(StatePoint) Deciding what to pack for lunchbox meals is an important part of the back-to-school experience for parents and kids. Proper nutrition is essential to
positive learning and growth, and many families aim to eat healthfully, while also saving money. But packing a wholesome, organic lunch doesn’t have to cost big bucks.
Here are five tips for building an organic lunch for under $5:
• Make a shopping list. Do an audit of your current kitchen inventory and write a shopping list before hitting the store. This will help you stay organized and keep you from buying extra items you don’t need.
• Look for store brands. Not every organic brand is pricey. For example, some brands even offer products that are cheaper than the non-organic alternative, such as Whole Foods Market’s 365 Everyday Value line. Plus, their products are made without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or hydrogenated fats.
• Shop for ingredients that do more. Foods like rotisserie chicken can be used for an entire week’s worth of school lunches using a different recipe each day. Think sandwich, taco, salad, wrap and casserole.
• Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk is often cheaper than purchasing packaged items, and you get the added benefit of controlling how much food you pay for. At some stores, like Whole Foods Market, you can even get a discounted price when you buy a full case of packaged products.
• Use coupons. Coupons are a great way to save extra money on purchases you will actually use. Search through coupons online and at the grocery store, too.
Have a kitchen full of ingredients but don’t know what to make for lunch tomorrow? Try this simple and quick Lentil Mac & Cheese recipe from Whole Foods Market that can be easily customized by adding your favorite spice or flavor:
• 1 (6-ounce) box macaroni & cheese
• 1 cup red lentils
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup lowfat (1%) milk
• Pinch fine sea salt
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add pasta and lentils and return to a boil. Cook until lentils and pasta are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well.
Return pasta and lentils to the pan and stir in butter, milk, the contents of the sauce packet and salt. Continue to stir until blended and warmed through.
More cooking tips and recipes can be found at www.WholeFoodsMarket.com or www.youtube.com/WholeFoodsMarket.
In the midst of a busy back-to-school season, don’t put good-for-you lunches on the back burner. Simple tips can help you from spending a fortune.