6 Doable Ways to Get Christmas Cash Fast

Aak! it’s already November and if your social media is full of moms bragging about their Christmas shopping escapades while you’re still wondering how you’re going to avoid Christmas debt, you might be feeling a little discouraged.  No worries!  Here are 6 ways to get Christmas money fast that will have you singing “Joy to the World” in no time.

  1. Donate Plasma to get paid and save a life at the same time. Plasma is the clear portion of the blood and is used for preemie babies, burn victims, hemophiliacs and other cool medical rescues.  Since they separate the blood and give you back your red blood cells, it is safe to donate twice a week.  Most centers pay on a reloadable visa card and pay more for the 2nd visit per week than the first to encourage you to keep coming back.  My husband and I both donated when we had an income crisis a few years ago and together earned $450 a month for a few hours a week of our time.  They had free wifi for us while we were there and I enjoyed some downtime surfing Pinterest or watching a movie. If you try it, you’ll need to call or go on their website to schedule your first appointment since it takes a bit longer for the full health screening.  Always take a blanket and a stress ball to squeeze with you (it helps the blood flow faster and those places are COLD.)   And have something to drink and a snack in the car for your drive home. (Our center wouldn’t allow us to bring food or drink into the building.)   The center will guide you on your eligibility to donate. Some medications, health conditions, recent tattoos or piercings or trips outside the country will disqualify donors.

2. Host a Mom’s Night Out. Plan some easy kid’s crafts, homemade pizza, games, and a movie for a whole pile of kids and announce you are open for business among your social circle for date night drop offs.  Charge what you like, but you might consider $15 per child for a 3 hour window.  If you want to give multi-child discounts, it’s totally up to you.

3. Clear out some Clutter. Before the season brings a whole host of new things into your home, clear out what’s not useful to you anymore. Craigslist is still a great option for selling your stuff, but there’s also OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace.   Beyond furniture, people also use them to buy household items like linens and decor, clothing, baby gear, and household items.  Some people are even selling their extreme coupon hauls there.

4. Hire out for No Judgement Emergency Cleaning. Most charge around $20 an hour and work fast. You could even have an option for the jobs most people hate:  bathroom cleaning and kitchen floor mopping.  I’ve hired people before and I became frustrated if my helper wasn’t self-directed.  If you hire out, bring your own supplies and have a checklist for yourself, so you know exactly what to do without being told.  You can present the checklist ahead of time so your client knows what to expect.

5. If you have at least a bachelor’s degree you can teach English to Chinese students online.  The pay is between $14 and $22 an hour, but requires a 6 month minimum commitment.  You can find out more here.  I have a personal friend who is doing this right now and LOVES IT. She offered to help guide you through the process.  Shoot me an email at angela@groceryshrink.com and I can forward it on to her.

6. Monetize your skills.  Do you crochet? Sew? Paint? Bake? Decorate? Organize? Extreme Coupon? Style hair or apply makeup? Write in cool fonts? What do people constantly ask you about for advice? Offer group classes and make sure to charge enough to cover supplies plus your time.

The ideal way to plan for Christmas, is to set aside a little bit every month.  We take ours out in cash on pay day and put it in an envelope.  If you set aside $50 a month, by the end of the year you’ll have around $600 for gifts in a sinking fund.   Need more?  Saving $75 a month will get you $900 and $100 a month builds up to $1200.  When budgeting for Christmas, I often think about the gifts and forget to plan for sending cards, special foods and clothing. The sinking fund should be large enough to cover all those things.  How much should your Christmas budget be anyway?  Find out more here and here.

 

Homemade Pumpkin Bagels Video Tutorial

This isn’t a new recipe to this blog, but it’s still one of my favorites. The soft inside and chewy outside make a lovely grab and go breakfast. I originally wrote this post in 2015. Grant is now in 1st grade! I don’t regret spending that last year with him, and even though the kids are all in school now, we decided my time is still best spent at home helping things run smoothly for everyone.

Tee hee.  This video makes me giggle.  When I watch the replay and Grant (4) dumps the pumpkin on the counter, I roll on the floor laughing and then back it up and watch it again.  Maybe because I was there for the original moment, trying to balance a camera and helping Grant with the cooking at the same time.  How the pumpkin on the counter shocked us both and I got the giggles, which I tried to hold in making a weird background noise.  Grant, relieved that I wasn’t upset said, “We better clean that up.”   Which made me giggle all the more.

