Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lunch bag blues

( Harmony's bag)

(my favorite container for their lunch bags. A rubber maid take a long)

( the counter on "bagging day"

Sometimes it seems like life hits a fast forward button!! I can't believe that is has been so long since I updated this blog! We have had a few sickie kids, a whole lot of church and school events. Throw in a few Girl Scout meetings and a sprinkling of homework, family movie nights and work (for Ben) and you have our life for this past little bit!

I am waiting for a cheese pizza to cook (boboli crust...no homemade this time!!) and decided to update. Yesterday I did some grocery shopping and did some "lunch prep" for the next few weeks.

Lunch bags. My enemy...my friend. My enemy on days when I have woken up late, or there is no bread, when the kids are bored with the same old stuff.

My friend when I have a fun idea ( I have a Halloween lunch bag idea that I will be sharing on Friday), or when I am prepared. Also, the fact that a school lunch for one child is $3.25...that makes it my friend.

We have all heard that to save money, we should buy the bigger bags of items ( cookies, crackers, chips etc) and put them in our own baggies. It is so simple to toss one of those pre-packaged snacks in right? But yes they are so expensive! Maybe I look at everything differently though. I always look at things times 4! At the commissary a 12 pack box of Scooby Snacks was 3.50! That doesn't even cover a whole week of lunches!! So here is what I do...

1) Look for the discounts. We do not have a sales ad here. The commissary is kind of hit and miss. So I always check out the clearance section first. Yesterday I found a box of wheat thins for .90 and a box of granola bars for .75. A case of Pringles mini's was $2 for 16 snacks. This wasn't the best deal but I needed something orange. You will understand what I am talking about in the Halloween lunch bag post!

2) Then I look for the good deal! The Nabisco snack sacks were all $1. So I bought 12 different bags. Well...three of each kind. I also bought 2 boxes of store brand snack sized bags (these were $1 each).

3) I came home and lined them up on the counter. I turned my ipod and started "bagging". I got 100 bags of snacks, for $15. This includes the price of bags. I used the wheat thins and all the other bags.

4) I looked in the pantry for bags that were almost empty and put the rest into baggies.

5) I have 2 baskets in the pantry. One for salty snacks and one for sweet treats. Every morning all I have to do is grab those and I am all set. My own pre-packaged treats. Lets pretend that I did buy those scooby snacks for a second. To get the same amount of snack bags, I would have to buy 8 boxes. (That is actually only 96 bags) it would cost $42!! I spent $15! Score!

6) My kids don't like sandwiches. They rrrrreally don't. I can get away with it about once a week. One thing I do is have a Mom's "cheat sheet". Harmony likes ham with mustard no mayo. Ethan likes ham and turkey with both. Connor only likes turkey with mayo etc. etc. Connor doesn't like pb & j but he does like pb & honey. So I keep track that way.

7) Uncrustables are expensive. At our commissary they are $1.85 for a box of 4. You guessed it, that is only one lunch! So I buy 2 loaves of bread. I buy one that is not the cheapest but is a nice moist wheat bread. (We don't have bread outlets here, that is where I used to buy bread and will when we are stateside again!)I make one loaf into pb & j and one into pb & honey. I use my circle cutter (from Pampered Chef) to take the crusts off. I then bag them and toss them in the freezer.

8) I like to have my kids lunches in containers not using a zillion bags. But sometimes it happens. I also prefer the kind of lunch bag that lays down. This way I can throw in a gladware container of leftovers.

9) My kids, poor babies,log a lot of time on the bus. So I also make sure they have a reusable water bottle. We fill it in the morning and they have it with them all day.

10) I used to stick a bottle of hand sanitizer in their bags. But they let all their friends use them, and the bottles were empty after a day or so. I want them to use it but...not that quickly! So I just put a wipe in there!

One last thing...Ivan doesn't eat lunch at school. Pre-k is out at 10:15. But I make his lunch bag anyway. That way if I am having to go somewhere after school, he already has a snack. Even if we are home...it is still fun to eat out of a lunch bag!

Well my pizza is done. Let me know any other lunch bag tips you have! I always love to hear them as it is something I have to do every day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Crashed Hot Potatoes

Last night as I was eating these yummy potatoes, I declared them my favorite way to eat potatoes!! We are totally a potato lovin' family. We like them mashed with gravy on top, fried, tater tot'ed, curly, twice baked...You name it, we love it!

I found this recipe on Pioneer Woman Cooks maybe a year ago? But I have been making them ever since. Ben LOVES these. When I first made them, I admit, I was a little intimidated. I am not sure why. I followed the recipe to a T and they turned out fantastic. I was going to take a picture of ours but...they are all gone! (: You should really try them. A new way to do an old favorite!

Sorry I didn't post the actual link. The recipe is listed under sides! And while you are there, look around. She has a ton of yummy recipes!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My freezer shelf is bending. Seriously. I noticed the other day how it was bowing. With a MAJOR shopping trip in the middle of the month, followed by a smaller one, followed by a trip to stock up on emergencey supplies for the storm (I live on Guam and we were in the path of typhoons this past week) Plus another trip to the store on pay day. Can we just say that our family will not be starving any time soon?!

