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Video: How to Save Money & Time on School Lunches

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In this video, I will show you how easy and affordable it can be to make and pack healthy school lunches for your kiddos. Learn my tips for packing fruits/veggies, creating your own homemade lunchables, making Smucker’s Uncrustables, and more! Check it out…

* If you can’t see the video, go here to watch it.

Do you have any tips for saving money and time on school lunches? I’d love to hear!

Join The Discussion

Comments 92

  1. Maryann

    My kids love cold leftover pizza for lunch. My daughter even likes cold leftover spaghetti. When she brings it she says her friends say they want some too. LOL. I also make homemade muffins with extra veggies/fruit in them. In banana bread you can’t taste a little carrot or zucchini, and lots of extra spices make it easier to reduce the sugar.

  2. Eunic3

    I love love love the peanut butter crustables idea!!! Thanks so much for your ideas!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tisha

      I love it also, will definitely try that. Thanks so much for doing this video Collin. The kids have been back in school roughly a month & I was already struggling with lunch ideas.

  3. Deedee

    Love the crustable idea. I may swap what goes inside maybe like mayo & tuna or ham & cheese since my kids are growing out pbj phase. Is that a new hair cut? Cute !!

    • Tracy

      That is a great idea to change up the filling. My daughter says PB & J gets old after awhile so I use tortillas and other interesting medium instead of the same ole bread. Your idea is exactly the opposite, but still a change up to the same old routine which she loves. Love it!

  4. Lori Stevens

    Thanks for taking the time to make that video. You gave me some great ideas that my kids will love!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awesome! That’s great to hear! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Stacy W.

    Thank you for your ideas Collin! My son loves apple slices but they always turn brown before lunch and he won’t eat them. Going to follow your tip with the pineapple juice.

    • Mary

      I love the pineapple tip!! I have tried lemon juice but my kids taste the lemon. They love pineapple so it should be a win win! Thanks Colin!

      • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

        It really does work great and you can hardly taste the pineapple! ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Michelle

          This has to be my favorite tip from the whole video!

      • Erin

        Saltwater works, too. We like a little salt on our apples, but if you don’t, you can rinse it off, and it still prevents apples from browning.

  6. sherin

    good job u give me a great idea

  7. Cammie

    Thank you for the tips Collin. Never thought if using pineapple juice on the apples. Great idea!

  8. Glory

    Great tips!! Very helpful for me! Thanks! Definitely going to use these tips!

  9. Coleen6000

    How much pineapple juice do you add? for example, to that bag you showed?

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You just want to pour enough into the bag so that it coats them nicely… but not too much where you notice juice sitting at the bottom of the bag. Hope that helps!

  10. Marie S.

    Any suggestions for high schoolers with little backpack space, a reluctance to carry anything more than can be recycled after eating and no refrigeration? I’m running out of ideas and lunches run $4.25/student/day!

    • Marie S.

      I forgot to mention…no lockers to put their food in! Whatever they bring they have to carry until lunch time.

      • Angie

        I don’t have any ideas but the school you kids attend have REALLY expensive meals! Here HS meals are $2.25. Also, the no locker thing is so strange! Good luck to you and your lockerless kiddoes! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • tilla ham

      us too marie:( no lockers, little back pack space. my poor 14 year old has taken to eating white chocolate peanut butter sandwiches daily..refuse to pay 4 bucks for crap and when I did offer her once a week lunch or so she said no, it’s too crowded to wait in line

      • sunnydayys

        The high school I attended also didn’t have lockers. I think lockers depend on the area and school as well. My school layout had everything on 1 story and fixing and cleaning the lockers were costly so they just got rid of it. I had tons of stuff in my backpack and textbooks to carry so I stuck to sandwiches and wraps since the take up the least space. I’d occasionally bring food in Tupperware but tr containers size was inconvenient. There are containers that are not too tall in height, about 1-2 Inches. You could find one and pack food in that if there’s enough backpack space that allows for it. The size is small but if you pack foods that give protein, energy, and such, then the size won’t be too much of a problem. Off the top of my head; Chicken (with lettuce, mayo/hummus, avocado), pb and banana, pulled pork, ham, roast beef, egg, spinach for sandwiches or wraps. I don’t know how muh your kids eat or their time schedule but another idea could be oatmeal bars with pb sandwiched between them and some fruit slices to go along with it. I also recommend snacks.i started school at 7:15 and wouldn’t get lunch until 12:15 but thankfully there was a break. Hope this helps somewhat.

