Make Ahead School Lunches - Aldi Edition

A couple weeks ago I talked about how I went from an ALDI critic to an ALDI fanatic. And how this has been the best thing that’s happened to our budget since YNAB. When we make a plan and mostly shop at ALDI we have consistently been saving $300-$600 per month! That’s a pretty significant chunk of change!

This week I’ve created another make ahead school lunch menu – but this time using all ALDI ingredients. Just one stop and all of the ingredients you’ll need to totally conquer lunch time will be in one place!

The make ahead part of this menu means that we prep and/or cook all the ingredients for all 5 days of lunches on Sunday. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour  – it depends on the menu and also on how many “helpers” you have in the kitchen. For us, one hour on a Sunday for a week of ease in the evenings is worth it every time!

RELATED: MAKE AHEAD SCHOOL LUNCH MEAL PLAN 1

Also, a bonus is that the kids unpack and then repack their lunches every day when they get home from school. We’ve taken to writing the menu on our chalkboard door so the kids who are old enough to read can announce to everyone else what to pack up for the next day!

Now I should add a disclaimer that we are pretty health conscious people. I really don’t want to get into the debate about organic or not, so I’m not going to go there. I think every person needs to have that discussion and then decide for themselves.

FOR US, WE HAVE CHOSEN WELLNESS AS ONE OF OUR VALUES.

What this means for us is that we will choose to continue our journey towards wellness and wholeness as a human in mind, body and spirit. We believe that food plays a crucial role in all 3 of those wellness categories.

This has led us to eat whole foods primarily. We do choose organic more often than not. Also, we buy a very limited amount of processed food. And we eat a LOT of fruit and vegetables – and those can be pricey.

All this to say that I’ve created our kids’ lunch menu based on OUR Values.

I realize this menu might not fit every family but I hope it will at least create a starting point for you and help you overcome the “I don’t have time to make a menu” excuse. You got this. Just start! It’s amazing on the other side, I promise! 

One more thing, supplies.

Here’s what we use to make ahead school lunch for the entire week.

Insulated container for soups and spaghetti. Our kids like to have a “hot” lunch at least once a week. This isn’t the exact container we use (I can’t find that one), but it’s very similar and has awesome reviews.

Leak proof lidded containers. We have multiple sets of these and LOVE them.

We have these lunch bags. We’ve had them for 3 years now and they’re still kicking! I’ve washed the bags in the washer multiple times to get rid of germs. Just don’t put them in the dryer – they shrink and won’t zip! They air dry really quickly.

When we bought the lunch bags, they came with the bento box and 5 containers. We don’t use the bento box much anymore because all the different containers we use don’t fit into the box. BUT, all of the different containers do fit together into the lunch bag – no problem! We also use the lidded containers to hold all the prepped food for the week. We bought some extra lidded containers to use so we could fully prep for the entire week.

Also, ziploc bags. A little wasteful but sometimes you need an easy container that will fit an entire sandwich. I’ve been meaning to get these, but just haven’t done that yet. So, we still use ziplocs in our weekly prep fest.

Lastly, our kids use KleanKanteen Insulated water bottles. They’ve had these for years as well and while I have bought new lids because I prefer these to the screw top ones, I’m sure they’re going to last for years to come!

Stainless steel is expensive, but when you divide that cost over as many years as the product lasts, I know it’s cheaper in the long run than buying the cheaper alternative that will need to be replaced multiple times.

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, THE MAKE AHEAD KID’S LUNCH MENU PLAN – ALDI EDITION!

MONDAY:

ORGANIC CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP; APPLE; CHEESE STICK; CRACKERS; GRANOLA BAR.   (We warm up the chicken soup in the morning and put it in their  insulated containers ). We like to put boiling water in the container to heat it up before putting their soup in it so the food stays warm until lunchtime. If they don’t mind cold soup just throw it in a  leak proof container  and call it a day!

ORGANIC CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP; APPLE; CHEESE STICK; CRACKERS; GRANOLA BAR.

(We warm up the chicken soup in the morning and put it in their insulated containers). We like to put boiling water in the container to heat it up before putting their soup in it so the food stays warm until lunchtime. If they don’t mind cold soup just throw it in a leak proof container and call it a day!

TUESDAY:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich; whole milk greek yogurt with honey drizzle; gluten free pretzels; veggies & berries.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich; whole milk greek yogurt with honey drizzle; gluten free pretzels; veggies & berries.

WEDNESDAY:

Salami & cheese sticks (we buy a whole block of cheese and cut it into sticks); greek yogurt with honey drizzle; crackers; veggies & berries.

Salami & cheese sticks (we buy a whole block of cheese and cut it into sticks); greek yogurt with honey drizzle; crackers; veggies & berries.

THURSDAY:

Hummus; pretzels; greek yogurt with honey; veggies & berries.

Hummus; pretzels; greek yogurt with honey; veggies & berries.

FRIDAY:

Peanut butter & jelly sandwich; greek yogurt with honey drizzle; pretzels; veggies & fruit.

(We do repeat peanut butter and jelly because our kids love it SO much. You could substitute for another type of sandwich or something else your kids LOVE.)

This meal plan costs us $40.62 to feed all 4 of our children for the entire week – 20 lunches! This includes buying the peanut butter, jam, honey and crackers – which you might already have on hand. If you DON’T have to buy those four items, it will only cost $30.56 – FOR THE WEEK!

So, to get a cost per lunch I’m going to average the two (since you’d sometimes have to buy the staple ingredients and sometimes not). The average cost per lunch is only $1.78.

Considering the national average cost per lunch in elementary school is $2.34, and that lunch often does NOT include the healthiest of foods, I’d say this menu is a WIN!

That’s it friends.

Spend an hour on Sunday making and packing lunches, and enjoy your evenings of relative ease. Now, if I could only figure out how to have dinner cook itself, and then a magic fairy clean up afterwards – we’d be all set!

I’d love to see what your lunches look like! Leave a picture and a comment below of what you’ve come up with!

I’m always rooting for you!

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ParentingOlivia Zurawski