Monday, February 25, 2013

Little Italy

My girls love little bites, they would graze all day, snacking here and there...making messes and eating me out of house and home.  So they love it when I pack a bunch of little bits, a collection of foods that they can sample and snack on throughout the day.  It's not uncommon for one of them to open their lunch box on the way home for a little nosh.

Today's lunch is just kind of like a meal you might buy at an Italian Deli, fresh, yummy foods that you can just pick up with your fingers and enjoy.

Both girls have the same lunch today (Win!), they have little hard salami bites, cheddar cheese squares, whole wheat crackers, some heirloom tomatoes, sliced orange bell pepper, a little apple (I've said it before, Trader Joe's has the best small fruit, EVER), 100% juice and a few oreos.

I bet this is one of those lunches that comes home empty!
I've packed the lunches into our favorite easylunchbox containers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Comfort Food at it's Finest

My girls love comfort food; warm, cheesy, buttery goodness.  Actually, so do I.  Really, who doesn't?!
When I got up this morning I had to pack lunches (mostly because I was a slacker last night and didn't plan very well), it was cold and the forecast called for rain; another big surprise for Oregon; and thought, "these girls need something that'll warm them from the inside out!".  I had a big bag of potatoes, lots of cheese (a staple in our house) and butter...perfect! Baked potatoes, filled with butter, cheese and sour cream on the side.   Throw in some fruit, a hard boiled egg for some extra protein and a granola bar for something extra, some organic apple juice...and viola lunch. 

This was an easy lunch to pack, but it did take a little longer to prep then a normal lunch.  I baked the potatoes in the microwave while I fed the girls breakfast, split them and topped them, the girls can heat them up at school for the perfect, filling meal.
For snack they both have an applesauce squeezer and a caramel rice cake.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tell Me That You Love Me....

It's here, that controversial day where those in luuuuuvvvvvvv are so excited for roses, dinner, romance and those not in love are ready to punch couples in the throat.  I'm kind of indifferent. I'm totally in love with my Husband, but I'd rather he show me he loves me 365 days a year rather than just one.
However, he is romantic and fun and our girls LOVE anything "romantic" so the three have been celebrating since the First of February.  (I'm not even sort of joking about this.) They made Valentine's Envelopes (think 2nd Grade) and every day they have been giving one another little tokens of affection...I was included too, but truthfully I was sort of bah humbug about it.   It's always been our tradition that "The Love Bugs" bring little treats on the 14th, and we have a big, fancy dinner at home, as a family. 

Anyhow, you don't really care about my issues with Valentine's Day, right?  So here are our festive lunches, sort of festive lunches, I worked yesterday then rushed to finish the Valentine's for school and all the family chore stuff.  I had big plans.  None of which worked out just as I'd planned.

Like weddings, the girls have no idea what ideas I was picking from, they are only seeing the final project and they will feel totally and completely LUUUUUUUVVVVVVVD  ;)

LiLi is suddenly becoming picky with fruits, she's decided she doesn't like any of them.  Fabulous news.  So she has two egg salad sandwiches, heart shaped carrots and cucumbers, a kiwi, a slice of cheese, chocolate covered heart shaped pretzels, and a chocolate treat. 
GiGi has a heart shaped hard boiled egg, heart shaped cheese slices, crackers, strawberries, heart shaped carrots and cucumbers, plus the chocolate treats.  They both have apple juice.
For snack they have a mix of dried fruits, a rice cake and they will be getting loads of treats at parties.
We used our fave easylunchboxes!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dinner's On!

Meal planning has saved me so much time and frustration, I won't say it's saved me a ton of money.  Try as I might I'm not super good about couponing or only going to the store twice a month or planning meals based on what's on special.  I am good at putting together a well balanced dinner that looks and taste good. 

When I was 14 my job was to plan, shop for and prepare dinner on weeknights for my family.(Genius on my parents part, I learned about nutrition, budgeting, and timing a meal.)  I had a few rules I had to follow.  I couldn't just make chicken and everything on the plate had to be a different color.  Not only does it look nicer, but your getting a whole lot of different vitamins and minerals that way!

My family has it's favorites, things that cycle through more often.  They also have things they just don't like (or maybe that's me) and I either don't make them regularly or ever; it's not worth preparing food that people won't enjoy or eat.  It's a waste of your time and money, not to mention it stinks to spend time on something  only to have no one enjoy it.

Involving your family in meal planning is a great way to get your kiddos to try new things and just be more willing to eat what you've prepared.  I give my girls each a day to pick dinner, they help cook that night too and in picking what we eat, they are learning skills in meal planning too!

