Frugal Breakfast & Lunch Ideas


The most important meal of the day is breakfast. If you want to cut your grocery bill, look for ways to provide a wholesome meal for less money.

There are so many options for breakfast these days. Kids can choose from hot cereals, cold cereals, breakfast bars, eggs, bacon, sausage, frozen meals, and so on. Breakfast is packaged fast and convenient for the busy consumer. Unfortunately, fast is not cheap.

Decide a week at a time which options you will offer your family. Serving the same things every week or two at a time cuts down on what needs to be purchased. Each weekend, break the monotony by fixing a breakfast meal composed of all the favorites your kids don’t get during the week.

Of course, when buying cold cereal, the best way to save money is to purchase off-brands. Don’t spend the money on cold breakfast cereal with fancy names and lots of sugar. Buy the off-brand versions of the same cereals we grew up eating.

Whenever you can purchase your breakfast staples in bulk. Instead of buying a box or can of oatmeal for four dollars, purchase a ten or twenty-pound bag of rolled oats for a dollar more. A box containing five dozen eggs is more economical than buying a dozen eggs four times a month.

Visit the local farmer’s market to buy your fresh vegetables and fruits. Adding fresh vegetables to omelets provides flavor and texture to the breakfast meal. The farmer’s market sells dried fruits which make a healthy quick breakfast for you and your kids when time is short.

Buy breakfast meats at the butcher shop. The price is better, and you can have the meat sliced for free. This way, you can see what you are getting and choose the best cuts to keep your family happy and healthy.

If you want to offer breakfast bread or muffins to your family, make your own. There are no preservatives in the muffins you make. Use fresh ingredients and substitute applesauce for a portion of the vegetable oil for a healthier choice. Make the muffins ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator or freezer to increase their longevity.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. A little elbow grease and advanced preparation will provide even the busiest families with a hot breakfast each morning.

Lunch Ideas

School lunches cost more each year. Schools offer lots of options, but not all of them are healthy. Making your child’s school lunch is a more economical and healthier alternative.

Kids like school lunches because they are provided with a variety of choices. Homemade lunches can offer the same varieties but with a smaller price tag. You can give your child choices while still not breaking the budget.

First, ask your children about their favorite lunchtime meals. If you send foods your children enjoy, you are more likely to elicit their cooperation when it’s time to help pack and eat the lunches.

If your child likes foods that need refrigeration, be sure to purchase an ice pack for their lunch and an insulated lunch bag. Seal the ice pack in a plastic bag before putting it in the freezer. The plastic bag keeps this fluid from touching your child’s food.

Most school cafeterias have microwave ovens available for student use. Dinner leftovers make excellent lunch fare. Invest in microwave-safe bowls to store your child’s lunch.

Fresh fruit offers a sugar boost that is better than a candy bar. Include a cup of fresh strawberries, apples, oranges, or whatever fruit is in season. If they need more sweetness, add a cup of yogurt for fruit dip. One fun option is to freeze the fruit the night before and put it into the lunch bag still frozen. That way, your child will enjoy “slushie” fruit for lunch.

Kids won’t eat anything that requires too much work. Cut their peanut butter and jelly sandwich into bite-sized pieces for easier handling. If your kids are older and health-conscious, serve a turkey and veggie delight in pita bread. Soft chicken tacos or ham roll-ups are delicious also.

If your kids don’t want the traditional milk at lunch, they may trip to the soda machine. To avoid this, invest in bottles of fruit juices. Make sure that the juices are 100% juice and not mostly sugar. Another alternative is water bottles and flavored drink packets. Crystal Light and Kool-Aid brands offer drink mix packets that are perfect for a water bottle.

Save money on utensils and napkins. Buying plastic forks and napkins seems like a good idea, but kids throw them away after each meal. Let your kids use the utensils and paper products provided by the school.

School lunches can be delicious, nutritious, and more affordable if they are made at home. Provide your children’s favorites without the preservatives and added fat.

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