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Feeding a daycare full of kids requires not only affordable ingredients but also nutritional balance, simplicity, and of course, flavors that will appeal to young palates. When planning daycare menus, you need plenty of cheap lunch ideas for daycare.
Serving healthy foods to kids that they will actually eat can be a challenge for daycare providers. It’s hard to keep coming up with ideas for lunches that don’t have you throwing away a bunch of expensive food. AND food is crazy expensive right now so we are all looking for dirt cheap meals for daycare.
Homemade lunches are generally cheaper and lower in fat compared with meals you can get premade.
Cheap lunch ideas
Here are some budget-friendly lunch ideas for a daycare setting:
The things from the grocery store you need for a homemade sandwich cheap meal will in fact make up to five simple meals; the bag of baby carrots has at least five servings. Buy the store brand of 100 percent whole wheat bread, sliced real cheese, and a bag of oranges. The prepackaged deli lunch meat is usually on sale. We can’t count it on the food program, but the kids love it, so you can choose just cheese or cheese and meat and count the cheese.
Uncooked, long-grain white rice is quite inexpensive, especially when you buy a 10-lb. bag. Whole, uncooked chicken goes on sale often, and you get plenty of meat. Chicken and rice is a great meal for kids and you can double the recipe and serve it twice for more time and money savings. You can also buy chicken thighs and roast them. Roast the seasoned chicken in the oven and cook the rice.
If you have a number of leftovers from a few days worth of different meals, pull them out and heat them up for a buffet style meal. You can also make a lot of great remix recipes from leftovers.
Meal ideas for daycare
Roll ups are a great meal for kids and they can even help make them if you want them to. Here are some wonderful roll up ideas:
- Ham and Cranberry Roll Ups
- Cucumber Cream Cheese Tuna Roll Ups
- Pepperoni Meatball Roll Ups
- Italian Pinwheels
There are so many possibilities for roll ups, it’s endless.
Cheap Lunch Ideas For Kids
Contrary to what some may think about a cheap lunch, an inexpensive lunch can be just as nutritious as an expensive lunch. If you would like to save money, examine some cheap lunch ideas your kids can enjoy.
There are a ton of great cold lunch ideas for daycare. You can check them out in this article. And many of them are money savers too. These really help us out in the heat of the summer too.
Pasta is another cheap ingredient. There are so many things you can do with it and we all know that pasta is always a hit with kids! Check out these pasta based meal ideas:
- One Pan Cheeseburger Pasta
- Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Bake
- Homemade Hamburger Helper-Quick and Easy Pasta Dinners
- Cooking with Kids-Lotsa Pasta Recipe
Extremely cheap meal
Tuna salad is a cheap lunch a kid can have on top of torn lettuce leaves, or on bread the whole week. Buy canned tuna and lettuce when these foods are on sale. Canned tuna is the second least expensive meat I have found and it’s very versatile. It can also be mixed with macaroni for a great pasta salad.
Baked beans are a cheap lunch idea that can easily be made by combining 3 cups of small cooked white beans with 1/4 cup ketchup and 2 tbsp. brown sugar. Place tin foil over the beans and bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven until you see the sauce bubble. And we all know beans are the cheapest protein around.
Eggs are cheap and versatile. For an omelet, beat one egg and fry in a pan with a little olive oil and slice of cream cheese added to it. You can also make egg salad by boiling the eggs, chopping them into small pieces, and adding mayonnaise to the eggs. Serve on bread or with freshly cut vegetables or other favorite toppings and fresh ingredients you like. You can make so many things with eggs, even egg casserole.
For more food program and meal inspiration, check these out: