Friday, October 30, 2009

month 3 budget check

for month 3(of tracking) the grand total spent on all groceries was $625.67 from sept.26- oct. 31st (5 weeks)
$105 of that was the 'rollover' money from being so under budget last month.

Once averaged out between the two months, I did pretty well at keeping to my $100 a week budget for food and household/toiletries, basically, everything except dog food (I have delivered every few months in bulk) and alcohol (we still like a beer now and again).  Really, looking at the amount spent between the two months, I was only over by about $20. 

I do need to note that we did go out to eat once twice this month - once with my parents to try the new burger place in town, and once while out shopping, we went to a cafe.
We also did one night of take out for my husband and myself - sushi!  yum.

Considering we have spent $0 on entertainment (other than the 5.99 netflix subscription I am about to cancel).  That will count as our monthly entertainment! lol - who know burgers and sushi were so entertaining!

shopping trip-dog approved!

I went to Sprouts and Central Market again this week.   I've been trying new recipes and making some 'fancier' (more expensive) meals. I am still struggling to find the balance between cheap, healthy and also keeping things new and exciting.

My splurge items this week were organic hazlenuts and organic cashews - each half price but still $5.99 a bag.  I finally bought organic chicken breasts.  They were huge!  I used one the other night in a chicken dish and will most likely do the same with the other two (I froze them) to really stretch it out.  The chicken was about 1 1/2 pounds and cost over $10!!!  A far cry from my  $1.69 a pound stock up days!  But I have to keep reminding myself of all other stuff we have cut out or have cut down on big time!

Just about everything this trip was organic.  The few items not organic were all natural with nothing funny in the ingredient list as far as I could tell.  My avocados and bananas are not organic - I buy conventional on those since they have such thick shells.

Total cost - $132

dia de los muertos

I chose to finish the Halloween lunches with a día de los muertos styled skull.
This is the last of the rosemary bread I made earlier this week.  I decorated with fruit flowers, representing many of the types of flowers used at the 'ofrenda' alters.  The green are seed pods from inside some cooked green beans, the black is nori.

I really enjoyed this one, because we were able to talk about another culture and traditions.  Feliz día de los muertos!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate...

Since I have focused a lot on scary lunches for my son, this one was geared more towards my pre-school aged daughter.  Here are 5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate (ok, more like a fence).  The pumpkins are carrot chips with nori faces. The fence is leftover noodles from dinner.
Also are rosemary bread, raisins, yogurt with granola and blueberries.

For my son, I had made a tombstone the other day when I made the rosemary bread, and used extra rosemary to spell R.I.P which was my son's clever idea.  The 'grave flowers' (it needed some color) are cut from honeycrisp apples which don't brown as easily (Thank you Michelle for that tip).

If my son's lunches seem to be getting skimpier, it is due to the new fruit bar at school.  They have added a free, fresh fruit bar to the lunchroom.  Both bringers and buyers can help themselves to the fresh fruit.  I am sure it is not organic, but right now I am content with him having a fresh piece of fruit in addition to his lunch brought from home!  

I am so grateful that the Halloween lunched hit when they did - he has not asked to buy his lunch since!  I just need to keep the momentum going AFTER Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

creepy crawly spiders

The web is cut from a bake it yourself wheat tortilla - if you can't tell, I love these things and use them all the time!  I cut a circle out of a larger tortilla.  Then I cut out just a portion of a circle all the way around the tortilla to form the outer edge of the web.  I used melted almond butter placed in a plastic baggie with the end snipped to swirl on the web design.

The large spider is made out of cut nori attached with almond butter to a 'late july' brand organic cookie (yumm, btw!).  The eyes and web silk string are made from cheese.  The mini spiders are cut out of nori using a small sun shaped cutter. The whole design lays on bed of sweet couscous (minus the raisins this time, after the mustache incident). 
I'd love to say I made the orange monster guy eyes... but they are plastic.  They came out of a pumpkin carving kit.  The orange monster guy is made with blood orange slices.  Edamame finishes off this lunch.

Monday, October 26, 2009

bloody fingers

The girl and I did a baking day today, and while making the rosemary bread rolls, I took the liberty to make some of the dough into fun shapes (more to come later this week)!