    • angelahoang12

      Ohhh I remember the high school lunch days. So many times I went home starving LOL. I would think, if anything, protein bars! Just to hold him/her off until school is out. There are so many brands and flavors now. Also that and a good filling breakfast everyday.

    • Renee

      we are enjoying a new product called go picnic (planning to take them on an upcomming quick vacation to avoid eating out but have no fridge) when we need something without a cold pack and that you can toss after. You might be able to make a home version

      • Mary

        I love the Go Picnics! I’ve started taking them for my lunch at work

      • tilla ham

        I love the go picnics because they have some gluten free varieties for my celiac daughter, however the cheapest I have found them is 3.99 and the most expensive is 8.50 and there isn’t a lot in them

        • Rebecca

          Some targets have been clearancing these lately – stock up now while they are on clearance for $1.99 each! I sure did….

        • Em

          Tilla- if your daughter is having GI issues they may be the culprit. They are not made in a gluten free facility. Just a tip from a loooong time celiac.

    • cathycampo

      juice/milk box/pouch; whole/chopped apple, pear, grapes; cheese stick/cubes; granola/energy bar; nuts; dried fruit, raisins; applesauce pouch (like the baby food ones); frozen go-gurt;

  11. Kelly

    Collin, im loving your hair.Looks great!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awe… thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Bethany

    Hey Collin! Thank you for the tips. I won’t have to pack lunches until next school year, but I love to try to gather ideas ahead of time. I totally love how you can crimp the edges of the PB&Js to make them look just like uncrustables! So cool! Oh and btw you look so cute! Love the ending to your video ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks, Bethany!

  13. Jess

    I Love Love The Ideas! You Are Truly Amazing ! As A Person, Mother,And I Imagine Wife! Thanks For Taking Your Previous Time To Help Us.

    • Jess


    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are most welcome! And thank YOU for the kind words. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. angelahoang12

    Love the homemade uncrustables idea. The homemade lunchables is always a go to in our house.

    We are about a month into the school year here and I am definitely running out of ideas for lunches. My kids get bored easily with sandwiches. And the teachers really frown upon sending chips, cookies, candy…. basically anything sugar/junk related.

    My money saving tip to share: invest in a quality no-leak water bottle. Fill it up with their favorite juice from a jug. Then that saves money on juice boxes.

    Here is a fun idea: take some green grapes, rinse them and keep them wet. Then sprinkle with sugar free jello powder. Any flavor! We call these sourpatch grapes! They taste sweet and sour but without all the sugar!

  15. Stephanie

    I am trying to watch this on the app and I can see you but can’t hear anything. I went to YouTube and can see and hear when in safari. Am I doing something wrong? Help…

    I love the app too:)

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How strange as I am watching it via the Hip2Save App and can hear it just fine. I wonder if has something to do with the volume controls on your phone?

  16. Kris10

    Wow!!! Learned so much! The pineapple juice is genius plus the smuckers incur stables are just too dang cute!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)


  17. Renee

    I make five lunches on sunday. My daughter chooses two options and I make three of one and two of the other. Then grab and go all week. For my hunband I turn a loaf of bread into sandwitches and then return the loaf to the freezer. Grab one out the night before and add some easy sides, done.

    • Catie

      I do that too with salads for myself

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Great ideas!

  18. ashley

    I am so trilled with this! Thanks!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Pamela

    I love your video and give me some ideas to pack lunch for my son. Question about chop the apples and oranges, do Ziplock bags keep them fresh overnight? I appreciate your share your wonderful video with us! Thank you!

    • Erin

      I don’t love plastic bags for a bunch of reasons, but I am a Rubbermaid fiend. They have produce containers that are basically ordinary containers with a little drain tray in the bottom so that fruit and veggies aren’t sitting in water or their own juices. Keeps cut and washed veggies and fruits fresh for a looooong time.

