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!

 

 

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!

 

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?

Practical Ways to Help New Parents…

Having had two kids, I can tell you that nothing is more helpful than having food to eat in the first few weeks after giving birth. Having a baby is stressful, especially if it’s your first. You can take all the classes in the world, do as much prep, but when it comes down to it, you spend the first few weeks tired, stressed, and weary.

Having a few extra hands and a hot meal you can eat one handed (especially something you can eat while breastfeeding) is worth it’s weight in gold!

Recently a friend and his wife welcomed their little girl. Hubs made up a batch of his new baby calzones. He makes them for everyone of our friends that is having a baby. They freeze well, re-heat quickly (and well), and you can eat them one handed.

Thanks to Kasandrinos Olive Oil and UsFamily Guide for the opportunity to sample this olive oil for free! I’m not usually a big Olive Oil fan, Kasandrinos Olive oil has a light flavor that works really well in Calzones! I also like that it has an easy to pour spout inside the bottle!

We use the Pizza Crust Recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Anything. You can find the recipe here.  One Pizza Crust makes 4-6 small calzones.IMG_2064.jpg

As the dough rises, we prep the rest of the ingredients. Sauce, cheese, meats, veggies.

I use canned tomato sauce and add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, a pinch of parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper. No added sugar.

Some of the most popular ingredients around here: pepperoni, sausage, onions, bell peppers, ground cooked beef, sliced chicken breast, goat cheese, mozzarella, bbq sauce (instead of tomato sauce), cheddar cheese, ham, green chilis, meatballs (I usually make them little or slice them up), pretty much anything in the fridge!

Once the dough is ready, it is portioned out, rolled and then the magic happens!

For small/hand held sized calzones, use 1/2 cup cheese/toppings and 2-3 T. of sauce. Fold over and crimp the edges shut, and place on a cookie sheet that is either sprayed with Pan or use a silicon baking mat. I have these and I love them!

Larger Calzones need almost double the amounts above.

Bake at 450 for 10-20 minutes, depending on size.

Before and after baking!

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Here is the result of a few hours work. They were delivered the next day, ready to be frozen and enjoyed at the new mom and dad’s leisure!

If cooking isn’t your “thing” here are a few other ways to help the new parents in your life:

  • Bring them their favorite coffee drink, and something to eat.
  • Offer to hold/watch the baby while they take a shower/take a nap/have 5 minutes alone.
  • Fold/put away their laundry.
  • Wash their dishes.
  • Take out the trash, or if trash day is the next day, take their cans down to the street (then the next day, stealthily put them back).
  • Be there. Honestly, it can be lonely if you are a new parent. It’s not like you are taking your new baby all over town. You are just trying to get the hang of having a new family member. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to come hang out with!

Kasandrinos and Us Family guide provided us with a free bottle of olive oil in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. I was not financially compensated.

Recipe: Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

file000382147880.jpgWe love Garlic. It’s a good thing that hubs and I both like it, because otherwise this recipe wouldn’t go over too well.

This is my spin on the Spaghetti with Garlic White Wine sauce found here.  It appeared in hubs Facebook feed one day several months ago, he sent it to me, and we’ve been tweaking it to make it our own ever since.

To make it a little healthier, I added in 1 large spaghetti squash. If you’ve never cooked one, I write about it here. It’s super easy to cook, and it’s very yummy

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white onions, cut into quarters and layers separated
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (you can use more or less)
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 T Thyme (I usually have it dried in my spice cabinet, but if you have it fresh, use 5-6 springs)
  • 1 c. Grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 c chicken broth (or pasta water)
  • 1 large spaghetti Squash
  • If you want to add pasta to this dish, you’ll need 1/2 lb spaghetti, 8-10 cups water (to cook pasta), and salt (to salt the water)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prep spaghetti squash (scoop out the stringy parts and seeds) and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Toss cut up onions in oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a baking dish covered for 20-30 minutes, uncover and bake an addition 10-15 minutes.

IMG_3202.jpgAfter the squash is done cooking, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, or until it’s easy to handle. Scoop the “meat” out and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baked onions, cooling, along with the butter needed to finish the recipe.

After onions are done baking, set aside.

If you are cooking pasta, start the water to boil and cook pasta as directed.

Zest and juice the lemons, set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heat half the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the minced garlic and cook on medium for 5-ish minutes until fragrant (watch out, it burns really easily). Add red pepper flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3200.jpgAdd Lemon juice and wine, turn up the heat for a few minutes. You’ll want to cook off the alcohol, so about 5-10 minutes at medium high heat. Add the baked onions.

Add 2 T. chicken broth (or pasta water), and the remaining butter, and the Thyme. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat.

Add the spaghetti squash and/or pasta into the skillet, and gently toss to coat. Add lemon zest, and half of the parmesan cheese. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or pasta water a little at a time.

Top with any additional cheese, thyme, and/or pepper flakes.

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Here is an extra step that makes it a little better (IMO) but isn’t needed: Place skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese on the top is brown and bubbly.

I have made this recipe with both pasta and spaghetti squash.  This last time I made it, I used only 1 serving of whole wheat spaghetti, mostly because I prefer the way it turns out when it has the pasta water in it, instead of the chicken broth.

*If you are a vegetarian, feel free to substitute in veggie broth.

**This recipe can be made with GF pasta.

 

4/11/17- Meal Plan!

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So I’m a day late… Mr. was sick yesterday, paired with the first day of spring break and I was toast by 11am! That being said I picked up some cheese, milk, and veggies yesterday. We’ll be good for the rest of the week!

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos have started eating a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! This week is spring break, so I’ll be cooking lunch at home or we’ll have a picnic/sack lunches if we are on the go (but we may have pizza out- I haven’t decided). Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

Monday:

  • D:Everyone was in bed by 7:30! We had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Tuesday:

  • D:  Bean, Rice, and cheese bowls (they also have caramelized onions and peppers) We had these last week and they were soooo good, and super easy. I caramelized a bag of onions and peppers in the crockpot, made rice with broth in the rice cooker and added cheese and a can of Ro*tel Tomatoes to a can of refried beans.

Weds:

  • D: Roasted chicken with veggies (made in 1 pan- very easy!)

Thursday:

  • D:  protein pancakes, eggs, and sausage (maybe fruit salad(

Friday:

  • D: Date Night! (we go out)

Saturday:

  • D: Salsa Chicken (it’s a complete meal with veggies and quinoa!)

Sunday:

  • D:Leftover buffet

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first.

We went to the Zoo today with friends, and I made sure to fill up our snack backpack and bring our drinks!

Recipe: Oatmeal Mix

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We love Oatmeal, but most instant oatmeal is full of sugar and isn’t really good for you (no fiber, lots of sugar, mystery ingredients).

Determined to save money and get us to eat better, I set out to concoct a batch of oatmeal mix.  After months of trial and error, here is the final result:

Oatmeal Mix

Makes 40 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 15 cups old fashioned oats (that’s 1 large canister)
  • 3 2/3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 cup flax seeds, milled
  • 1 cup Hemp Seeds (I like these)

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.
  2. Store in a large air tight container for up to 6 months.

Directions for cooking the mix:

1/2 cup mix to 1 cup water, cook on the stove together until the oats are cooked (2-3 minutes). Or mix together and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes and let stand for a few minutes.

 

Add dried fruit, powdered sweetener, spices/herbs, what have you to make it your own!