ABC7 On Your Side: Affordable lunches

LOS ANGELES Back to school for kids means back to the kitchen for parents. It's time to study up on smart yet satisfying choices for a boxed lunch.

"Making lunch doesn't have to be hard, it doesn't take a lot of time. Just make sure you include a lean protein, a whole grain, and a fruit or vegetable," said Albertsons dietitian Heidi Diller.

Which surprisingly Diller says costs little to make.

"Five healthy meals you can pack in your kids lunch all for under $8.00," said Diller.

Diller says this can be a tremendous savings.

"Depending on where your child goes to school they could spend upwards of $4.00 to $5.00 per lunch," said Diller.

Try packing a cut out almond, peanut or soynut butter and honey sandwich on whole wheat, with half cup edamame or soybeans and an apple for just $1.34.

Diller says buying bulk fruit is often 50 percent cheaper than when fruit is picked singularly. For instance an apple can cost just 32 cents.

Try assembling an easy quesadilla with a bit of melted cheese and several spoonfuls of beans on a whole wheat tortilla. Also you can offer carrots, grapes and a bit of salsa for just $1.63.

"I think kids get tired of a sandwich so how about throwing in a couple of hard boiled eggs," said Diller.

At 25 cents each, eggs remain one of the most economical proteins in the store. So pair a pear with kiwi, yogurt and half a whole wheat bagel for a mere $1.62.

For weight watching teens try tuna with light mayo served with lettuce leaves and tomato or rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla . You can add veggies and an orange for $1.61.

Finally, get kids to choose what's in their whole wheat macaroni salad. For instance try combining black beans, red peppers and dressing, include cheese and an orange for $1.55.

The best time to pack a lunch is after dinner the night before when everyone has been fed and the kitchen is already messy.

Make your kids help choose what they want and help you pack. With everything portioned, refrigerated stuff can go in the fridge. Put the water bottle in the freezer. The rest of the stuff you can leave on the counter so it will be ready to go in the morning.

Lunch Box Combinations From Albertsons Heidi Diller:

    Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich
  • 2 slices whole grain bread with 1 tablespoon honey
  • Apple
  • 1/2 cup Edamame (soy beans)
    Bean and Cheese Quesadilla
  • Whole wheat tortilla
  • Salsa
  • Carrot Sticks
  • 1/2 c Grapes
    Or try:
  • 1 or 2 Hard-boiled Eggs
  • 1/2 a whole wheat bagel
  • Yogurt
  • 1 kiwi (cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup carrot sticks
    Tuna Roll- Up
  • Mayo, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat tortilla
  • Orange slices
  • Red Bell Pepper slices (fresh bell pepper slices)
    Santa Fe Macaroni Salad
  • 1 cup cooked whole wheat macaroni
  • 1/4 c. black beans
  • 1/4 c chopped red pepper with salad dressing of choice or just some mayo
  • String Cheese
  • Banana


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