Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My School Lunch "System!"

I was so overwhelmed when Sam started first grade this past fall...all day school, having to figure out a lunch, working in time for homework, starting up Cub Scouts, church devotions and memory verses...with so many to-do's and suddenly less time to do them, I was pretty stressed for the first week or two of school! I set alarms on my phone for everything...including pack his snack, remember gym shoes, put his homework in his bag, return library books, and pack lunch!  Going from afternoon kindergarten to getting up early to catch the bus in the morning made me wonder how I was going to make lunch every morning, too.  Well, I ended up putting together a pretty good system and I thought I'd share it in case there are any other moms looking for a way to streamline lunch!!

My goal is to get in all of these categories of food each day: Sandwich, Dairy, fruit, snack, beverage, dessert. 

I make a couple weeks of sandwiches at a time, bag them and freeze them.  This is what my mom did, and it works well...of course there's no lettuce in the sandwiches but meat & cheese freeze and thaw fine, and so does pb&j!  I do put mayo on the meat sandwiches too, but I make sure to spread it between slices of meat and/or cheese, so it doesn't soak into the bread.

In the freezer I have a container of sandwiches, and on top of that a container of dairy items.  This includes Gogurt and string cheese.  I mix it up so he doesn't have the same thing EVERY day.  Did you know that you can freeze string cheese too?! You can!! I stock up when they go way on sale!

On the pantry shelf I have three bins, all labeled: Fruit, Snacks and Dessert.  I put "Sam's Lunch" on them so people don't just snack out of them!

The fruit bin has a rotating variety of applesauce cups, fruit pouches and diced fruit cups.  If we have some good fresh fruit I'll bag some up in the frig, but this way I always have SOME kind of shelf stable fruit ready to go.  

The dessert bin has another rotating variety depending on what awesome coupon deals I am getting at the moment.  Sometimes it's a cookie, sometimes a pudding cup, etc...a homemade dessert we have around the house at the time, or a pre-packaged's always changing too so that makes it fun for Sam.  I just have to remember to add a spoon if I'm giving him pudding or fruit in cups!

I love the little snack size Ziploc bags. I know this is not at ALL "green," and I'm probably wasting a lot of money, but I may someday get some re-useable bags.  For now, they work great.

Lunch snack + a little chocolate treat = snack time treat
For the snack I usually put some kind of crunchy thing...a few crackers, pretzels, cereal, etc. 

In addition to lunch, he has to bring another snack every day.  For a while I did granola bars, then found out we couldn't send any snacks with peanuts to school, and all of ours had peanuts.  So, now I'll send another one of any of his other lunch items (an extra snack baggie, extra fruit item, etc).  Lately I've been sprinkling in just a few of these mini M&M's that I have left from my Christmas baking to add something special to the non-lunch snack.  They are so tiny that they last forever if you just add a few, and it's fun to find a few little chocolate treats in his snack, even if it's only a few teensy bits!  My boys get SO excited when they find one mini chocolate chip among their snack!

For the beverage, I got a little 2-pack of short Cool Gear water bottles at Target that have an ice stick that attaches to the sippy top.  I just pour in a little milk, and he has his milk to drink that stays extra cold.  Yes, he can get in line and buy a carton at school, but I don't see the point when we have milk and we have a way to send it with him. It actually gives him more time to eat rather than stand in line.  With only a 15 minute lunch period, he often doesn't have time to finish everything, so any extra time is great!

SO, now my morning lunch packing process goes like this...

I open the freezer and grab the ice packs, a sandwich and dairy item. I stick them in his lunch bag, put the ice pack in the bottle that I've filled with milk and add that. Then I just grab one item from each of my 3 bins, toss them in with a napkin and I'm done.  I don't have to get out sandwich items or even think about whether he has a balanced lunch. I don't have much time or brain power for thinking early in the morning!

I hope this is helpful to someone and not totally boring...ha!  Happy lunch making, Mommas!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Minion Birthday Party!

Today was my littlest buddy's 5th birthday party! We had a minion's what we did!!

