Browsing Tag:


HOME/ How-Tos/ Meals/ Organizing/ RECIPES

School Lunch Plan-No More Baggies & A Free Weekly Lunch Plan Printable

Like I said in this post, I am on a mission this year to make school lunches something my kids look forward to.  I also want to feel good about the food I am serving them.  By the end of last year, if they had to eat one more peanut butter and jelly sandwich (which they had in their lunch every day) my girls would look at me like I was asking them to eat dirt.  Thankfully, over the summer their taste for pb & j has returned, and I want to keep it that way.
I also wanted to get rid of baggies.  I hated spending the money on zip baggies, not to mention the waste!  I started early on my search for the perfect lunch bag & containers, and after using them for almost a week, I can say I am super excited about how smoothly packing school lunches has been going.  
The lunch bags I found are Nike brand.  I found them at Shopko, but you can also order them here on Amazon.  These are perfect.  They have 2 pockets, and are deep enough to fit the water bottle inside with the lunch.  I love that I can fit the sandwich size container in the front pocket, which leaves the large back pocket open for water bottle & whatever else I want to fit in there.  The zippers are heavy duty and the bag is really well made.  I also found the BPA free water bottles at Shopko, my girls LOVE these. They are also Aladdin brand and they unscrew on the top like a regular water bottle, but they also unscrew further down to fit ice in if desired.

The blue containers are Aladdin brand and are AWESOME.  I found them at Target, but they can also be purchased here.  The sandwich size container is deep and comes with a removable ice pack…love that! The smaller blue container also has a removable ice pack.  The little green containers are from Rubbermaid also from Target.  They are perfect for a single cookie, nuts, dips, dried apricots, etc.  I bought each girl one large sandwich container, one side container, and two small green lid containers.  It has worked perfectly for lunches so far.
I was concerned about washing them out every night, but it really is not a big deal.  Usually we just wipe them out, but if the food is messy, we throw them in the dishwasher.  The girls empty their lunch bags as part of their afternoon routine, and they know that filling their water bottles and putting them in the refrigerator, putting their ice packs in the freezer, and emptying their containers are all part of their chart.  

Click Here To Download Free Printable
So how am I keeping this all organized and easy peasy?  With the help of our sponsor, Clean Mama.  She makes beautiful printables that keep ones home running smoothly, and she made free Weekly Lunch Plan for us!  I just love it!  It has definitely helped in keeping my mind less frazzled in trying to remember what to serve for lunch.  I especially like the area for ideas, it reminds me of food that might otherwise sit in the refrigerator and go to waste.  If you love the above printable, make sure you check out Clean Mama’s shop, which is full of more!

Here is what is on our idea list this week:
Turkey Sandwich
PB & J Sandwich
Cheese Tortellini
Bean Burrito
Frozen Berries (thawed perfectly by lunch)
Shredded carrots
Spinach Salad
Pepper strips
Protein & Dairy
I skip these because we don’t eat dairy in our home, or at least very little.  
My girls drink water every day.  I believe juice is just too expensive and full of sugar.  Even 100 percent juice has natural sugars in it that can spike blood sugar levels since the fiber is removed from it. I can’t tell you how much money we save by just being water drinkers in our home!
Whole grain bars
Chocolate bars
Dried cranberries
Dried apricots
Here is our lunch plan for this week:

No School
Turkey Sandwich
Cheese Tortellini
Bread Cubes
Italian Dressing for both
Whole Grain Bar
Dried Cranberries
Pb & Jelly Sandwich
Granola bar
Dried Apricots

Bean Tacos
Chips & Salsa
Granola Bar

I also bought them each a new thermos, same Alladin brand.  I will save that and my ideas for another post!

Need MORE School Lunch Food Ideas?  Click here.

FAMILY/ Healthy Eating/ HOME/ Meals/ Parenting/ RECIPES/ Simplifying

Need School Lunch Ideas & Inspiration? So Did I. Here Ya Go!

Best School Lunch Inspiration, healthy and eco friendly ideas | New Nostalgia

I am on a mission this year to make our school lunches something my kids look forward to.  I also want to feel good about the food I serve them.  By the end of the school year last year, if I even mentioned peanut butter and jelly all 3 of my girls would moan.

I’ve been scouring the web for inspiration and guess what?  I AM SUPER INSPIRED!

I’ve learned that half the battle is having the right equipment, so today I will be going shopping for thermoses, containers & ice packets.  I am so tired of buying little baggies, not to mention the waste, so small containers it is.  They will eventually pay for themselves with the money I save in not buying those zippy little baggies!