I honestly do not have a place to put all of the groceries. So I decided that I will absolutely not be going to the store again until I have weeded some things out! I am going to plan for the next 10 days. I want to see how far I can plan ahead but will just start from now. So here we go, our menu for the next 10 days.

Breakfasts: bagelfuls( have never tried these. They were on sale so I thought I would see if the kids liked them) pancakes, muffins, waffles, bagels w/cream cheese, eggs with ham, cereal, quick breads

lunches: ham & turkey sandwiches, pb&j, pb& honey ( I make my own "Uncrustables" and freeze them) wraps, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, left overs
Husbands lunch: usually leftovers or I pick up sushi for him

On to dinners:
10/5- chilli mac, rolls, salad
10/6- (I am at church that night)ham, fried potatoes, fruit, rolls (if any left)
10/7- stir fry made with teriyaki glazed chicken, brown rice, pineapple
10/8-mini meatloaves, twice baked potatoes (we are big potato fans!lol)vegi's,rolls
10/9-pasta, sausage and peppers, salad, leftover rolls
10/10- pizza, fruit
10/11- breakfast for dinner:pancakes, bacon, juice, hashbrowns
10/12- chicken and stuffing bake
10/13- hamburgers, hot dogs, baked fries, corn on the cob
10/14- stir fry(again)
10/15- fajitas, corn, spanish rice

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Show and Tell Friday

(not the best photo but...)
I was a little sad to see that Show and Tell Friday was no longer being done over at There is No Place Like Home. I really have enjoyed looking at her blog and getting some fabulous ideas. But not to fear, My Romantic Home looks like a fun new place to look around & be inspired!

I haven't done a Show and Tell for a little while. What can I say? Life gets in the way sometimes.

This week I wanted to share this chest with you. I bought 2 of these big wicker chests about 10 years ago. I love them. I haven't found the *perfect* use for them but...so far this is my favorite.

My family, including myself, just can't quite manage to get our shoes back into our bedrooms. So a shoe basket by the door is a necessity. I have had smaller ones that just didn't cut it.

I wanted to make a "landing spot" for my children as they come through the door. Including a spot to sit and take their shoes off.

So my always handy husband, used a piece of wood (repurposed from my daughters old loft bed) and made a nice sturdy top. I love it!! I can place things on it ( like 40 lb. children) to help with shoes.

I haven't quite finished my "landing spot" but when I do...I will be sure to show and tell it! (:

C is for...

Connor! My son and I got our signals crossed one night over dinner. He thought he was getting pizza...and he got chicken divan instead (poor baby!)The next day, Ben and I were supposed to go on a date. Unfortunatley, it didn't work out and we stayed home instead. However, I had already told Connor that he could choose what he wanted to have for dinner while the babysitter was here. So he chose corn dogs. While at the commissary, I noticed Cheetos were on sale. An idea started to form in my mind for a "C food dinner". On the menu was:

corn dogs
chocolate milk
candy corn for a treat

Then we all sat and snuggled watching Fred Claus. The kids tried to use as many C words as they could.

Now all the kids want a turn with their letter! We thought of other theme nights too, like favorite colors.

It just goes to show that it really is the little things that make a big impression! And it was so easy too! Next up: Ethan...I am thinking enchiladas and...hmmm, still thinking!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monthly Round UP

( all the stuff after dumping it out!)

( trying to get a picture of the inside)

( not the best picture BUT everything is in it's place!)

( the black hole...I mean my bag!)

Over at Organizing Junkie she issues a challenge every month. Choosing some area of your home or life, to get organized. This is my first time participating because I felt like this one NEEDED to be done! LOL

The subject for the month...purses. My "purse" is actually a diaper bag. Yep, for day to day needs, it's a diaper bag. When I do go out without kids (not too often) I have an empty purse in the car that I just throw my keys, phone, wallet and ID in. But the every day bag...yep that big ole' diaper bag.

So I dumped everything out. I had coupons, chapstick(s), diapers, pens, reciepts ( ugh I hate reciepts), wrappers, hair tie, hand sanitzer etc. etc.

The inside of the bag is lined with pockets.

I decided to make it so that Mason and I each have our own side of the bag if you will.

On my side: a pocket that holds a water bottle, crystal light to go packet, a "just in case you forgot to eat breakfast and are starving" granola bar and a pack of gum (don't tell my kids, or it will disappear!). The next one holds "girly items" chapstick, pads (sigh)a pair of extra sunglasses. Next is one that is empty. But it is to place my cell phone and ipod in. I have one outside pocket that holds a pen, my planner and my menu planning notebook ( ok org junkie, do I get extra credit for that?!).

On to Mason's side, one pocket for diaper. One for a wipes container. One holds a roll of trash bags, hand sanitizer and diaper rash cream.

His outside pocket is a changing pad. It is just to big to have in the middle.

The middle of the bag holds his extra change of clothes, burp cloth and recieving blanket. My wallet goes on top, so I can find it.

I also use a carabiner hook for my keys. I only keep it on there while I am out though.

So there it is. As Mason grows and things change, I am sure the bag and what goes in it will change too. But for now, it works for us!

If you want to see more organized purses be sure to visit Organizing Junkie!

Want to contact me?

Feel free to contact me at hecimommy@gmail.com