Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Save Money by Making Your Own Lunchables

Everytime I go to the Grocery store my kids beg me for lunchables. I think the real appeal is that they get to participate in making their own luch and they are so much more interesting to them than a plain old sanwich in a baggie. I don't care for them because they are too expensive (especially with 5 children) and full of preservatives. However since I want my kids to enjoy their lunch enough to eat it and I want them to have a healthy lunch. Here are a few ideas to copy some of the Lunchables for your child to take to school:

Start with the packaging, as every retailer knows packaging sells-Buy colorful plastic containers with compartments, cute napkins and a reusable sport drink bottle. You can find a lot of these items at your local dollar store. Look for some of the little covered containers for sauces too. If you can't find these you can always save these up from take-out meals. Kids want their lunch to look better than the kid's next to them. If you don't already have some get some cookie cutters in different shapes these come in handy for cutting the bread into appealing shapes.

Lunchable #1 Pizza:

Toast whole Wheat Bread until lightly toasted (this will keep it from getting soggy). Cut a round or star shaped piece from it. In seperate small lidded containers pack small amounts of your favorite spaghetti sauce, shredded cheese and a couple of slices of pepperoni. Make sure you add a snack size treat and their favorite juice in a small sports bottle. They have lots of fun with this one.

Lunchable #2 Maxed Out Nachos

Although not my top choice for being a healthy lunch choice. Homemade Nachos are definitely a step above the prepackaged version. This one is super easy. Put a handful of tortilla chips into the largest compartment. Fill smaller containers with salsa, cheese use another container for shredded lettuce and tomatoes, the storebought lunchables doesn't have these so this is a great nutritous addition. Juice in the sports bottle and a small airhead candy and you have Maxed Out Nachos!

Lunchables #3 Chicken Dunks

Simply cook 5 breaded chicken nuggets in microwave, allow to cool place in container along with a small container of ketchup or favorite dipping sauce. The treat for this one is a few starburst candies. Don't forget the juice.

I know this seems like it would take a lot of extra time you may not have but you can pack up two or three of these ahead of time and keep them refrigerated. Check out the nutritional information on prepackaged lunches and I think you'll agree it's worth the extra time and effort!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Take The Brown-Bag Challenge

Most People buying their lunch at work spend an average of $7-$10 per day. Multiply that by a five day work week and we're talking about an expense of around $50.00 per week. That's $200 a month. The Brown Bag challenge is this: I want you to replace your lunch for a week with a lunch brought from home.Add up your savings. The average cost of a brown bag lunch being $3.00 thats a monthly savings of $140!! Multiply that by 12 months and you just put an extra $1680 in your bank account. For those of us that are struggling to pay off debt this a a great solution to where the money will come from. Simply apply your savings towards making an extra payment and become that much closer to being debt-free. I never reall realized how much my husband spent on lunch until I sat down and thought about ways to save money. The scary thing is in households where both people work the cost for eating out at lunch is even more. Drop me a comment and tell me how you are doing in your own brown bag challenge!

Reusable Lunch Bags

Following the interests of another blog of mine The Trashy Side .I am reposting this great idea that I found on Martha Stewart. She suggests using oilcloth but I think that the vinyl tablecloth fabric they sell at Walmart on the huge rolls would work equally well. If you have access to an embroidery machine they could be personalized easily.You can find the instructions and free pattern for making these reusable lunch bags here

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Freezable Tuna Sandwiches

I don't know about you but one of the things I can't seem to find enough time to do in the morning is find enough time to make a really good sandwich for my husband's lunch, Erik loves tuna fish so when I came across this delicious variation which can be made ahead and frozen, I had to pass it along. You can pop them in the lunch bag still frozen in the morning and by lunchtime they'll be ready to eat. This recipe is the creation of Linda Larsen and is found in her cookbook Everything Meals for a Month.

You can also form and make these sandwiches to eat immediately!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons whipped salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
1 (6 ounce) can chunk tuna, drained
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices whole wheat bread
Preparation:In medium bowl, combine cream cheese and whipped salad dressing and beat until smooth. Stir in tuna, onions, carrot, and lemon juice and blend well to combine.
Spread softened butter thinly on each slice of bread and spread tuna filling to make sandwiches. Wrap in freezer wrap and place in gallon freezer bag. Label sandwiches and freeze.
To thaw, let thaw overnight in refrigerator, or add to brown bag lunches in the morning and let thaw until lunchtime. Make sure sandwiches are eaten within 2 hours of being completely thawed.