On to my inspiration:

This first pin share is a great way to get started.  I am going to print it off and keep it on my refrigerator for inspiration & a quick reference when I am making my grocery list.  It is a list of lunch box ideas sorted according to each type of food–fruit, vegetable, dessert, fillers, etc.

Source: via New on Pinterest

This is an awesome site.  This mom documented every lunch she packed for her child for a year.  She said the square box she uses in each lunch is from Target.  I like how she uses a muffin liner to separate foods.  She also writes that she uses press and seal for any “spillable” foods like yogurt or dips.

Make smoothies, freeze them, then put them in lunch box.  They will freeze just enough by lunch time, and also act as a cold pak.

This is a great post by my blog friend Cassidy at Remodelaholic.   She lists 25 best school lunches, some are quite creative.  I like the simplicity of the lunch pictured above.  A silicone muffin liner is another way to separate food, and is reusable.

This is a super fun idea if your kids are banana lovers. Write on them with toothpicks and as the day goes on, the message appears.

I know I will fall back on the trusty peanut butter and jelly sandwich once in awhile, but I don’t think my girls will mind if I add some interesting & healthy sides to it.  That power bar looks awesome, huh? Click link under the photo for the recipe.

This site is in Spanish, but the picture speaks for itself.  What a simple, cute & healthy way to express love.  Kids love and notice little touches.

Source: via New on Pinterest

This photo is from the Disney family site.  They have a TON of great ideas for school lunches, all organized and divided up according to what your child’s tastes are.  I love this one with hummus, flat bread and tabbouleh.  Again, the cupcake liners serve as dividers.

Aren’t these so cute.  Easy and sweet.  I’m gonna have my 9 year old make the clips, but I won’t tell her what I plan on doing with them!

School lunch vanilla parfait.  I plan to put my mason jars to good use with this idea!  Yum.

The rest of my shares will be from this amazing site called Easy Lunch Boxes.  There are so many ideas!  I will share my favs:

Served with a thermos of lentil soup.

Served with a thermos of tomato soup.


Want to see more of my pins?  I’d love you to follow me on Pinterest.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Got any more great lunch ideas for me?  Please share in the comments!

FAMILY/ Healthy Eating/ How-Tos/ Parenting/ RECIPES

12 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Their Fruits And Vegetables

*a repost from the archives
 I have had much success in getting my kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. 

By appealing to the things they love!

~Kids love COLOR
~Kids love GAMES
~Kids love LEARNING
~Kids love feeling “GROWN UP”

Below are some tips that appeal to these very things:

1. Keep It Fun & Playful, Like A Game
 We try to “eat the rainbow” every day in our home.  We talk often about the importance of getting some of each color, everyday. It is 1:00 p.m. and I just asked my 8 year old a question I ask often, “How many colors have you had today?”  Her answer, “Blue blueberries in my oatmeal for breakfast, orange orange juice, yellow banana with my lunch, green asparagus with lunch, red apple with  lunch, green kale for snack, blended up in my fruit- smoothie popsicle.

2. Take Advantage Of Kids Natural Desire To Learn  
Why do we need to eat our fruits and vegetables?  When kids understand the reason for doing something they are much more likely to cooperate. Learn together what “free radicals” are and why we don’t want them in our bodies. Teach what “antioxidants” are what they do to help our bodies. Learn the different nutrients and vitamins in each fruit and vegetable, and how they benefit the body.  “Nutrition For Dummies” is a great resource for teaching simple nutrition lessons.

3. Shop The Rainbow
This can be fun and easily turned into a game.  In the car on the way to the grocery store, talk about how you are going to “shop the rainbow.” Ask the kids for their help.  Ask them to name as many “red” fruits and vegetables as they can.  When they can’t think of anymore, ask them to name the “yellows.”  You could even have one make a list of all the vegetables you come up with under each color category, then vote in the car what you should buy in each category.  Circle those items, take it into the store with you as your grocery list.

4. Take Advantage Of Color
Comment on the  natural beauty of fruits and vegetables.  Talk about all the different, beautiful hues.  The deep purple of eggplant, the bright red of strawberries the bright green of broccoli. While you are admiring the colors also notice all the beautiful shapes and textures. We use mason jars in our home for food storage.  I have many reasons, but my favorite reason is that you can easily see what is in the jar.  There is nothing better than opening the refrigerator and seeing jars full of shredded orange carrots, bright green peas, yellow pepper strips, or balls of pink watermelon.  My kids know that if they are still hungry after a “salty” or “sweet” snack that they can go to the refrigerator and help themselves to the vegetables in mason jars.  I love seeing them grab a jar, grab the dip, and munch away!

