Better Nutrition, Lower Cost, and Less Waste
The commercials for ready-to-go meal kits for kids, make them look like fun and excitement in a box. The reality is a little different. There is no arguing with the fact that these meal kits are convenient, but are you really getting a good value for your money?
Take a look inside the box, not so appetizing. Let’s take a look at what I got for my money.
Ingredients – We’ve all heard that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Take a look at this ingredient list.
Nutrition – Meal kits typically contain far more sodium, saturated fat, and sugar than kids need in a meal. Most include no fruits or vegetables at all. Take a look at this nutrition facts label from a store bought meal kit. The calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium are quite high.
Waste – Imagine the amount of garbage these packages generate in a school cafeteria!
Cost – The average price for meal kits at my store was $2.79. This is actually more expensive than school lunch at most schools and far less nutritious.
I decided to challenge myself to come up with some healthy DIY versions of these meal kits that would be easy to prepare and just as fun for kids.
I started with some reusable containers that had dividers like the meal kits’ disposable boxes and an ice pack to keep the food cold. I also set some rules for myself:
- Create boxes that follow MyPlate guidelines.
- Use only items that can be packed on Sunday and keep fine until Friday. I’m only packing lunches once!
- Use only items that require minimal preparation like cutting or chopping.
Check out the list below for some foods from each food group that work with my rules.
My meal kit has much more color, nutrition and appeal than the store bought one and I bought the ingredients for 10 kits like this (assuming two kids with five lunches each) for less than $20.00. That’s less than $2.00 per kit. Assuming kids will purchase milk at school to go with their DIY meal kits; the price is just below the price of the store bought ones.
The National School Lunch Program at your child’s school provides convenient, nutritious meals for a great value, but these ready-to-go DIY meal kits are a good option for kids who prefer to bring their lunch.