Sunday, 16 September 2012

Packed Lunch or School Dinners?

Sunday Afternoon, the children are happily entertaining themselves, I have spent a lazy day snooping around the Internet and enjoying doing nothing very much, but the hours are ticking past and I really need to start thinking about what to make for tea, and then onto making sure everything is ready for school tomorrow.

Up until the start of the new school year I always sent mine for school dinners, nice and easy,needed little forward planning and they didn't complain about them, however costing £1.90 a day each , when you have 3 children it is not cheap.

So when Chloes best friend told her she would be having pack lunches this year Chloe decided she wanted them too, and what one does the other have to follow, so this year they have all opted for packed lunches, and for the past 2 weeks I have been making up sandwiches and trying to find extras to add into their lunch bag.

The general thought amongst parents is that sending a pack up is cheaper than a school dinner, but I am not so sure, so I thought I would price things up and see which comes out more affordable.

So a school Lunch costs on average £1.90 a day or £9.50 a week per child, multiple that by three and I was handing over £28.50 each week for school dinners.

So how much have I spent on Pack up? Has it been a money saving venture? Well I'm not so sure.


This week along with our food shop I brought extra pack up supplies, I think I am pretty frugal and went bargain hunting, returning home with several loafs of bread 60p each so £2.40 for 4 loafs, tins of tuna for the fillings £4. 3 tins of sweetcorn £1,  Mayonnaise £1.39, mini Cheddar snack packs £1.89 for 15, Chocolate swiss rolls £1.60p for 24 mini rolls, cucumber 80p,  carrots £1, apples £1 grapes and strawberries £3, and 2 x cereal bars packs £2 for 12

Giving me enough food for 3 pack ups consisting of Tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches, (for 3 days and the other 2 days will have whatever filling I can find - jam, the night befores chicken left over, cheese etc) pack of mini Cheddars, cereal bar or mini chocolate roll and some fruit, carrot or cucumber each day.

giving me a total of just over £20

pack lunch idea

Great so that's a saving of nearly £10

But the problem here is that all this snack food which is sat in the cupboards is already getting picked at, the fruit is not likely to last until the end of the week, and the mini Cheddars are dwindling quicker than I can keep track as for the chocolate swiss rolls, well they will be lucky if they last till Monday! The unfortunate problem is that the local shops do not have the same products for the bargains I found in the bigger stores, and had I of shopped locally and brought the same things I could easily of doubled my spend with a loaf of bread locally costing £1.35 and Tuna is nearly double too, so come Thursday morning and the supplies are limited I am most likely going to have to make a mad dash to grab some extra pack up supplies and will easily spend the £10 I had saved to see us through the week.

Am I doing something wrong? What do you do for pack up lunches? is there some way to send a sandwich box which is cheap but filling? Am I simply sending too much? (Even tho everything gets ate and they still come home hungry!)

How can I stop the goodies being ate between making the lunches, normally I simply don't buy the easy to grab snacks so they are not their to be ate,but when there in the house everyone wants them!

Should  I try to convince them to go back to school dinners? If you are spending the same on pack up then maybe having a cooked meal which is more varied is better?

Update thanks to Midlife SingleMum reminding me in the comments: Please note the daily allowances for Tuna due to Mercury is advised no more than 4 medium cans per person per week, I mix up one can tuna and 1 small can of sweetcorn with mayonnaise then spread between three sandwiches and split between three children, 3 times a week because it is my daughters favourite filling. See the Food Standards Agency for more information about safe levels of tuna. Fish is a great protein source but as with everything, variety and moderation is always the key.

28 comments:

  1. I must admit I had been wondering whether or not it was actually cheaper to have a packed lunch or not. Big man had a dinner at preschool and it also helped him eat a bigger range of food. Will have to see how much I spend now.

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    1. I think most people think dinners are more expensive but i guess thats because you have to pay in a lump sum, but really you spend the same roughly on a pack up, so really having a cooked dinner is maybe better?

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  2. tbh sarah i dont think there is anything in it and the nice thing is if they have already had a dinner they dont actually need a cooked meal when they get home ours down here are 2.20 a day gulpppp but at senior school tbh they really need 3.00 a day so.......

