Friday, September 28, 2012

The. Best. Halloween. Treats. EVER!

So, if your in the Portland area your totally out of luck, because by the time this is posted I will have bought every single one of these least if everything goes as planned and that plan relies heavily on my Hubby, who doesn't always think my plans are ideal.

I have found the best Halloween treats, school snacks, perfect peanut free (and tree nut free), little bags of goodness.  I am sharing with you because a) a lot of you have nut allergy kiddos too and b) it's just nice.

First, Pirate Booty has Trick or Treat size bags (24 of them in a box) and kids love this stuff, and Moms can love it too because it's a pretty okay snack.   Grocery stores carry individual serving bags of this stuff (you get 6 for about $7), but the bags are huge and far to big for my 8 year old to eat in one sitting.  These Halloween ones are smaller, you get 24 for $7!  That's just awesome.  I mean, really, just awesome!

Second, Angies Classic Kettle Corn.  Again 24 little, perfect, snack size bags.  Totally peanut and nut free...just the right size for snack or trick or treating and made with 4 ingredients!  Four ingredients folks, that's incredible.   Again, these were about $6 for 24 bags.

Here's some pictures so you know exactly what to look for.  Oh, and a big THANK YOU to Target for carrying these fabulous treats for you to hand out to your kids, or the kids that will be knocking on your door in a few short weeks!  (Save the chocolate for yourselves...we need it more and we always remember to brush our teeth.)

Kid tested today, totally approved!

I think you're probably all familiar with Pirate's Booty, but if you want I'll post a picture of it too! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lunchables Look-a-Like

How often do you hear "Mooommmmy can we paahleese get lunchables? Please? Can we? Can we? Can we?"  I hear it far to often considering my girls know just how I feel about them.  In one word.  GROSS!  But come on, even I have to admit they are convenient...totally unhealthy and disgusting, but easy for sure.  
Well folks, let me assure you that you can pack a "look a like" meal in 3 minutes and 22 seconds (I timed myself and I was indecisive) and I promise it will cost far less then a stupid real prepackaged lunch.   You could totally cut your meat and cheese into perfect circles if you wanted to, but I was going for speed and nutrition.   It was 10, I was tired, and I haven't been to the store in days...slim pickings my friends.

Here it is, the big reveal.  Tell me what you think?  Not to shabby, if I don't say so myself!
Two basically identical lunches, packed in under 4 minutes and I'm sure in under $3.00 but I'll have to actually price everything out per serving.
The lunches have carrots and ranch dip. a little apple, ham slices, ritz crackers, cheese (one likes Baby Bell, one like Laughing Cow) and 3 gummy peach rings (totally peanut free!).  They will each get a lemon aide to go with lunch.
For snack GiGi has freeze dried strawberries and 2 raspberry fig newtons.  LiLi grabbed a bag of Pirate Booty and a Stretch Island fruit leather.
I used our very favorite easylunchboxes....and good news! They are back in stock, follow the link from the blog to get yours today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My family is obsessed with Chinese Food.  OBSESSED.  We just can't always go out to eat it because it's often made with peanut products, so I've sort of become good at making it at home.  It's not authentic, my Chinese American friends would probably laugh at the finished product, but my kiddos LOVE it .  Fortunately, I cook for a family of 30 rather then 4 (I've never been good at judging how much I'm making and I like to wing it rather then follow a recipe).

Anyhoo, the upside.  Leftovers!  Lunch becomes really easy to pack and I know the girls will gobble it up.  (They have access to microwaves at their school, so they can heat up stuff.)   I used a little creative licence on this one and really stretched the Asian food to cover a little Japanese too.

Both girls have beef and broccoli with rice, cucumber and carrot rolls, bell pepper slices, mandarin oranges, an Asian pear, rice crispy sushi and fig newtons (they are clearly not Asian).  And a box of apple juice.
Rice Crispy Treat sushi is totally easy to make.  I make homemade rice crispy treats to control the ingredients, then I cut and roll them in to a thin 2 inch by 3 inch strip.  Then you can layer fruit leather, swedish fish...what ever gummy, sticky stuff you have on hand.  I used just swedish fish.  What a fun treat, right?! 
For snack they have Cheese It crackers and apple slices.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuna Tuesdays

I guess it's really supposed to be Fish Fridays but this was what was requested and frankly, the cupboards are looking a little bare.  I gotta get to the store!   It's good to stretch and challenge yourself and your kiddos to use what's available, and to make lunches without spending extra money.  Leftovers are great for this!

Share your favorite money saving or budget stretching tips, especially if they apply to feeding your kiddos!

This little lunch has tuna salad (I get lots of veggies chopped into this like celery, onion and green bell pepper), two different types of crackers (one has loads of seeds),  orange bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, mini oreo type cookies.  They also have a pear and apple juice.

