Sunday, March 23, 2014

DIY Lunch Box Snack Cups

School lunches have gotten to be really expensive. I remember being in elementary school and having to keep track of my 2 quarters so I could pay for lunch. That was back when our milk was paid for separately and my brother and I still took our lunch to school most days to save money. Now, school lunches cost $2.50 or more and doesn't offer nearly what the school lunches of yesteryear had.

To keep costs down and the "Pickles" tummies full, I have started making my own snack cups that they can quickly grab and pack in their lunches. They can even have them as after school snacks.

I got the idea awhile ago from someone who called them 100 calorie snack cups. I don't know if what I pack is over or under 100 calories, but it works.

I use the small 1/2 cup (4oz) sized Gladware disposable containers. The "Pickles" are "trained" to bring the containers back home but if they forget or if it gets accidentally tossed in the trash can, it's not like it was expensive Tupperware.

I pack all kinds of stuff into these containers (see the list of suggestions below). If the snacks need to stay cold, a small ice pack in their lunch box does the trick.

It saves a ton of money over buying individually packaged snack-size stuff because you can buy a large package and portion it out into these smaller containers. You can even control portion sizes this way.  If the "Pickles" want an afternoon snack, they get one of these instead of filling a bowl full.

Here are some snack suggestions from things we've packed:
  • Fresh fruit - grapes, diced peaches, pears, apples, watermelon, etc.
  • Dried fruit - raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc
  • Nuts
  • Cheese cubes
  • Applesauce  - buy a large container and portion it out or make your own
  • Jello - you can get 10+ cups from one large box of jello or make your own from juice and gelatin
  • Pudding - you can get 5+ cups from a small box of instant pudding mix
  • Small crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Small carrot or celery sticks
  • Yogurt - buy a large container and portion it out
  • Cereal or granola
  • Trail Mix
I usually make up a bunch of these over the weekend to be used throughout the following week. That way, they stay fresh and appetizing, especially if it is something that needs to remain refrigerated.

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