5. Keep Your Power 
It is important to keep healthful eating lighthearted and playful, but there will also be times when it is not, and we will have to be the parent. If your kids need medicine it is your job to make them take it. Good food is just as important.  We look at fruits and vegetables as medicine in our home, “Nature’s Pharmacy.”  My kids know that eating their fruits and vegetables is not an option.  They know it is a necessity and it is expected. 

6. Implement This Simple Rule 
To keep power struggles to a minimum, especially at the dinner table, our rule is “no eating your main dish until your vegetable is gone.”  This is very effective.  They come to the table very hungry, smelling the spaghetti and garlic bread.  They are sitting there face to face with their desires.  They eventually give in and eat their vegetable.  It is a great strategy which takes advantage of the fact that everything tastes better when you are hungry!  This rule was needed when they were younger, but we rarely use it anymore as our expectations are now known.
7. Keep Portions Small
Especially when introducing a new vegetable!  Give them time to acclimate to new textures and tastes.  Broccoli is not my girls favorite vegetable so we started with one small broccoli floret, and worked our way to almost a full serving. Gradually work the serving size up to at least a 1/2 cup.

8. Appeal To Kids Desire To Feel “Grown-Up”
One of the most simple strategies we have used is saying (as they are chewing with scrunched up noses), “Oh, you don’t like that vegetable?  Your taste buds must not be old enough for that one yet.  Maybe next time you taste it, it will be different.”  This creates a positive goal in our home, being old enough and having a “mature enough palate” to like all types of vegetables.

9. Talk About Palates
We watch “Top Chef” as a family.  It has been very educational when it comes to different types of foods.  We comment on how the judges have such mature palates.  When my kids like something healthy I will say, “Wow, you have such a healthy palate!”  We have even talked about how eating just a bite or two of a new taste and texture can help train our palates to appreciate all types of food.  This appeals to kids desire to feel “grown-up” and also keeps things lighthearted and fun, like a game.

10. Teach About Texture
Again, the show “Top Chef” has been helpful in this area.  The judges are always talking about how a certain dish needs more “texture.”  For the longest time my kids would complain about lettuce and tomatoes on their tacos.  It would frustrate me because it turned a healthful meal into a “meat and cheese” meal.  Not what I wanted.  So, one night when having tacos, I casually said, “I bet the “Top Chef” judges would say your tacos need more texture.”  I saw this sparked their curiosity and continued, “Lettuce gives a type of crispy crunch and tomatoes are soft and cool down the spice of the meat.  Wow, the textures of the food work and taste beautifully together!”  It worked.  They tried it and agreed. Yes!

11. Make It A Game
Hang a chart on the refrigerator to keep track of “who ate the most colors that day”.  If it is over 5 servings give a sticker!  Or make a matching game- match the color of fruit or vegetable with the main nutrient it provides.  This is a great way for adults to learn too!

12. Grow Them
The last two years, we have had much fun with our Square Foot Garden. {link-}  When my kids watch something grow from a seed they squished into the dirt they are very eager to eat the reward.

{wrapped lettuce photo here}

Simple Ways We Eat Fruits And Vegetables
~Frozen berries in cold cereal
~Frozen berries in oatmeal
~A bowl of frozen berries thawed to perfection during dinner in time for dessert
~Apple slices almond butter
~Bananas sliced on bran flakes for breakfast
~Banana slices on whole wheat peanut butter bagel
~Celery and peanut butter or cream cheese
~Pepper strips and hummus
~Cucumber slices and dip
~Frozen grapes-so refreshing!
~A 6 cup muffin tin full of different colors for snack
~Clementine slices on our salads
~Frozen mango chunks in a bowl
~Edamame with sea salt-my kids favorite
~Fruit smoothies made green by blending in spinach
~Eggplant in place of beef in our spaghetti sauce
~Fruit kabobs-so pretty and fun
~Fresh berries in pancakes
~Homemade, no- cook berry jam
~Sliced berries on ice cream
~Spinach salad with mason jars full of vegetable toppings to add themselves
~Make our own fresh vegetable and fruit juices using our juicer.
FAMILY/ How-Tos/ Meals/ Parenting/ RECIPES

Saucy Asian Meatballs & Getting Your Kids To Help In The Kitchen

I will get to this awesome recipe of Saucy Asian Meatballs in just a minute.  It made my whole family VERY happy and I enjoyed the sauce with veggies and rice.  But first let me tell you how it came about that this recipe even made it into our family favorites.

