It doesn’t matter if I am going to for the day or to a local park for a few hours, I always take a thermos of water and a picnic basket with me. If you follow my advice, you can save well over a thousand dollars a year just like I do.
“But Bobbi, why would I go to all that trouble when I am just going on a few errands?” You go to that trouble because if you don’t, you might find yourself spending up to $50 for a nutritious lunch for you and one or two of your kids. (Or $20 for sugar and fast food.) Buy an unplanned meal at a restaurant once or twice a week and you’ve busted your budget for sure.
“Well, then I will just tell the kids they have to wait til we get home to eat or drink.” You can do that, but then you will be cranky and your kids will be cranky. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be stuck in a traffic jam with happy kids than with cranky kids.
It’s not hard to save lunch money. It just takes pre-planning. Your first step is to buy yourself good picnic baskets. I like one with a handle and wheels. Make sure it will easily fit into your vehicle. Because I live in sunny California, my baskets are very insulated – the hard-sided picnic basket type. When I lived in New England where the temperatures didn’t get so high, I had a soft-sided picnic basket. The soft-sided baskets are easier to jam into awkward spaces and take up less room when they are empty. (Of course, if you can find one of these in great shape at a yard sale, then grab it up there!) For short outings, Niconail likes the Easy Lunchbox.
Here are some food items that travel well:
- Veggie treats – carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli
- Cheese sticks – get a brick of cheese and cut into pieces, don’t buy pre-cut cheese
- Carbs – crackers, pretzels, toasted pita pieces
- Fruit – grapes, apples, pears, quartered oranges, clementines, bananas (watch out for the bananas because they will squish and give a banana smell to everything around… but most kids will eat them and they are full of potassium which is good on a hot day.)
- Peanut butter and jelly – my favorite. These sandwiches can last a whole day in the hot or the cold.
- Sandwiches – make the favorite of each person and label. If sandwich has mayo, meat or fish it needs to be kept cold and eaten in the first few hours of the trip.
- Pasta and sauce – my kids eat this cold or lukewarm. Adults tend to like it warmed up.
- Yogurt – comes in all sizes, shapes and flavors. Just make sure they stay cold.
- Frozen juice boxes – these will help to keep your food cold and then the drinks will be cold later in the day.
Non-food items to have packed in your picnic basket at all times:
- Paper plates and bowls
- Napkins or paper towels
- Wet wipes
- Bag for trash
- Little salt, pepper, sugar packets (keep in a sandwich bag)
- Frozen ice packs – buy several and keep them in your freezer. When they start to leak, just toss them and pick up new ones at the 99 Cent Only store
I hope this helps you save as much money as it has helped me to save. Do you have other healthy foods that travel well?
Sign up for the BargainBabe.com email list to receive more strategies, coupons, and inspiration from a great money saving blog!