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.

What’s Working

I talk about a lot of stuff that I’m going to do, but I don’t always get back to you and let you know what’s working, so…

  • The cold oatmeal in a jar?  That’s been working!  Like clockwork.  Except just in the last week or so, I’ve been getting a little sick of it, so I’m going to switch up some flavors.
  • The 6-Shelf Sweater Sorter!  The Boy actually filled it himself this past weekend and was proud of himself for doing so.  And the best part is that he is wearing every pair of his pants now, not the same pair every day.  Success!  It also keeps me on track with making sure the laundry gets done so it can be filled.
  • It’s early days yet, but the Magnetic Menu Planner is working SO well!  It helps with making the grocery list, and reminding me what’s planned (and what needs to be defrosted, etc.).  I have been cooking like a fiend, and loving it.  I’m even freezing leftovers and reducing waste.

Another success I’ve had recently is with chores.  I have written about allowance, and not basing it on chores before, but saw this post about how to make a visual chart for kids, and allowing them to have input.  I implemented only the chart of what gets done each day, and The Boy is actually doing chores (like wiping the kitchen counter, and picking up his things)!  The best part?  We haven’t even talked about allowance – he’s doing it because I need him to help out (and I need to teach him basic living skills).  You can’t get any better than that.

Build upon success

Take a minute and think about what’s working for you lately.  Let us know how it’s going in the comments below.