I am reading a book on parenting (whose title I will share with you soon when I remember it…I am sitting in a coffee shop and it is at home).  Anyway…it is an awesome book that has my wheels turning when it comes to parenting and what I expect out of my kids.

It has challenged me to challenge my kids. To expect more out of them and to encourage them to do things they don’t think they can or don’t want to do.

My oldest who will be 13 in a month, REALLY does not like to cook.  At least I thought she didn’t like to cook.  Every time I would try to pull her in the kitchen, she would shuffle, moan, groan & we would end up frustrated with each other.  I have decided that learning to cook is a non-negotiable in our home, as I want them prepared as possible to run a home of their own someday, so I have been trying to come up with a way to make cooking less of a drudgery for my oldest.

Enter Pinterest.  I have watched my daughter slowly build a following on Pinterest as she has super great taste and an eye for beauty.  She loves pinning things, and I noticed one of her boards was named “Get In My Belly.”  I checked out the recipes she pinned, and noticed that many of them were cheesy and full of sugar, so I cringed when I found myself saying to her, “Hey, how about you pick a recipe from your ‘Get In My Belly‘ boards to make for dinner.  I will let you pick what you want, I will buy the ingredients, but you have to make it.”

She immediately went to her boards and I was pleased with what she chose.  I was happy it was not deep fried or oozing with cheese and cream of something soup.  She chose Saucy Asian Meatballs.

I was interested to see if she would follow through with no complaining, and she did just that.  I sat in with her at the table, but I was very careful not do anything but guide her with my words.  She did all the chopping, shaping and baking.  I was amazed and very proud of my non-cook, cooking!

It took a few minutes to get her to use her hands to mix the raw meat mixture (can you blame her?) But, she gave in and we laughed about her dramatic facial expressions as she mixed by hand.  Blech.

Here she is with her finished dinner.  I showed her how to prepare rice in our rice cooker & make a side of frozen vegetables.  Her dinner got rave reviews from her sisters and her dad, who loves great flavor & “mmm’ed” all through dinner.

{Wanna pin it? She would be thrilled.  Pin button down by the comments}

 I was proud and so was she.  I’m eager to see if this will work again with her.  I sure hope so.  I totally enjoyed being with her in the kitchen and I loved seeing how empowered she felt by working hard and producing an entire meal by herself!

Want to follow her on Pinterest?  I know she would be thrilled to see her numbers grow.

Click here if so!


Saucy Asian Meatballs Recipe


*we doubled the sauce to make sure we had enough for my rice & veggies

{from Give Me Some Oven, click through for amazing photos of this recipe! She also talks about the flavor & how they won a taste testing contest by her friends after making numerous meatball recipes}


Meatball Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground pork or ground beef (we used beef, local & grass fed)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs (we used regular breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions
  • optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions

Asian Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger


Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix together meatball ingredients until well-combined.  Shape into balls (I made mine about 1.5 inches, which yielded about 35 meatballs, but 1 inch is probably standard), and place on a greased baking sheet or in a 9×13 baking dish.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until meatballs are golden on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.

While the meatballs are baking, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until blended.  Once meatballs have finished cooking, you can either dip each meatball individually (using a toothpick) in the sauce mixture.  Or you can pour the sauce over the meatballs and gently stir them until covered.



Brunch/ Healthy Eating/ RECIPES/ Sides

Rainbow Fruit Platter

Whenever I’m asked to bring a dish to a potluck type dinner, I have to make a choice between bringing owey- gooey -chocolaty- naughtiness, or something to show off that a plant based diet can be delicious, too.
Honestly, I often choose the naughty, because a girl can’t be good all the time and lets get real, naughty is fun! A potluck is a great excuse to make something yummy to share with others, all the while keeping it out of my own house as there is never leftovers!
But sometimes, I know there will be plenty of sugar at a gathering and I bring something that I know everyone will enjoy & that is good for the body, too.  I love showing others that eating healthy can be a delicious and beautiful experience, and what better way to do that then with the beauty of a rainbow fruit platter?
Would you look at all those beautiful colors, shapes and textures?  God sure is a great artist.
This platter was a cinch to put together.  All fruit was from Trader Joes.  I loved that they even had kumquats!  I ran to the store the morning of our family potluck, grabbed the rainbow of different fruits, and had my girls help me wash and arrange them onto a large platter.  The cantaloupe and pineapple were already precut.  I rarely pay the extra money for this, but this day convenience was worth the extra pennies!
Everyone “oooed” and “awed” over this platter as I walked in with it.  It was especially so fun to see the excitement of kids!  They love anything bite sized and bright colored.  When I went to grab the platter at the end of the potluck, there were only a few lonely grapes rolling around.  Who knew that fruit would be as popular as chocolate?