After we made quite a mess but got most of the stuff in the bowl, I said “What should we do now?”  I thought Grant would say, “Let’s clean up!”  but he said “SMILE.”  Which made me giggle all over again.

This boy is the joy of my days.  The sleepless nights, messes, tantrums, and battles are all worth it.  I had the option to spend this year in a classroom blessing other people’s children, while I earned money that my family needed.  I would have had to let someone else be with Grant during the day, and I just couldn’t.  It’s his last full year at home and I fought for my chance to be the one to clean up his messes and talk him down from the ledge of toddler insanity. It was selfish and selfless at the same time.  He needs me as much as I need him and there’s something priceless about that.

For those who prefer a written recipe here you go:

Pumpkin Bagels

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Set for the dough cycle.  When the cycle is ended, divide the dough into 10 balls.  Poke your finger through the center and make a large hole.  Let the bagels rise for an hour or until doubled. Pour 8 cups of water into a stock pot, boil bagels for 1 1/2 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a dish towel to drain.  Place bagels on a greased baking sheet.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.  Cool on a wire rack.

This is day 6 of 31 Days of Pumpkin Recipes

1 Pumpkin spice mix

2 Homemade pumpkin puree

3 Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

4 Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

5 Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

6 Pumpkin Bagels

7 Butternut Chicken Stew

8 Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

9 Healthy Pumpkin Pecan Scones

10 Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

11 Pumpkin Muffin/Drop Cookie Mix

12 Easy Pumpkin Cake

13 Pumpkin Dump Cake

14 Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

15 Pumpkin Mousse

16 Pumpkin Cheesecake

17 Pumpkin Latte

18 Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

19 Pumpkin Chili

20 Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

21 Pumpkin Biscuits

22 Maple Pumpkin Butter

23 Stuffed Sugar Baby Pumpkins

24 Pumpkin Pancakes

25 Pumpkin Waffles

26 Pumpkin English Muffins

27 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

28 Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

29 Pumpkin Biscotti

30 Pumpkin Caramel Monkey Bread

31 Impossible Pumpkin Pie

 

Pumpkin Spice Mix

At the last minute, I decided to participate in the Write 31 Days blog challenge.  I participated two years ago and loved how it challenged me to post more often.

I took the year off last year, but am jumping back in this time with 31 Pumpkin Recipes :).  Some are recipes I’ve had in my rotation for a bit, and some are brand new being tested in my kitchen as we speak.   Some are savory, but most are sweet.

Before we can cook much with pumpkin, we need a good pumpkin spice recipe and I’m proud to offer you my own blend, which has gotten thumbs up all around from my recipe testers.

This recipe makes enough to fill a 2 1/2 oz spice jar, or you can quadruple it for a pint canning jar.  All spices are their ground versions.

4 Tbs Cinnamon

Read more

Oops, I meant to just drop off a donation

This decade of our lives, I’m calling our “construction phase”  has left me searching for ways to make the house feel put together and comfortable enough for guests, even though most places don’t have baseboards, outlet covers, real furniture or paint.   While we’re earning a living and enjoying our family we’re also dragging this whole remodel thing out.   I’ve finally made peace with it.

Last fall I started building bookcases with doored bottoms and hutch tops.  You can see more about that here. I got the bottom frames done before our garage sale.  Then I put away my wood working tools to clean out the garage for the sale.  Here we are a year later and I finally drug everything back out and cut the middle shelves.  In the mean time, I styled the tops of the unpainted, undoored cabinets like they were supposed to be just the way they are.

A few weeks ago, I dropped off a donation at the thrift store.  I meant to just drop and go, but way up high on the back wall there was a HUGE mirror with a nicely arched top.  I took one glance and thought, “That’s way out of my price range.”  I turned to go, but my heart wouldn’t let me leave without touching it.  I felt a little guilty asking the woman at the register for help to get it down, since I knew I wouldn’t be buying it. It was lighter than I expected.  The frame was made to look like wood but was molded plastic.  I looked for the wax pencil marking on the back….$15. What?!!!!  Sold.

I meant to paint it, to cover up the off center 1970s decal at the top.  But from a distance the darker wood warms up the space and the decal is hardly noticeable. It’s so much easier to love it how it is #lazybutton.

