Healthy, Frozen Fruit Pops!

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It’s summer and my kids would eat popsicles 24/7 if I let them. Most commercial popsicles (or as they are sometimes called, frozen dessert confections) are full of sugar and artificial ick. A few months ago my dad bought me a package of Zipzicles on Amazon. Zipzicles are long, skinny zip top freezer bags that can be filled with whatever you’d like and frozen. Think DIY Otter Pops.

What I really like is that you can be creative, use what you have on hand, and create healthy and fun treats with your kids.

Here are two recipes that the kids and I came up with. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this pictures recently.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 7.46.47 AMMixed Berry Pops

Makes about 12 pops

  • 2 cups mixed berries (use whatever you have, I used 1.5 cups of strawberries and 1/2 cup blackberries)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 t. honey

Place all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Use a small funnel to fill the zipzicle pouches. Place all Zipzicle pouches into a cup or larger zip top bag and place in freezer. Ready to serve in approx 4-6 hours, or as soon as frozen solid.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 7.46.35 AMTropical Pops

Makes about 20

2c frozen bananas
2c frozen Strawberries
1 pkg frozen mangoes
2c Orange Juice
Blend together, pour into Zipzicle pouches ( I use a funnel). Store in freezer until it’s time to consume.

They are so good, and no extra sugar is needed, because the bananas are so sweet.

Next, I think we’ll be making Bachelor Mousse treats. I think it will freeze well, and everyone loves fudgsicles!

For your convenance, Zipzicles can be purchased here (affiliate link), but you can also find them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

What would you put into your Zipzicles?

Summer Lunch Resources for Kids in San Diego!

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School is out (for most of us, the rest will be getting out next week), and that means there are some parents (and kids) who usually rely on free or subsidized school lunches may find themselves wondering what to do.

Thankfully, a lot of great organizations have stepped up and partnered with local area school, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer.  For those of us in East County, here is a list of locations!

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Those of us in the greater San Diego Area, there are a lot of great options all over town!

There is a kick off BBQ at Skyline Hills Park 6/21/17 10:30am-2:00pm! Parents eat free at this BBQ and there are all kinds of activities!

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 12.53.16 PMLindo Lake in Lakeside is hosting a summer BBQ that’s free for kids, and only $4.00 for parents on August 15th! The best part is that each family leaves with 6 lbs. of fresh produce thanks to Feeding America! If the two lists above aren’t in your area, you can also turn to the USDA Find Summer Meals map here.

 

All of these programs are free and there is no proof of need and you do not have to sign up in advance. Just show up and hte kids get a tasty meal!

 

What I love about this program is that there are tons of rec centers hosting these lunches and they are usually adjacent to a playground, which means after a long morning of playing, the kids don’t have long to wait to get a yummy lunch!

Looking for a few ideas of summer fun with a nearby lunch?

If you know of more summer lunch programs for kids in San Diego County, I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment!

 

 

Summertime Plans on a Budget!

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School is out for us on Tuesday. That means I’ve got 67 days to fill with adventures and “excitement” as my 6 year put it. No pressure, right?

Here are just a few things we’ll be doing to have lots of fun, but not spend a ton of money.

