Inexpensive, healthy lunches are as easy as ABC

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Cheap and healthy lunch tips

We all try to pinch pennies during tough times, especially when it comes to food.

But you don't have to skimp on nutrition to save cash. You can still send your kids to school with a healthy lunch and it's as easy as saying your ABCs.

"A healthy, inexpensive lunch that is quick and that your kids won't throw away is as easy as ABC," Registered Dietitian Michelle Gorman said.

A is for ask, B is for bargain and C stands for be creative!

"Ask the child if they want a hot or cold lunch," she said.

Gorman says look at the school menu and then ask your children which days they want you to make them a lunch. Otherwise, eating a hot healthy school lunch for $2 is a good deal.

The next step is learn to bargain.

"The best thing to do at the grocery store is kind of bargain," Gorman said. "Use the store ads, use coupons. Buying store brands is one of the best ways to save money at the grocery store."

Be creative so that the food you make appeals to your youngsters.

For example, Lunchables are popular, but you can make it yourself healthier and cheaper.

"We're able to use whole-wheat crackers, we're using a lean turkey, we've added a pudding," she demonstrated.

Add some cheese and a peach and you have a nutritious lunch for $1.48.

"That is a cucumber tuna boat and so we just took a cucumber and kind of scraped out the middle so we could put a tuna salad in there," Gorman said.

Dress it up with a fruit twist and some trail mix for a lunch price of $2.27.

"The last lunch we have is something that's really, really easy and it's our fiesta pasta salad," Gorman said.

She mixed corn, black beans and Ranch dressing with whole-wheat penne pasta. Some grapes, a snack bar and Gatorade cost Gorman $1.82.

Just remember one thing.

"The kids like a variety," she said. "They don't have a lot of time to eat lunch so if you can make it fun and appealing to them, they're going to eat it."