  1.  The lower half of the built ins hold my music.  Each file box is labeled with chalkboard tape and a wet erase chalk marker with things such as “voice lesson” “Trios” “Christmas music” etc.  Doors will eventually hide it for a less cluttered look. The left side is for vocal music and the right side is for instrumental music. We are using these plans from Ana-White and Shanty-2-Chic, just narrowing the dimensions to fit our space.
  2. The vase and stems are from Ikea.
  3. The wood ampersand is from Hobby Lobby.  It is 50% off at least one week each month.
  4. The tall candle holder is from Big Lots and the small bowl is a planter from a thrift store. I filled the bowl with found pinecones and the candle holder holds a large moss ball from hobby Lobby.
  5. We made the wood trim around the windows from 1x select pine boards from Home Depot.  Using this tutorial from iamahomemaker.com and this one from Blesserhouse.com.  We put an extra board on the top of the windows to beef it up a little, but made sure to leave room for crown molding.
  6. The wooden tool box and 3 faux plants inside are from Ikea.
  7. I made the magnolia wreath, tutorial here.
  8. The leather chair is a find from Craigslist.  It belongs in my husband’s basement office after I refinish the leather into a better color.  But the office is too big of a mess to hold it even temporarily right now, so it lives here.  Our piano teacher has a comfy seat waiting for him when we start lessons again :).
  9. The pom pom throw is a DIY crochet border added to a cheap Ikea throw.  Tutorial here. Plus every single pillow and cover is from Ikea, because I’m addicted and they are affordable, comfy and cute.
  10. The rug from RugsUSA also belongs in Darren’s basement office, but it’s living here for now.
  11. This is our old music storage system, a lateral file from Home Depot.  I have too much music for it now, and it’s destined to be painted and live somewhere else at some point. I’m in process of organizing and moving the music in it to the new file boxes–hence the stacks everywhere.  The white baskets underneath are from Target. There’s one for each child to hold their music books for lessons, but the system has become corrupted. They now hold the music I’ve been too lazy to put away properly and need an overhaul.
  12. These lamps were a garage sale find and had too small shades.  I grabbed some cheap new shades at Ikea and upped their impact.  I’m tempted to paint the bases also, maybe a nice deep navy.

For help decluttering, reorganizing and styling, you should check out Havenly’s Design Services.

As I was writing down all the sources for these products, I realized how overwhelming it can be to put a room together.  I’ve gathered these items over the course of 6 years, just one piece here and there using my little monthly home budget and money I earned at our annual garage sales.  Nothing about the room is the way I want it to be permanently, but it’s functional for now and even pleasant to sit and visit with a friend there.

How about you?  Is there any room in your home that isn’t quite finished but is good enough for now?  Or tell me about a time you used something you already had in a new way to brighten up a space.

Why we didn’t buy the floor

Oh Friend, I’ve struggled a bit in writing to you.  I’ve been wanting to find something that truly benefits you instead of just sharing what’s on my heart, and every post I’ve started this week has put me to sleep.   So back to my heart it is.

Remember 18 months ago, when I shared some inspiration photos about our basement here and here?  Well, I finally starting tearing the walls down to start the process.  Specifically this one beside the stairs that will become the kitchen area:

I was proud of myself for disconnecting the light and switches :).  Next I need to learn how to shut off the water and pull the sink out.  In the new plan I’d like to block off that door on the left and put a full size refrigerator there.  Right now the fridge is in the garage, but it will be much more convenient here and give us more space to work in the garage.  We’re not really moving forward with this project, but some of the demo was necessary to be able to access plumbing and electrical for our master bedroom project.  And Darren said I could move forward with any of our projects as long as whatever I did was free.

I had such a productive labor day weekend, but part of me is a little sad.  You see, the flooring I picked out for this space was almost $1 off per square foot the the holiday sale.  It’s the first time in 18 months that I’ve seen it go on sale, and I didn’t buy it.  I felt a bit of anguish at the time but it was minor compared to the disappointment I feel today now that the sale is over.  When the waves of disappointment come, I tell myself all the good reasons why we didn’t buy the floor.

  1.  We need to make sure we have enough money to finish our bedroom project.
  2. We weren’t positive that rigid flooring is the best option for the basement.  I’ve heard it’s awesome for smoothing out imperfections, but others have said the imperfections might weaken the floor and cause cracking and flexible is the better choice.
  3. We aren’t ready to install the flooring yet and at the rate we’re going it could be a year or more longer.  That means we’d have to find a place to store the flooring and hope it didn’t get damaged before we could use it.
  4. Since we need to wait to install the floor, we might find another good deal or an even better fit for our area, OR my taste my change completely and I’ll choose something else.

