32 Frugal School Lunch Ideas

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32-Frugal-School-Lunch-IdeasSchool lunch prices are on the rise, and to be honest, the food quality isn’t. I think that, no matter your budget, your child should get to pack his or her lunch if that’s what is best for your family. These frugal lunch ideas are sure to get the ball rolling so you can create your own lunch idea list. Whether there are no dietary restrictions, you’re vegetarians, or you need gluten-free ideas, I’ve compiled a list for everyone! Feel free to add your own frugal lunch ideas to the comments.

Sandwiches and leftovers are easy staples in most packed lunches. Mix it up a bit with some fresh fruit and vegetables, and don’t forget the “I love you!” note.

Basic Lunch Ideas

    • Tuna Salad with Celery
    • Egg Salad
    • Left over chicken salad
    • Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich
    • Sliced Cucumbers & Cream Cheese
    • Peanut Butter & Jelly
    • Yogurt
    • Cottage cheese
    • Applesauce
    • Cheese cubes (cube your own – can get pricey unless bought on sale)
    • Peanut butter and saltines
    • Homemade granola
    • Homemade trail mix
    • Celery with peanut butter or cream cheese
    • Homemade muffins (blueberry, banana, apple, etc)
    • Tuna salad

Also read: Save 50% or More on Back to School Clothes

Vegetarians? No problem! I’ve got you covered.


*Many on the list above are vegetarian.*

    • Cold pasta salad
    • Salads (romaine lettuce and spring mix are better than iceberg but more expensive)
    • Deviled eggs
    • Veggies of all types – buy in bulk and individually package them yourself
    • *Same with fruits
    • Soup in a thermos
    • Homemade “Uncrustables” (cut pb&j sandwiches into circles and freeze in baggies)
    • Bagel and cream cheese
    • Tomato and cheese sandwich

Also Read: How Not to Go Broke Buying School Supplies This Year

Gluten-free lunches are harder to find, so you have to get creative!


    • Pepperoni or deli meat rolled up with cheese
    • Bananas
    • Grapes
    • Hard boiled eggs
    • sliced cucumbers with dip
    • Apples cut into thin slices (kind of like apple dippers from McDonald’s), with peanut butter and raisins on the side
    • Cut-up carrot sticks with dip

What do your kids like to pack in their lunches?

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  1. Michelle says

    This is such a timely post! Yesterday we received notice that school lunch prices are rising, and quite frankly I’ve never felt great about letting the kids buy the not so healthy lunches. I decided this year they will be packing their lunches daily! Thanks for the list of great options to get us started!

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