Why I Make “Homemade” Lunchables

I’ve been making homemade lunchables for awhile now.  At first, I hesitated to do it myself because many times, as those of you with kiddos on the spectrum well know, even slight changes to foods can make them “inedible.” This can include packaging, and many times The Boy notices things about food that I do not, so there could be textures that are slightly different between a store-bought and homemade lunchable.  I don’t rightly know, because I’m not a big lunchmeat fan, myself.  But luckily, The Boy didn’t seem to care that what I put together myself came in a green plastic (re-usable) box, rather than a bright yellow cardboard box.

Here’s why I decided to try it.  Lunchables run $2.74 right now at my local grocery store.  $2.74 times 5 days per week equals $14.62 including tax (in our state).

Purchasing the parts myself, and putting in a little prep breaks down like this:

Ingredient Costs include:

Hormel Pepperoni, 84 slices, $2.98 (enough for 14 lunchables = $0.21 per lunchable)

Generic Mozarella Cheese Slices, 12 slices, $2.74 (enough for 12 lunchables = $0.23 per lunchable)

Ritz Crackers, 120 crackers, $2.50 (enough for 20 lunchables = $0.13 per lunchable)

Capri Suns, 10 puches, $2.98 (enough for 10 lunchables = $0.30 per lunchable) *note: I upgrade to the 100% juice version*

This adds up to $0.87 per lunchable, times 5 days equals $4.64 including tax.

I save about 10 bucks a week.

I don’t contribute quite as much trash as a lunchable (I encourage The Boy to return the baggies and re-use them).

I don’t send in any candy or sweet treat, which is always included in the lunchable.

We have also done turkey and american cheese, which breaks down like this:

Ingredient Costs include:

Turkey, 16 slices, $2.78 (enough for 16 lunchables = $0.17 per lunchable)

Generic American Cheese Slices, 16 slices, $2.88 (enough for 16 lunchables = $0.18 per lunchable)

Ritz Crackers, 120 crackers, $2.50 (enough for 20 lunchables = $0.13 per lunchable)

Capri Suns, 10 puches, $2.98 (enough for 10 lunchables = $0.30 per lunchable) *note: I upgrade to the 100% juice version*

This adds up to $0.78 per lunchable, times 5 days equals $4.16 including tax.

Maybe there are people out there who want to spend an extra 10 bucks so that they don’t have to pack a lunch, but I think I’ll put in the effort.  And here’s some other cool stuff about doing it this way:

  • You can get a week’s or a month’s done all in one shot and refrigerate/freeze them
  • You can freeze the ingredients in between packings, so that they don’t go bad
  • It takes me about 10 minutes to pack a week’s worth of lunches all in one shot
  • If you get your kiddo to help you, they are learning skills for independence

To me, it’s a no-brainer, and worth a shot if you have’t done something like this.  We have recently upgraded to 8 cracker/pepperoni/cheese square combos per lunch, because The Boy is growing after all.  I also include a fruit cup, which Lunchables conveniently leave out.  But I think it’s a pretty healthy lunch for less than a dollar a day.

Money and Change

Hands down, the biggest change that The Boy and I will be experiencing centers around money.  I have been so lucky to live and work where I do, because teachers here make a decent wage.  Without the third person in the house, and with an increasing salary, I was able to crawl out of the debt that was largely due to the ex’s money mismanagement, and then provide a life for my son, virtually free from want.

In about a month, I will be unemployed.  I will get paid through the summer, and God willing, I will be employed again by the time those paychecks stop coming.  But I know I will not be making anywhere near what I have been making.

1874 USA 3 dollars coin.

Now, before you start freaking out on my behalf (because I really have put a lot of thought into this move, contrary to what most people think), we will not have a mortgage or rent payment.  And if you give that fact it’s due consideration, you will understand why this move is not nearly so scary as it might have seemed.  For most people, the house payment is the biggest chunk of their pay, usually 25-33% of their monthly income.  In addition, insurance is substantially lower (at least half of what we pay here), and we will have no water bill (well water).  The Man is very handy, and the labor portion of any home repair bills (and even some minor car repair bills) will be nonexistent, as well.

We have considered selling my rather new car in exchange for an older, yet reliable car, eliminating the one car payment between us (not sure we’ll do this, but it is on the table — we both feel if you aren’t making payments, you’re paying repair bills).  We also intend to plant a garden, if not fully-fledged this year, then at least by next, to supplement our groceries (we have really good soil – used to be a potato farm!).

Where I do anticipate some difficulties adjusting to a blended checking account will be in the food department.  The Man loves the convenience store, and often eats out, sometimes for lunch and dinner.  The Boy and I eat out about once a week, with all other meals coming from our weekly groceries.  Of course, we may also have a discussion or two about where to keep the thermostat, too…

I just found this lovely series from The Peaceful Mom, on how to live on under $28K a year.  You should check it out – lots of great tips on how to live more frugally (without couponing).  I’m hoping we can use some of these in the near future (I’m thinking a clothesline would be nice!).

What money-saving tips have you used?