Whether the kids are back in school or you’ve made a resolution to bring your lunch to work more often, here are my money (and time) saving tips for lunchtime:
1) Cook in big batches
Schedule one day a week (preferably Sunday or Monday) where you cook a giant batch of your household staples: Grains, beans, roasted veggies, grilled chicken, etc. Incorporate the item(s) into lunches all week. Another kid-friendly favorite I often make in batches is pasta or healthy pasta salads. Pasta is a staple in many households and it’s something that keeps well. Many people actually prefer leftover pasta. If you don’t, cook just the noodles so all you’ll have to do is add sauce. One day add a ground turkey bolognese, next a fresh kale or basil pesto.
2) Go ham with soup
This is one of my favorite money-saving tips. I love soup, and the kids I work with do too. Soup is a great item to make a huge pot of and freeze smaller portions in mason jars for later. Soup is convenient, hearty, and can be super healthy.. not to mention it’s pretty easy to make! There’s really nothing else like the comfort of homemade soup.
3) Take advantage of case discounts
Whether your kids love granola bars or those organic milk boxes, you can get discounted pricing on many items when you buy a case. If you’re not sure whether or not a case is available for purchase, you can always ask your grocery store’s Customer Service for details. They’re usually more than accommodating and can grab one from the back if needed.
4) Bulk bins are your friend
Use bulk bins and get a little. Or a lot! I love bulk bins because I get what exactly what I need, which means less waste. Especially if you have a recipe that calls for a certain amount of say, black rice, but it isn’t something your family eats on a regular basis. Buy grains, seeds, dried fruits, nuts, granola, flour, sugar, coffee beans (and much more) in bulk and you’ll notice big savings.
5) Go organic with essential items
Most grocery stores now have their own brand of organics. For example, O Organics at Safeway and 365 at Whole Foods. Buy your family’s everyday essentials (peanut butter, crackers, cheese, yogurt, etc.) with these more affordable organic brands.
6) Transform leftovers
My favorite item to use for leftovers is a rotisserie chicken. It’s makes for a tasty, nutritious dinner as well as yummy sandwiches the next day. Or use it to make a chicken salad, in tacos, for chicken stock.. the possibilities are endless.
7) Clip coupons
If you don’t see a coupon book displayed at your grocery store definitely ask Customer Service. They most likely have weekly coupons. It’s great to buy items that are already on sale, but a lot of the time you can combine sale items with a coupon for extra savings. Sometimes you’ll get extra savings if you buy 2 or more of an item – take advantage of this with items that won’t spoil quickly, like almond milk or frozen veggies.