 

I’m feeling a little better now that I wrote that all down.  There were definitely more reasons to not buy the floor.  The only reason to buy the floor was saving $1,000 with the sale, but there’s nothing that says we won’t find another sale when we’re more ready.

In the meantime, I’m taking the studs and pine board paneling that is too short to use in the reconstruction phase and using it to turn this front closet into a bench with drawers.  Like this one from the House of Smiths.

To finish it all out, I’ll only need to buy a few trim boards and a piece of foam for the bench cushion.

How about you, have you ever bought something because it was a great sale and then regretted it?  Or didn’t buy something even though it was a great sale and wondered what might have been?  I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

 

 

Easier Prep Ahead Meals

Eating at home instead of in restaurants is the #1 way to save on food costs, but it’s not always so easy.  I was visiting with another mom (while we chaperoned a field trip) about how expensive it can be to raise a family.  She confessed that they get food stamps but also spend over $700 a month in restaurants for their family of 4. She knows it’s sabotaging their goals, but she feels trapped.  How does a family get food on the table when they are so busy and stressed?

Planning and Preparation.  The busier you are, the more important it is to have a detailed plan and scheduled in time to make it happen. If part of your meal is already done, and all the ingredients are on hand, cooking is not as big a deal.

I meal plan on Wednesday, shop early on Saturday and meal prep for the week either Sunday night or Monday morning.  If you don’t have time to do your own meal planning, I offer affordable, detailed meal plans done for you.  If you’d like to do your own but aren’t sure where to start, click here.
After about 6 months of prepping my meals ahead this way with the FitMama meal plans, I have some thoughts about how to make meal prepping easier. The idea of Fit Mama is to have all of my food made ahead for the week, so I can focus on the meals my family needs the rest of the time and not have to make two different things every night.  Plus if my food isn’t already made before I get hangry, I will stuff my face with any and all edible substances within reach.

Meal prepping lets you borrow time from a moment when you aren’t as stressed and move it to the moment that is the most intense.

 

With Fit Mama, I eat 6 small meals a day.  Prepping 36 single serving meals for the week is more labor intensive than prepping 6 family dinners.  Yet, it has been the part of the program that has brought me the most success.

It’s important to choose simple when you are in the busiest seasons of your life.  I’ve narrowed meals down to 3 types:

  1. The easiest are stir togethers like overnight oats, homemade gelatin, chia seed pudding, or protein pancake or waffle batter.  They go together the quickest and make me feel productive.

2. Then there are casseroles, marinated meats, and crock pot or one pot dump recipes that can be assembled or thrown in a bag, then cooked quickly just before meal time.

3. On the more labor intensive end of things are meals that require cooking some of the ingredients before the dish can be assembled and cooked again.  For example, My breakfast stuffed sweet potatoes require pre-baked potatoes, browned turkey sausage, and pre-cooked scrambled eggs before assembling. They are delicious!  But if my prep time is shorter than usual, it’s not the best choice for that week.  A good option for these types of dishes is to prep the singles first, such as browning hamburger and leaving the rest of the chores for another time.  It’s a lot easier for me to consider making stuffed sweet potatoes for breakfast if all I have to do is put it together for the final bake.

The other option is do to generic meal prepping. This would include cooking a bunch of hamburger in bulk and then freezing it in portions ready to throw in a meal. Or filling the slow cooker full of chicken breasts to shred. Or washing all your produce and shopping it ready to go for the week.

There’s no right or wrong way to prep for your meals as long as it feels doable to you and takes some of the pressure off when you’re the most stressed.

It’s also the perfect time to get some of the family members involved.  Here’s a screen shot from a live video my boys did with me to show the FitMama members how we meal prep. The boys have learned to dice and chop and all sorts of other kitchen skills by helping me in this way.

Tell me about you.  How do you meal prep?  Any tips for us?

You might also like:

The Easiest Shredded Chicken for Your Freezer

Batch Cooking Ground Beef in Your Slow Cooker

Step 1 to a meal plan you’ll actually follow

 

 

A few of my Favorite Things

Today is my birthday and I thought it would be fun to show you a few of my favorite things.