We of COURSE had to have BA-NA-NAS!!!

I love these beverage tubs I got years ago...I have one in yellow, orange and green. They have been "dressed up" to go along with many party themes!

Beverages, plates, etc! 

The cake! I meant to add some arms but didn't get to it...I don't think the birthday boy noticed! ;-)

Of course anyone who has a Pinterest account can't have a minion party without making Twinkie minion cupcakes, right?!

Lemonade + Google images = Minion lemonade!!

Did you know they make minion shaped graham cracker snacks?! YEAH!

I cut out lots of little minion faces from the packaging that my little guy's minion gifts came in, and had fun hiding them around the house! (He opened his gifts from us before the party...minion sheets, blanket, hat, etc)

Another fun Pinterest idea! I pulled the goggle images from Google and got plastic ware and napkins from the dollar store.

I always like to have some sort of project on the table for the kids to do. We had some minion face parts, glue, paper, scissors and bamboo skewers to make little masks!

the Birthday boy!
I am a professional balloon twister so of course I had to do some balloons...these minions were cute floating around the house while holding on to a couple helium balloons! You can check out my balloon twisting here.
Gru hanging from the ceiling, keeping watch over his minions!

Purple grapes + Trifle dish + Google images + purple construction paper = evil minion fruit!!!

Usually I make pinatas but I got one on Amazon this year!

It was SO much fun! Toby said it was the best birthday party ever!  We also gave him Despicable Me 2 so we had that running on the tv.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Puppy Themed Birthday Party!

My big boy turned 7 last month! He's been obsessed with puppies since he was born.  We do have two actual, live dogs.  But, he can't get enough puppy toys!  His bed is so crowded with stuffed puppies, we had to get a stuffed animal hammock to hold all of them. He was a puppy for Halloween this year, and of course wanted a puppy themed birthday party.  Here's what we did!

I took several trips to the thrift store and found lots of like-new puppy Beanie Babies! Every kid got to adopt a puppy to take home, and they were all different.

Our "build-a-bird" station was a hit at his Angry Bird party, so this year we did "build-a-dog!" There was a container full of cardboard tubes that isn't in the photo.

Toby and Sam with the dogs they built

The cake! I found this cute metal dog and did a simple sheet cake.  The food dish I carved out of more cake, but then my Dad had a really awesome idea...I could have just used one of those little shortcake things that's totally shaped like a dish already!  Anyway, I filled the dish with Whoppers and the birthday boy got the dish! :-) 

Cake close up

I got this cute pinata on Amazon.  It was so cheap, it was worth it vs making one this time.  But, it was NOT a pull string pinata as shown in the photos on Amazon...wish I had read the comments! I tried to cut my own door with strings but it didn't work too great...the first string somehow pulled ALL the strings off, leaving only the one that opens the door! But, none of the kids of course care if the pinata works, once the candy starts pouring out!

The birthday boy in puppy heaven!! I found the huge St Bernard dog he's lying on for $4.99 at Goodwill...just beautiful like new!!  The "Fur Real" dog sitting up behind him was from a garage will bark, follow commands, sit up, lie down, etc!

Some of the snacks we had with dinner! You can get graham cracker "Scooby Snacks" at the grocery store (see below for link)...I put out a bowl of Whoppers since I bought them for the cake.  I also made "puppy chow," a favorite of our family...I just didn't get it into the bowl here before the photo!

The table! I got the inflatable fire hydrant from Amazon! (scroll down for a link) The dog balloons are Air Walkers...those I got from the manufacturer since I sell balloons in my online store.  They were fun for the kids to walk around!
I really don't try to plan in too many games and activities because the kids always have so much fun just playing together!  Generally we'll eat, then do cake & ice cream, then pinata, then gift opening.  Whatever project I set out on the table the kids can do if they like, or all works out well I think!

All in all it was a great party!!  Now I'm gearing up for my little guy's Minion themed 5th birthday party, coming up in just over a week.  Stay tuned for more birthday party fun! :-)

Below are some Amazon links to make your shopping quicker & easier than mine, haha!


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