5 Simple and Healthy Back to School Lunches – and how to pack them

It’s almost August, which means it’s almost September, which means it’s time to think about back to school. Or in our case starting school. They weren’t kidding when they said time goes by fast when you have kids. As I was thinking about Bear starting school he walked in to show me he lost his first tooth. I could feel my hair going gray. When did he get so big?

Anyway. Bear is also starting kindergarten in the fall. Full day kindergarten with a bus pick up and everything. Not sure how I will do with this but it’s time. I know I won’t be able to control who he sits next to at lunch or pretty much anything about his day, but I can send him out with a good meal and maybe a nice note. He also started reading just to make my wrinkles come in too.

So I figured a few of you might be in the same boat as me and might want a few ideas. I’m not saying school lunches are bad, I just think they are given the short end of the funding (like art and gym) but that’s for another time. School lunch programs help a lot of kids get access to food they might not otherwise get. It’s a sad reality but food insecurity effects about 13 million kids in the US. Schools step up to help them and their families. So I am in no way mocking or knocking down the school lunch program when I say, ketchup isn’t a vegetable. Plus Bear eats a lot and I can only imagine what the bill would be if I let him run free at lunch time.

I know it can seem overwhelming to plan, shop and make lunches for a kindergartener but trust me you can do it! You just need a follow a few steps.

Step one: Set up a prep station. We have a huge island in our kitchen now but you can use any cleared off space. A dinning room table works great.

Step two: Gather all your equipment. By that I mean get all your ziplock bags, tupperware containers, lunch boxes, utensils and anything else you will need to pack up the lunches. I decided to go with the Sistema Plastics line. I like them because they are easy for little hands to open and dishwasher safe. Plus Hubs has been know to use them from time to time when our containers are no where to be found.

Step three: Create an assembly line. Lay out all your containers and start filling them with the main lunch. This will avoid the urge to overfill with snacks and treats. There’s no perfect lunch plan so just do your best. If you fed your kid, you win! Once you have the main lunch in add in snacks and treats. Don’t forget the drink!

Step four: Store it. I cleared off a shelf in our fridge just for packed lunches. It makes it easy to find in the busy morning shuffle. From there it’s as easy as grab and go.

Now reading this you might think, well that sounds easy but… And I get it. There are always things that pop up and sometimes it’s hard to get things done with little ones underfoot. So here are few tips and tricks to help.

Include your child in the process: From meal planning to meal prep, include your child. Don’t let them go to the grocery store alone but ask them what they want and take them with you. Make it a game. Let them “find” the lunch stuff.

Make it the highlight of their day. Maybe it’s a cool now lunch box. Maybe it’s a fun note. Make lunch something they look forward to at school. Make your own version of Lunchables for them to assemble at the table.

Stick with it. It might seem like its not worth it, or it would be easier to just let them buy lunch, but there is so much value in teaching your child how to plan and create a meal.

Many adults today do not know how to create a balanced meal. There’s no “right” way to eat. There are plenty of wrong ways. But let’s focus on some of the things the “right” ways have in common. Minimally processed foods, a good amount of fresh veggies and a reasonable helping of fruit. Every diet (I really don’t like that word btw) will tell you different concepts of this simple idea. Eat real food. Ok I’m getting down from my high horse and finally giving you what you came here for.

5 Simple and Healthy Back to School Lunches:

  1. Caesar Salad wrap with fruit, yogurt and popcorn
  2. Hard boiled eggs with cheese and tomato kabobs
  3. Ham and Cheese on homemade bread with red peppers, pepperoni and a banana with fruit snack (big hit!!)
  4. Salmon Patties (or tuna) with veggie sticks and dip
  5. Last Nights Dinner (with a few additions)IMG_2988

 

Homesteading like a City Girl: How to build a compost bin for around $5

So, about 2 weeks ago we bought a house. Hash tag adulting ya’ll! Anyway, we have plans for this little piece of earth of ours. Hubs wants to add solar, I’m getting a rain barrel and chickens are lined up for next spring. The garden has been planned but first we need a mower. We went from a second floor apartment to a two level house with an acre of land! Now I know for some an acre might not seem like a lot but for us it’s Gods country out here! And we love it!!