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    1. it seems alot doesn't it-I really don't want to be spending £30 a week on dinners, but then I don't like running out of supplies mid week and havign to go out and spend an extra £20 to get us through... Like you say theres not much in it, I might send them back school dinners after the half term in October, gotta get use out of the lunch bags seems as I brought them and they weren't cheap either!!

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  3. I think works out similar really- though the teen needs £3 for cooked lunch at school. I have the same issue as you- the lunchbox bits vanish!

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    1. its awful isn't it you buy the supplies and watch them vanish before Monday!

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  4. I have found the same problem. Although 3 of my kiddies are teenagers and the youngest is 11, Therefore they eat and eat forever. Either way, if they had packed lunch or school dinner, they would still be ravenous when they got home. The cost is about the same no matter what I do. The supplies also dwindle by the end of the week, so much so that I have resorted to putting the crisps in a bin bag down the shed...

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    1. I may have to do the bag in the shed thing too! my other half is the worst he will just happily polish off a whole bumper pack of crisps without thinking, and the children never seem full no matter how much Igive them!

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  5. My little guy is only in Kindergarten, but we have a hot lunch or packed lunch choice to make on a daily basis. We had decided to let him pick a hot lunch once per week, but he has not been eating his packed lunch, so I stopped letting him have hot lunch because I can't monitor what he eats. I don't mind the cost if I know he eats, but I just can't see that he would eat a lot of hot lunch when he barely nibbles his packed lunch...

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    1. Do the teacher keep check on how much of the hot lunch the kids eat? my youngest came hoem one day last week having only ate the nice bits and not even opened the sandwich bag I told him sternly that if he did that again he would get nothing but sandwiches- hes ate everything since! When he was dinners he said he would eat everythign and often come home with a sticker because the dinner ladies don'tlet them go till they have ate 'enough'

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  6. I suppose I was a bit mean with mine, they never had choc bars or crisps, just a round of sandwiches (peanut butter, boiled egg, ham or chicken mostly) and a piece of fruit (banana, apple), and I used to make flapjacks for them too and sometimes fairy cakes (now called cupcakes). Cheaper than buying crisps and such.
    Joy xx

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    1. I may have to start baking, although I'm not a great cook! Flapjack however I can do which is a great easy healthy snack isn't it!

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    2. I used wholemeal flour, honey instead of syrup, and brown sugar instead of white, then they are even healthier.

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  7. Your article is really interesting. I have come to the conclusion that a school dinner is cheaper for the same reasons as you - my supplies get eaten in the evenings when my other half gets peckish! Also, I am quite conscious of providing protein in the kids' pack ups, which, unless you put in a boiled egg (which isn't my kids' favourite)or processed meat (which can be salty and full of fat and additives}you are left with cheese and chicken or fish which is pricey! I've suggested bean or lentil salad to my little darlings which is full of protein and cheap too but you can guess the response I got! Ahhhh well!

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    1. Thanks for poping over here Becky, Mine all love tuna and sweetcorn sarnies so thats a great protein boost, but I agree it is expensive, the spend of £20 above is only because I have been bargain hunting if I had brought the same things from my local shop then it would have been nearly double!! the Tuna would be £7 for 4 tins, the bread £1.35 a loaf etc etc

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  8. I think Joy has the right idea - make biscuits or your own bars which is a lot cheaper. Make a big batch and hide them in the freezer in packs of three to be taken out the night before so they can't get at them in the evenings. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and hummus and corn (you can make your own humus). They say you should go easy on the tuna because of the mercury. My mother used to make jelly in little tupperware containers that fit in the sandwich boxes as a treat for dessert. Also cucumber and/or carrot sticks are filling, healthy and not too expensive. Once a week you could give them chicken if you can save some over from the weekend. Dairylea triangles in sandwiches or on their own are cheaper than the babybels I think. Just a few ideas, I hope it helps.

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    1. Thank you, will have to check up how much Tuna is too much, but all good ideas re the jelly, baking and freezing in threes especially would be a way to prevent eating my supplies!