For snack they have freeze dried strawberries and pretzels.

Monday, September 24, 2012

LiLi Loves Lunch

My little LiLi is missing having lunch at home; a full, proper lunch around the table with Mom and GiGi.  She LOVES school more though (thank goodness!), so she just voices the complaint once a day...when I hand her her lunch bag.

I hope she's pleasantly surprised when she opens her lunch tomorrow; it is so far from a tradition, well rounded lunch she wouldn't recognize it as being packed in this house; it's filled with all of her very favorite things. 

LiLi has a mini cucumber, some summer sausage, green grapes, an apple nutragrain bar, an apple fruit leather with "LiLi Bird" cut out of it (her nickname from Uncle J), feta cheese, and swedish fish.   It's random.  It'll probably stink (compliments of the cheese).  And I she'll love every single bit of it! 
I also threw in an organic chocolate milk box and a mandarin orange just in case she needs a little more.

For snack she has a cinnamon muffin and banana chips.

GiGi has a similar lunch, but she hates feta, so she got a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, which she inexplicably loves.  She also got wheat thins, because she likes to make little sandwiches with crackers.  (Her nickname is Goose, she really doesn't like I didn't cut her name out of her fruit leather.)

GiGi asked for plain milk (weird, right?!) and celery sticks with cream cheese as her extras.   And true to form, she needed a totally different snack.  She took pretzels and a mini pear.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lazy Daisy

It all started with an egg, an egg that was supposed to be a star.  When I took it out of the mold I realized that the egg was too small, and I had a daisy on my hands!

So it became a lazy lunch with a daisy theme.  The whole lunch from start to finish took about 3 (5 at the most) minutes to prepare.   I hard boiled the eggs the day before and put them in molds to get them ready for lunches.

This lunch is for Lili who loves all things pink and girly.  She has a mini bagel and cream cheese, hard boiled egg (decorated with food safe pens), grape tomatoes, carrot carnations, watermelon posies and some pretzels dipped in pink white chocolate and sprinkled with a little keep em' sweet.
Dipping pretzels in chocolate is easy, melt the chocolate; tint it if you want a specific color;  cover in chocolate...I throw mine in the freezer for just a few minutes are they're ready to go!
I used easylunchboxes and silicone holders.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Gateway Sandwich

My kiddos don't like sandwiches very much...but this one seems sort of fancy and special.  I call it the gateway sandwich for a reason.  This sandwich has gotten my girls to try tuna salad, egg salad, tuna melts and cucumber sandwiches.  That's it, that's the long list of sandwiches my kiddos will eat.

We go back to this one over and over again.  Maybe because it's made with simple, good ingredients.  Probably because it really does feel like you've been strolling through a Farmer's Market in Nice, and you've just grabbed this sandwich before walking down to the beach.

Today's little lunches have a turkey and cheese sandwich, a few little pickles, a mandarin orange, some snap peas and tomatoes, and a couple of oreo type cookies.  Both girls have organic chocolate milk, and a cup of strawberries too.

For snack they took Pirate Booty and apple slices.

As always we packed our lunches in our easylunchboxes.

Oh, the most important part! The sandwich.  You need good french baguette, Kerrigold Irish Butter (it's spendy, but worth it!), turkey and provolone cheese.  That's it.  That simple. And oh, so good!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

My little LiLi was being a little less then sweet last night, which prompted me to sing song this little rhyme to her...she wasn't impressed.  But then that little light bulb in my head went off!  We have all these lovely garden items (compliments of our never ending summer) and I could make a whole lunch with fresh garden items!

Not only is this lunch peanut and tree nut free, I believe it fits into the vegetarian category too.

This little lunch has a salad made with Bib lettuce (Boston if your on the East Coast), cucumber tulips, red bell pepper flowers, orange tomato halves, and cheese marigolds. (Under all those toppings are some strips of turkey too)  A few just picked strawberries and a plum from our tree.  I added a small cup of dressing, and some croutons on the side.  Both girls have organic vanilla milk to kick up the protein levels. 
For snack today they each have a Cutie (little Mandarin orange) and a nutragrain bar.
As always lunch is packed in our favorite easylunchbox containers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I kept looking at these cute liners I got at IKEA (the picture does them no justice...they have a sweet scalloped edge) and thinking "this reminds me of all those lovely Neapolitan bedrooms and ice cream!"  I know I can't very well pack ice cream for school lunch, but I knew I could find foods that would fit the color scheme.

I've been imagining this lunch for a while now, and have been thinking in terms of brown, pink and white...and a lunch for Gigi, so it's not too little kiddish.   I still think I'll do an ice cream themed lunch soon, but for today this will have to do.