So one thing I really wanted to do was start full on composting so the garden will be good to go next spring. Why? Well one main reason is composting can remove 20-50% from your household waste. Like wow! Why wouldn’t you want to do it?

Now if you’ve never composted let me let you in on a few things.

  1. It doesn’t smell if done right. I know it seems counter intuitive to keep decomposing food on your counter, but, with a charcoal filter and adding only the right things there’s no smell at all. There are a lot of things you CAN add and a few you CANNOT.  I’ll break that down in a minute.
  2. It take little to no effort. You’re going to throw all that stuff away anyway just turn left to the counter instead of the garbage. By making it part of your routine I won’t notice the little extra work at all. I even got my 5 year old to do it for me.
  3. It’s safe. I had a friend tell me he heard compost bins catch on fire all the time. It’s just not true. With minimal effort it’s a completely safe practice. There are some things to consider when you are setting up your backyard bin. Again I’ll go into more detail in just a minute.

Let’s looks a little bit more into what you CAN compost:
Green and Brown composting.
Green compost refers to the the nitrogen-rich materials you should be adding to your compost pile. Things like grass clippings and kitchen scraps, plants and coffee grounds are all considered green compost. Brown compost refers to paper, leaves, straw, egg shells and tea bags. I tend to think of it as green for fresh and brown for dried. You want to try to keep a 4:1 browns (carbon) to greens (nitrogen) ratio for your compost pile. Currently I have waaaay too much green in my pile. But I will be fixing that by adding in some broken down cardboard, one it is no longer needed as a spaceship.

So what CAN’T you compost?
What to keep out of your compost bin:
Most things are ok to put in the bin but a few you really do what to keep out. One being cat and or dog (and other carnivores) waste. You could get sick from it. Their waste often contains microorganisms and parasites that you do not want to introduce to the crops you will be eating. Just saying… You will also want to avoid fish and meat scraps. You can use fish bones to help your garden grow, however, adding them into your compost pile might attract local wild life and cause a not so neighbor friendly smell. Most paper is totally fine, but glossy paper should be avoided since gain it won’t breakdown properly and could contain toxins you don’t want in your soil. Lastly ash from coal fires or charcoal-briquet fires should be avoided since they can make your soil too acidic, and that can harm your plant.

Setting up your backyard compost bin:
There are tons of different models and designs to chose from when it comes to compost bins. You *could* buy a $400 counter compost bin or a $90 tumbler bin. But if you just want to do you part to save the earth and save some of your own green, I would suggest getting a simple bin like mine. I have the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin. Love it! Simple to use and clean. From there I built my own backyard compost bin for just about free! Heres what I did:

IMG_2512

Find some pallets – I found 4 pallets for free from my local hardware store. Some places might charge you but most are happy to get rid of them. You will need 4 of roughly the same size. Be ready to lift. The ones I got were heavy and I carried them an acre to get them set up.

Get some zip ties – I bought a few zip ties for about $5 at a local store. These ones worked great. Plan on using 3 to make one loop.

Plan your area – Take a minute and think about where the best spot would be for your pile. I chose a spot a little out of the way. Not as much sun as I would like. But I have two curious boys, so out of the way was best. Plus I wanted it far enough from the house that if any critters did start digging around they wouldn’t be tempted to check out my fridge. You will also need to have enough air flow around your pile to help with the decomposition. Make sure the area can drain well and is relatively free of ground plants and vines.

Set up your bin – Take two pallets and tie them together. Tie one more pallet to create a U shape. For the last pallet attach one side and leave the other one open so you can get in to turn the pile.

That’s it! With a little care and some time you will have a great pile of gardening gold.

Compost_Collage

Just to touch on the concerns of composting. It is extremely rare for composts pile to catch fire on their own. They will generate heat and steam, but if you turn the pile from time to time there should be no issues. Practice good hygiene when dealing with compost. Don’t have a picnic on top of one and you should be fine.

Happy composting!!

