How to Pack Frugal and Healthy School Lunches


Simple Money Saving Tips
Don't send food to school that you'll only end up throwing in the trash later. Here's how to pack frugal and healthy school lunches your child will actually eat.

Summer break is coming to an end, and school time is upon us again. For many that may bring relief, but for me, it makes me a little sad since my daughter will be going to school for the first time this year. I think I’m more nervous about it than she is!

It’s also time for me to start thinking about how to pack her a frugal and healthy lunch to take to school.

She is super picky, as many kids are, so I want to make sure to send her to school with foods she will actually eat, while avoiding the trap of peanut butter and jelly on a daily basis.

Here are my best tips on how to pack frugal and healthy school lunches that your child will actually enjoy.

Frozen Berries and Grapes

Most small kids love fruits, so this is an easy one. Grapes, strawberries, bananas, and blueberries are easy picks for school lunches. What I do to make it lunch-box friendly and frugal is to freeze individual servings of grapes and blueberries (they both freeze well), and only pull them out of the freezer the night before as we need them.

This ensures all the fruit will eventually get eaten rather than spoiled, and having them in individual servings makes them easy to grab and go.

Freeze them ahead of time in little baggies or individually sealed cups and pop them into the fridge the night before so they can thaw out a bit. You can also pull them directly out of the freezer the morning of school if needed. They will thaw out enough before lunchtime (but frozen grapes and blueberries are tasty too!).

Carrot Sticks

If your kid will eat carrot sticks, please let me know how you managed to get that to happen. ; ) If your kid loves them, congrats to you as a parent. They make great healthy additions to school lunches and are cheap and easy to pack, too.

Cubed Cheese

One of my daughter’s favorite foods is cheese. Any kind of cheese — cheddar, American, feta, all of the cheeses. You name it and she will eat it.

I make it frugal by buying my own wedges of cheese and cubing it myself. That way I can buy higher quality cheeses rather than always opting for the cheap waxy cheddar or plastic wrapped cheese slices.

There’s nothing wrong with those, but you can still get quality cheese and cube it yourself to pack a healthy, frugal lunch that your kid will love.

The Old Stand By

If your class hasn’t banned peanut butter, to get your child to eat more veggies, try the old stand by of celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins, also known as ants on a log. Just make sure there aren’t any peanut allergies in your child’s class before sending this option.

If your child doesn’t like celery, even when it’s hidden under peanut butter, simply send peanut butter and crackers (not the packaged kind) in your child’s lunchbox. They’re easy to transport and quick to put together.

Ham Roll Ups

Another good option is to make a ham roll up. You can either spread cream cheese on a few slices of ham to roll up, or use a tortilla to wrap with a choice of meat, a slice of lettuce (if you can get away with that), and a slice of cheddar. These are so good, even adults can enjoy them.


For drinks, I like to fill a thermos with milk or water, or pop in a frozen juice box. The juice boxes are a little more pricey (and wasteful with the boxes), so to make it more frugal, you can put juice into a thermos as well.

If you do opt for the frozen juice box, it’ll help keep other foods cold, just make sure it’s thawing out enough in time for lunch!

Don’t bother sending food to school that you’ll only end up throwing in the trash later. There’s nothing frugal about that, and your child will come home hungry.

Here’s to a happy and healthy school year!

What are some of your child’s favorite lunches to eat? What do you pack for their lunch during the school year?

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