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  9. Hi great post very interesting. Even though Aaron is only 2 I really enjoyed reading it.
    I met the lady who runs this site: http://lunchboxworldblog.blogspot.co.uk/
    at Blog Camp last year and she is awesome. Maybe connect with her for ideas.
    She is lovely
    Liska
    xxx

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    1. Sarah,
      there's a great PDF here:
      http://www.lunchboxworld.co.uk/lbw_hints_tips_A_Week%27s_Menu_of_Healthy_Lunch_Boxes_For_Kids.html?story=1604

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    2. Thank you Liska, off to look :) xx

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    3. aww thanks Liska! Was great meeting you at Blog Camp and then again at Britmums this year! This is a great article and my hubbie is the same. If there are any FUN Friday treats in the house, unless I hide them, he eats them! Keep an eye on our Lunchbox World facebook page as we are putting together some more menu planners over the summer holidays. As a mum I know how easy it is to run out of ideas or rather to stop getting in that rut. We're always rounding up other lunch box ideas and images we find across the web so do take a look at our pinterest boards as well (that's called lunchboxworld too!) Let me know if there's anything specific you are after and we're here to help xxx

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  10. I also make things to go in lunchboxes. Hot dinners at school are £2.10 per day and there is no way I spent £10.50 a week on his packed lunches!
    I make mini muffins and flapjack to freeze, so there is no temptation to pick at them in the evenings. I bulk bake so it works out cheaper and then fill the freezer.

    I also buy a pack of value rolls from Morrisons (about 35p for 12) and fill them when I buy them...jam, cheddar, dairylea, ham, mashed banana, marmite, chocolate spread, hummus, and then freeze each wrapped individually. Occasionally I'll do him a fresh sandwich with boiled egg, tuna mayo or cheese/cucumber.

    I do little pots of fruit/veg/cheese too - just raisins, cubes of cheese, grapes, veg sticks. Mini loves babybels, cheese strings and crisps - but I only ever buy what's on offer, and stock up on particular favourites when they are cheap.

    If you put the cakes and rolls in straight from the freezer in the morning, they keep the lunchbox cool and defrost in time for lunch too.

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    1. I had never really thought about bulk baking and freezing until it was suggested here and I will deffinately be giving that ago, also freezing the sandwiches seems a sensible idea, I have some of the morrisons rolls in the freezer that I brought this week, unfilled at the moment, but my daughter isn't overly kean on bread rolls and prefers sandwiches. All good ideas and advice tho Thank you x

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    2. I also keep lots of pitta bread, bagles and other bakery items like wraps in the freezer to vary the lunch box from bread all the time. The current favourite with my kids is melted cheese on the top of pitta, then a small snack pot full of carrot sticks, celery and cucumber for that extra crunch. I also find in this heat bread goes off really quickly. xxx

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  11. My packed lunches come in way under the cost of a school dinner. I include a sandwich, yoghurt (tube ones are great as you can freeze them and they then keep the lunch box cool), mini pack of raisins or carrot/cucumber, a drink and one treat (which I sometimes buy, sometimes bake). I am very strict with the packed lunch goodies and they are kept separately from the rest of the food. I also shop in Aldi which saves me a fortune. I worked out that my lunches come in at around £1 each compared to £2.10 for a school dinner.

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  12. As one person previously mentioned there is no need for children to have another cooked meal in the eve. Therefore I figure if I give my 3 sandwiches, pizza, soup, baked beans on toast, pastries,crackers with bits n bobs instead it must be cheaper. They will practically have the same sort of food just their dinner for lunch and their lunch for their dinner. I did work out its about the same cost of £2 per day for either packed lunch or school version. The food bill then must come down if not buying enough for big family meals 5 days per wk. Hopefully well I will do a trial run and see however elder 2 would like to eat with their friends who are packers hmm. Goodluck others and welcome any other tips.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As one person previously mentioned there is no need for children to have another cooked meal in the eve. Therefore I figure if I give my 3 sandwiches, pizza, soup, baked beans on toast, pastries,crackers with bits n bobs instead it must be cheaper. They will practically have the same sort of food just their dinner for lunch and their lunch for their dinner. I did work out its about the same cost of £2 per day for either packed lunch or school version. The food bill then must come down if not buying enough for big family meals 5 days per wk. Hopefully well I will do a trial run and see however elder 2 would like to eat with their friends who are packers hmm. Goodluck others and welcome any other tips.

    ReplyDelete
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