Packed Lunches - Help and Advice plllleeeeeeeease!

(22 Posts)
cankles Tue 26-Feb-13 14:12:21

Hi, all, not a newbie to mn (sporadically on sn children) and due to my fiscal incompetence have drifted over here to Credit Crunch! have been watching (lurking!) on both February and March's threads with interest - seriously good planning involved!

I wondered could anyone help/advise/save my sanity - packed lunches - I am feeding a teenager, an almost teenage and dd 10 and I end up buying everything that is on offer that costs £1 to bung in their lunch boxes; first of all I am not sure that this is really cheaper than a school dinner, secondly none of them seem to like the same stuff and thirdly it's costing me a fortune.

Suggestions for packed lunches would be brilliant - would it be better economy to buy one of these flasks mentioned in the March (I think it's the March one) that keeps things hot? so that I can send soup, etc?

Cooking and the kitchen is a challenging area for me anyway so any help at all is very gratefully received x

zookeeper Tue 26-Feb-13 16:33:29

Ooooo I just logged on to ask exactly the same and would love some tips. My current find are tortilla wraps which are 67 p for six. I am fed up of spending a fortune on ham (my 11 year old ds won't eat anything but meat) and have just cooked a whole chicken which will hopefully do a dinner for my three and fill sandwiches for wed,
Thursday and fri

zookeeper Tue 26-Feb-13 16:35:28

..the wraps are from Lidl which is also good for fruit, particularly apples.

Oatcakes and cheese and cucumber slices go down well too

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 26-Feb-13 18:37:16

You can buy a gammon joint for cooking and slicing for ham, that would be cheaper. Plus lidl do weekend half price offers on things like sliced cheese that I use for sandwiches.

But, aren't they old enough to do their own meal plan? 5 healthy low cost packed lunches that they all agree on. That should keep them busy for a while.

cankles Tue 26-Feb-13 19:11:49

thank you zookeeper and Fluffycloudland77, Lidl it is then, good to have a few suggestions at least I can vary things a bit; I get so fed up with the same old stuff (although the kids don't seem to want massive variety anyway) but at least something on the healthy side is better than everything being chocolatey.

Fluffycl77, lol, yes, ds1 is old enough but on the gormless side of teenagerdom - he is also a bit crafty as his old granny gives him a few pounds for hoovering and on those days he comes home and his lunch hasn't been touched, grrrrrr ...............

Many thanks x

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 26-Feb-13 19:24:27

There's things like food flasks too, good for leftovers or soup or chill etc.

You knows what's good for healthy packed lunches? Food for life website. Low cost and healthy.

cankles Tue 26-Feb-13 19:37:40

Shall have a look at that website fluffycl77, low cost and healthy is exactly what I'm after - I think dd would take a food flask, she loves soup, ds1 not so sure (ds2 is the easiest to please so no worries with him); thanks for the suggestions! x

pinksomething Tue 26-Feb-13 19:39:42

Mine have leftover pasta or noodles with a bit of salad and ham or cheese. Scones are easy to make as an alternative to bread.

zookeeper Tue 26-Feb-13 20:24:41

Sultanas or raisins decanted into little tubs are popular with two out of my three

Adversecamber Tue 26-Feb-13 20:48:43

Lidl do good chocolate chip brioche roll things that are 99p for six

I also make potato salad and bake potatoes to go with lunches to fill them up
Precooked vacuum packed beetroot is quite cheap as well

When cooking gammon boil it up with veg, remove ham to slice and you have some decent stock and whizz the veg. I often cut one slice of the ham quite thickly to chuck back in the soup.

cankles Tue 26-Feb-13 21:21:56

brilliant suggestions, thank you! I think that I need to be more organised and plan things better as well; the way I shop and cook seems to be really disjointed and clearly I can see now that things need to be be a bit better connected - even planning things a lot better will probably save me money and I won't just grasp the quick £1 packet of something crap to put in their lunchboxes. This is going to take a bit of thought! x

bidibidi Wed 27-Feb-13 07:29:06

Do they eat everything in their lunchbox, is there no waste?

Whenever I closely compare costs my packed lunches cost under £1 and hot dinners are over £2 so no contest.

Your teen actually eats lunch?! Well done.

I have food flasks. I sometimes send in leftovers or pasta and sauce with some protein. Quite often they get half a can of soup and sandwich. Other possible fillings for sandwiches are homemade Tuna mayo or egg mayo. We have quite a few arab shops near us that sell large pitta breads much cheaper than in the supermarkets. Pittas are good for fillings like tuna mayo as contains the filling better.

cankles Wed 27-Feb-13 17:19:32

lol! Bidibidi, hit the nail on the head - there is always waste! However, I don't get time to eat lunch in work so am now bringing the 'waste' in for my break the following day. My teen does not always eat lunch - his granny gives him a few pounds sometimes so I think he treats himself to the canteen in school (a nice panini!) - but he goes to an all boys school so perhaps there aren't as many distractions!! He's a starvo really - he eats more than I thought was possible for someone so skinny!

