Time to Hit the Road: Don’t Forget the Snacks!

I’ve talked about our snack basket at home, but what about when we leave home? Oh yeah, we take snacks everywhere!

When it’s time for the zoo or another day out on the town, I pull out the “snack backpack” which is one shoulder slingback bag like this.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite snacks and other stuff I keep in our snack bag:

  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 trunk 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 have lots of great flavors to choose from.
  3. Freeze-dried Fruit. Strawberries, Pineapple, and mangoes are favorites here.
  4. Protein bars, granola bars, goldfish crackers, fruit squeezy pouches, Yogurt squeezy pouches, individual cups of peanut butter, crackers to go with the PB (usually Ritz), Pirates Booty, Individual bags of popcorn, homemade trail mix (extra M&M’s no raisins), Ziploc bags of cereal, fruit leathers/fruit rollups, Mott’s Fruit Snacks (these are specifically requested), 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 snack bag and water bottles may 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-sided cooler bag with blue ice and cold treats like frozen tubes of yogurt, berries, cheese, and cold cuts. I like using reusable 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- We also take advantage of summer school lunch programs as well.

I’m really looking forward to our spring and summer shenanigans!

10/26/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week. I didn’t get a chance to type this up last night. I fell asleep around 8:30. I was tired.

The kids and I hit up the grocery store yesterday morning and loaded up on some stuff we needed (bread, cream cheese, bagels, grapes, and watermelon were chief among our “needs”).  Our meal plan is super light and easy this week.

Our weather is getting decidedly more “fall-like”. Last night I made a big batch of veggie soup, portioned it out, and popped containers into the freezer for later meals. I’ll be doing the same with the potato cheese soup I make later this week- and yes, I’ll be posting the recipe too!

Thanks to some local deals, offers, and the school lunches the kids bring home, I have been able to keep our grocery budget to $60 per week for the past MONTH! It’s amazing. The extra money is going into our holiday savings account.

If you have kids between 2-18, check with your local school to see if they are offering free lunches and/or breakfasts. You can also check the USDA Website– but it might be a little out of date.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM. I’ll be posting the recipe for his current favorite this coming week.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Veggie Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Monday:  Sandwiches and Salad (I bought a rotisserie chicken at Costco yesterday, so we had roasted chicken, bacon, and mozzarella sandwiches)
  • Tuesday: Nuggets and Fruit (Big kid has OT in the late afternoon, so it’s always a quick dinner on Tuesday)
  • Wednesday:  Potato Cheese Soup and Garlic bread (I’ll post the recipe this week- it’s super easy and frugal!)
  • Thursday: Bacon, veggie, and cheese frittata,  fruit
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Protein Muffins, fruit salad, and Greek yogurt

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

8/19/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

Our out of town guests left this morning, so we are back to meal planning! And school starts on Wednesday for the big kid, so I’ll be doing shopping for school lunches this week with part of the grocery budget.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup- I found a container of it in the freezer last night and defrosted it! We’ve got leftover fruit salad in the fridge too. I may also make grilled cheese sandwiches too.
  • Tuesday:  Spaghetti with leftover Veggie Loaded Meat Sauce (also found in the freezer), garlic bread, salad
  • Wednesday:  Veggie Korma – I found a Korma Kit at Grocery Outlet not long ago, so I’m making a big batch (there will be enough for at least 1 more meal)
  • Thursday: Breakfast for dinner-Poached Eggs, bacon, fruit salad
  • Friday:  Date Night
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night
  • Sunday: Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

8/5/19 Meal Plan Monday

stemarie_1650skitchen

The past week has been crazy! Running around, having adventures, trying to beat the heat. This week I’m trying to finish up a couple pieces, get some new content researched, and get the house ready for out of town guests who arrive early next week. If you’ve got kids, you feel me on the “It takes a week to get your house ready” vibe.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: I won’t lie.. We went to Costco and had pizza and churros.
  • Tuesday:  Leftover Night- There is leftover Spanish Rice, Beans, chicken breasts and salad lurking in the fridge.
  • Wednesday: Grilled cheese and Quinoa Tri-color pepper salad
  • Thursday: Something cool- it’s supposed to be really hot Thursday. I’m thinking about sandwiches and fruit salad.
  • Friday:  Date Night! I’ve got a Gift card to Smash Burger to use!
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night
  • Sunday: Crockpot Enchilada- It’s a new recipe. If it turns out well I’ll share it.

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

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!