I made bread fingers with almond fingertips (honey used as 'glue' ), and raspberry vinegrette as the 'blood'.

ok, ok, some of you may think this is too gory for a 2nd graders lunch, but he thinks it is cool and if you have read previous posts, you know what I am competing against.  Well, lunch lady doesn't serve bloody fingers, does she (second thought, don't answer that...I don't really want to know that answer).

The kiwano (horned melon) just looked halloweeney.  I just had to get it.  I had never bought one before and had to read up on how to cut/eat it.  If unripe, the inside tastes like a fruity cucumber. If ripened, it has more of a banana taste.  I bought it because of the orange, spikey outside. Little did I know the inside looked like green slime.  We did a mini taste test with the kids tonight and they said they liked it.  They know to scoop it out and eat the insides, seeds and all.  We'll see how this one goes over... it does have a lot of seeds!)
Last are carrot chips and.. a cookie!

**my daughters lunch is the same, but without the fingers.   We saved her a finger for an afternoon snack.  Can you just hear that one?  "Mommy saved me a finger to eat when I get home today, teacher."  

Sunday, October 25, 2009

jack attack

I went simple tonight.  An AB&J (almond butter and jelly) with a little chocolate peanut butter on top.
Yogurt with frozen blueberries, a homemade pumpkin raisin muffin, celery, and a blood orange (say it in the freaky voice... go on, you know you want to, muahahahaha ).

cinnamon vanilla pumpkin pie

 We tried this twist to the basic pumpkin pie recipe and it was a winner!  Thought it was worth sharing!!

Cinnamon Vanilla Pumpkin Pie
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree (or 1 small (approx.)15 oz. can)
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. real vanilla extract (add less if you want just a hint of vanilla)
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice OR 1/4 tsp. each of ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (I up all the spices a little - add to your taste)
1 prepared 9" pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
2. In large bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugars, flour, salt, vanilla, spices. Pour into pie shell.
3. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 uncovered, cover with aluminum foil for an additional 10.   After the 20 minutes total at 450, turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 40 minutes.  Uncover for the last 15 minutes or so, keeping an eye on your crust so not to burn (may need to recover).
Total bake time - 1 hour.
Cool completely before serving- tastes great served cold!

Pie Crust - my mom makes a killer pie crust using shortening.  It is the same one her mother made.  I thought I would branch off the family tree and try this one made with butter.

Since I did not make any changes to the butter pie crust recipe, here is the link of the one I tried.  I used my kitchen aid stand mixer (love that thing!) with the dough hook.  I was shocked at how easy this dough was to work with!

pumpkin patch farm trip

We took the kids to a small farm this weekend to buy pumpkins.  We totally avoided the mass crowds at the big pumpkin patch, which after all the rain we have had in previous weeks, I am sure it was nutso there.  The kids picked out carving pumpkins, we pet the goats and had dodge the lone loose chicken who flew the coop!

We hit up the farm store and picked out a few items to purchase this week:
2 sugar pumpkins for roasting/pureeing
2 yellow squash
4 eight ball zucchini (we like to stuff these!)
3 other 'squatty' squash ( i forgot the real name - they are kinda like the patty pans)

not pictured - we also picked up some organic chicken sausage (which we will use to stuff the 8-ball zucchini) and we scoped out the prices for the rest of the chicken (one of my 'C' items!)
and the kids begged for a bag of their peanuts, which cost $1

total spent - $13

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Witch scene lunch OR 'man-witch'

I am having way too much fun with the halloween theme this week!  Since it is still a week early, I hope that someone, somewhere is finding some ideas they can use in their own kid (or their own) lunches next week!

Here is the 'play by play' on the witch scene:
body - a tortilla ab&j (almond butter) sandwich
head/skin  - tortilla with cinnamon/sugar
eye - carrot and cucumber
hat, hair and grass - cut cucumber
broom - carrot
moon - blood orange
background - sweet couscous - raisins kinda look like bats (?!)

(sweet couscous - couscous made with cinnamon, a little sugar, and raisins)

Also in this lunch is the rest of the orange and some yogurt with some Kashi U cereal crushed on top.

The last few lunches were reported to have been all 'mixed up' by lunch time, (major bummer!!) so I am taking my friend, Michelle's advice and using press n seal to keep it in place!  I just placed the witch scene in the laptop lunchbox without the insert, then firmly placed the press n seal all around  it (pressing tightly to the lunchbox) before adding the other containers.  

