The price of convenience: what lunchbox prep could be costing you

While parents across the country are preparing to kick up their heels (or head back to work) and farewell their kids to another school year, they’ll still have to face the morning rush of getting everyone out the door on time with all the food they need for the day.

Naturally, with this rush comes the reliance on convenient, pre-packaged snacks thrown into school lunch boxes, which behind the scenes are burning holes in the wallets of many Aussie parents bearing the weight of inflation across the board.

That’s why Mozo crunched the numbers on popular pre-packaged snacks at supermarkets, beside the similar snacks that have been prepared at home and found a price saving of up to 66% - proving that a little DIY can go a long way.

Cheese and crackers were the most expensive snack, setting Aussies back around $3.50 per ‘pack’, followed by flavoured yoghurt at $2.40 per ‘pack’. And while this may seem like only a few dollars every week, if parents were to prepare these snacks themselves, they’d be saving over $600 on just the one item* over the whole school year.

“Over the course of a school year the savings really start to add up. Our research found that you can save $240 by simply spooning your own yoghurt into a reusable container rather than reaching for yoghurt pouches at the supermarket,” said Consumer Finance Expert, Rachel Wastell.

Pre-packaged snack price premiums

For parents looking to further plump up their savings, Wastell encourages Aussies to consider investing in containers and plastic bottles, which can last well over the lifetime of a typical school year.

“There are now plenty of affordable reusable containers, lunch boxes and bottles to choose from, including reusable easy to clean pouches for liquid substances like yoghurt that are perfect for the environment. Dry items like crackers and chips can be easily stored in a small container or snaplock bag that can be reused each day.”

Top tips for avoiding the pre packaged snack mark-up

  • Invest in some low-cost reusable containers and water bottlesWhile you’re paying upfront for reusable containers to portion out snacks like yoghurt and fruit juice, the potential savings in the long run far outweigh this cost.
  • Cut up snacks yourselfThe biggest markup we found was for pre packed cheese and crackers at 200% and when you consider how simple and fast it is to cut up the cheese yourself and pop it in a reusable container, there’s really no reason any parent should be subject to this mark-up.
  • Add fresh food into the mixNot only are prepacked foods pricey, but they’re often full of additives and sugar. So when you’re going about creating your own DIY lunchbox for your kids, why not make the switch to  fresh fruit and veges like chopped up celery and carrots with some hummus?

*Calculations are based on non-discounted prices from Woolworths and Coles online on 25 January 2024.

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