The Queen of Coupons Reigns......

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Starting the Year off Right....Again, again, and again.

I don't set New Year's Resolutions. Never have. Probably never will. I think that life is about progression and evolving into better people then we were last year...and I've decided that I'm not going to keep failing at seeking unattainable loftiness and goals that supersede my present abilities. I just do the best I can within the circumstances I'm faced with. So instead of yearly resolutions, I make daily, hourly, and sometimes--minutely-based resolutions. For example--I decided that if I was going into the cave where a giant of a man was sleeping after a long, double shift on graveyard--I better only going in once. So I put a couple things away, got some clothes, and took a shower while I was in the cave. I didn't really plan or want a shower just then. [Um...awkward.] But my point being that my daily goal and resolution readjusted in an instant because of extenuating circumstances and consideration for someone else.

The reason for not wanting a shower at the crack of dawn versus noon? I was on pinterest again. Not just succumbing to virtual voyeurism, but looking for great ideas for kids lunches. I made huge improvements in the sack lunch department with the new school year starting in 2011. So my lengthy research episodes on pinterest are a totally productive use of time...especially as it has helped me step up the daily grind in the meal planning department and increase the variety in nutritional value of the mid-day meal for the urchins I've been blessed with. I make 25 sack lunches a week. That's FIVE kids needing lunches to take to school for FIVE days a week. Things tended to get a little mundane and boring at times, before I added boxed lunches to our routine. (And just for kicks--I "let" them buy school lunch once every other week. It used to be a weekly event--but with five of them, it was adding up and they were absolutely starving after school).

So I still let them buy lunch occasionally, but the reason is that I give myself permission to take a break now and again. But I get a couple that remind me that I need to make their lunch the next day! Bentos have inspired me to try things besides the classic PB&J and Ham and Cheese sandwiches. In today's lunch, they got rotisserie chicken, lettuce, and cheddar cheese wrapped in a spinach tortilla. I put ranch dressing in the container and filled the rest of the space with pretzels, baby carrots, blueberries, and a chocolate covered graham cracker. Before the box inspiration--I don't think I would have done a wrap-style sandwich for a sack lunch since it would have been a bit "awkward" to wrap and pack. Now I love pinwheel sandwiches and sandwiches on a stick!






Back to pinterest.... So at the beginning of the school year I saw these great lunches being made in Bento Boxes. Little works of art!! And what a great way to introduce and get kids to eat a vast variety of whole goodness! But I'm cheap. Not with food, but with food containers!! I didn't want to spend a fortune buying five bento boxes, because inevitably, one would get lost and then I'd be the mean mom for deciding who didn't get a Bento for lunch! I just don't go there. Cheap=replacable.



But, Bento boxes--I LOVE them!! The ideas are endless and aplenty on websites when you google "bento box lunches". But not to be disappointed in my plan, I came across another fabulous find that creates the box without the investment--Ziploc containers!




I invested in the Ziploc containers that have 3 separate compartments in one container called the Divided Rectangle and are $2.37 for a pack of two at Wal-Mart. They are dishwasher safe, making them 100% reusuable! So I purchased several using coupons for save $1 on two. So they worked out to be $1.87 for 2 containers and I was set to start the Bento Box experience for my kids.


I got great ideas on how to creatively fill the spaces from websites like http://www.muffintinmonday.com/, http://easylunchboxes.smugmug.com/, and http://blog.superhealthykids.com/. There are dozens of other great websites and blogs to research that I found on pinterest...courtesy of great visual aids. I just refer back to them off my board as I look for fresh ideas.



Who knew that hard-boiled eggs would be so much fun in a sack lunch?!? If you put a rubber band around the peeled egg lengthwise--it divets into the shape of a heart! Ummm!! Totally CuTe and how fun that would be for Valentine's Day!



I purchased mini skewers at Cash-n-Carry and started doing fun things like cheese and meat on the skewers. They fit perfectly at an angle inside the Ziploc container. I fill in the sides with vegetables and put ranch dressing in the smallest compartment of the container. Fabulous ideas I've researched have really helped me make healthier eating fun! Fruit Kabobs! Bagel Kabobs! Pizza Kabobs! The Bobs are endless!!


I like to buy ham and turkey from the deli case at Costco that is in the solid chunks. Then I cube them and make my luscious bobs with the variety I want.


I found another FUN idea that I'm getting the sewing machine out to make today!



I never thought of sewing on plastic until I saw a Raisin costume made from black garbage bags and a sewing machine. I must have been so overawed with the garbage bag that I never thought of sandwich bags--but I think that this is a real WiNnEr in the FUN category of great school lunches. Our school asks the kids to bring snacks to eat throughout the day up until 4th grade. Talk about a "talking" point for being just plain creative!

Another friend expressed a conflict of trying to get kids to pack their own lunches and not having the rush to get them made with proper nutritional variety and options. I know that when I've let the boys make their own lunches...I find chips, crackers, pop, and candy as the core of their meal. That requires some Mom-intervention with a sandwich, some kind of fruit or vegetable, and a protein. Great Lunch-makers are not born! They are trained. And I think I've found another way to make this transition easier on the road to responsible children!

I'm totally into freezer meals. But the highlight of my "pinteresting" today: Freezer SANDWICHES!! Holy Cow! Talk about Smart. Brilliant. Fast!!

http://bestorganizingtips.blogspot.com/2011/08/radical-way-to-organize-school-lunches.html
This blogger talks about making lunches ONCE a week--by making all the sandwiches and treats on Sunday night and then freezing them. She wraps the sandwiches and cookies in foil and labels them with a sharpie marker, before putting them in the freezer. The kids just take the items from the freezer and place in the bag each morning. The sandwich is thawed by lunch time and the meal is stress-free! I LOVE her way of thinking and I'm going to start implementing this in our routine as a way to lighten the load. Crazy mornings won't get crazier if lunch is already made and waiting for them!

Not everything freezes well, so I found another website that goes through some of the things that work and don't work. My goal was to make things easier, not gross and wasteful! And it's always good to remember that "homemade" is not always cheaper, but it's better to eat less processed and refined foods when available. http://www.favoritefreezerfoods.com/frozen-sandwiches.html


**I also like to buy the small 1-2oz plastic containers and lids from the Cash-n-Carry that I can put dips and sauces in for fruits and vegetables. And for the really thrifty--the 4oz containers are wonderful if you like to make salads or homemade puddings. A plastic spoon and disposable containers make for easy clean-up and no more forgetfulness! [I know. I know. Totally goes against the green movement. But until it's outlawed...it's still an option ;) ]

Lunch. Not exactly my New Year's Resolution. But definitely something that I've been working on that I've gotten better at. It doesn't have to be boring and mundane. Now--I'm not the note-writing Diva with the beautiful napkins and lipstick kisses on the brown bag--but my kids look forward to lunch away from home as much as when they are home. So I'm satisfied with the improvements for now. I just can't wait to be inspired with the other great ideas that are being shared! New and creative ideas have equalled saving more time, money, and stress for me. So WORTH the effort!!

1 comment:

  1. WOW! I am heading ver to Walmart right now to look for these! Thanks for your wonderful post, there are some great ideas for my wonderful 5th grade son. Now I just wonder if my 11th grade daughter would be interested.

    Thanks,

    Julie

    ReplyDelete