Oh, and the man-witch part... after taking the pictures, loading them onto the computer, sealing up the lunch, etc., I then notice the raisin in the couscous right under the witch's nose, resembling a mustache!  OH WELL! lol

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Skull and Peeky Eyes and a 2 for 1.

Both the boy and girl have school tomorrow - he is 7 and in public school, she is 4 and in pre-k at a fairly conservative private christian school.... where I also teach. Soooo, she won't be getting any spooky halloween theme lunches, only pumpkins and apples and leaves, etc. Anything too halloweeny would be frowned upon, and since I work there I am going to keep hers tame.
The boy on the other hand, hee hee...  he and I both are lovin' coming up with freaky, fun, scaryish lunches!

Here is his lunch for tomorrow....

HIS lunch has a skull made out of cucumber 'guts' with carrot and cucumber skin eyes, teeth and white of the eyes is made from bits of egg.  It sits on some lundberg brand organic mushroom risotto which was a dinner leftover tonight (and very tasty, btw).  The grilled chicken was also a dinner leftover.  The 'peeky eyes' are hardboiled egg halfs with carrot and cucumber eyeballs.  They are sitting on a bed of lettuce.  The small container next to it is his usual dressing - raspberry vinaigrette.

Lunch 2 is for the girl.  She has simplified eyes (mom tossed some carrots on last minute).  The outside shell of the cucumber from the skull cut out made a perfect carrot stick holder!
The small container has blue cheese dressing.
Notice no chicken or rice in her lunch??  It's cause she protested at dinner and gave them to the dog  the dog somehow got them off of her plate.  I figure an all fruit and veggie lunch for her wouldn't be so terrible!

I think she is turning vegetarian on me??  Great! It's cheaper!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

worm eggs and 'monster dude'

In case you could not tell, this one is for the boy.
In reference to the my last post, here are some grandpa gummy worms in action, and no, these are NOT the organic ones!  Trust me, I tried to find some but I but figured it would be after halloween by the time I located some.  That just wouldn't do!  So, yes, I cringed as I added these regular gummy worms to the lunch!

The 'monster dude' is made from cucumber pieces, with egg eyes and teeth.  The pumpkins are carrots and cucumber.  The whole things sits on top the usual sandwich - almond butter and strawberry jelly.  The small containers are almonds and vinaigrette for his salad.

"you have worms in your ears!!"

I just entered a giveaway. 
I'm not super huge into the giveaway thing - I only enter when it is something I really want or could use.  In this case, I really want to try these things!! 

Angela at The Suburban Jungle just posted a review and giveaway on her site for yummy earth ORGANIC gummy bears and gummy worms.

I've tried locating these in my local 'organic-y' stores and they don't have them yet.  If I don't win this one, I may have to suck it up and order online!

Here's why...
My dad may come across as a grumpy old man type if you don't know him.  But the truth is, he is a great guy who loves being around little kids.  My kids adore him. My son is so much like my father it isn't even funny.

My dad has a....well.. a 'thing'.  He likes pulling gummy worms out of my kids' ears.  He brings gummy worms with him to restaurants when we go out to eat with them and pulls the gummy worms out of my kids' ears when they get restless while waiting for their food (ingenious move, btw).  He 'pulls them out' when the kids go over to Grandma and Grandpa's, and again when they leave. When my son got off of the bus near their house, he had a bag of gummy worms handy and all the neighborhood kids made sure they came over for their ears to be checked!
My kids LOVE it, and I cringe. 
I cringe to think of what they are made out of.  I cringe thinking about the junk, the HFCS, the dyes, the lack of fruit in the fruit flavor.
But alas, In my quest to eat better, I wouldn't dare cut out the gummy worms from Grandpa.  That's his, well.... 'thing'.  He finds great joy in pretending to pull slimy earwax covered worms from my kids' ears!  The kids look forward to it and it will be a great memory for them.

Now, candy is still candy.  I know that.  BUT, if I can healthen (yes, I made that word up) it up at all, why not?!

Monday, October 19, 2009

black cat

Well, not so much black... more purple, lol.  I used blueberry juice to change the color. I physically squeezed a few blueberries.  Not the smartest thing, my fingers will be purple tomorrow.  What oh what will my students think??!  Oh yeah, they are pre-schoolers... I'm sure they have worse things on their hands! And, I'm also sure the purple will soon be replaced with orange fingerpaint...

