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.
I think the faux lunchable idea is a great idea. My son is always begging me for those but I refuse to buy them. I might have to try out this idea out and see what he thinks.
I wonder if my kids would eat lunch meat if I cut it in star shapes. We've done the same thing with tortillas and cheese, but they usually won't eat meat.
And I love the yogurt idea. I buy the big cartons, too, but usually just dish it out for them each time, but if I had some fun containers, they'd probably like that. And they'd stop coveting DH's yogurts that he takes for lunch (for some reason, he's anti-big carton yogurt.)
Deanna! this is really great, thanks for sharing all of it really. I've been not so creative in the food department lately.
I loVe that homemade lunchables and the frozen pb&j idea!! So FuN! I have the circle cutter from The Pampered Chef...so I am definitely going to give it a try! Thanks so much for sharing!!
I need to find those rubbermades!! I water my juice down too and i do it to Tony's too he just doesn't know it. I will remember these tricks when Roman gets older!!
Such a good mommy giving the babies healthy food. I haven't been so good here lately. You have inspired me:o)
I found your blog because you have the same name as me! yeah! I too make my own lunchables (most of the time) but have never thought to use a cookie cutter. I love it! I also water down juice and anyone I have ever done this in front of thinks I'm crazy! I love the ideas of the yogurt in little bowls. I will be trying that too.
Love your ideas.... Thank you!
I have the PC sandwich cutter too, but the Whitewheat bread does not do that great. It falls apart.
I just found your blog somehow and I am hooked! I think you are amazing and I too think lunchables are too expensive. I am not a mom, a nanny for now and next year when the oldest goes to school, if he ever learns to eat anything other than peanut butter, I would make him some lunchables too! You are amazing!
I just found your blog and I already love it! What a great idea. My kids don't need lunches packed yet, but what a great idea. And I love the yogurt idea. I sopped buying the small containers too and we usually just mix plain and some jam in the morning, but I bet they would love having them all ready to go straight out of the fridge.
Anyway, I am excited to read though all of your old posts!
I lalalaLOVE the lunchable idea. My kids always want those for lunches but it gets to be too expensive. I'm definitely gonna try making my own lunchables. Thanks for the idea
Great ideas! I water down my kids juice also (at least the under 2 one, lol). He gets alot of stuff watered down except milk. When we buy the chocolate milk already prepared (very rare unless we have a coupon), I usually mix it w/a 1/2 gallon of regular milk. I can easily get 2 gallons of chocolate milk out of a 1/2 gallon of store bought chocolate milk, lol. Store bought chocolate milk is just too sweet if u ask me
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