and butter or bread and bacon. Simple kid, I guess.
Once in awhile our little guy will eat tortilla chips that are simply homemade pita bread cut into wedges and baked crisp in the oven.
He loves to dip them in homemade avocado taco dip that easily can transport to school in a lunch box.
Also, consider the following as fillers for sandwiches and mixing up the types of bread you offer such as pumpernickel or homemade tortillas.
- grated carrots
- red cabbage
- alfalfa sprouts
- onion sprouts
- cucumber slices
Our son loves cucumbers, cream cheese, and bacon together in a mini sandwich.
You could also make tortilla rolls with cream cheese, lunch meats, roll, chill, and slice.
Another favourite might be tacos or even think of breakfast waffles for lunch.
He’s not a huge fan of bagels but certainly, a great alternative to the traditional lunch sandwich is a bagel sandwich filled with deli meats, cheeses, cream cheese, and so on.
The options are endless for school lunch ideas, provided you have a list of what your child will or will not eat.
It’s always great to introduce your child to new foods even if you think they won’t like it.
You might be amazed to find out, they do like it.
I remember we were shocked the day our son tucked into a bowl of Bolognese pasta that was penne shaped.
He was shoveling that pasta in his mouth so fast, he loved it.
However, he has never had any interest in other pasta, Kraft Dinner, or even noodles in a sauce that comes in a can.
Another shock to us was how much he loves cold pasta so we make big bowls of tuna pasta salad even though he doesn’t know it’s fish. Ha!
We did purchase a brand new small thermos brand container from Value Village last year that comes with a spoon on top.
We will use this in the fall or winter to send pasta, soup, or chili although we are working on his flavours at the moment.
Owning one is certainly a smart option for parents who want to send leftovers from dinner with their child to school the next day.
Most elementary schools don’t offer microwaves for the kids to warm up meals so having a thermos is a great way to enjoy a hot lunch without any hassles.
Easy Back To School Snack ideas… this is another blog post but just to add a few examples that we will offer our son come this September;
- Yogurt or yogurt drinks
- Rice cakes
- Unsweetened apple sauce
- Fruit pots
- Fruit bread such as banana bread, zucchini bread (with or without chocolate chips)
- Nut-free granola bars
- Pickles or Sweet Pickles
- String Cheese
- nut-free cookies
- Fresh fruits
- Raw veggies and dip
- Pepperoni Chips
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Muffins such as Orange and Carrot breakfast muffins
- Tortilla chips and dip
- Trail mix with dried fruits, cereals, raisins, and nu, ts where permitted.
- Fathead Pretzels (gluten-free)
When sending drinks stick to water, unsweetened juice, chocolate milk, milk, or yo,gurt drinks.
If you send drinks in bottles make sure they are tightly sealed so they don’t leak.
We are fans of the Auto-Seal, Spill-Proof Contigo bottles but there are many options available for parents.
School Lunch Box Recipes
Lunch recipes for kids come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours.
I wanted to highlight a few that I found on Pinterest which I thought were suitable lunch ideas for back to school.
- Homemade Soft Buttery Pretzels
- Turkey Ranch Club Wrap
- Broccoli Cheddar Bites
- Healthy Baked Carrot Chips
School Lunch Ideas and Tips For Parents
- Talk to the school if you aren’t sure what is or isn’t allowed.
- Prepare a lunch meal plan that includes school lunch ideas that your child helps create
- Involve your children in picking out foods they like to eat
- Involve your kids at the grocery store to familiarize them with the shopping process
- Have your children help prepare their lunch
- Add greens and other produce separate in the lunch box
- Always pack the lunch bag just before leaving the house and not the night before storing it in the refrigerator
- Wash and clean the lunch box every day after school with hot soapy water.
- Cook extra at dinner time so you have leftovers for your school lunch ideas
- Make sure to always send utensils as needed with your child along with napkins for easy clean-up
- Always include fruits and vegetables in some shape or form for your child.
- Label your child’s lunch bag with fill-in Mabel’s Labels (we custom ordered labels with our son’s name on them straight from Mabel’s Labels) or other waterproof labels so the right lunch box arrives home each night.
- Don’t be afraid to add sweet treats on occasion for your child because they are kids and nothing beats homemade cookie,s, granola bars, or store-bought if you don’t have the time to bake at home.
- If you include yogurt, milk, and puddings as school lunch ideas make sure to send an ice-pack or purchase an insulated lunch box with an ice-pack if possible. We have a few of these for this purpose.
We’re trying not to get frustrated or nervous about school lunch ideas for kindergarten but we know that with time we will learn what works and what doesn’t.
Discussion: What are some healthy school lunch ideas that you can add to our list that are nut-free?
Leave me your comments below and any other ideas you have for parents.
August Grocery Game Challenge
Join the 2018 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) but before you do you must read The Grocery Game Challenge Rules and Print the 2018 Schedule which includes new prizes!
- 6 Inexpensive Meals When Unexpected Guests Drop Around – July Shop #4
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CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken 6 years to create.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings or that you would like to track on your own)
- Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300-$13.63=$286.37
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Optimum Points to Spend: 3,200,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet -$0
- Checkout51- $1.50
Our Grocery Shop This Week
- Radishes $2.99
- Radicchio $1.24 (rang in as red cabbage, oops)
- 2 bags PC Green Beans 3.99 each-50%
- Ginger root $2.24
- 2 x English cucumbers $1.49 each $2.98
- Tomatoes $2.53
- 3 x PC 500G Sweet Pepper Bacon $7.49-50% $11.25
- 4 x PC Honey Sea Salt Bacon 500g $7.49 -50% $15.00
- 10 x Schneiders Bacon $3.99-50% $1.99 each $20.00
- Gorgonzola Blue Cheese $9.99-50% $5.00
- Mascarpone Cheese $8.99-50% $4.50
Total Out-of-Pocket $71.72
- 6 x 10% cream $1.85 $11.10
- 6 x 35% Whipping cream $25.14
- Asiago Cheese $21.39
- Avocado bag $8.99
- Whisps Parmesan $11.99
- 2 cases diet Pepsi $8.35 each $16.70
- Large jar Bicks Pickles $5.49
- Pillers German Salami $10.99
Total Out-of-Pocket $111.79
- Romaine Lettuce $0.99
- Organic Konjac Spaghetti Sale $3.99
- Bosc pears $3.00
Total Out-of-Pocket $7.98
Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.
- Total to spend this month : $300.00
- Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
- Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
- Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $245 Saved
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $1
- Total in-store discounts this week: $59.75
- Total in-store discounts to date: $174.94
- Total spent this week: $191.52
- Total spent so far this month: $191.52
- Total over/Under spend this shop: $0
- Total left to spend for the month: $0
- Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $275.79 + June $271.88 +July $257.76 +August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
So, the bacon was 50% off and we couldn’t walk by it without loading up our shopping cart even though we try not to do this.
The mere fact that bacon costs a fortune stopped us in our tracks plus it’s a keto staple in my wife’s diet.
Other than that we did a load up on pop for an upcoming dinner party we are hosting as well we picked up some cheeses that were on for 50% off while we were at Zehrs.
If we can save a little here and there for the party, all the better.
Have a great week everyone.
Coupons and Coupon Apps
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!
Related: Find all the latest coupon apps in Canada right here>> Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide!
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2018!
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