Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I actually really enjoy packing my son’s lunch. I like getting to control the foods he eats, supplying him with healthy lunchbox options on a tight budget. But since he’s only four and easily influenced by his peers, I keep the lunches fun and tasty, too. Stop dreading the daily lunch fix and start filling your child’s lunchbox with these tasty and healthy school lunches on a budget.
Baked Tortilla Chips and Salsa. Salsa is a great way to sneak a vegetable in with your kids. And baked tortilla chips can easily be created at home for a tasty, inexpensive tool to scoop up that yummy salsa. Just cut corn or flour tortillas into wedges, spray each with a little cooking spray, and put in a 450 degree oven for a few minutes (watch closely, they burn in an instant!).
Wonton Pockets. Wonton wrappers are a wonderful way to turn just about any sort of sandwich filling into a school lunch favorite. Just fill wonton wrappers (typically found in the produce section of the grocery) with your favorite filling. You could use pulled pork, ham salad, refried beans and cheese, pizza sauce and mozzarella, whatever you like. Fold the wonton wrappers over into a triangle and seal with a bit of water. Be careful not to overfill. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy. These are great served warm, or serve them cold in your child’s lunchbox.
Tortilla Pinwheels. Here come those budget-friendly tortillas again. To make tortilla pinwheels, just place chopped veggies (bell pepper, cucumber, zucchini, etc) in the tortilla along with some spreadable cream cheese. Roll the tortilla up and slice into rounds. This lunchbox favorite won’t break the bank, but it will give your kid a serving of vegetables.
Whole Fruit. Fruit can be very expensive so it sometimes gets overlooked when filling the lunchbox. To combat this issue, just purchase fruit in season when it is on sale. Look beyond the big displays of apples for smaller, more affordable apples that work perfectly well in a lunchbox. Also try new fruits like blood oranges, star fruit, or pomegranates to keep your kids’ intrigued and loving their healthy school lunch.
Applesauce Leather. Applesauce leather is a great alternative to fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups. Not only is it super inexpensive to make, it also won’t have the added sugar of traditional fruit snacks. To make applesauce leather simply spread unsweetened applesauce in a thin layer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cook in a very low oven (150-200 degrees) until set, about 4 hours.
Whole Grain Crackers and Hummus. Hummus has become more popular, and more readily available lately, and therefore more affordable. This chickpea-based dip is full of healthy fats and protein. Whole grain crackers are also a simple buy and will add fiber to this meal. If you’re worried that your kids won’t eat whole grain crackers just look for the ones that look “normal” but have the whole grains hiding inside.
Homemade Soup. Homemade soup is a very affordable option for any meal, and it works great in lunchboxes. Just pack hot soup in an insulated container, and it will still be plenty warm by the time your child has lunch at school.
Unique Raw Vegetables. Sure, raw veggies like carrots and celery work in lunches, but why not entice your kids with more unique options? Tasty raw veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, sugar snap peas, and yellow squash are colorful and fun to eat. Many kids that may skip the celery will enjoy these unique raw vegetables.
Bean Wraps. The tortillas return for another affordable and healthy lunch box option. Just wrap beans (chick peas work great) along with some ranch dressing and cheese inside a tortilla for a tasty, inexpensive, healthy main dish for your child’s lunch.
Boiled Eggs. Boiled eggs are a great source of low fat protein. They are very budget-friendly and most kids like them. Boiled eggs are also super easy to pack in lunchboxes and fun for kids to peel and eat.
A budget-friendly lunch doesn’t have to equal an unhealthy lunch. Arm yourself with these lunchbox fillers that won’t break the bank, won’t incite a riot from your kids, and won’t leave them full of empty fat and calories.