Preparing to Pack School Lunches

School starts for Miss Peanut one month from today, which is just absolutely crazy to me. Regardless, it’s time to start really preparing a few things. Honestly, I’ve been preparing things for a long time, like slowly buying things off the supply list her teacher has up on her class blog so it’s not so much at once. And even longer than that, as long as I can remember really, I’ve know I’m going to pack her lunch to school.

Peanut eating lunch at our local Free Summer Lunch program

First I want to say that I know schools do what they can. Many of the lunches are free or reduced and even before accounting for that, it’s not like the school gets a lot of money to work with when it comes to buying and prepping food. And I know that to many families that school lunch is a godsend. That’s not the point.

Twig eating lunch at our local Free Summer Lunch program

The point is that “good enough” isn’t what I want for my family. Our nation’s school lunch (along with many other things) is in a sad state. Looking at the lunches my girls had at the free summer lunch program, there are definitely some good parts and none of it is what I’d consider horrible food, but there are a lot of what I call “sometimes” foods and I just don’t want my kids eating that every day at school. Our school lunch system a lot of improving to do, so in the meantime I’ll take care of her lunch myself.

So here’s the game plan. First, of course, the meal plan. We’re still loving our Super Healthy Kids meal planning service and I’ve happily noted that pretty much every lunch is easy to pack. Of course they’re also loaded with fresh fruits and veggies. I even asked Peanut this week if she wants to do school lunch one day a week (a suggestion I read on Super Healthy Kids) and she said no, she’d rather have my yummy healthy lunches every day. Happy mama here! I’m sure we’ll revisit this concept once she sees her friends eating school lunch, but for now I’m planning on packing it 5 days a week. If she changes her mind, I’m going to stick with Wednesdays as our school lunch day since my husband gets tacos that day and maybe Twig, Banana, and I will have leftovers or go out to lunch ourselves.

Our Laptop Lunchbox bag

Our Laptop Lunchbox

Next, the gear. I have a Laptop Lunchbox that I used myself while I was in school (and I’ll happily buy a second one for myself when I go back to school next year, they’re great!) and extra containers. Since the lunchbox is an older version, the new containers don’t fit in it (they’re a tad bit taller), but that’s not a big deal. I also have one of their lunchbox holders that has plenty of room up top for the other containers. Peanut is super excited to use it!

I’m also planning on getting a bunch (well, maybe not as much as this lady!) of cute bento stuff to make her lunches more fun. I’m sure we’ll hit the point where she feels bored or sad or whatever and these can definitely make lunch more fun. And I’m sure she’ll love them because she loves cute stuff. I’m also planning on printing off lunch notes (and writing my own at times) to give her a little fun pick me up.

Lastly, the plan. I will pack (or at least start packing) lunch the night before, as suggested here. That’s my biggest plan for actually getting her out the door on time. We also have been working on getting ready before breakfast (they have a “before breakfast” to do list that is pretty much just getting ready for the day) so that I’m not constantly harping on her to get dressed and brush her teeth and can focus on getting breakfast on the table and the last bit of lunch packed.

So there it is! Our plan for school lunch this fall. I’ll check up with ya’ll later about how it’s coming along. I’m sure there will be some more obstacles along the way since we’ve never had to pack a school lunch before! She’s getting so big!

Do you pack school lunch? Any tips or tricks you’ve learned?

Goodbye to All the Hair

We’ve been chopping hair all around these parts over the last few months and now we’re to the point where everyone has the shortest hair they’ve ever had! Some of us just keep getting shorter and shorter too. Thought I’d share some pictures of all of it here today.

Peanut Long Hair

Short Hair 1.0

Short Hair 2.0

Twig

Long Hair

Short Hair

Banana

Long Hair

Short Hair

Me

Long Hair

Short Hair 1.0

Short Hair 2.0

Husband

Long Hair and Beard

Short Beard

Short Hair (though this wasn’t on purpose, the stylist was really awful)

Some Quinoa and Part of an Avocado

It’s Food Waste Friday! This week I feel like we did a pretty good job. Not 100% waste-free, but a lot of good work. First, the bad.

Some quinoa got wasted. I was planning on using it Saturday in a recipe, but then we ended up doing a different one that had been skipped earlier in the week. It was already pushing it time-wise to use it in Saturday’s recipe, so I decided that it was better to be safe than sorry and this was trash. The good news is that we’ve found that we do sometimes like quinoa (depends on what it’s in) from some of the recipes in our meal planning service, so go go healthy food!

