Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Lunches: Check the Freezer

Today is the last day of school for my boys. Our annual tradition is that I take them out to lunch after school. We're trying a new burger place, which I'm told has awesome milkshakes and fries. And burgers. Yum!

Although we like going out to eat, my bathroom scale and my checkbook both dictate how often we can do this. You may have guessed that it's not very often. In order to circumvent these benevolent dictators as well as trying to be frugal and fun, I started the tradition of buying prepared freezer food and Top Ramen noodles to have on hand for summer lunches.  I never said it was healthy, but then eating out isn't healthy either.

Whenever my oldest son asks if we can go to McDonald's I say, "Check the freezer." If he complains, I remind him that he is the same kid who will eat peanut butter sandwiches every day during the school year and that he's welcome to eat one of those.   My youngest son is more flexible in his lunch preferences so he is easier to please. He's happy with the chicken nuggets or the frozen burritos.

Is this really frugal? No. The most frugal option, of course, is to eat leftovers or make a sandwich. However, I look at it this way: there are some foods that I only buy at certain times of the year, like pumpkin pie. I only buy pumpkin pie in the fall. If buying prepared freezer foods is something that I only do during summer, then I'm okay with it. And buying prepared foods is cheaper than eating at a restaurant - even a fast food restaurant. By the time you buy a burger, fries, and a drink you can easily spend $4 - $6 per person. Is any of this necessary? No, but my kids enjoy it and it gives me a break from making lunches. Happy Summer!

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