Making healthy lunches for your kids that are also affordable can be challenging. Healthy ingredients tend to cost a lot more, and the cheaper options usually lack the proper nutrients growing kids need. And we all know fresh foods and ingredients go a long way when it comes to helping your child do well in school.

So…how do you pack healthy lunches on a budget? We have some suggestions that might make meal prep a little easier this school year. Here are a few cost-effective tips that will save you hundreds of dollars at the grocery store. Packing affordable, healthy meals your kids will love is possible!

Plan, Plan, Plan

Take time each week to sit down and plan. Going into the grocery store with a list will help you avoid making any hasty decisions. It will also keep you on track, and on budget.

Get the Kids Involved

Involving your kids in meal prep will increase the chances of them actually enjoying their lunch. It will also help them develop healthy eating and spending habits in the future. Put together a list of healthy meal options beforehand and guide them through it.

Buy in Bulk

This is especially true if you have a lot of little mouths to feed. Individually wrapped items are far more expensive than bulk goods. While it might cost more money at first, it ends up saving you a

lot down the road. It also eliminates the number of times you have to go to the grocery store, which can be difficult if you take public transit.

Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Any lunch is healthier when you add fruits and vegetables. Sandwiches and wraps that include tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce instantly become fresher. A piece of fruit also makes for a great dessert. To save money, avoid buying certain fruits and vegetables when they aren’t in season. Things like apples, bananas and oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and cost very little.

Go Veggie Sometimes

Processed deli meats can start to add up at the cash register. They’re also not the healthiest food to be eating regularly. Cutting meat out of your kid’s diets will not only help you save cash, it can help you introduce more healthy substitutes into their diets.

Wraps are especially good for holding lots of vegetables, while hummus and tzatziki help add flavor. Cheese can make any veggie sandwich taste delicious, too. Things like bell peppers, lettuce, and beans are far cheaper than lunch meats and are way better for your little ones’ developing bodies.

Leftovers Equal Lunches

Make bigger meals for dinner and portion out the extras into Tupperware containers. Then, add some healthy snacks to give your kids some variety. A side salad or fruit cup will go well with pasta leftovers. Grapes and granola bars make for a good dessert after chicken or meatballs. Making a little bit more at night will save you time throughout the week and can be more cost-effective in the long-run.

Freeze, Freeze, Freeze

Freezing your food is one of the easiest and simplest ways to save money on your grocery bills. Look for marked-down meats and dairy products in your local grocery store. They’re often far cheaper than the freshest ingredients. Then, bring them home and freeze them flat in freezer bags until you plan on eating them.

Frozen vegetables are also a game changer. They carry the same amount of nutrients as fresh vegetables and they last much longer. Plus, they are way cheaper. Use them for easy-made stir-fries or soups.

You can even freeze pasta and rice, two of the most affordable starches in the grocery market. If you have free time during the week, make a large pot of brown rice and pasta. Boil and then divide them into serving sizes and freeze them in Ziploc bags. This saves you time, money and energy later on in the week