  • Taking advantage of free community events! Our local libraries have tons of fun events during the month.  Lego Club, craft afternoons, story time for pre-schoolers, and our local library has a great slate of summer events, including a summer reading program!
  • Using passes and memberships that we’ve already paid for. For us, that’s the San Diego Zoo and the YMCA. I plan on taking full advantage of the YMCA membership daily to get the kids out of the house and playing with others, as well as swimming at the activity pool.
  • Packing snacks and drinks when we leave the house. Henry’s pre-school backpack has become our go to snack backpack. I wrote about our family snack backpack yesterday.
  • Meeting up with friends at the park to play. We love playing at the park. It’s a great way to get out the wiggles, meet new friends, and catch up with old friends. There are tons of groups on Meetup.com or Facebook. If you haven’t checked out Momco on Facebook, it’s a great way to find moms looking to meet up and play!
  • I love to arrange craft or science get togethers. The kids get to make something or try a science project and play with friends. I’m not really into Pinterest all that much, but I do have a Pinterest Board with some of the science and crafts we want to do this summer.  I try to use the supplies we have on hand. I find that a lot of the supplies can be picked up at 99 Cents Only, or cheaply at Target.
  • We’ll also be painting a lot of rocks and hiding them all over this summer. Have you heard of Santee Rocks? Both kids love it and it’s a great way to get kids out and active!  It’s an awesome Facebook Group. Learn more here.
  • The Beach! I know not everyone has the beach near them, but if you do- take advantage!  Google your favorite beach and Tide Chart and find out when low tide it. Low tide is the perfect time to hunt for shells. If you are in San Diego, or will be visiting this summer, check out Coronado for the SS Monte Carlo. It’s a sunken ship that is visible and explorable at low tide.
  • Don’t forget the $1.00 kids movies at Regal Cinemas!
  • Here are a few of my other tips for a fun, frugal San Diego Summer.

Mom’s Money Summer Saving Tip #1: Keep them Fed!

file0002134801752.jpgIt seems like the second we pull out of the garage, two little voices announce in chorus, “I’m Hungry!!!” It’s not like they go without meals, like some sort of Dickens era soot faced moppet… But there is something about leaving the house that makes kids hungry. Especially when you are out and about during the summer.

To combat the chorus, we have a small backpack (Henry’s Pre-school Cars backpack) that is full of shelf stable snacks and drinks. While we are out having adventures, if the chorus starts up, I can pull out the backpack and soon everyone is happy.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite snacks and other stuff I keep in our snack bag (Amazon affiliate links for some items that you may have never seen):

  1. Re-usable water bottles (I fill them daily). Each child has their own, and I have a larger one. I put lots of ice in mine in addition to water. I also carry extra water in my truck at all times (in case of emergency, but frequently the emergency is just hot, thirsty kiddos).
  2. Powdered drink sticks. Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only has lots of great flavors to chose from.
  3. Freeze dried Fruit. Bitty Bird likes strawberries, Henry and I love pineapple.
  4. Protein bars, granola bars, goldfish crackers, Beanies (they are for toddlers, but, both kids love them), fruit squeezy pouches, Yogurt squeezy pouches, applesauce cups, individual cups of peanut butter, crackers to go with the PB (usually Ritz), individual cups of water packed fruit and veggies, Pirates Booty, home made trail mix, ziploc bags of cereal, and depending on what is on sale, juice boxes/pouches or sometimes shelf stable milk boxes/pouches.
  5. In a zipper pouch (this one), I keep hand wipes, plastic utensils, straws, and napkins.  I also carry a ziploc bag with extra ziplocs in it, and a few small trash bags.

While the initial outlay of money to buy a backpack and stock of food to keep in the car snack bag and water bottles way be steep (it was about $65 for us), you will save that much money in just a few weeks in the summer. You’ll be able to avoid drive-thru lines, and you can better control what your family is eating.

file0001779824833.jpgWhen we are going to be gone all day, I also pack a small soft sized cooler bag with blue ice and cold treats like frozen tubes of yogurt, berries, cheese, and cold cuts. I like using re-usable plastic containers, instead of zip top bags. They are usually better for keeping food cold and for squishable items like berries in good condition. These are all the same things that we eat for lunch during the school year, so our food budget in the summer does not increase.

Besides keeping your budget in check, there is another upside to having kids that eat regularly (even on the go): Behavior changes, like tantrums, can occur when kids blood sugar dips or they are hungry. Henry frequently doesn’t realize that he’s hungry until he’s OMGOSH SO HUNGRY that he’s Hangry. I offer him snacks every few hours in the summer, as we are so frequently on the go out with friends or at events in the summer during lunch time.

