A week of packed lunches on a budget

There’s no doubt that if you’re clever with your kids’ packed lunches, they can be cheaper than school dinners – and you’ll have more control over what they’re eating too.

You want to get some goodness from their lunch, not be hungry in the afternoon and not be going crazy from sugar. Getting that balance right can be quite difficult!

Here we’ve come up with some great ideas for packed lunches – with a super saver option, a mid saver option that’s still a bargain and a splashing out option. we’ve assumed you’re making packed lunches for 2 children for a week.

The main bit

Super saver: Basic sandwiches are the best option if you really need to save. Swap between fillings through the week – cheese, ham and tuna mayo.
Cost: The total cost is £6.80 (that’s 47p for an 800g of Everyday Value Bread, £1.35 for a 1kg pack of spread, £1.77 for a small block of Everyday Value White Cheese, £1.65 for 400g of Everyday Value Ham, £1.08 for 2 tins of Everyday Value Tuna and 48p for 500g Mayonnaise).

Still a bargain: Add something a bit extra to sandwiches to make them tastier – so you’ve got cheese and pickle, ham and tomato and tuna mayo with sweetcorn.
Cost: The total cost is £8.36 (that’s the £6.80 for the basic ingredients above, plus Everyday Value Pickle for 24p for a 290g jar, £1 for a 6-pack of Salad Tomatoes and 35p for a 325g tin of Everyday Value Sweetcorn).

Splashing out: Make some pasta salads for an unusual packed lunch. It takes a bit more effort, but you can fill them with whatever veg you have lying around, so it’s a great way to get them to eat more vitamins! Vary the salads you make so that it doesn’t get boring – good ones to start with are chicken and pesto, avocado and feta and chargrilled veg (cover in olive oil and put under the grill – stir in pesto if you like).
Cost: The total cost is 10.17. That’s £1 for a 1kg bag of pasta twists. Then £2.89 for the chicken and pesto topping (£1.89 for 240g Everyday Value Chunky Chicken Pieces and £1 for a 190g pot of Tesco Pesto), £4.59 for the feta and avocado topping (£1.50 for Tesco Greek Feta and £1.10 for Tesco Large Avocado, plus £1.69 for 500ml olive oil and 30p for a lemon, for the dressing) and £1.98 for the roasted veg topping (£1 for an aubergine, 18p for a red onion and 80p for a pepper).

Something extra

Super saver: A pack of crisps are sure to put a smile on their faces, and if you buy value crisps the packs are only 18g – so ideal size for lunch boxes AND you’re not giving your kids too much fat.
Cost: Tesco Everyday Value Variety Crisps are 68p for a 12 pack.

Still a bargain: A handful of nuts are a tasty snack that provide loads of energy. Although nuts are high in fat, it’s a good fat and in small quantities it’s very good for you.
Cost: A 250g pack of Tesco mixed nuts costs £2.79.

Splashing out: Vegetable sticks and hummus are a great healthy snack – your kids will get vitamins from the vegetables and hummus is high protein, so it’ll control their blood sugar and stop them getting an energy dip in the afternoon.
Cost: For a week’s worth for 2 kids you’ll need a cucumber, 3 peppers and 2 pots of houmous. The total cost is £3.80 (that’s 80p for a cucumber, £1 for a 3 pack of peppers and £2 for 2 packs of houmous).

A little treat

Super saver: If you’d rather not give them chocolate, yoghurts are a nice treat.
Cost: 33p for a 4 pack of Tesco Everyday Value Fruit yoghurts. You’ll need 3 packs, so that’s 99p

Still a bargain: Chocolate cake bars are sure to put a smile on their faces. The bars are pretty small, so you’re not giving them too much sugar – they’ll burn off the sugar at afternoon play time.
Cost: 50p for a 5 pack of Tesco Everyday Value Chocolate Chip Cake Bars. You’ll need 2 packs, so that’s £1.

Splashing out: A few marshmellows gives a sweet treat without too many calories – and you can guarantee not many of the other children with have them.
Cost: 89p for 200g. You’ll need 2 packs, so that’s £1.78.

Something to drink

Super saver: Buy a bottle of squash and give your kids a flask to take it in.
Cost: 29p for a 750ml bottle of Tesco Everyday Value Double Strength Orange Squash.

Still a bargain: A carton of apple juice will give your kids one of their 5-a-day.
Cost: 45p for 3 cartons of Tesco Everyday Value Apple Juice – so that’s £1.80 for a week’s worth.

Splashing out: Individual bottles of fresh juice make a nice treat for lunchboxes.
Cost: £2.59 for a 12 pack of Tesco Orange and Tropical Juice, 250ml bottles.

A break-time snack

Super saver: An apple is a simple snack, it’s tasty, good for you and easy to carry around.
Cost: A bag of Tesco Everyday Value Apples is 68p, you’d need 2 bags for a week, so that’s £1.36.

Still a bargain: A little pot of raisins are high in vitamins and 1 of their 5-a-day. Just buy a big pack and transfer it into a little plastic pot for them to take each day.
Cost: A 500g bag of Tesco Californian Seedless Raisins costs £1.54.

Splashing out: Cereal bars can be a really good break-time snack if you choose them wisely – some are full of sugar, so might send your little ones a bit hyper!
Cost: A 5 pack of Tesco Cranberry Cereal Bars costs £1.09. You’d need 2 packs for the week, so that’s £2.18.

Total costs

Super saver: £10.12

Still a bargain: £14.50

Splashing out: £17.93

Where to next?

More ideas from Tesco
How to make the most of your freezer
How to have a bargain BBQ