The majority of parents start off the school year with a plan. Morning routines will be run like a boot camp, lunches will be healthy and every Sunday you will make everything from scratch etc. For some parents, this goal might be achievable and well, hats off to them! However, for a lot of us, the novelty quickly wears off and our motivation fizzles out. With time being of the essence these days, most of us can’t afford to lose one whole day every weekend to meal prep. The other option is to go buy it all, and while there are some great, healthy pre packaged options out there; it all adds up financially. This is why we decided to share our steps on how to save time and money packing lunches this school year.

Step 1: Start planning

Before getting started, we first need to work out a few things.

  1. What does a normal meal plan look like? You need to write down what your child would usually take with them. For example:
  • Fruit or Vege
  • Sweet snack
  • Main meal
  • Savoury snack
  • Yogurt or cheese

2. Now make a chart with at least 2 or 3 different options in each section like the one below

school year meal plan

3. Work out how many school days are in this term and then split it up between your different meal plans. Example below.

Term 1 = 10 weeks
School Days = 50 Days
50 Days divided by 3 meal plans =
Week 1: 20 Days
Week 2: 20 Days
Week 3: 10 Days

Step 2: Working out how much of each food you need

To work out how much of each food item you need, you will have to do some more maths. See our example below for week 1.

                                                   Week 1
Food Days How much will your child eat? Total
Bliss Balls 20 Days 2 Per day 40 Balls
Mini Quiche 20 Days 2 per day 40 Quiches
Banana Bread 20 Days 1 per day 20 Slices (approx 5 slices per loaf)

Step 3: Find the recipes

Look online for your recipes. As you find each one, write down how many each batch will make. This step will also require you to then work out how many batches of each recipe you will need. See below.

                                                                                           Week 1
Food Days How much will your child eat? Total Recipe Qty Batches you will need
Bliss Balls 20 Days 2 Per day 40 Balls 10 per batch 4 batches
Mini Quiche 20 Days 2 per day 40 Quiches 12 per batch 3.5 batches (round to 4)
Banana Bread 20 Days 1 per day 20 Slices (approx 5 slices per loaf) 5 slices per batch 4 batches

Step 4: Multiplying the recipes for your shopping list

This step is the last one in the planning stages. Using a calculator, multiply each ingredient by the number of batches you need of that recipe. For example:

Bliss ball recipe calls for 170g of honey per batch. 170 x 4 batches = 680g. So on your shopping list you you’ll write down 680g of honey. 

Continue this step with every ingredient on every recipe.

Step 4.5: Shop your pantry

This step is optional but highly recommended so that you don’t spend money unnecessarily. Look through your pantry and fridge and cross items off your shopping list that you already have.

Step 5: Go shopping!

Go to the grocery store and get all the items you need for baking. Be sure to grab a few snacks so that you or the kids don’t snack on the school food while you’re baking (let’s be honest, it’s always my husband who sneaks the most).

Step 6: Bake till you drop!

You may want to separate your planning day from your baking day to make it less stressful for you.

All of the food listed above are freezable and defrost extremely well for kids lunches. It may seem like a lot of planning, but two days per school term focused on the back to school lunches is a lot less time consuming and friendlier to your wallet than baking every weekend. All you will need to purchase each week is your fresh fruit or vege for snack attack and yogurt / cheese and any other special one off foods during the term.

Keep in mind that the examples in this article are based on one child for one term. If you have more than one then you need to multiply your totals by the number of children you are baking for.

Happy baking everyone!

Find some delicious Freezer Friendly Recipes here!