And second, part of an avocado. I was able to salvage some of the insides for the recipe I was making today, but the outer edges were all slimy. Yuck. It’s hard to get through avocados in our house because, while I absolutely adore them, my family is more on the fence. I work hard to make sure that they get used up before they go bad now (and I buy less of them than the meal plan says to), but this one just got away from me.

In good news, I was able to use up all of our leftovers from meals that needed to be used this week. We still have some meatballs, but they have a few more days, so I think we’ll be good. I also worked on saving parts of meals that the kids didn’t want to finish, like when Peanut decided she didn’t want any more orange. I gave it back to her later (after storing it in the fridge, obviously) and she ate it happily. And this is all with two produce drawers so full that I have to use shelves for the extras every week! I love that we’ve gotten to a place where what we buy at the store is at least 50% from the produce section.

Now just to keep this momentum going for next week! Anyone else working on reducing their food waste? How’d you do this week?

Dear Me of 7 Years Ago

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she’s come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
  • Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
  • A Letter to MyselfThe Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
  • A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past… three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
  • Dear me: Nothing will go the way you’ve planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
  • A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
  • Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she’s about to enter called parenting.
  • Talking to My 18 Year Old SelfHannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
  • Dear highly sensitive soulMarija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits – one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
  • Talking to myself: Dear Pre StoneageparentStoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
  • Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
  • My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she’d figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that’s when her first baby was 6 moths old).
  • A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
  • To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
  • To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.

Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Gotta get those greens in these kids!

Gotta get those greens in these kids!

Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite recipes from the Super Healthy Kids meal plan: Peanut Butter Green Smoothies! My whole family loves them and they keep us full which has always been an issue with smoothies in the past. And they’re healthy!

Peanut Butter Green Smoothies

2 cups – almond milk, unsweetened
1 teaspoon – cinnamon
2 scoops – vanilla protein powder
2 medium – banana
2 cups – spinach, raw
4 tablespoons – peanut butter, all-natural

Directions: Toss all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if a thicker consistency is desired. Serve immediately.

So there you go! I hope you all try this smoothie. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a free year of Super Healthy Kids meal plans! The giveaway ends this Wednesday and there are shockingly few entries! If you’ve already entered, find some other way to enter! You can enter many, many different ways! If you haven’t entered yet and the website is still down when you see this (they’re having a bit of a technical issue), go ahead and skip the first mandatory entry.

Emergency Bags

As I was, once again, pulling something out of an emergency bag in my car tonight, it occurred to me that I’ve never shared this on the blog. We’ve been using them for years, so I’m honestly not sure where I originally got the idea. I have a feeling. It stems from my “ah an earthquake is coming!” phase of crazy that I went through postpartum with Twig. Not saying planning for a natural disaster is crazy, just that I was a little bit obsessively crazy postpartum and for a bit I fixated on that.

Anyway. So emergency bags. I can’t even count the amount of times that these things have been used. I tend to bring too many things when we leave the house, yet there’s still always times that I’ve forgotten something. I guess that’s just life when you have three tiny people to manage out the door! And when I forget something, something that would normally really suck to forget, it’s no big deal. I have emergency bags!

What’s in them? For the bigger kids (one for each) it’s:

  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Undies (multiple pairs)
  • Socks
  • Sweater
  • Pjs
  • Blanket (though these aren’t actually in the bag, we just keep them in the car for when they get cold)

For the baby, all of the above plus:

  • Diapers (just a few)
  • Blankets
  • Burp rags (for younger babies)
  • Baby carrier (my least favorite sling, better than nothing)

I make sure they’re the right size and weather appropriate when I switch clothes over for new seasons or sizes. Like I said, these things get used like crazy. And I usually stock them with the less-than-ideal outfits (a hazard of hand-me-downs) so it’s not like the clothes are missed.

I also keep a general emergency bag with stuff for everyone in the family and a few things for specifically my husband and myself:

  • Water bottles (I try to avoid using these so they’re available for a true emergency)
  • Pullover (that either of us could wear)
  • Receiving blankets (great for messes)
  • Shirt for my husband
  • Shirt and cardigan for me
  • Grocery bags (great for holding dirty clothes)
  • Huge ziplock bags (for puking, right on top)

And that’s it! It seems like a lot, but really it doesn’t take up much space. It worked well when we were in a car and even better now that we’re in the van. They fit perfectly right under the seats!

Do you keep emergency bags in your car? Feel free to add to my lists if you think I’ve missed something!

Some Old Gems

Lately I’ve been going through photos and storing them on our Amazon Drive account. Too many almost-lost-all-our-photos scares and I’m finally getting around to it. These are some of the ones that really popped out to me from last summer.