And now, here is another casualty of the rising food prices, the school lunch. I have to tell you that I am getting tired of mentioning rising food prices, but there is just no way around it. The fact that food is getting so much more expensive and rising so quickly affects almost everything related to the frugal lifestyle. So bear with me as I bring you another important article related to expensive food.
With food prices getting so high, I’ve been considering allowing my son to buy more school lunches instead of packing them from home. This is because that under the National School Lunch Plan, I can limit him to only purchasing a balanced lunch, complete with a vegetable, a fruit and milk, all for $1.75. Providing those items in a packed lunch was generally a lot less expensive, but the gap is closing fast. Even with generally inexpensive lunch items, such as peanut butter and jelly and carrots, the price per packed lunch is not far off from a school lunch, so it become a matter of time versus money. Is the difference in price still worth the time it takes to shop for and pack a lunch?
In terms of shopping, the time factor is still about the same. We have to shop no matter what, so picking up extra bread or fillings is not too much additional time. Packing the lunch takes me about five to ten minutes, depending on what is going to be prepared. occasionally, when doing something different such as making our own version of a pizza “lunchable,” it may take a bit longer.
The one thing that hasn’t converted me to buying school lunches (beside the ability to prevent my son from choosing hot dogs every day) is the fact that without an increase in government subsidies, there are cutbacks in the amount of food that can be served by the schools. Sometimes schools cut out workers to make up for the dollars needed. Most of the time they cut the quality or amount of food, such as giving up the favorite baby carrots, or buying canned or frozen fruit and vegetables instead of fresh. Our school now seems to serve more canned pineapple, whereas in the beginning of the year it was mostly fresh apples, oranges, bananas and even kiwi.
At this point, it still is more frugal to pack lunches, because even if the prices are getting close, I am still getting more for my money with fresh ingredients and large portions.
Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.