The girls both got a white babybell cheese, pinkish brown ham roll ups, a little pink lady apple, (some not very pink tomatoes), a strawberry fruit leather and raspberry nutragrain bar (sort of brown), whole wheat crackers, and some wafer cookies in brown, pink and white.  I also threw in some freeze dried strawberries and an 100% juicebox.

For snack they have a homemade granola bar and dried cherries.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Last Minute Lunch

I'm that Mom that has everything ready the night before.  Clothes laid out, bags packed, homework checked (and finished), and lunches packed.   At least I was that Mom.  Last night we got home from Musical Theatre class and by the time I got everyone tucked in bed I was wiped out and hungry!

I put off all the things I needed to do in favor of facebook and food.  The food was worth it, the facebook was fun, the pain I felt this morning at 5:30, not so good.  I'm an early riser naturally, but I don't function particularly well first thing in the morning.  I need to time to slowly wake up.  I need tea and morning news.  As LiLi puts it, "My eyes have to adjust", for about an hour.  

This school they are attending doesn't have a hot lunch program (and most of you know my feelings about school lunches), so throwing a few dollars at them as we pulled into the school parking lot wasn't an option.   So I did what any sane Mom would do.  I opened a can of olives.

Not a traditional lunch choice I know, but frankly, I can't be held responsible for anything that happens before 7a.m..  I am certain LiLi will take one look at this lunch and her heart will soar with joy.  It's just the sort of thing she would happily eat every single day.  GiGi is going to open her lunch bag and think, "My Mom is a total Nutter!".  She's probably not too far off.

It's not the best eyes have not "adjusted" jet yet;)
This lunch has a little tiny pear (Trade Joe's), some black olives, mini pickles, picks with dry salami, cheddar cheese and yellow tomatoes, and a few JoJo cookies (Trade Joe's again). They both got organic apple juice and a homemade granola bar.
For snack they have crackers, Wow Butter (for GiGi) and Biscoff (for LiLi) and freeze dried strawberries (Trader Joe's, again).
This is proof that lunch doesn't have to be super fancy to be fun, festive and sort of nutritionally sound!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Love You A Bushel and A Peck

My sweet girls are loving school, but they still tell me everyday that it's really different from homeschooling.  The part they miss most; ME!!!! In some sick way this makes me really sort of happy, because I miss them so much too!  This last week and a half has had me sort of floundering in my roll, my identity is a little lost...not to worry, I'll figure it all out, and I have loads of little lunch dates set up for myself.

Hope they love this little lunch as much as I love them!.

The girls love Biscoff Sandwiches, and to kick it up a little I added a smear of cream cheese.  They also has some strawberries and kiwi, carrot sticks and cucumbers.  I threw in a heart shaped hard boiled egg to make sure they'd get enough protein.  An 100% fruit leather and a little meringue cup with some chocolate sauce and strawberries. 

Hope they are sweetly surprised by this lunch filled with all sorts of love.

I've packed lunch in my favorite, Easylunchbox containers!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tea for Two

Any excuse for a tea party! That's our motto.  I spent this afternoon baking a little apple treat and it seemed fitting to make some little sandwiches to go with it.

This little lunch has 2 tea pot shaped cucumber sandwiches (I used homemade white has to be soft enough to cut), used a cookie cutter to score a flower out of a babybell cheese (made me think of so many of my pretty tea cups), a few butterfly crackers, some snap peas, yellow tomatoes, and a few tiny carrot flowers.  They also got juice, a banana and some apple pie bars.
Here's a link to the Apple Pie Bar recipe (it's time consuming, but worth it!)
For snack they got a tiny pear (Have I mentioned how much I love Trader Joe's for the just right sized fruit!?)  and some pretzel sticks. 
Our lunches were packed in our easylunchbox containers.
Pinkies up!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Little Lunches, Monday

We had a busy weekend, so I'm looking forward to the quiet of today to do some housework and baking...tomorrows lunch should be much cuter!  Today's lunch ticks all the boxes though, good nutrition, simple foods, kids favorites and for our family; no nuts!

The lunches have some ham roll ups, a piece of cheddar cheese, whole wheat crackers, cucumber slices, yellow tomatoes, snap peas, an apple, 100% juice, and some mini oreo like cookies for a treat.  For snack the girls have apple cinnamon rice cakes and 100% fruit leather. 

Pretty basic, but this shows that in a matter of minutes you can throw together a healthy, well balanced meal that your kids will enjoy and most importantly eat!  I know being back in traditional school my girls are being really active; they have 2 recesses and pe it's important for me to really provide good fuel to keep them going!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bistro Lunch Anyone?