3 free ways to invest in yourself and 1 that’s worth the money

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

We moved!! Like yesterday. Into a great new home. Huge yard (chickens here I come) more living space and friends in the area! This house is the total package for us. But there’s one thing about this house I’m the most excited about. It’s this one area. And the thing that makes it so special is that it’s for me. My space to workout. My space to write. My space to be.

This got me thinking about the importance of having your own space. No matter where you are in your life. As a mother I find it’s important to remind myself I’m more than just a mom. So here a little list of things I’m doing/setting myself up to do to keep my space. Both physically and mentally.

Meditation: Cost $0
Create a space that is your own. You don’t need a whole room for this. It can be a chair in the quite part of your home. Or a closet if you have children like mine. Spend a few minutes focusing on your breathing to help clear your mind. Set your intentions and focus on what kind of day you want to have. Then face the crazy awaiting you. If you would like to invest in some training to help you I suggest my friend Emily Aarons from Life Made Simple with Emily Aarons.

Working Out: Cost $0- $50
A walk cost nothing to do but can give you so much back in return. I know first hand there are about a million and one things you can spend you money on for work out gear. From yoga mats to full home gyms. But honestly you are enough. Read that again. You do not need to spend all your money to feel good. You also don’t need to be a size two. You do however need to be healthy to feel good. Think about your area and maybe plan out a walking/running route. Ask a friend to join if you need some accountability. I got an old treadmill from a family member to help me on days when I’m stuck at home with the boys or the weather is bad. I also have a yard. These things are great!! Lunges, planks, push-ups, you can do them all for free in your yard!! Don’t know what to do? Check out my Pinterest board for at home work outs

Claiming a Space: Cost $0 – $100
This can be a big one for some people. Often as a mother I like to make sure there’s a space for my kids, there’s a place for my husband, and that the fridge is full. After that I tend to not think about what I need. I don’t think about what is important to me. But as we are in a new house it’s the perfect time to stop and not only think about it but also do it! Here’s what my thought process was:

What do I want to do in this space? Well I want to be able to work out. I want to be able to blog/work.

What is the most important thing to make sure that happens? Having enough space for a treadmill and a desk. Having electricity and internet connections.

What would be nice to have in the space? Some natural light and the ability to keep an eye on the boys.

After that it comes down to implementing some style. Even if it doesn’t go with the rest of the house it’s ok. The idea is for it to be a space that when you are in it you enjoy it.

Healthy Choices: Cost $15-$70
So with all the changes in my life I started noticing, shall we say, issues with my health. Thankfully nothing serious, just digestive issues. It happens sometimes. Stress wreaks our bodies like my 2 year old wreaks a coloring books. Add in the unavoidable take out and excess coffee intake, I’m less then in my prime right now. So I decided to try Restore. Restore is a health supplement that helps strengthen your gut. I got to try to sinus spay, the travel bottle and the month supply. First honest reaction was it taste like pond water. Tempting I know. But I wanted to try this for two weeks for a few reasons. One, gut health is so important, 60-70% of our immune systems in our gut membranesystem! That’s a lot. The gut also creates 80% of our antibodies.

So when the stress of moving with two kids to an area I don’t really know with only one car stared to get to me, I thought hey couldn’t hurt. And it was weird, it didn’t. It actually helped. I noticed a change in my mood and my digestive issues seemed to subside. Well that’s win for me. Actually Restore was proven in lab studies and peer reviewed studies to protect the gut lining against the effects of gluten. I’ve been eating a lot of pizza.

restore_blog

So how does this magical bottle of not amazing tasting, but worth it stuff work? Well Restore strengthens the gut lining, which keeps chemicals and
fiber from escaping through that lining and getting out into the bloodstream, which the immune system would have to deal with. SCIENCE!

