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Packing School Lunches on a Budget Series – Week 1

October 7, 2012

Earlier this year my daughter started going to preschool.  Time really has flown by so fast. 😦 She went a couple days a week this spring and we paid $5 a day for meals at the school. They included breakfast, lunch, and a snack.   When she went back to school last month the price went up a little understandably because the price of food is rising. I wanted to challenge myself and see how much I would spend in a month on her school meals.

I decided to post a series because I asked my Facebook friends and the fans of my Facebook page, and there was a lot of interest on packing school meals on a budget.  Each week I’ll be posting Sophie’s school menu for  the week, and how much that weeks purchases cost me. Please keep in mind that some of the things I already have on hand, and as you stock up each week on the items that are on sale soon you’ll have a stock of items too. 🙂

I wanted to start the series off with a few tips that I have learned in the last month or so.

1) Unless multipack items are at a rock bottom price, buy one large container and portion it yourself. Here’s a great example of this, each week I spend about $3 on my daughter juice boxes.   There was a sale last week at Target on the 64 FL oz containers on V8 Splash they were $1.99 ea when you buy 3 you get a 4’rth free. So the price before coupons was $6.00 for (4) 64 FL OZ bottles, I had a .50/2 coupon and my total was $5.50 for 256 oz of juice. That’s more than what I spend on juice in one week, but if I can find a good hiding place for it 😉 it should last at least a month. There was an extra expense of buying a thermos type bottle. I got a Dora one at Target, they were near the plates, and other tableware. This will last me all year.

2) The dollar store is your friend. I know that may sound cheap, but did you know that the dollar store carries name brand items. This week we got her Lance Peanut Butter Crackers.   They also have Iced Animal crackers, hershey’s milk, and many other name brand items too. Did you know that the dollar store now takes coupons? One thing you have to watch for is making sure that the sizes at the Dollar Store match the sizes on the coupon.

3) Pay attention to sales cycles.  My little girl loves Go-Gurt, but normally it’s out of our price range. Target recently had it on sale for $2 and I had a $1/2 coupon. I was able to get (2)  8 packs  for $3. That makes each individual go gurt .16  AWESOME PRICE.

4) My last tip is this.  Be willing to be flexible, some weeks lunchables may be on sale  ( when I pack lunchables, I always freeze a juice pack to keep the bag cold) other weeks it may be uncrustables, and others it may be peanut butter crackers. The best way to save money on anything is to be willing to buy what’s on sale that week. You may be surprised,  the kids may love it. 🙂

Each week I’ll be sharing what I spent on packed meals for school, and how I plan her meals. My budget for each week is $10, and I try to go one week out of  the month without buying anything and using the stock that we have on hand.

What are your favorite ways to save money on packed meals for school?

I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me on Facebook at Fashionably Saving  You can also email me at

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