By Kat Springer, The Organised Housewife

With school back in full swing, it is often easy for households to become chaotic and for expenses to spiral. School lunches especially can be a thorn in the side of any busy parent, and an expensive thorn at that!

When preparing lunches, it can become easier to please rather than provide, but by understanding that each household operates in their own unique way, you can help to cut out the sky-high costs of school lunches.

The six tips below will help you get started.

Kat Springer from The Organsied Housewife in a kitchen

Kat Springer shares her tips and tricks to keeping a happy and organised home at The Organised Housewife. (Image: The Organised Housewife)

1. Take advantage of discounts and bake in bulk!

Bulk shopping is an excellent way to cut down on food costs. I always try to purchase non-perishable items in larger quantities when they are heavily discounted. Foods such as beans and lentils, frozen berries, frozen meat and poultry, oats and noodles, and veggies have a longer shelf life and are great ingredients to make nutritious lunch snacks.

2. Watch your kids’ lunch box!

At the end of each school day, it’s always handy to take notice of what has been eaten out of the lunch box and also, what hasn’t. You can then keep an eye on the specials during your next grocery shop, buy those favourite lunch box fillers in bulk supply and keep them stockpiled in your pantry for the upcoming weeks and months.

Healthy lunchbox

Kat Springer’s Ham, Veggie and Noodle bites are a great, economical lunchbox filler (Image: The Organised Housewife)

3. Become a meal-plan master (without spending all weekend in the kitchen)

My trick is to meal prep, which among other things will allow you to take advantage of bulk discounts so you can buy, cook and freeze in bulk. Spend a small amount of time on Sunday (or your preferred time) to prepare for the week ahead. I like to fill the freezer with pre-cooked individually portioned meals that can be reheated, however, if you’re not a massive fan of reheating, prep your food in advance by washing, chopping, marinating etc. so it’s ready to be cooked each night.

Pre-planning will minimise overspending on lunch orders (that can be unhealthy) and will free up your weekday evenings so they can be better spent with family. It also avoids the last-minute dash to the supermarket on a Monday morning.

4. Embrace your kid’s inner chef!

A common mistake is to spend money on food that is of no interest to the kids, and therefore will not be eaten. Rather than waste food, why not get the kids involved in the planning and preparation instead? With that being said, it’s important to ensure that you’re packing a balanced and nutritious lunch, with the occasional treat.

The favourite recipe in our household at the moment is my Ham, Veggie and Noodle Bites. I designed this recipe using MAGGI 2-Minute Wholegrain Noodles as they are an easy go-to ingredient that makes for a fast and tasty weekday snack, especially when my prep time is minimal. Noodles are also really versatile – you can add them to an omelette, frittata or simply enjoy them on their own.

WATCH: Delicious kids’ lunchbox ideas. Continues after video …

5. Try to minimise lunch orders to once a month!

We all know that making school lunches can be expensive, especially if not prepared. Try your best to meal prep and buy in bulk, however if the last last-minute lunch order is unavoidable, try to limit these to an end of term treat, especially if you have more than one child.

6. Invest in an insulated lunch box

Get rid of disposable plastic and sandwich bags, not only are they terrible for the environment but they can be really expensive. Instead, buy a multi-compartment lunch box or insulated food jar and drink bottle to reduce costs whilst also ensuring your kids’ food and drinks stay nice and fresh!

Although two dollars and fifty cents at tuck-shop may not sound like a lot of money, it adds up over time! Begin integrating some of the above tips and you will not only reduce unnecessary costs like tuck-shop, but you’ll also find more quality time to spend with the family.