When cafeteria managers across the country consider what to serve for their students, they consider each meal whether it be breakfast or lunch, to have essentially a protein, a carbohydrate, a fruit or vegetable. Some cafeterias have contracted with companies to provide pre-mixed meals that are cooked and served, and have taken out the guesswork. Others plan and prepare meals according to the dietary requirements. Although the government provides money for those who can't afford to buy lunches, for those who don't quality, they can be expensive. Using your local grocery store or farmer's market can help if creating lunches at home. Here's a comparison of lunch options and their costs per serving.
Lunches at the cafeteria
If you do not receive free or reduced lunches at your school, which varies from school to school not necessarily the school district, buying lunch at school is the most expensive option. The average cost of lunch is $3.50, without adding dessert or a specific drink of your choice. However depending on the program the school has, the daily options are a plus. Lunches at schools are looking to include a variety of foods that kids like, while adding nutritional value. It used to be that tomato sauce or ketchup was the vegetable to spare expenses, now spaghetti and tomato sauce may come with garlic bread or toast, salad, fruits or vegetables. Other school options may include varied pasta and sauces, pizza, chicken fillet sandwich or chicken tenders, fish,or grilled cheese sandwiches, subs, tortilla wraps, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and corn dogs, with a fruit and/or vegetable, at least two choices of milk, juice, bottled water and a baked good for dessert. Also some programs offer two or three options of the above simultaneously.
Store bought lunches
Also, keeping these health needs in mind, manufacturers, like Oscar Mayer, have rose to the occasion to create new types of ready to eat store bought lunches. This is next most expensive option. Luncheables come in all forms, crackers with ham or turkey, self-made pizzas, subs, salsa and chips and chicken nuggets. They can very from $2.19 to $3.49.
Other options, for instance, using pre-cooked or pre-made sandwiches, chicken, pizza, or salads are more costly. Walmart prepares their own versions of lunchables in the deli section. Depending on the date, they cost anywhere from $1.25 to $4.25.
The least expensive lunch is buying products in bulk and putting them together, or making lunch homemade. ith the new lunch boxes and bags that come insulated, add a ice pack and keep food cold for over 2 hours or warm. Sandwiches can be made of any luncheon meat with or without cheese, or from any of the salads, ham, egg, tuna and chicken salad. Add lettuce and tomato and chicken breasts already cooked and cut up, and you have a salad, no need to worry about individual sauces, go to Walmart or Food Lion's deli section who sells them for 50 -75 cents a piece. Use any type cracker and spread with cheese, hazelnut spread, almond butter, as well as luncheon meat and peanut butter. Recently makers of cheese have created pre-cut slices (Martins) that are cracker size for no more than the cost of buying a package of cheese. Another great option, is combining any of the above meats or salads,with rice or beans and tortilla wraps. Add peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, grated cheese, ranch dressing or salsa (which can be individually bought as well). Containers with varied pockets can separate your fixings until lunchtime. Thermos can be filled with prepared soups or make your own by using chicken stock, vegetables, potatoes and your choice of pasta. Estimation of this cost is somewhere between 40 cents to $3 per serving.
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