5 Budgeting Tips for School Lunches From a Mom of Four


It’s that time of year again.

The big yellow buses return to our neighborhoods, the closed sign goes up on the pools, and the dozens of Pinterest posts get shared with bento box lunch ideas. And if you’re a mom of multiples, those perfectly made lunches can get costly. Here are a few budgeting tips for those back-to-school lunches. 

1. Only Pack What Your Kid Will Eat

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the pictures and videos on social media of fancy school lunches. I have not one, but four picky eaters at home. For example, my kids will not eat chickpea homemade bread. So, save your money, and only send food that won’t be wasted. If that means they take dinosaur nuggets and yogurt for lunch, so be it. 

2. Clip Coupons for Favorites

One of my sons loves tacos. He could probably live off tacos if I let him. If your kids have favorite foods that you know they will always want to have, keep a list of the items you will need to make these meals (this goes for dinner too!). Having this list handy, look for coupons or sales for these items. This goes hand in hand with my next tip. 

3. Buy in Bulk 

Whether it’s fruity drink pouches or snack-sized goldfish, buying these items in bulk comes out cheaper than buying them individually every week. Still look out for sales when you can, or catch deals at places like Aldi that you just can’t beat, and grab multiples. Shopping at Sam’s Club and Costco is a great way to buy in bulk and save money. 

4. Use Rebate Apps

I never really used these until my third child went to school. I now realize how much money I missed out on not using a rebate app. They can be a tip time-consuming to use but can be worth it in the end. Not only can you get money back on items you already buy, but they often run promotions for back-to-school or holidays, such as Thanksgiving. I like using ibotta and Fetch rewards, but there are a ton out there that could help you earn back a bit of money. 

5. Order Pickup or Delivery

I recently did my entire grocery shopping list from my couch. Doing pickup or delivery really helps you stay on budget. When going to the grocery store, especially with kids, you always spend more than you intended. Having a set list of what you will need for those weekly lunches and only buying what is on the list, makes such a huge difference. Save even more by doing pickup to avoid the delivery fees and tip. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of our little ones heading back to school. Fancy lunches may seem like a good idea, but it’s better to make a lunch your kiddo will eat and one that doesn’t hurt your budget. Add a special note or picture to make that first day of school lunch special!

What tips would you add to this list?


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