      • Pamela

        Erin – thank you for your suggest to use plastic storage to keep them fresh and I will try do that. Thank you!

    • Stephanie

      We have reusable snack and sandwich bags. They’re the same size and shape as Ziploc but better for the pocketbook and environment. They came from Amazon.

  20. Suzanne

    Where can you get this exact Rubbermaid lunch blox?

    • Mel

      I got the lunchbox at target. Have also seen at Walgreens and Walmart.

    • Erin

      Kroger has had the sandwich and salad versions for $5.99 for a long time. I wasn’t sure if they were what I wanted for lunches, but $2.99 is a pretty awesome price for three or four containers plus an ice pack, so I bought them knowing that I could always use them at home.

  21. Suzanne H

    I LOVE your kitchen – SO pretty! The new hairdo is super cute as well. I am so excited about the pineapple juice tip – apples are one of the few fruits/veggies my son actually likes but I’ve been hesitating to send them b/c of the browning (I know he won’t eat brown apples – picky thing). I’ve looked at the pre-packaged apples but they are ridiculously priced. He HATES anything lemon so that was out too. Best tip ever! Oh, and love the Smuckers Uncrustables idea as well. The real ones are full of junk so I won’t buy them but I cut the crust of my son’s sandwiches anyhow so this is perfect!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks, Suzanne! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the video! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I totally agree, I can’t believe how much the pre-packaged sliced apples go for in-store… it’s crazy!

  22. Stephanie

    My kiddos love any flavor mini muffins and anything rolled up in a tortilla! Pepperoni n cheese, ham n cheese, nut butter and bananas, etc.

  23. sarah

    My husband would actually like those Uncrustables. LOL — Your video is hilarious if you watch it with the captions on

  24. zannec

    What model is it? That will help me look it up. Do you know of any places that still have them in stock? I should have got them in August. I need 4.

  25. Stephanie

    We bought wide mouth, insulated Klean Kanteens for the kids. They’ll keep milk cold until after the kids have come home from school so I know it’s still cold at lunch. They’re a little pricey but are so worth it.

  26. Dawn

    We are on reduced lunches. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I honestly have no food for my kids in the house to even make 4 lunches besides a jelly sandwich. I’m grateful for programs like that, even though I’m aware so many others abuse it. Life pretty much sucks that way for us now.

    • Anonymous

      Hang in there Dawn things will get better!

    • Angie

      Dawn, you ARE able to provide lunches for your kids, even if it is at a reduced cost. That is great! You are a great Mom for getting those lunches for your kids! And, you are not missing out on anything. Like Collin, I do NOT look forward for making two lunches every day. What is worse: doing all of the dishes after school and cleaning those lunch boxes thoroughly. I spend at least 25 minutes a day on lunch prep/cleaning (not counting time spent shopping) so look at it as time you are able to do other things. In short, you are missing out on nothing and neither are your kids. I hope that cheers you up!

    • sue

      My kids get free lunches and not because I am low income it is the whole school is offered free lunches. They make good things too, but sometimes the kids don’t want it. We don’t have money for lots of things either. I will make PB and J or a turkey sandwich, then have a salty option ex. chips, pretzels, crackers, then have a sweet option ex. rasins, cookies, granola bar. And that’s the lunches. They have to choose from. Not to pricey either.

  27. Erin

    So funny about the Lunchables. They are gross, but there are frequently deals for them here. My son wanted them so much. . . . Yet when I offered him homemade ones, he refused because lunches are sandwiches. Thankfully, we are getting out of that rut. He’s been eating Caprese skewers lately–and even eating the basil!

