Packing or purchasing school lunch: which is more cost effective?

At the end of a long day, it's probably one of the last things you want to do: pack your child's lunch for school. But if you do, it could be worth your while by saving your family hundreds of dollars a year.

" Because you're buying it yourself and it's not prepackaged, generally speaking, it's always going to be cheaper," said Stephanie Bittner, an educator sight the non-profit group ClariFi which focuses on financial education.

We surveyed several school districts in our area.

Although Philadelphia public schools offer lunch for free to all students, most other districts we surveyed ranged from just over $2.50 to $4 dollars for lunch at elementary, middle and high schools.

Bittner says parents can easily make a healthy lunch for much cheaper.

She took us shopping at the Wegman's grocery store in Cherry Hill to prove her point.

Bittner created a meal that any kid would be happy to take to school.

It started with fun dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

"A serving is five nuggets. So that equates to 75 cents for one serving," said Bittner. "You definitely need to cook them ahead of time and pack them in a box or protective container (that holds warmth)."

She added an eight ounce thermos of milk, which she recommends purchasing by the gallon.
"A gallon of milk will turn out be 21 cents per serving," she said.

Bittner added baby carrots and apples, which parents can put in the lunchbox whole or sliced up.

The total cost?

"It's $1.44 per serving," said Bittner. "So over the course of a year, if you have two kids, You're looking at a savings of almost $600 per year."

And if packing lunch still seems like too daunting of a task at the end of a hard day, Bittner has some advice for that, too.

"That's when you get the kids involved," she said of the lunch packing process. "Make it fun!"
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.