How-Tos/ Kids/Family/ RECIPES

Fun With Food For Kids

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Toddler buffet using ice cube trays.  So cute!

{wanna follow me there? Click here.}

Fruit served in ice cream cone cups.  Would be cute for a baby shower or summer party!

Rainbow on a skewer.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Tortellini skewers with pesto dipping sauce

Veggie cups. No more worries about double dipping!

Grilled chocolate banana melt.  Fun after school least they get some fruit with it!

Peanut butter and jelly “sushi” rolls.

Apple and grape cars.

Fun cheesy sunflower and grapes.  Another after school snack idea.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Fun owl food.  This would take just minutes to make, but lasting smiles!

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Watermelon and Cantaloupe fruit pops!  How clever.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

So tropical!

I’d love you to:

Follow Me on Pinterest


Kid Friendly Avocado Recipe Contest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Avocados from Mexico for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Avocados are a pretty popular fruit (yes, they are a fruit!) here in our household, but most of the recipes I use them in, my kids don’t even know they are there!

 I make my Avocado Green Smoothie Popsicles almost weekly, they have such a great, fruity, creamy lusciousness to them.  Avocado’s are great for creating a smooth creaminess in many recipes, and are full of health benefits that are essential for child development and growth.  Another recipe that my kids love is Chocolate-Avocado Mousse with Raspberries!  This is a super rich, healthy and easy recipe to make.

Chocolate-Avocado Mousse with Raspberries

2 large ripe avocados
1/3 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cupagave nectar, or honey
11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoons almond extract
Raspberries, fresh or frozen, to top

 1. Halve and pit the avocados and scoop out the flesh.  Transfer the avocado flesh to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Using a spoon, break up the avocado a little in the food processor.
2. Add the cocoa powder, agave nectar (or honey), vanilla extract, and almost extract to the processor and process for 1-2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then process again until the mousse is very smooth, 1-2 minutes longer.
3. Taste the mousse and if not sweet enough, add more nectar, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Pulse to mix.
4. Spoon the mousse into serving vessels (martini glasses are pretty!) and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
5. Serve the mousse chilled and garnished with raspberries.

**Drizzle in more or less agave or honey, depending on your tastes.
Avocados have potassium, folate, fiber, Vitamin C, E and B-complex vitamins that support memory and brain function, which make them a great choice for both kids and adults.  You get all this in the above recipe, and your chocolate fix, too!  You would never have guessed that avocados were used to thicken the mousse and that it would make it so creamy and delicious!  This mouse is vegan, and is super healthful: no eggs, no dairy, and no refined sugars.  Cocoa powder and raspberries both have antioxidants in them.  Just one ounce of dark chocolate packs as many antioxidants as a glass of red wine.  Buy natural cocoa powder with a minimum of 70% cocoa.  Avoid anything that says “dutch processed” or “processed with alkali” in order to keep the good flavonoids found in chocolate.
This mousse takes just minutes to prepare.  No cooking or baking!

I serve this to my kids smeared on graham crackers.  They think it is frosting!:)

New Message

I recently heard of a fun way to help kids fall in love with avocados.  It is a contest called “The Avocado’s From Mexico Mini Chef Video Contest!”

Starting November 14th, Avocados from Mexico is hosting a video contest for parents of children ages 5-15. Submit a 1-3 minute video of your child/children preparing an avocado dish and be sure to have them include why they love avocados and the catchy Avocados from Mexico jingle found on their website. Videos will be judged on the Mini Chef’s personality and the presence of avocado.
One grand prize winner gets $1,000 in cash plus an HD Camcorder (for future home videos!), a Nintendo 3D, 2 games and a personalized Mini Chef jacket. Nine runners up win big too with an HD Camcorder, a Nintendo 3D and a personalized Mini Chef jacket. Tons of great prizes and tons of chances to win – what’s not to love?
Get your video in by December 4th and check back on December 6th to see if your video is one of 10 finalists. Public voting will take place on YouTube December 6-11. The video with the most Likes wins and will be posted on the website December 12th.
Let me know in the comments if you are planning on entering!  Would love to see what your little munchkins come up with!

Visit Sponsor's Site