  28. Holly C.

    Love the tips! My 1st grader doesn’t eat much meat, is at a peanut-free school, and only gets 20 minutes for lunch – lunches have been a challenge this year. When we have fruit that is starting to get soft/over ripe (bananas, berries, mango, etc…) I toss them into a bag in the freezer. Then on Sunday mornings I make a big batch of smoothies using the frozen fruit, greek yogurt, oatmeal, chia seeds, and whatever juice I have on hand. It usually makes enough for all 4 of us to have a smoothie that morning and fill 3 or 4 ball freezer containers (the kind with the rubber lid). I keep them in the freezer, pack them in her lunch in the morning along with a straw and they thaw by lunch time. Fast, filling, and nutritious ๐Ÿ™‚

    • tilla ham

      we are a peanut free school too which is frustrating combined with my daughters in ability to have wheat/gluten/barely/rye/oats

      • Rebecca

        I have seen a blog for this… the Keeley McGuire Blog.. She blogs allergy friendly lunched for her “Little Miss” – she even includes GF recipes on her blog! Google her and check it out. I’m sure there are other similar blogs too, but I recommended that one to my sister, since her daughter has a level 4 peanut allergy. I also pay attention to it because my son’s classroom is allergy friendly and we will be helping provide food for upcoming class holiday parties.. enjoy!

      • Em

        Sunflower butter = awesome.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Love this idea and sounds yummy too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. amy

    thank u for the tips Collin! u r looking awesome… just love ur hair!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awe… thanks so much, Amy!

  30. Jess

    Love your video!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you!

  31. Sheila

    Ahh…Clever Collin. I love the pineapple juice solution. The lemon juice/salt technique left a bad taste. Thanks so much for sharing this and all these great tips/tricks. I will be sharing your tips with my readers ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks, Sheila! ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. m

    OMG! This is the best idea since Sliced bread!!! We are saving so much money with these tip, had my child make a list of his favorites (to get him involved) and will start making our own lunchables instead of buying them!
    THANKS!!! happy dance ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. boxbot

    I love the apple puzzle idea where you core and slice the apple and put it back together with a rubberband so it doesn’t turn brown. Also coring the apple and putting peanut butter where the core was works well.

  34. Kathy

    Thanks Collin. Love your new hair cut!

  35. Rebecca

    I made a bunch of home made pop tarts at home and you can make them savory style as well… and those savory ones can serve beautifully in the place of a sandwich. ham n cheese…. or sundried tomatoes with pepperoni and cheese… the possabilities are endless. And my son helped make them, so he gladly gobbles them up for lunch!

  36. Janice

    Collin – I loved the ideas about the uncrustables – also loved the hair and loved your new kitchen! Someday would like to see a video of the rest of your house – the kitchen is amazing!!!!

  37. zannec

    Which Rubbermaid lunch blox is it?

  38. Julie

    School is great but the lunches are a big deal.. Want to make sure that we feed the kiddos properly. Never thought of the homemade uncurls tables..will try this for sure.huge time saver for me is making lunches the night before.. Love the new do and your kitchen is amazing…

    • Julie

      Sily iPad.. Meant un crustables

  39. Lisa

    Look at you sporting that sassy hair! Looks great! Thanks for the video. Very inspiring.

  40. hawthornebug

    I do hot lunches for my high school aged daughter. We use thermos which keeps food hot until lunch. I also pour milk in a thermo for her to have to drink. Thermos can be found in the camping section of Target. The Thermos come equipped with a spoon. We do soups, pastas, & casseroles. Sandwiches get kinda old after a while that having a hot lunch is really nice.

  41. Ashley

    Collin, I cant thank you enough for this video…I’m so new at this whole lunch box thing for my daughter that I was working extra long in the kitchen for lunch. You have shared some wonderful ideas and I really cant thank you enough for it!! Your are GREAT! ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Tatyana

    Hi Collin, I love those butterfly crackers. Where do you buy yours?
    Thank you

  43. Mary

    Love the uncrustables idea–making one tomorrow for my son’s lunch. Once my kids outgrew the note in the lunch box stage, I started adding special napkins in their lunch boxes instead, so they weren’t “embarrassed”! I add soccer napkins during their soccer season, snowmen or snowflake printed napkins during winter, a birthday napkin when it’s a family member’s birthday, etc. We know it’s our little “I love you note”, but their friends just think they have fancy napkins in their lunches! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  44. Brandi

    I have to make my Kindergartener’s lunch. He has ADHD so he only gets food that has no food dye, otherwise he’ll be bringing home bad behavior reports almost everyday! You’d be surprised how many foods have artificial coloring!

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