The first one is an Eye-Vac.  It’s a robotic dustpan. You just sweep stuff near it and it comes on automatically and sucks it up.  It reminds me of the central vac dustpan system I saw on Facebook awhile back, but this one had a price that was somewhat in reach.  In fact, I bought it for myself last night with a gift card I earned in my MomCeo business.   It should be here by Monday—eeek!  I think it will help with all the food crumbs that are a daily battle, plus make for easier clean up after home haircuts.  I was also looking at robotic vacuums that are self-propelled, but I think this one is more practical for me with all the area rugs we have.

I love this dress so much that I bought 2, one in navy, and one in peach. And my 17 year old daughter got the taupe one.  It has pockets and comfortable fabric.  It is comfortable enough to sleep in, yet pretty enough for church.  There are other versions, some with sleeves and some knee length.  I’ve been thinking about a long sleeved one for the fall/winter.  The sleeveless version also pairs well with a sweater or denim jacket.

These loaf pans are my favorite!  Really all the pans from this line are.  The bread just slides out without sticking, no grease needed.  I use the muffin tins all the time, especially for little egg frittatas.  No sticking!  They are made from aluminum for even baking, but sealed with silicone so the aluminum never touches the food.  I also have cookie sheets and cake pans from this line.

This feather top is really fun and has the trendy open shoulder look. I ordered the blue one a size up from my usual and I love how it fits.

This striped dress looks so comfortable yet trendy.  I haven’t ordered it yet, but like the length and POCKETS!  I’m thinking about being daring and ordering the green one.  I think it would be great for fall with a denim jacket.  But really, I like ALL the color choices.

All links are Amazon Affiliate links.  If you decide to purchase something through the links, you pay the same, but Amazon sends me a little bit.

Feeding 8 on a 4 Person Budget

Families with a lot of kids don’t necessarily earn any more money than their small family neighbors. And yet, bigger cars require more gas per mile.  More showers and more laundry, means more water and electricity use.  An $8 ticket to the zoo isn’t a big deal if you’re only buying 4, but buying 8 is another story.   When it’s time to buy shoes, it’s tough to buy 6 pairs instead of 2.   Hotel fire codes require large families to get at least two rooms. Then there’s the grocery budget.  What’s a big family to do?

We are steadily working on getting our income up, but while we do that, we do fewer spendy things.  When kids aren’t used to a lavish lifestyle, they appreciate the little things a lot more.

We almost always eat at home, so when we go to McDonald’s it’s a big TREAT.  Since it’s rare, we don’t have to let them order whatever they want off the menu to give them that feeling of excitement.  Everyone gets a $1 burger, ice water, and fries to share.  When we get home, if a kid is still hungry he makes a snack.

  1. We always drink water.

2. Fast food is a treat not the time to stuff ourselves.

When we go to a park or festival with food vendors, we pack a cooler from home.  Some parks won’t let you bring it inside the fence, so we plan to leave and have a picnic back at the car for lunch, then return to the park for the rest of our day.  Sometimes there’s a food there that we can’t get anywhere else.  Then we might buy some and cut it up so everyone gets a taste.  If you see the 8 of us gathered around a single funnel cake happily sharing bites.  Don’t feel sorry for us. The kids are thrilled.  Just getting to taste it was a big deal.

We went to the zoo to see cool animals, not to eat over-priced ice cream.  Replace the red words with whatever fits your situation. It helps to keep it in perspective.

3. Pack food when you can.

4. Share special treats.

The most expensive items on my grocery budget are meat and cheese.  We’ve found it’s possible to halve (or at least reduce) the amounts of meat and cheeses in most recipes and still meet everyone’s protein requirements.  This works great for casseroles, soups and stews.  I replace the bulk with another ingredient like beans, brown rice, quinoa or vegetables.

5.  When doubling recipes to feed your family, don’t double expensive ingredients like meat or cheese.  Replace the volume with low cost, high nutrition foods that are compatible with your recipe.

Growing kids are always hungry.  I have 3 teenagers, but the 12 year old is hungrier than all 3 teens combined.  I don’t ration food at our house.  There’s always something they are allowed to grab: apples, carrots, peanut butter and jelly, homemade bread or muffins, bananas, eggs, and milk.  If it’s not on the unwritten, “help yourself” list, they know they have to ask.  They are not allowed to eat all the leftover roast beef that I was saving for stew the next night, or snack on pepperoni or lunch meat.  They can’t eat all the granola bars in the lunch packing baskets.

