Which is cheaper: School lunch or packed lunch? Problem Solvers compare lunch option prices

Packing lunch used to be the healthier option.

Now with a federal regulation to improve school lunch choices, it's more about preference, and price.

Which is cheaper: Preparing your kids meals or paying for school lunches?

The Problem Solvers went to work to find out in our nonscientific study: Sack Lunches vs. School Lunches.

We compared prices and crunched the numbers to save you money this school year.

Elementary school lunches in Green Country range from $1.90 to $2.30. The average price is $2.07.

Tulsa $2.15
Union $2.00
Broken Arrow $1.90
Jenks $1.95
Muskogee $2.10
Bartlesville $2.30

We took our test to Reasors and shopped for three different packed lunch options.

First, the pre-packaged lunches. The lowest price we found was $2.69

Our second option was a turkey and cheese sandwich with whole wheat bread, apple sauce, cheese crackers, pudding and carrots.

That cost $2.30

And lastly, the third packed lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with whole wheat bread, carrots, a banana, string cheese and two fig newtons.

The total: Just $2.05, two cents less than the average school lunch.

So the sack lunch takes the trophy in our test, and the healthiest option was actually the cheapest!

So how did we do it?

For most of the options we picked all natural products and bought items in bulk.

While pre-packed items are more convenient, they cost more.

Of course, we looked for the items that were on sale, but in this case, we did buy name brand. You can go cheaper with generic products.

Also, our lunches had five items, a pretty big meal. So you can take out one or more items to save even more money!

Here's a breakdown of everything we bought:

Lunch #1

Lunchables $2.69

Lunch #2

Banana (1) $0.29
Carrots (3)  $0.24
Bread (2) $0.18
Peanut Butter $0.21
Jelly $0.20
Fig Newtons (2) $0.60
String Cheese $0.33


Lunch #3

Apple Sauce $0.31
Crackers  $0.55
Bread $0.18
Meat $0.67
Cheese  $0.10
Pudding  $0.25
Carrots (3) $0.24
TOTAL $2.30

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