The other day I was grocery shopping with my 2 youngest. As we passed this and that, the 4 year old would say, "ooh can we get that?" As I was getting our standard 2 giant packages of bologna (I really need to find a source for nitrate free bologna with as much as my kids love it), Micah informed me that all his friends brought Lunchables to school. And could I get him some. I have nothing against Lunchables and I totally see the appeal for little kids...cute little tray, bite sized food and yes the treat. However, I hate trash and they are not cheap to load up on a bunch for 4 kids to eat regularly. So I told him I would make him some myself.
I already had some of these Rubbermaid containers. So I got out my little cookie cutters and made some homemade lunchables. Him and Z are really into them. Micah came home proudly yesterday and said, "Mama, I ate ALL of it!" So I put these containers in their lunch boxes with an apple or banana and their water bottles and they are good to go.
So now we all are happy. I can use the all natural Hormel ham for Z's and their fav marble cheese (bought by the block and cut myself) and wheat or my reduced fat club crackers. Small treat in the corner. I have 4 of these containers and plan to get a few more and make up a weeks worth on Sunday afternoons and keep in the fridge. You can also cut these in plain bite sized pieces to prevent waste (like I did this morning when I wasn't able to make them up the night before) or make them into cute shapes and put the scraps in another container for quick on the go protein snack.
Also I want to start making my own frozen pb&j's. I admit I have been buying the boys the ones from Sam's in an effort to make things easier for myself in the mornings. But inspired by this post on making your own, I decided to do it too. Not only will it save money, but I can then use our WhiteWheat bread (as seen on the Eat This Not That list...we can't bring ourselves to eat whole wheat and this packs 5g of fiber) and our reduced sugar strawberry jam. Also I have one that only eats only peanut butter and one that likes the natural dark chocolate pbutter/no jelly. I just happened to go to a Pampered Chef party last night and got the sandwich cutter/sealer. Now just wondering if I can freeze egg salad sandwiches....what do you think? My Kalla would be thrilled if I can! :)
Another cost cutter and greener change we made while back is we buy our organic yogurt by the tub. My kids eat yogurt for breakfast every morning so it goes really fast! The night before I dish out the yogurt into little bowls. We use our Take n Toss bowls we've had for ages, but you can also get these sized bowls made by Rubbermaid like the ones in this post. I plan to get more of those because the lids are easier to remove.
And lastly juice. When my older ones were smaller I faithfully watered down their morning cup of juice. I've gotten lazy folks and now that they pour their own, they get full strength. Not that it's a terrible thing, but I am of the camp that juice, even the 100% is still sugar and mostly empty calories. Not to mention watering it down makes it go further and as one who likes a tasty cup of juice with my eggs, it makes my glass of juice go from 2 WW points to 1. And now you can even buy pre-watered down juice at the store. But who wants to pay for water?? We have a great water filter and it's free! So I came up with this brilliant idea. I take the kids favorite Cherry Juicy Juice and fill up a pitcher or container half way and fill the rest with water. Now we all just pour from the pitcher and it's all nice and calorie/sugar reduced. :) Now mine is kept in these clear containers and my oldest 2 haven't had any trouble. A small 1 quart plastic pitcher might be easier for little ones to handle. My 2 younger kids are strange creatures and don't even like juice. Micah will only drink water or milk...for every preschool party I have to pack his water bottle as they always have juice boxes, and Maressa will only drink water. period.