The main reason I use a backpack instead of a box is that I can quickly grab the bag out of the car and toss it into the basket of the stroller when we hit up the zoo, YMCA for swimming, or the park.

I’d love to hear what kind of snacks you take on the go for your summer adventures!

 

Freebie Roundup!

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I keep getting requests for more free sample posts, so here you go!

Free $5 Off $5 Pre-Owned GameStop Coupon
Free Subscription to People, Real Simple, W & More
Free Palmer’s Eventone Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Sunscreen
Free Sample of Nutty Berry Burst SPIRU-TEIN Shake
Free Subscription to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine
Free Sample of Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover at Ulta
Panera Members – Free Bagel Everyday in June
Free I Love Birds Decal

Free samples are a great way to try new products and offset your household budget.

Another program that I love is Social Nature. They offer coupons for free natural products in exchange for honest reviews. I’ve sampled many really tasty products, including Ezekiel products (they have yummy high protein English muffins).

Here is my post all about how I score free stuff, beyond finding cool samples like these online. There are a lot of programs that are looking to share full size products with you for free!

Cooking at home with Home Chef & $30 off!

We’re back from camping and ! am pooped. Making a yummy, home cooked meal is the last thing I want to do today. I am wishing that my box from Home Chef was already here!

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Home Chef delivers perfectly portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes directly to your door, so whether you’re an amateur cook, or more seasoned in the kitchen, cooking with Home Chef is easy and enjoyable.

Each week, you can use the personalized recipe recommendations they provide you. Or, you can pick from 11 fresh, chef-designed dinners, priced at $9.95 per serving. They change their menu weekly to give you countless new dinner options.

In about 30 minutes, using Home Chef‘s simple, step-by-step recipe cards, you’ll confidently prepare meals from scratch that impress everyone at your table…including yourself! Use the promo code “FAMILY” to try out Home Chef for $30 off!

I can’t wait to try a few different entrees and share them with you!
300x250v2The Tacos al Pastor look really good! Which entrees pique your interest?

Camping with Kiddos!

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As we prep for our annual family camping trip, I thought I’d share some of the fun things we do with the kids when we camp.

In addition to all of the usual camping stuff: Tent, blankets, pillows, air mattress, clothes, toiletries, Sunscreen, food, camp kitchen stuff…. You need stuff to do!

A friend and I made a huge batch of play dough last week, and we’re taking half of the batch, along with some cookie cutters, small rolling pins and other fun play dough stuff I got on my local Buy Nothing Group.

Games: High Ho Cherry-O, card games (like Uno, and a few regular decks of cards), lawn bowling.

We also have a craft box. It’s a large tote, like this one. I’ve filled it with all sorts of craft odds and ends. Mostly stuff leftover from other projects, as well as stuff I’ve gotten from Craigslist Curb alerts, and my local Buy Nothing group.  There is paper, scissors, glue, beads, pipe cleaners, paint, and so much more! The kids rifle through it and come up with some of the most interesting projects. I really believe that kids need to have free reign over creative play, so as long as I am there to make sure they are safe, they are free to create and play how they wish.

Bubbles. I make about a gallon of bubble solution, and we have all kinds of wands and stuff (Dollar tree and Target’s Dollar spot are great places to find bubble toys). We also make some out of pipe cleaners.

We also cook a lot when we are camping. We use dutch ovens to make all kinds of baked goods, including our favorite: Beer Bread. My dad has a cool clay Pizza oven (it’s this one), and we make pizzas in the late afternoons to snack on. Our favorite pizza recipe is here.

Here are a few pictures of our adventure last year:

We also of course, play at the campground play ground, go on nature hikes (and do some fun nature scavenger hunts- check out Pinterest for a bunch). We spend time with family and friends, and of course, check out all of the events and fun at the big camping event in which we are participating.

Camping is a great family activity, and here in San Diego there are so many places to camp! From the beach, to the mountains, to the desert, there are campgrounds, both private and public for low prices!

If you are a camper, where is your favorite place to camp?