6. Have a list of low cost, nutritious foods that your kids can have any time (except 30 minutes before dinner is served, lol.) Train them to ask for permission for other things.

7. Bake easy whole grain items like muffins, that are easy to grab and eat on the run or for after school snacks.

Breakfast should be the easiest low cost meal of the day, but food manufacturers have figured out how to make their money anyway.  A serving of Bran Flakes cereal is 10 cents.  Oatmeal is 7 cents.  A cup of milk is 18 cents. Eggs and a slice of bread are 5 cents each.  Half an orange is 15 cents….you get the idea.  While a grab and go cereal bar is $1.  Frozen waffles the same. Name brand fancy cereal is 5x’s the cost of plain.  What we’ve found is if the food is simple, homemade, and nutritious, our kid’s happily eat what they need.  But if it is pre-packaged to look fun or full of sugar, they gorge themselves.

8.  Teach the kids to be satisfied with simple, basic foods.

 

Big family or small, what are some ways you do fun things, feed nutritious foods and still keep the costs down?

 

The Cost of a School Lunch

When you compare prices with a restaurant, school lunches look like a bargain, but I’m going to ask you to look again.  I appreciate all the hardworking staff that make these hot lunches possible, especially when my kids forget to grab their lunch sack from home.   Yet, they are a far cry from the lunches they had when all the food was hand made from scratch by women like my grandmother who was a career school baker in the ’60’s-’70’s.

In our town, elementary Lunch is $2.55 and secondary Lunch is $2.70.  Per month that is $51 per elementary child and $54 per secondary. I have 2 elementary and 4 secondary students for a total of $318 per month.  Since my monthly food budget, including lunches, is $650….that’s not going to work for us.

Homemade lunches aren’t free, and if they are full of name brand pre-packaged convenience foods, can cost a lot more than a school lunch.  So when is it really more affordable to pack a lunch?  Just for giggles, let’s take a look at some common lunch foods and break down the cost.  Most of the prices are from Aldi, with a few (granola bars, fruit snacks, and cheese sticks.) from Costco. Costco and conventional grocery stores runs sale on lunch type items which can bring the unit cost down even further.


100% Whole Wheat Bread $1.50 for 11 sandwiches = $.14 each

100% Whole Wheat Tortillas $1.39 for 10 = $.14 each

16 oz Peanut Butter for $2.29 = $.14 per 2 Tbs

18 oz Jelly for $1.89 = $.05 per Tbs

24 oz Honey for $4.49 = $.09 per Tbs

Deli Lunch Meat $3.59 per lb = $.45 per serving

American Cheese $1.29 for 16 slices = $.08 each

Baby Carrots $1 per lb = $.16 per serving

Apples $1 per lb = $.33 each

Bananas $.44 per lb = $.11 each

Oranges $.50 per lb =  $.12 each

Grapes $1 per lb = $.25 per cup

Welches Fruit Snacks $6 for 80 ct = $.08 each

Granola Bars $8 for 60 = $.13 each

Veggie Straws $1.89 for 8 oz = $.24 each oz

Cheese Crackers $1.89 for 14 oz = $.14 each oz

Pretzels $1.29 for 16 oz = $.08 per oz

String Cheese = $.15 each

Hardboiled eggs $.85 per dozen: $.07 each

Tuna $.59 for 5 oz: $.30 per serving


A sample lunch with PB&J, string cheese, apple and baby carrots would cost: $.97  My kids only drink water at meals, which saves on calories and grams of sugar as well as money.

If you like math, put together other sample lunches and see what you get.

When we have leftovers, I like to supplement the lunches with items such as oatmeal cookies, cinnamon rolls, whole grain muffins, whole wheat rolls, cornbread, soup in a thermos etc.   I love that my oldest daughter chooses to eat lunch with her Academy Department Head, who has a microwave in his room.  That allows her to pack leftovers most days since she can warm them up.  She uses the time as a working lunch along with other students in her major.

Since we have so many children, I taught my kids early on how to pack their own lunches.  Even the first grader packs his own, using our basket system which I detailed in this facebook live video last week.

You might also like these lunch related posts:

Free Printable Lunch Planner

Why I Still Use Disposable Baggies

Homemade Calzones

Mini Chicken Pot Impossible Pies

How much was that meal?

Apple Carrot Muffins

33 Lunch Ideas