The black cat is a mini sandwich with the usual - almond butter and strawberry jelly.  Next to it is a special treat, a shortbread cookie from central market.  Yogurt with blueberries, edamame, and a blood orange (said in a freaky voice followed by muahahaha).

shopping trip - we have food again!

ok, ok, so we were not totally out of food.  We weren't thumb wrestling the rats for the last crumbs in the pantry... but we were out of some basics.  Things like milk, bread, COFFEE CREAMER.  You know, the necessities ( I need my crack  coffee).

So the girl and I went out today to load up on food!  We went to two stores, Central market and Kroger.  Central Market had some organic produce at good prices, and a great deal of FREE cookies (cause we needed that?) and FREE coffee creamer (which I did need), when you buy a bag of organic coffee.  One of my 'C' items.

The total spent between the two stores was $152.99 A little on the high end this week, but I still managed to save $26.79 in coupons and about another $50 (ish) in store deals (the one store does not itemize the sales for me and my math skills... well, suck  So I am not entirely sure...) but about $77 ish in savings.  Not too shabby for mostly organic/all natural shopping! 

Still hard for me since I was used to saving at least 50% in coupons and store deals all the time, but for what I am buying now, not too bad!

The best score was the laura's lean beef on clearance, with a coupon for only 1.99.
The steak was the priciest item at $12.69.  I usually don't pay that much for steak, BUT we are STILL waiting on the cow (la ti da, la ti da).   I had only been buying ground beef while waiting on the cow, but it wasn't cutting it!  The man wants a steak!  So, happy Monday babe, here's your steak!!

here are some close up shots...


Sunday, October 18, 2009

spooooooky house

Groceries are looking a little low in our house right now. Milk is gone. The only fresh fruit hanging around are lemons and a lone apple with a 'squooshy spot' (as proclaimed by my daughter). Needless to say, I plan to hit the store tomorrow.
The lack of stuff made lunch making a slight challenge today. BUT, my son LOVES quesadilla's. Just scroll through past lunchboxes and that should be obvious.

So, when in doubt, grab some torillas and cookie cutters! That is my motto!

Spooky house and friends made from wheat tortillas, shred cheese. The bat and faces are bits of nori. It is all resting on the last of the salad. Some applesauce with cinnamon, salad dressing, and the last of the pirate booty finish off this lunch.

winner of the funky monkey snacks

The winner of the funky monkey organic snacks giveaway is posted here

weekly shopping

I didn't get a picture this week, but we picked up things like real maple syrup, milk, eggs, dried cranberries, pears, apples, acorn squash, bananas, mirin, sesame seeds, avocados, bread, onions, coffee creamer and a few other items from two different stores.
Total for the week    $69.67

Friday, October 16, 2009

MY lunch today

Since I didn't get to post a packed lunch today, I went ahead and took a pic of my lunch!
It's my 'yuppy sandwich' as my father would probably call it (he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy).
A sandwich with pesto, sundried tomato, spinach, kalamata olives, feta, and a blended shred cheese.  I just realized I was going to add avocado but forgot it!

My son enjoyed his school lunch today.  He picked chicken nuggets, wheat roll, fruit cup, rice krispy treat and chocolate milk.  See what I am up against?  sigh....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

the shiny lunch

There, I fixed lunch for tomorrow...

(if you can't sense the sarcasm... believe me, it is there)

blah thermos

I had low expectations from the start. 
The cheapo last minute, late night wally world thermos run was a dud.
The kids said the chili was 'kinda cold' and based on the mess in my son's lunchbox, I think they 'kinda leak' too.

And of course, who knows WHAT is in the plastic...

so... we are out about $8 - that means two less starbuck runs in my future... (didn't need it anyhow!)

I am on the hunt for good stainless steel thermoses now...

cinnamon chili

Here is a quick 'before we run out the door' photo. 
The thermos makes me shudder.  It was $4 at walmart.  Who knows what is leaching out of it as I type.
I am going to scour the internet and get a nice stainless one.... any suggestions??

Cinnamon chili (I'll try to get K-ball to put the recipe on here.  It is so secret that even I don't know it... or I just don't pay attention)
crackers and cheese
and a water bottle.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a big limbo for the lunchbox

I knew it was coming.... he wants to buy his lunch.

I think I may have a mini-revolt on my hands.