Chazs, thinking about getting the food flask for dd3, think it would be worth it for her; we had an unfortunate dinner of tuna neopolitan (sp??!!) last week which went down very badly and had to be double binned and put in the outside bin and everyone was cross with me so tuna is off the menu at the moment!!! (even ds2 couldn't eat it, and he would eat anything, he likes sweets that have been on the floor, so has to be watched like a hawk even though he's 12!) but the pitta breads that's a good idea - I will check out prices I think too!

flakjacket Mon 04-Mar-13 09:27:13

I buy chicken or ham when it has been reduced for quick sale (cook it if necessary) then make it into wraps (with pesto etc) and then wrap them in foil and freeze them. We take them out the night before, add a (frozen) yoghurt tube and some fruit. I reckon it works out at about a pound per day per child.

We also do the leftover pasta thing, but they have it cold. Pasta salad too.

The other really cheap one is to go into Tesco Metro at 6ish when they have reduced all the sandwiches to between 10p and 25p and buy up anything that they'll eat that will freeze. Take them out of the packs, into foil annd straight into the freezer.

Bakingnovice Mon 04-Mar-13 09:54:31

Cheese and crackers, rice cakes, cheesesteaks are a good alternative. Also if you ensure any sweet stuff is homemade you can save loads. I bake once a week just for packed lunches. Eg, last night I made (well the kids made whilst i supervised) sultana rock buns which we had for dessert, and the rest go into packed lunches for mon and Tuesday. Thereafter it's fruit in lunches. It costs pennies and tastes good. Also plan leftovers. After a Sunday roast keep some leftover meat to put into sarnies. Or leftover pasta/ rice/ couscous.

Bakingnovice Mon 04-Mar-13 09:55:17

Cheesesteak!!!! Cheese straws that should say.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 04-Mar-13 16:46:29

I've made vegan brownies, they are delicious and cost pennies.

allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/6036/vegan-brownies.aspx.

You would not know they are vegan.

shrinkingnora Mon 04-Mar-13 17:09:29

Freeze slices of homemade pizza - if you make your own from scratch it is incredibly cheap (and yummy).

I also have a batch cooking day every school holiday and make enough flapjack/cake/biscuits to last for the next 6 weeks lunches. I wrap it all into portions and bung it in the freezer. just put it in the lunch box frozen and it will be fine by lunch time. Flapjack is excellent as it's really cheap and filling and freezes well.

Crisps are a bit of a waste of money - they love them but they are not that filling and not that cheap.

What about making your own bread rolls? DD used the recipe on the Leon Cook5 website the other day and made quite wide flat rolls (panini shaped!) which were great for lunches. They were much more filling than the cheapy white ones too.

shrinkingnora Mon 04-Mar-13 17:11:50

Homemade pasties are good too - you can either make or buy the pastry. The best filling we have found so far is finely diced leftover roast meat and veg with a little bit of the leftover gravy in it. Leftover cheesey leeks also make a pretty special pasty!

momb Wed 06-Mar-13 10:55:24

With my two I find that wraps, pitas, french bread go down better than sliced bread. The Lidl wraps are great but also look out for offers on the packs of 8 branded ones in the other supermarkets. i stock them in the freezer and buy the lidl ones of there are no reduced ones about as I do packed for 4 days a week so a packet of 8 id more economical than a pack of 6 where there is a good chance that the rest will dry out over the weekend.
Soups and leftover dinner portions (pasta, chilli etc) are successful for primary age but i find that my ED13 gets stick from her friends if she is too non-conformist so woudl rther have a simple lunch and have warmed up chilli or soup (which she loves) for tea at home.
Cheese and eggs are cheap proteins. I second the 'cook up a gammon' comment above: tesco do 2x800 gammon joints for £6 regularly and I can do a dinner for 4 and lunches for 3 of us all week with one of those.
I serve fresh fruit Mon-Wed or Thurs but when it's all gone they do enjoy a pot of chopped up value tinned peach slices at the end fo the week, especially if I stick in a pointy fork to catch them with.
Mine generally get a wrap with salad and chopped up ham or grated cheese, some fruit, some veg, a cake (may be a chocolate brioche/pain au chocolat from aldi/lidl or may be a homemade traybake, and them some home made microwave crisps, which are slightly more expensive to make than to buy the value ones but are really potatoey and my girls love them. Otherwise it's leftovers (often on a Monday), cold meat, potatoes and salad, or with rice or couscous, or YD does like soup or pasta in a flask on cold days. School dinners cost £22 per week. By switching to packed 4/5 days I'm saving about £9 per week but more importantly they are eating better quality food which I know they like, rather than possibly leaving a school dinner and me not being aware..

racingheart Sat 09-Mar-13 15:34:20

We get a lot of use out of wide necked steel flasks (Sainsbuyr's - about £3 each). I make soup with tomatoes, pasta, sweetcorn etc- very cheap and filling. DCs have that, a roll or chunk of french bread with some cheese, a piece of fruit and a treat (crisps or homemade biscuits/muffins) They also love left over pasta with sauce or chilli or chicken noodle soup.

We always use some of Sunday roast's leftover meat for the first couple of lunches of the week: roast pork sandwiches or chicken wraps.

I've found, even with indulgences like Innocent smoothies when on offer, it's still far cheaper than school dinners, and you know it's food the DC will eat. Also, if they do leave their bananas, I just put them in a smoothie for breakfast the next day, or put their carrot sticks in the guinea pigs a soup, so nothing gets wasted!

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