I've got to get these girls eating the same lunch every day...not sure about you, but I'm pretty sure no one really wants to make two totally different lunches (or 3, or more).   They basically have the same lunch today and I based it loosely on what you might pick up in a bistro, or buy in a farmers market in France for a lovely picnic on the Eiffel Tower lawns (minus the wine, for them at least!).

They have some dry Italian salami, crackers, a babybell cheese, some little tiny pickles, orange bell pepper slices, an apple, a few cookies and organic apple juice.  For snack they each have some caramel rice cakes and a fruit leather.   I would have loved to throw in some olives, but I didn't have any! 

I packed their lunches in our easylunchbox containers, they hold tons of food! And I used flower shaped silicone liners to keep everything from touching.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday's Lunch

Gigi is still not allowing me to have much fun with her lunches, it stinks.  I'm hoping that by next week she gives me free rein.'s lunch is full of low fat, high protein foods, which are great for a growing, active girl.
We filled her lunch bag with some honey ham, string cheese and whole wheat crackers, watermelon and cantaloupe, a small container of grape tomatoes, some Swedish Fish (because they were left over from her sisters lunch) and rice cakes, and a small apple.  She'll take an apple grape juice for her drink. 
The dish of almonds and dried apricots are for snack. 
The school requires each child to bring a water bottle each day; which I'm thankful for; and so far it's come home almost empty each day! 

School of Fish

Life at our house just got even more exciting! I got the call last night that there was room at the charter school for Lili.  I just had to decide if I was ready for her to swim in the big pond and leave the safety of our sea urchin (wait that sounds a lot like Finding Nemo), and if she was ready, and if it was the best choice for our family. 
Turns out, the kid makes friends really fast.  Like in the time it took to drop Gigi off.  And she was all set to go!  So we headed to the mall, bought a bunch of uniform stuff, got everything on her supply list and stopped for sushi.   

We bought way to much, and Lili asked if she could have it for lunch tomorrow.   And so our School of Fish lunch was born. 

She has 4 pieces of California Roll, a baby bell star fish cheese, starfish watermelon, sea grass cucumbers and carrot coral, and of course some Swedish Fish because you can't have a fishy lunch with out Swedish Fish,   (I threw in a little apple just case she needed something more)

For snack she gets a banana and some caramel rice cakes.  And I'll throw in an apple juice too!

We used our easylunchbox containers, they're the best!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gigi Packed Her Own Lunch

My girl is growing up, first day of school and she's ready to break out on her own.  At least, she wants to try packing her own lunch...I'm turning over the supplies and letting her have a go at it.  She had three rules:
1. It must be healthy
2. There must be 3 fruits and veggies
3. There must be a variety of color

Given the rules she did a pretty good job.  She packed herself some turkey, raisins, cucumber slices, carrot sticks, WOWButter with organic apple slices and a little dish of cookies.  She packed a bag of trail mix for snack and she has a granola bar and Stretch Island fruit leather in the pocket of her lunch bag in case she needs a little more food. 
WOWButter is a thing of beauty.  We have a peanut allergy kiddo and Gigi misses pb&j dearly.  WOWButter (a soy product) has quenched her desire for all things peanut.  Thank Heavens!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of 5th Grade

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots and the other wings.

 My Gigi is flying today, hope I gave her deep enough roots.  (I know it sounds like I've sent her off to college or something, but she's been with me every single day up until now!)  She is so excited, and I am so excited for her...and she looks so stinkin' cute in her uniform I'm sort of kicking myself for waiting so long to enrol them in a charter school!  Not kidding, at all. 

She really wanted a "teen age" lunch, so no cute little lunches, no cute shapes.  I'm struggling with this new identity.  When I had a theme it made it easier to create a lunch.  And she didn't really care, she just liked the surprise of what I had packed.  We have been negotiating what will be packed, in what containers and if I will be allowed to use cookie cutters.  She's tough.

She mostly won.  After all, she's the one entering a big new world, she should feel pretty good about what she's armed with.   I vetoed about 189 backpacks, almost every single pair of boots and all makeup (she gave it a good fight though).

So her little lunch has salami and cheddar cheese, crackers, snap peas and carrots.  I snuck in a cookie cutter to cut the watermelon, and threw in a plum.  She also has an oatmeal raisin granola bar and Stretch Island strawberry fruit leather.  I threw in a few Hershey's Kisses as a treat (do you think she'll understand the secret message?!)   She has to take snack as well, so we made some trail mix.  The combo she created has raw almonds, dried cherries and apricots, pretzels, whole wheat Goldfish, Honeynut Cheerios and little mini chocolate chip cookies. 


I'm going to sneak in a note, just a little one to let her know I love her, I'm proud of her, and I hope she's having so much fun and learning a lot!

I couldn't help myself...I snuck in a little cuteness to celebrate the start of 5th Grade.