Kids LOVE finding a simple PB&J bento box in their lunch, and you can feel good about giving them a high-quality, nutritious lunch at a cost that won’t empty your wallet… Prepping several early in the week will save time, as well!
This post has been sponsored by The J.M. Smucker Company, Pepperidge Farm®, and the Ziploc® brand. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Here we go again… It’s Back-to-School time, and you know what that means: buying ALL the supplies, clothes, shoes, etc. In other words, time for parents across the country to watch their bank accounts dwindle, while at the same time heaving a big sigh of relief for the return of daily routines and schedules.
Long ago we decided to ditch as much of the Back-to-School shopping frenzy as possible. When you have five kids, you simply can’t afford to buy them all a new wardrobe every year — and I imagine it’s the same for most parents, regardless of how many kids they have. Instead, we purchase the necessary school supplies (and restock our homework box), fill in any immediate gaps in their clothing/shoes (who needs winter clothing in August?!), and start stocking up on their favorite lunch items.
Saving Money on School Lunches
Packed lunches are one way we save money throughout the school year. I don’t know what the average price of a school lunch is across the U.S., but here in Central Ohio, we’re pushing $3 per child! I can definitely do better than $75 a week at the grocery store, and thankfully, my kids aren’t big fans of the school’s menus anyhow.
However, they ARE big fans of the classic PB&J sandwich, which is just about as frugal as you can get. So that makes my wallet extra happy, especially since there are a number of coupons available for saving on Jif®, Smucker’s® and Ziploc® brand products at Meijer right now.
Making A PB&J Bento Box
My youngest has always adored having his sandwiches cut into shapes. However, this year, he declared that the cute PB&J dinosaurs I used to make are for babies (I may have shed a tear), but I think he’s going to be into these fun PB&J bento boxes for a good while!
And thankfully waving at me enthusiastically from the bus each morning has NOT been declared “for babies” just yet, because THAT will surely break my heart…
As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m big on using high quality ingredients whenever possible, even in a simple PB&J sandwich. So I started with Pepperidge Farm® Farmhouse Whole Grain White Bread. To my kids’ eyes and tastebuds, it’s just another white bread, but I feel good knowing that it’s packed with whole grain goodness.
To make bento-sized sandwiches, I slice off the crusts first and save them in the freezer for fresh bread crumbs or future French toast casseroles. Then I cut each slice into equal rectangles, which are the perfect size for the medium square size Ziploc® brand containers that we use for packed lunches.
I generously spread one side of each rectangle with Jif® Natural Creamy Peanut Butter Spread. Sometimes we’ll change things up with the crunchy version, it all depends on what sounds good at the time.
Then I top each with a squeeze of Smucker’s® Natural Strawberry Fruit Spread, which gets a big thumbs up for taste by my kids and convenience by me. The flat opening is the perfect size for these little sandwiches, and there’s no more jelly glopped all over my kitchen counters!
Make Ahead PB&J Bento Box
Finally, each PB&J bento box is finished off with some whole grain crackers and seasonal fresh fruit. These bento boxes are SO easy to make and can be endlessly customized with different flavors of jam and jelly, whole grain crackers, and various fresh fruits.
You can even make up several early in the week to save time, and they’ll hold up well for several days. Or you could even consider making your own homemade Uncrustables — the Farmhouse whole grain white bread withstands the freezer like a champ.
Saving time and money? Yes, please!
Save On Back-To-School Lunches At Meijer
In case you’re curious just how much you can save versus buying a school lunch, I did a little quick math. These PB&J bento boxes come in at under $1.25 each, and that’s with a little padding for fluctuating fruit prices! Of course, older children will probably need an addition or two (maybe a string cheese or cut veggies), but you should still be well under the price of a school lunch.