Making healthy lunches for kids on a budget

7:26 AM, Aug 19, 2011   |    comments
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By Dana Dean

St. Louis (KSDK) -- Now that school is back in session, parents have a choice - make lunches or have the kids eat cafeteria food.

Lunches at cafeterias can cost anywhere from $1.60 to $2.50 depending on where they go to school. We wanted to see how much it would cost to make our own delicious, healthy lunch. And avoiding single-serve packaging is just one of the rules we followed.

So we went shopping with a nutritionist from University of Missouri Extension. She says when sending kids to school with a lunch, you know exactly what they're eating. When parents go shopping, she said they should following what she calls Five Finger Menu Planning. In every lunch, make sure there's the following 5 items: grain, lean protein, fruit, vegetable, and dairy. Here are the items we purchased: A bag of mixed fruit, yogurt and hummus dip, pretzels, carrots, romaine lettuce, pita bread and turkey. When buying the turkey, we saved money by not going for the pre-sliced meat and instead, going for another option.

Damaris Karanja, MU Extension Nutrition Specialist, said, "For their sandwich, I always encourage parents to get the un-sliced pieces of meat. And you want to make sure it's lean. It could be lean turkey, it could be lean ham."

The whole lunch cost us $2.90 per day.

More tips for healthy and affordable lunches are available at



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