Trim The Fat Tuesday: The School Lunches

At our kids' school, like most schools nowadays, bullies stealing your lunch money has become obsolete. Everyone has an ID number hooked up to a debit account that's charged automatically at the end of the lunch line. Our school happens to use, and they email us when the account balances are low so the kids don't starve. Then I add some money with a few clicks on the keyboard, and we're good.

Sounds nice and convenient, right?

Too convenient. I haven't been paying close attention, and it turns out they're eating us out of house and home! We definitely need to

Cut all cafeteria desserts and pack lunch one day per week.

I mean, just check out last week's totals:

So a regular school lunch costs $2.75 a pop, and since the kids have become less picky eaters, they are happy to buy lunch every single day. Turns out they've been double-dipping on desserts too, treating themselves to a cafeteria cookie every day on our dime and then having a dessert at home after dinner.

That is absolutely against the rules. (The rule, by the way, is one dessert per day, max. We usually make one nice dessert like a pie or batch of cookies on a weekend, and then when it's gone, you're SOL until the next weekend. So that should amount to plenty of dessert-free days as well.)

Time for some tightening of the pursestrings about lunches, then. Rule #1 is that there are no more lunch desserts, unless they pay us back for them. Since their weekly allowances are only about $2.50, a 50 cent cookie is suddenly awfully expensive. 

Rule #2 was easily agreed upon: pack lunch once a week. Jonas decided to do it on a Monday, when the house is at maximum food level after the weekend grocery shopping. Tiegan said she'd probably pack more often than that once she got back in the habit. And that's a good thing, because once everyone gets used to packing once a week, I'd like to get that up to two or three days per week eventually.

The math here: Cookies are 50 cents each, and 2 kids eating a cookie every day for the school year comes to $180 worth of desserts they shouldn't be having anyway. Cutting out two (one per child) $2.75 lunches per week comes to $220 over the course of a 40-week school year. That's saved us $400 per school year, which is about $33 per month when you divide it out over the entire 12 months of the calendar year.

Savings per month: $33


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