discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

this simple life - Part 5 lunchbox dazzlers

How many of you are dreading school going back next week? Or is this your first school year? If so, good luck!! Or it could be going to work and wanting to take your own lunch and snacks.  I know I've loved these long school holidays of lazy mornings and no rushing or thinking about being organised for school lunches.  Party is over, lets get on it.  This is the perfect week to start your stockpile in the freezer for real savings with school lunchbox dazzlers, or work lunches.

When I was working I would eat out for lunch one or two of the days when I worked full time, then when I went part time I ate out more as I saw it as a treat.  It was easily $20 a day, more if I brought a bottle of water, a few coffee's and then went to buy lunch.  Some people I know buy their lunch everyday, opting to spend over $100 a week just on lunch, coffee & water/fizzy crap.  That's where being organised and more mindful can really help with your budget.   $100 a week translates to $5,200 a year.  A quick google search of an accelerated mortgage payoff calculator showed that on a loan of $300,000 over 30 years, this $5,200 could save you $131,985 in interest and have you debt free 10 years and 8 months earlier.  That's quite sobering isn't it, still need your pad thai and double shot latte?

So now I have your attention, lets get down to it. 

School lunches are a no brainer as most primary schools, kinders and some daycare centres don't have canteens/tuck shops so you need to pack their snacks and lunches for them.  High school is different and when you work it's easy to just duck down the street and grab something quick.  I guarantee you that if you just allow a bit of thought on the weekend as to what's coming up, and turning the oven on to do the work for you, you will save real money.
Firstly lets tackle school lunches.  Small labelled containers and some old cutlery are you're friend when it comes to packing any lunches and snacks so go and stock up at the reject shop and get labelling.  When I'm packing my daughters lunch I always have a wrap/sandwich/roll, 2 pieces of fruit (or 1 fresh fruit and one container of tinned fruit), cheese and bikkies, dip and a muffin or biscuit.  The fruit is dictated by what's in season as it's always cheapest.  I looked at the pre-packaged bikkies & cheese slices at Aldi yesterday, 1 box of 6 packets of 3 dry biscuits and 3 slices of cheese for $5, I could buy 500g of cheese for $5.99 and a box of dry biscuits for $1.50 and make a few weeks worth.  It's these little things that will make the difference.

Here's a list of lunchbox ideas we use that are all homemade.

  • wraps/sandwich/roll with your favourite filling.  We do ham/chicken/tuna with grated cheese, mayonnaise/avocado/hummus, curried egg.
  • fruit, fresh, tinned or dried
  • rice crackers with cheese or cream cheese
  • sweet and savoury muffins
  • biscuits and slices
  • muesli bars 
  • hard boiled egg
  • left overs from dinner like chicken drumstick, meatballs with dip & flatbread, fried rice, noodles, pasta, homemade chicken nuggets
  • pasta or rice salad using left over roast chicken, bacon, peas, and fried egg
  • mini frittata
  • apple pancakes 
  • yoghurt
You get the drift.  Also have a look at the label lunchbox dazzlers and you can also read this article here on nude food and the impact on your kids lunchbox packaging and some other filling ideas.

You need to rethink muffins, frittatas and main meals.  They are a great way to use up some cheap fruit or vegies or whatevers in your cupboard or freezer without forking out for expensive pre-packaged muffins or muesli bars.  I brought a 6 pkt of apples from aldi for a few $'s this week which will all become cooked treats.  I think this batch of a dozen cost less than $3 and will last over 2 weeks allowing one each weekday, pretty good I'd say, oh and one or two as tasters just out of the oven.  Freeze them to add to the lunchbox and they will be defrosted in time for morning tea, your kids will love you for them.
I personally go for a thermal lunchbox and a freezer brick/ice pack to keep the inner goodies cold.  Frozen muffins, cakes and yoghurt can also be pulled out in the morning and popped in to help the thermal crunch.  

The trick to turning these kiddy lunches into adult ones, is become a double batch queen or king.  Taking last nights dinner for your lunch will make you the envy of every lunch room as who doesn't want to chow down on something scrummy like spag bol over a vegemite and cheese sanga?
Also, make friends with salads and your nuts and seeds store.  Wash all your veg on Sunday and have it prepped, cut and ready to go for the next few days to throw together lunch in seconds.  Buy some tinned salmon and tuna to take to protein up at lunch.  Lettuce mixed with walnuts, some feta and a tomato with a side of last nights frittata will be a gorgeous lunch anyone would be pleased to have and at a fraction of the takeaway price.  Making stirfry, then make extra.  Have a look at the links to my labels down the right hand side of the blog for categories by ingredient for more simple, easy and quick ideas.  It's not rocket science, it's just some thought and thriftyness that will help save you those rainy day pennies.  

I hope some of these things help lessen your load for the coming school year and leave you less frazzled and more calm and organised, and save you a penny or a thousand :)

Ciao, Jan.


  1. Love this post--thanks! This is bookmarked for all those lunches, especially during the 'oh this is too hard, I don't have time' periods.... Now we have lunchbox sorted, we just need to be able to get him to want to go to school next week!

  2. Good luck next week Robyn!! I'm sure he will settle in on the other hand might be a bit lost but you will soon get use to it! Jan x

  3. I make lunch for hubby from Monday to Thursday and I love getting creative with what goes in there! This week he's having a quarter of a Vegemite and cheese scroll every day because I just baked one but not sure about next week yet :)

  4. You've given me some good ideas because of this post. Thanks! :)


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