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!

 

Earn Money while you Save Energy with Ohm Connect!

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.02.27 PM For those of us in Southern California, we know the pain of summer. Heat over 100 degrees more days than not, wild fires caused in part by droughts, and lets not forget those fun rolling brown outs. That’s when the power goes out unexpectedly because demand on the power grid is too great.

Lots of us converse power, my family included. Partially because we are frugal, and partially because it’s a good thing to save resources. Now those of us with Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric can earn some green in our pocket while conserving power.

Enter Ohm Connect! They work with the electricity market and the three power companies listed above to reward users for conserving electricity! I signed up about a month ago, after reading more about Ohm Connect here (it will answer all of your questions. Trust me, I am totally skeptical of stuff that sounds too good to be true).

And to prove to you that, yes, you will earn money even when it’s over 100 degrees outside, here is a screen shot from my account showing that I just cashed out $43.63 (They give you an extra $5 if you post it on your FaceBook wall too!). I took the payment via Paypal. I should have the money shortly.

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So why not give it a shot? You’ve got nothing to lose! And who knows, maybe you’ll be cashing out sums larger than $43 soon!

 

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases. However, I only post about stuff that I like and use for my family.

New month, New Coupons!

file000786402730Here is your monthly reminder!  A new month means new printable and electronic coupons!

Check out the following sites:

One of my favorite website is the Sunday Coupon Review.  It helps me plot out scenarios in advance and I can email friends to ask for coupons in advance. Remember if clipping coupons isn’t your thing, but saving money is, check out my list of Smartphone apps that can save you the big bucks!

Here are just a few of the new coupons that have me excited:

$0.55 off one Nature's Harvest
$0.55 off one Stauffer's Great to use at Dollar Tree for some low cost snacks!
$0.75 off any 2 Meiji
$1.00 off 1 JENNIE-O Turkey Breast from Deli
$1.00 off one The Laughing Cow

Enjoy summer adventures with Monkey Mat!

Summer is here, and that means time outside! Picnics, the beach, adventures at the park. What’s not fun is bringing stuff home in your blanket, or trying to fold up a bulky blanket at the end of the day. That’s why I’m stoked to try Monkey Mat!

With weighted corners, a place for your keys, and lopps to be staked down, what more could you ask for?

Monkey Mat, AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK, allows you to make your space, any place! Originally inspired by an unexpected six-hour layover at the airport (constant cringing while two babies crawled all over dirty floors!), and also by overall active lifestyles, this go-everywhere large mat in attached ultra-compact pouch gives you a clean space on the go – no more bulky blankets! Perfect for all ages, all places – park, beach, concerts, dirty airport/hotel floors, camping, hiking, sports events & more! http://www.monkeymat.com

My readers get to save! Use coupon code “USFAM” for $5 off + Free Shipping!
Once my Monkey Mat Arrives, I’ll be posting photos on Instagram and Facebook and post a review here!

@usfg