I am a little disappointed.   I've been working very hard to keep it fun and interesting, yet healthy.
now I have to figure out how to add money to his card online AND block the ability to buy ice cream!

I hope this passes...

UPDATE** - my husband is out buying each child a thermos right now.  He made his awesome cinnamon chili for dinner tonight and (I say this with pure shock...) the kids LOVED i!.  Soooo... chili with cheese and crackers for lunch tomorrow for both kids, and my son will buy lunch on friday.
HOPEFULLY we will be back to our 'usual' on monday.  I secretly hope his school lunch pizza on friday is burnt or cold or something.  Is that wrong?!?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

pumpkin guts!

The kids and I cut open and roasted a small sugar pumpkin the other day, pureed the inside 'guts' to make pumpkin bread and roasted the seeds Maryland style.
In this lunch are the last of the Maryland style pumpkin seeds, a mini pumpkin bread loaf with a little confectioners sugar sprinkled on top, cut pear with fruit strip pumpkin cutouts, bananas topped with almond butter and cranberries.  A bit of a sweet lunch, but I see a veggie dinner in our future tomorrow night to make up for it!
Can I just say that I LOVE Old Bay.  It may be because I was born and raised in Maryland... but the stuff is just yum. No, not organic, but nothing goofy in the ingredient list.

Maryland Style Pumpkin Seeds
Soak pumpkin seeds in lightly salted water for about 2 hours.
drain and pat dry with paper towels
lightly coat in olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a foil lined pan
sprinkle on desired amount of Old Bay seasoning, coating both sides.
Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on how crispy you like them) at 300 degrees, turning seeds every so often.

Monday, October 12, 2009

bear in the jungle

We decided this one looks like a bear in the jungle!  I used a tri-level cookie cutter that I picked up at a craft store recently.  Really, I think I could have done this without it - ah, live and learn.  The top part of the face is made from the heel of the bread loaf.  The eyes and nose are goat cheese.  The dark part of the eyes are dried cranberry.  The mouth is string cheese (sneakily cut from today's lunch). 
The jungle is a baby spinach salad.  The topping for the salad are in the bottom right corner - more dried cranberry mixed with feta and some raspberry vinegrette.  The top container has celery and hummus.

smell? what smell?

I've mentioned several times that for the past three years, I did the 'mega-coupon shopping' thing.  I had a deal worked out with my newspaper delivery person where I paid for two subscriptions, but received 4 sets of inserts, thus giving me 4 of every coupon (at one point I had 6).  I ran around to all the different stores getting things I didn't know I needed because they were cheap or free.  We converted a hall coat closet to a shelving closet and nicknamed it 'ball-mart' (our last name is ball).  If I needed something, I had it.  If you needed something, I had it.  If your cousin Joe needed something, I had it.

There are a lot of benefits from shopping this way and keeping huge stockpiles.  I am not (totally) knocking this way of shopping - I did it for three years.  I was able to teach lots of friends an neighbors how to coupon shop to save a lot of money.  I was able to give items away and help out friends when jobs were lost and extra money wasn't there for personal care items and such.  I gave bags and bags away during charity drives. 
That part felt great.

I cleaned out 'ball-mart' today.  My once overflowing closet of a stockpile is now down to one shelf.  At one point, there were over 50 bottles of shampoo and conditioner - there is now one.  The toothpaste boxes were stacked 5 high and about 8 deep.  I am now down to 7 boxes. 

Sometimes things get excessive.  It got excessive.
I've been working hard to simplify my life a little and think about what I purchase.  The time, energy and effort I spent towards getting 'things' was excessive.  I don't need all those things. The 'cheap' items added up in the pocketbook as well. 

Often, manufacturers will put out coupons for the main item and not the refills.  With the combination of sales and coupons, the main item or starter kit for the system ends up being so much cheaper than purchasing a refill kit.  This is often the case for razors, soap dispensers, and...... air fresheners.   I saved all of my air freshener 'systems' in case I ever found a good deal on refills.

seriously?  do/did I need these little plastic fire hazards invading my life? no.

I still think coupons are a great resource.  I still use coupons, but I print only online ones that I think I will use and I get my parents leftover newspaper coupons after they have cut out what they want.  I will still match up sales and coupons, but I won't run to 5 stores in a week just to get a bunch of free or cheap things that I don't really need.  I will work hard to keep a balance.

