The thought of packing enough food to last a 12 hour school (or work) day can be very daunting. I’m here to give you a few tips & tricks to make the process a little less daunting & even save you some money.
I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s & their prices are significantly lower than other grocery stores so if you shop elsewhere your prices will vary. I also include some ingredients you may not be able to find at other stores so if you’re following this closely, you’ll want to do your shopping at Trader Joe’s as well. A few ingredients did come from Mother’s Market because they have cheaper bulk items like granola, & they carry non dairy yogurt that I cannot find at TJs. You’ll want to research grocery stores in your area to find the best prices for the items you want to purchase.
- Pick foods high in protein to keep you fuller, longer.
- Only pack foods you actually want to eat. Don’t pick foods you THINK you should eat, pick foods you WANT to eat or you’ll end up impulse buying food and wasting all the food you prepped for the day.
- Make sure you have a heavy duty lunchbox to keep your food cool all day. There’s no point prepping all this food for it to spoil before lunch.
- If you’re prepping food for the whole week, make sure to buy versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes for maximum savings.
- For example, buying strawberries and chopping them up the first day saves you time & you can use them in salads, parfaits, or smoothies.
- I like to buy a big bag of arugula that can be used for sandwiches, salads, or pastas.
- Buy snacks you don’t mind eating a few times throughout the week. I really love TJ’s cheddar puffs because a whole bag is only $1.99 & has about 10 cups worth of puffs inside.
- Don’t be afraid to mix store bought & homemade ingredients. This saves you time when prepping & if you shop smart this will save you money.
- This week I bought a pre-made tuna salad that cost $3.99 & got 2 sandwiches out of it. I like my sandwiches pretty packed so if you wanted to stretch your money you could easily get 3 sandwiches out of one container making it only $1.33 for each sandwich.
- Prep as much as you can the night before. Long days usually mean early starts & no one wants to wake up earlier than they have to to get lunch ready.
*I didn’t use the whole container for most of my ingredients for this so I divided up the price for each ingredient depending on how much I used for this specific menu.
Sample Menu: $12.56
- Cashew Yogurt $1.99
- Hempseed Granola $0.35
- Strawberries $1.09
- Tuna & Arugula Sandwich $1.99 + $0.39
- Ciabatta $0.65
- Cherry Tomatoes $0.83
- Sliced Cucumbers $0.39
- ABC + K Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing (apple, beet, carrot, kale) $4.49
- White Cheddar Puffs $0.39
*Prices for each ingredient are listed depending on how much was used.
If you spend a little time prepping before you shop & prepping the night before a busy day, you ensure you’re saving money & eating fresh, delicious food. On average, bringing your own food to school or work can save you about 1/3 of the money you would normally spend on a day of eating out.
Hope this helps!