If you’re like most families in this economy, being frugal is already something that is a necessity, especially when it comes to expensive items like food. Our team decided we needed to find ways to save on food, without sacrificing variety or flavor. Since school time in autumn means a chill is in the air, kids need to have some hot foods in their lunch to keep them warm. So with that task our team went in search of a full month’s worth of packable lunches for about $50. We’ve also applied another frugal concept—5 ingredient meals (or less)—and came up with this list of flavorful, portable, and crave-able meals for you to send your kids off to school with. Oh, and we wouldn’t be surprised at all if these recipes ended up with you at work as well!
5 SIMPLE INGREDIENTS (OR LESS)
By limiting the ingredient list, you make preparing lunch fast and easy. Employing this concept is a win/win situation, because now most of the recipes are simple enough for you to enlist your children to help make them, and if you’re really efficient, breakfast and lunch can be made simultaneously, and clean up can be done all at once!
Here are some recipes we’ve found that are easily made and adaptable:
- What’s included?
- A link to an adaptable recipe.
- Recipes may need to be scaled down to servings needed, and ingredients may need to be removed if they’re unnecessary.
- Suggestions with 5 ingredients or less take into account pantry items that are present in most homes: flour, sugar, salt, pepper, butter, and oil.
- Why 5 ingredients?
- Limiting the ingredient lists means less to purchase and prepare.
- Fewer ingredients means fewer calories and less fat.
- Why are they great recipes?
- Most of these recipes are freezable.
- All of these recipes are portable: They can be eaten at room temperature or by heating and placing in an insulated Thermos.
- SPINACH, EGGS, CHEESE, MILK, BACON
- You can make all the servings at once and freeze the 3 servings you don’t need right away.
- BLACK BEANS, RICE, TORTILLA, CHEESE
- It’s a filling meal, and you can make both burritos at the same time.
- HAM, CHEESE, WHEAT THINS
- They’re easy to make and fun to eat.
- POTATOES, MILK, CHEESE, BACON
- You can make all the servings of this soup at once, as well, freezing what you don’t need right away.
- YOGURT, FROZEN BERRIES, MILK
- Smoothies are a great end of the week recipe that you can make all at once and then freeze the additional servings.
- HAM, CHEESE, TORTILLA
- Quesadillas are very easy to make and delicious to eat.
- PEANUT BUTTER, JELLY, TORTILLA
- Wraps are also very easy to make and can accommodate a variety of harder to store foods (e.g. rice, beans, sauces, etc.)
- TUNA FISH, PASTA, PEAS, RANCH DRESSING, BOILED EGGS
- You can make this recipe on a Monday and have it again before Friday to increase the longevity of the complete menu. This is listed on the fourth week of are menu calendar because tuna and pasta are dry goods, so you have less chance of food waste.
- Carrots & Ranch Dressing
- Wheat Thins
- Vanilla Yogurt
- Fruit Cup
Of course, these ingredients can be substituted or supplemented by anything you have on hand that you feel would complement the flavors. This calendar-style approach and these quick preparation lists are some things that can help take the daily fuss out of “what should I put in their lunchboxes?” and free up some time to breathe in the morning before you get your kids, or yourself, out the door for the day ahead. We had fun trying to find recipes that were inexpensive, easy, and delicious, and we know that if you and your kids try them, you’ll adapt them to your family’s tastes.
With a little planning and budgeting, you can find recipes tailored to your family by applying the same principles—that will leave your wallets and bellies fuller. What types of recipes have you made your children for autumn? How do you save money on lunches regularly? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!