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.

Lunch and the Picky Eater: Update

Two Ritz Crackers

Two Ritz Crackers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are heading into the 5th week of school, and we have been fairly successful replacing the lunchables in The Boy’s lunch.  We have tried various types of bread products for the pizza “crust” — whole grain English muffins (healthy by not so tasty), regular plain bagel halves (tasty but not so healthy), and finally whole wheat deli thins (healthy and tasty).  The only downside so far, is that he has pizza pretty much every day.  I have tried to throw in some turkey, cheese, and crackers, and even went so far as to cut the turkey into pacman shapes with cookie cutters.  This usually ends up being a 2-day lunch — he doesn’t eat it all (or any of it), so I send it in the next day for a re-do.  We tried various types of crackers for this lunch, as well, finally settling on whole wheat Ritz, which The Boy will even eat plain.

I was worried about his not eating all (or any) of his lunch when we started this, because there were days when his lunchbag would come home looking untouched.  Lo and behold, at Back to School night, his teacher explained that this happens because he is too busy talking and socializing with his buddies… What??… Fantastic!!

Next, I will try to get some different toppings in that pizza lunch (ham?), and I’m going to attempt nacho chips and cheese sauce (homemade), with some crumbled bacon for some extra protein.  We’ll try that in the test-kitchen (at home) first.

What goes into your little ones’ lunches?

Lunch and the Picky Eater

lunch-2007-04-03a

lunch-2007-04-03a (Photo credit: flakyredhead)

Hi, my name is Annie and I’ve been phoning it in.  I’ve been giving my kid lunchables and poptarts for far too long with the excuse that he is a picky eater and that is all he’ll eat.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to do that this year.  I’m tired of the guilt, the lack of nutrition in my son’s diet, and the money spent.  We’re going to switch it up.

I’ve talked about going “back to bento” for myself, and I am excited.  I’ve also talked to The Boy about making our own “lunchables”, where we can choose what lunchmeats/crackers/pizza toppings go in the lunch, rather than taking what good ol’ Kraft decides to give us.  Realistically, he would eat pizza everyday for every meal if I let him, and I can give him less processed and pre-packaged options for pizza easily.  His other choices are based on the candy or treat that comes with the lunchable, so I’m sure he wouldn’t say no to a homemade cookie or two instead.

This means that I will be menu planning every week, for dinners and lunches.  If you’d like me to share my weekly menu plan, let me know in the comments.

Here are a couple of final thoughts:

  • I’m not above using a gimmick to get my kid to eat.  I will be ordering the Funbites Cube It! because I think it will be fun, and I might use it, even if he doesn’t.
  • Occupational Therapists will tell you to introduce new foods very gradually to the picky eater, and I will be employing this method, starting with… pizza! – can you imagine all of the possibilities of introducing new foods via pizza?
  • A few posts got me started on this idea: this one from bothhandsandaflashlight.com, and this one from thehealthcoachgroup.com.  I like the idea of listing all of the things he will eat, and starting from there, because I have a feeling it’s a longer list than I give him credit for.

Wish me luck!