Check them out. And if you want to give them a try use the code B7X66JY. Code expires July 16, 2017

Working in a flexibly scheduled life: How to be a working stay at home mom

You would think that 5 years in to this whole mom things I would be oozing advice about how to handle life and kids and dishes and a husband who gets called in to work with a major magazine with one days notice on a holiday weekend, better. But I’m not. I’m sitting here writing in hopes that this will help me as much as it helps you. Continue reading

The risk and rewards of technology and tantrums

So we turned that corner. The one with video games, TVs, kindles, iPhones, iPads and computers all trying to get my 5 year olds attention at the same time. Now I’m not going to pretend in the slightest we’re a screen free home. We’re independent business owners, self employed and with that comes the hustle. The need to be connected to make sure you don’t miss the next big opportunity. But I want my kids to grow up, not out. So I try to keep the screen hidden as best I can. But this winter was rough and we slipped into “fine just take it…” Here’s how we’re working our way back. Continue reading

Post flu clean up: tips and tricks to clean the flu out of your home

Dear winter,

Suck it! It’s supposed to be spring. The birds are supposed to be chirping. I’m not shoveling another inch of your depressing dandruff. Yet here I am on the couch with two sick bears hoping for it to be above freezing soon. One bear with a “sick” bowl kept within arms reach and the other thankfully still in diapers. This is not the glamours side of motherhood. Continue reading

Embracing my husbands sweatpants

As a mom I spend a lot of time comparing my family and self to others. Not in an “I’m better” or “I’m worse” but in an “Is this shit normal?” sort of way. And truth be told I do sometimes find myself falling down that rabbit hole of “Am I the only one who didn’t brush their teeth this morning?” comparison.  Continue reading

I tried a meal delivery service: Here’s what happened…and what got broke…

Truth time for minute. I love to cook, but I don’t always love cooking every meal every day. So when Green Chef said they would send me a box of organic fresh ready to cook food, well heck yeah I jumped at the chance.

Continue reading

It doesn’t take a village to raise a child.

It’s almost the end of what, I think, everyone can agree was a pretty rough year. 2016 will go down as the year I said “is it over?” more times then I care to admit. We’ve been through a lot this year. Stress, loss, unnecessary ER visits and personal struggles.  One day when I was thinking about listing the kids on Esty (cause, hey I made them, it counts.) A friend said to me “It takes a village to raise a child.” Continue reading

Does this even matter?

I have to write a review about these books got from Moms Meet for free. They are sitting here in front of me. They’re all shiny and happy. They have action figures and bold colors. Nelson Mandela is throwing his fist in the air with a smile on the cover. And yet the only thing I can see is the tab on my computer with the head line of the latest craziness to hit FB or CNN. Cause we all know their the same thing these days. Crazy head lines about crazy things that make me want to hide a bit from this world.

I’m starring at the titles. “The Book of HEROES” “The Book Of HEROINES” I wish I could pull some of these people from the pages and set them free. We could use a few more heroes these days. But where do heroes (and for me that means heroines too) come from? They are the men and women who faced the challenges of their time to better the lives of those around them. These books have many such people in their pages. Some are from fiction like Luke Skywalker, but most are real. Like the Trung Sisters or Witold Pilecki.

These books are designed for kids to want to look at. One page stories about men and women who have done some crazy and not so crazy stuff. Each chapter is broken down into different categories. Action heroes, great minds, heroes for hire (think firemen and police), leading men and leading ladies. Leading Men starts with Barak Obama. Full color, full page smiling photo. And then the opening sentence. “Not every leader is a hero, and not every hero is a leader. Both possess a specific set of qualities – charm, courage, quick thinking, humility – that rarely combine in a single individual.”

I worry about our leaders, I worry about our heroes. Do they have these qualities? I’m not so sure sometimes. I have two sons. The Bears. They will not know the hardship that some others will face. They are luck to have been born in the US. To have been born white. To have been born men. They are the voices that most will listen to. They will not have to fight as hard as others for their cause. At 2 and 5 their cause is pizza for dinner every night. But what will their cause be at 20, at 30? Will they use their voices for those around them? I hope so.

What can I do for them to lead them in the right direction? It seems small, but I will leave these books out. I will leave them open to different heroes. I will show them charm, courage, quick thinking, and humility. No these book will not save the world, but they may help show us a better one. Does this matter? I think it does, because we, the parents of the next generation, need to show them better then we have been.

 

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own. This post contains affiliate links.