Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School Lunch in a Snap!

So frugal to me doesn't always mean saving money, it can also mean saving time so that I can "spend" it other ways. So I thought I'd share with you a couple of my favorite frugal school morning time saving tips. Enjoy!

Whether your school year has already started or is getting ready to start soon, there certain things that are synonymous with a new school year, new pencils, fresh notebooks, and new backpacks. There are also the typical questions - will I like my new teacher, will I know anyone in class, will I buy lunch or bring one from home? While I can only encourage and reassure my kids about the new school year the lunch question is a no-brainer! I get more control over what they are eating and the cost if I send lunch. Sorry kiddos - Momma pulls rank on this choice!

So new lunch bags were purchased, water bottles were labeled and lunches were planned.

Ready for the first day of school!
With three kids who are not weekday morning people (cartoons on the weekends somehow magically change the mood of these same school day morning slugs) and an early start school (the late bell rings at 8am) mornings are always a little rushed making sure everyone gets ready (dressed, teeth & hair) and fed. So we try and do as much pre-planning and organizing before hand. Clothes are picked out, papers and planners are signed, homework is packed back into backpacks, water bottles are filled and put in the fridge, and showers are taken the night before so mornings are a little easier for everyone (ok read "for Momma" here!)

To make my mornings easier and to give me a couple extra minutes to get ready (or hit the snooze button one last time perhaps) I try and prep as much of the kids lunches before hand. So here are my favorite time saver tips for Back to School Lunches in a Snap!

On Grocery Day:

I keep all of these things in plastic bins either in my school lunch & snack cupboard or in the refrigerator. I find if they are portioned out and in a central location grabbing 3 of each thing in the morning is quick and easy! 
  • Portion out cookies into snack bags
  • Make snack packs of chips (some times I will buy the small bags of chips depending on price)
  • Open the package of cheese & peanut butter crackers so I can grab a pack quick and easy.
On the Weekend:
Depending on our weekend schedule I do these things either Saturday or Sunday, whichever works out. So long as they're done by the end of the day Sunday that's all I really care about!
Even making sandwiches has a 'frugal' process!
  • Make snack packs of carrots or celery sticks, this includes washing/peeling or chopping if necessary  (they get whichever I find on sale, but I try not to have the same thing for more than 2 weeks or they get bored!)

    packed, stacked and ready for the freezer!
  •  I make a weeks worth of peanut butter sandwiches, bag them up, label them and ... freeze them! I do give the kids the choice of if they want jam, jelly or honey on their sandwich so this is why I always put an initial on the outside of plastic baggie (I have a grape jelly hater in my house ... I mean seriously?!)

In the Morning:
So packing lunches in the morning is a real snap and only takes me about 5 minutes I always use a specific part of the counter because this is where I have the empty lunch bags waiting ..

  • Grab water bottles, fruit & veggies from fridge
  • Grab sandwiches from freezer (they are defrosted by lunch time and any jelly hasn't squished through the bread making it soggy!)
  • Grab 3 drink pouches from the top of the fridge
  • Grab 2 boxes from the snack cupboard
  • Pack lunch: Sandwich, Juice Pouch, Apple or Orange, Carrots or Celery, Crackers, Cookies & a bag of chips. Grab the water bottle and into the backpack it all goes! 
Add a bag of chips on the top and it's ready to go!

So if it saves me a few extra minutes to spend snuggling with each of my kids as I wake them up, a little organizing, planning and preparation it is totally worth it to ....

This Frugal Momma!


    1. Have you ever tried making "uncrustables"? I made some today but we'll have to wait for the judge to give his verdict some other day. :-) I've also been making breakfast sandwiches ahead of time and freezing them. It's pretty quick to make a breakfast sandwich in the morning but my husband prefers it already made, then all he has to do it pop it in the microwave (from the freezer). I make "egg mcmuffins" and I'm trying sausage biscuits today. I do waste a lot of ziplocs though....maybe Pinterest has a way I can save on that. Miss you. :-)

      1. Would LOVE to hear how your "uncrustables" work out - let me know what the verdict is! Curious about the breakfast sandwich idea, but without a microwave I might have a bit of a problem. We've done the breakfast muffins but I warm them in the oven for a few minutes and their good to go. Will have to explore this a bit more! ;)