Reader Question: Back to School Lunches

This reader question comes from Sue.  She was trying to figure out the best lunches for school!


My son is starting Kindergarten in the fall and I want to start thinking of some easy and frugal school lunches for Back to School! Does anyone have any recomendations?

Do you have any advice for Sue?

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  • Lady J

    I think Lunchables are $1 ea this week at Target. There’s a Target q for $1/2 – so that makes them .50 ea. My kids are younger than yours, so I don’t know how useful this is. How much is school lunch these days? Peanut Butter travels well, but schools are funny about that now.

    • elizabeth Harwood

      My son loves the lunchable idea too, but I use sectioned rubbermaid cantainers and cut meat and cheese with a round cutter and we top it off with baby carrots or celery. He drinks from a reusable Sigg thermos. His friends ask their moms for lunches like his.

      • Laura

        My sons are going to preschool (full-day) and 1st grade this year and I have been prepping ideas and stockpiling for lunches for weeks. Definitely invest in a good reusable thermos for drink and for warm foods and a sectioned container. I’m an advocate for healthy lunches so I always pack. Lunches can be just about anything! Think outside the box. Some days I’ll pack a tradional half-sandwich, grapes and pretzels for my son and the next I’ll pack done hummus dip with carrots and cucumbers. If we have tortillas leftover from taco night, I’ll make a wrap. Soups are always a great idea too! Good luck!

  • Sandi

    My son loved bagels and cream cheese. Peanut butter and jelly is an old standby. If he’ll eat raw veggies, pack them with ranch dressing. Store brand fruit snacks are just as good as the name brands, unless they are on sale and you have a coupon, lol.String cheese is good protein and a twelve pack goes far. Lunchables are good, as Lady J suggested, they have just enough in them for kindergarten aged kids. Also, if you pack small containers instead of buying individual packs on things like yogurt and raisins, you can save a little.

    • TQ

      We only do Lunchables for field trips, but will consider them more often since they have add more healthly items.

  • I usually pack mac and cheese in a thermos (hot lunch box), a fruit & water
    or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches & fruit.
    sandwich made with bread, pesto or chutney and sliced roasted chicken… baby carrots with a dip.
    Tortilla rollups made with ham slices, lettuce and mango chutney.
    I make fruit & cheese kabobs on toothpicks using grapes or any other fruit that is not messy. Just make sure u cut off the sharp tip off the toothpick.
    Finger foods like bread cut in different shapes, ham, veggies all put in individual silicone or paper muffin cups.

    • Laura

      Love your ideas!

    • Melissa

      These are great ideas!

  • Angela

    An alternative to toothpicks for the kabobs are straws. This works better for bigger fruits like melon. A lot depends on what your child likes to eat. You want to save money but not at the cost of nutrition. Check with the school as far as rules go for lunches. Many are nut free zones. If your child is in private school they may have strict guidelines about what must be in the lunch. In my case it must have no less than two food groups, a cold pack and a drink. There is a no sweets like cupcakes, cookies, candy policy as well.

  • Jen

    I brought my kids a small stainless steel Thermos (in the camping aisle) from Target. I didn’t buy any Thermos’ with a character design. Just plain stainless steel and my kids still use these same Thermos’ 5 years later and they work great. I spent about $15 each on them and they were definitely worth every penny. My kids didn’t really like eating sandwiches so I used to cook kraft mac and cheese in the morning, warm up chef boyardee, soup, left over spaghetti or any other dinner they loved. I even warmed up quesadillas and cut them up into bite size pieces and put them into the Thermos’. I used to make sure the food was piping hot so by the time they ate it, it was still hot and they would enjoy it more. For snacks, I used to buy big bags of their favorite chips, cookies or crackers and put them into individual snack bags on the weekend and just pop it into the lunch box on the day of. Huge money saver instead of buying those individually packaged snacks. I did the same thing with fruits and store them in the fridge. Good luck!

  • elizabeth

    My kids love Capri sun, so I freeze those the night before and rose those instead of ice packs because those get lost too easy. I also buy all my lunchmeat on sale w/ coupons and freeze it. It’s easier to cut funny shapes when slightly frozen but not hard as a brick. Also when fruit is on sale I buy a lot and freeze that too. My kids think its cool to have orange juice and grape “cubes” in their water.