It’s August and that familiar time of year when yellow school buses fill the neighborhoods. You’re back to hectic mornings, finding everyone’s books and papers and trying to get them out of the door on time… and you now have 180 lunches to make over the next 9 months if you have 1 child and 720 if you have 4 — But hey, who’s counting? I can’t help you eliminate all of the hectic morning activity, but maybe I can help you with those 720 lunches. Here are a few lunch and snack ideas from Dining On A Dime: Eat Better, Spend Less that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
- To keep drinks cold in lunch boxes, pour a small amount in the bottom of the container (not glass) and then set the cap loosely on top. Put it in the freezer overnight. The next day fill with the rest of the drink. The ice should slowly melt all day long, keeping the beverage cool.
- Have the kids pre-package chips and cookies in bags on the weekends. Store in a basket. Grab one out as needed for lunches.
- Make a large batch of puddings and gelatins on the weekends. Pour into individual containers and refrigerate.
- Save the catsup and mustard packets and napkins you don’t use from the fast food restaurants. Use them in lunch boxes.
- Puddings – sprinkle with marshmallows, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips (for chocolate pudding) or berries (in vanilla pudding)
- Banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread
- Tuna, egg or chicken salad sandwich
- Tuna salad and crackers
- Sandwiches made from last night’s dinner meat (ie. roast beef, chicken ,turkey)
- Ants on a log-celery with peanut butter inside and raisins on the peanut butter
- Hot dogs
- Canned fruit
- Carrot sticks, celery sticks or radishes with Ranch dressing
- Homemade granola bars or cookies
- Apple Oatmeal Bars
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal
- 1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
To microwave: Press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes. Bars will firm as they stand. Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. Makes 24 bars
The following may be used in addition to or to replace chocolate chips:
- 1 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
- 1/2 cup nuts
- 1/2-1 cup raisins, dried apples, apricots
- 1/2 cup fruit preserves
Apple Oatmeal Bars
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups apples, chopped or 3/4 cup apple butter (omit cinnamon)
- 1/2 cup sugar
Combine the first five ingredients, and pat half into an 8×8 inch pan. Layer apples and sugar. Crumble remaining mixture on top. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com . As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income. Tawra and Jill are the authors of several frugal living ebooks,including Dining On A Dime, Groceries On A Dime, and Penny Pinching Mama.