Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

You can’t escape it. The minute your kids begin school, they realize how much you’ve been holding out on them. Jimmy has a cooler bike; Alice has more clothes; everyone is bringing lunchables to school instead of peanut butter and jelly. If you’re a frugal mom like I am, you’ve probably said something along the lines of “are you kidding?”

There is an easy – and inexpensive – solution: Make your own pre-packaged lunch.

The only cost you’ll incur will be a compartmentalized storage container, but they’re everywhere and usually cost a few dollars. Unlike the store-bought lunchable, your container will be reusable and most likely dishwasher safe. Once you have the container, sending a fun lunch for your child is a snap. Here are two great lunch menus that will make your child the envy of the lunch crowd:

The Make-Your-Own-Pizza Lunch: In one compartment, place four or five round crackers (we like Breton because they’re healthier and a little larger). In another, add turkey pepperoni (a small package of pepperoni will make five or six of these lunches). Depending on the container you buy, you may have room to include a small amount of marinara sauce. Add a bit of shredded mozzarella cheese, and voila! Hot or cold, your child can make their own pizza. Keep a bulk bag of mini dark chocolate bars on hand and send one for dessert.

The Deli Tray: Start with the basic round snack cracker in your container. Buy deli meat (turkey breast is a great, healthy choice) and pre-sliced, low-fat cheese and use a cookie cutter or the top of a small glass to cut them to the perfect circle. Add a packet of mustard if your child likes it and one of your mini candy bars.

With each lunch, you can include apple slices, carrot chips, or even dried banana chips.

Not only will you be able to provide a healthy, fun lunch for your child, but you’ll be spending pennies for each lunch compared with buying pre-made!