A sample weekly menu for our family would look like this:

Sunday; Late lunch out (after church), Steak salads with crusty bread
Monday; Salmon, brown rice, sauteed snap peas and pearl onions
Tuesday; Roasted chicken, sweet potato wedges, steamed green beans
Wednesday; Make your own Nacho bar, with all the fixings
Thursday; Soup and salad/sandwich  (this is our really busy night, so it's got to be easy)
Friday; Pot roast with carrots, potatoes and onions, green salad
Saturday; Pizza with salad or fresh veggies

Having a plan helps me shop or know what to defrost, it also helps me to use what I have in the pantry and fridge.   Some weeks I set a goal to use only what we have, I call it "Freezer Clean Out".  It's a great way to literally help make space in your freezer, pantry and fridge.  It also is a great way to stretch a budget or save a little money.  

Almost all of my meals can be made in 30 minutes or less, and I try to use as few dishes/pans as possible...I'm all about the speedy clean up.  Other challenges I throw in are; $5 dinners, a meal for 4 cannot cost more then 5 dollars,  vegetarian (meat free meals),  leftover round ups, your on your own (literally, every Man or Kid for themselves).
I know some Moms who just use the same schedule every week.  It works for their families and it simplifies their lives.  Which is exactly what meal planning should do.  (I'd get bored,  I love food and trying new things.)

Sunday; Roast of some sort
Monday; Meatless Meal
Tuesday; Taco Tuesday (something Mexican)
Wednesday; Left Overs
Thursday; Chicken

Friday; Fish Friday
Saturday; Pizza/Delivery

I generally do my planning on Monday; the girls are at school, I can go through the ads (I try to be good about it) and I can go shopping without helpers.  If you have all the ingredients on hand you can switch out days easily, just in case roast chicken sounds better then meatloaf one night.  I literally write it out (I have those Post It's that are like a weekly to do list) and I post it on the helps me commit to the plan. The whole point is to get it down, try to stick to it and see if it doesn't just take the hassle out of 6 o'clock every night!  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Something's Fishy

I've got a couple sushi lovers in this house.  One would eat it every single day if I let her, and she likes the cheap sushi train sort of places, not the yummy high end restaurants.    I'm not complaining, I love sushi too.  Last nights dinner was a great combo of spaghetti and sushi (Daddy surprised us by bringing the sushi home), it was actually a really gross combination, I don't recommend it.  Ever.  Really.  I just had a shiver thinking about it.

But it makes for a great lunch!  This lunch has California Rolls, snap peas (we were out of edamame), a Little Cutie, and dessert sushi.  This stuff is really fun to make and your kids will get a kick out of it! I was out of Swedish Fish, because those things are amazing and I eat them.  All.  Normally, I would stick a swedish fish in the center of a very flat slice of rice crispy treat, then I roll it up, sushi roll style and finally roll a layer of fruit leather on the outside of all that.  These just have rice crispy treats and fruit leather, still a fun treat, minus the fish.

They both have lemonade to drink and a package of dried seaweed to round out the meal. 
For snack they have homemade granola bars and dried cherries.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rainy Day Picnic

Lili requested pasta salad; something she never tires of; for lunch and dinner and breakfast.  (I'm not even sort of kidding.)  Which got me thinking about when I make pasta salads for other people; usually potlucks, picnics and family reunions.  I load it up with veggies and feta and it's really yummy and filling.
It didn't hurt that we had left over fried chicken, because what's a picnic without some cold, fried chicken?!  The only thing really missing was a three layer chocolate cake and I wasn't about to whip one of those up;)  And maybe deviled eggs.   Oh Yum! Now I want some.

Both girls got a couple pieces of chicken (they can heat it up at school if they want or just eat it cold), pasta salad with tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber and feta, orange slices, string cheese and some crackers.  They both have lemonade to drink and some oatmeal cookies for dessert.

For snack they have dried mango and caramel rice cakes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Superbowl Left Overs

There wasn't a lot left over because there wasn't a lot to start with.  We skipped the parties this year in favor of a quiet day at home and ordered in pizza.  It was sort of slim pickings, but it provided the makings for a really quick lunch that the girls adore!
Both of the girls have a slice of pizza and a bread stick, a clementine, baby carrots, a rice crispy treat, and a Stretch Island Fruit Leather, plus an organic milk box.  It's not fancy, but it'll do the trick!

For snack they have dried seaweed and a bag of grapes.