One day, as a math exercise with my oldest, I worked out how much an average lunch cost me to make. First, the sandwich: two slices of bread (10 cents, if twenty slices in a $1.00 loaf); 2 oz. of deli turkey (38 cents, if on sale for $3.00 a pound); 1 slice of cheese (17 cents). Next, the fruit: a banana (15 cents for an average-size banana, if bananas are 50 cents a pound) and a tangerine (if $1.00 a pound, 26 cents for an average-size one). Now the extras: a fiber bar (39 cents each for Target brand, box of six for $2.34) and a cookie (a splurge, I realize now -- a Girl Scout Do-Si-Do, $4.00 for a box of 18, so a whopping 24 cents a cookie). Total price: $1.69 -- but wait ... the milk. I buy shelf-stable box milk, so I don't worry how long it stays unrefrigerated. I get it delivered by the case from Gossner Foods in Utah; total cost is 34 cents for an 8-ounce box. That brings the total for my school lunch to $2.03.
Fantastic! Then I remembered that our public school lunch offers a choice of two hot entrées, a cold entrée, and fruit yogurt, and includes a salad bar with garden vegetables, fresh fruit, and milk. Sometimes they have a cookie, too. School lunch total: $2.00.
Hmmm ... Now I just have to get them to go through that salad bar.
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!