How to save money when packing your student’s lunch

Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Aryn Degrave shares some tips for parents to pack balanced meals that won’t break the bank.
A Hy-Vee dietitian talks about ways families can save money when packing school lunches.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 8:49 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As families gear up to get back into the morning lunch-making routine, many caregivers are hoping to save money at the grocery store.

Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Aryn Degrave shares some tips for parents to pack balanced meals that won’t break the bank.

1. Prioritize Meal Planning

Make your weekly shopping trip more efficient by planning meals in advance to know what ingredients you need. Before you even get to the grocery store, double check your fridge and pantry to see what’s running low and to ensure you don’t double-up on items. By planning in advance, you won’t be tempted to add to your cart something that may go to waste later in the week.

“Try to not deviate away from that and pack those lunches exactly to your list,” recommended Degrave. “That can save a great amount of money and you’re probably buying a little bit more in bulk, which is a great option as well.”

2. Consider Grocery Delivery or Curbside Pick-Up

Ordering groceries online or through your store’s app may help ensure you don’t add any impulse buys and only get what you need. You will also be saving some time shopping which may buy you more time to pack or prep.

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season not only taste better, but are often...
Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season not only taste better, but are often lower-priced or on sale. (Courtesy: USDA-Ken Hammond)

3. Shop in Season

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in-season not only taste better, but are often lower-priced or on sale. Make sure food doesn’t go to waste by prepping it for the lunch bag when you get home.

“After you go grocery shopping, go ahead and put clean up your veggies and fruits put those into smaller packages so they’re ready to go for your week,” said Degrave. “That’s the easiest way to get those nutritious foods into your lifestyle without making it be a big deal.”

4. Shop Generic

Shopping generic for your pantry staples, canned goods, dairy products, and frozen items is a good way to build out your weekly meals without overspending.

5. Focus on Nutrient-Rich foods

Fill up on foods that will keep you full for longer. Items like eggs, oatmeal, beans, brown rice, nonfat Greek yogurt, and multigrain pasta are some examples of inexpensive nutrient-dense foods that you can plan satisfying meals around.

Generic coupons
Generic coupons(MGN)

6. Clip Coupons

Flip through the weekly catalog or look for coupons online as a way to save by buying what’s on sale that week. Planning your lunches or snacks around that is a good way to save money while shopping.