As for 'ball-mart', I now have a lot of extra storage space!  I was able to gather all of the kid art and craft supplies (coloring books, play-doh, paints, etc.)  which had been moved to various locations in order to accommodate our stockpile, and give them an entire shelf in the former 'ball-mart' closet. 

Hopefully the art supplies will serve as a reminder.  Yes, I may only get one free tube of toothpaste at a time, and may even have to spend some money on a tube here and there, but the extra time I have in my life can be spent with play-doh at the table or making a painting with my kids.

As for the air fresheners... If my house smells from here on out, I will stick a pot of cinnamon on the stove!

Friday, October 9, 2009

shopping trip this week

After going way over budget last week, I mentioned that I was confident we could get by on $20 this week in order to even out the budget to an even $100 between the two weeks.
Um, yeah...
Then I actually took inventory of items I was low on.
What was I thinking?!
I put this crazy, unnecessary pressure on myself to buy mostly all organic on $100 a week. 

WHY?!    Yes, sticking to a budget is important, but $100 a week was an arbitrary nuber to start with.  And besides, what happened to the girl who said, flat out, that there would be weeks that were more and less.

I do find it challenging and frustrating at times to find the balance between my 'old' ways (the mega couponing days of 10 grocery bags for $30) and the new ways of finding only a few sales and coupons, but buying what I believe is healthier food.

so, with all that said - I went over the random number I pulled from my a...  budget. 

I went to 2 stores this week - Sprouts and Kroger.

Grand total for the week - $47.38

At sprouts, I saved $18.02 in coupons,  and spent $27.98 so that was awesome.  It was really nice having a touch of the old days in there.

 At Kroger I saved $8.71 in store deals and coupons and spent $19.40.

Sooooo... with last week and this week combined, the two weeks average out to be roughly $115 a week.  I am A-ok with that!

  • The soap dispensers I need in my classroom and the hallway bathroom at my school - they were free after coupons.
  • The big bag in the middle are sunflower seeds for my husband to take to work.  Apparently they are his latest addiction?!  At $5 a bag that was one of the more expensive items.
  • The milk was marked down to $2.99 each.
  • I had coupons for all 7 cereal boxes, and free coupons for the helens meals.
  • I've been buying a lot of brown sugar for baking - I have got to find this in bulk!

looking for organic coupons?  Susan at organic deals and coupons is a great resource!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

bag lunch

That day has come..

the first bag lunch of the year - tomorrow is a half day and I figured a good day for a bag lunch.
Monday there is no school, so lunch (and pics) will resume Monday evening!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

sandwich roll up

I warmed a slice of bread in the microwave for just a few seconds, flattened it out with a rolling pin, then cut off the crust.  I layered it with almond butter and strawberry jam, rolled and cut into slices.

The banana was a special request item, so the lunchbox containers were re-arranged a bit in order to fit the banana.  The flowers are just peaches cut out with flower cutters and layered.  The small containers contain feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette to add to the spinach salad.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

double or nothing lunch

This lunch is a little bit of a gamble - I've sent cold green beans before and they did ok.  We are going to try the sweet potato fries and see how that does in a cold lunch.   These are sweet potatoes cut into strips, topped with a little butter and cinnamon and sugar mixture (barely any sugar), then baked in a foil packet.  I a debating heating them in the morning and wrapping in foil... to keep them hot... but then again there is yogurt in the lunchbox and I don't want that getting the heat from the potatoes. Oh, what to do, what to do.

Also in this lunch are green beans with almonds, yogurt topped with cinnamon raisin granola  and the last of the Funky Monkey samples we were sent.  They are the jivalime ones ( organic pineapple and lime juice).  My kids really liked all the flavors of these snacks.  I checked the local Kroger store for them the other day, but didn't see any.  I will keep looking!
If you are interested, you can check out the funky monkey snacks review and giveaway here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

funky calzone face

When my son and I made the pizzas and calzones for dinner tonight, we purposely made enough for everyone to have some tomorrow for lunch.  I asked my son for ideas of what to do with the calzone to make it fun in his lunch and this was the idea he had!  There are grapes under the apple slices.  The teeth and eyes are made out of cheese stick and the dark of the eye is part of a dark grape.

pizza/calzone night!

 My kids were watching noggin (now nick jr.) the other day and the show Olivia was on.  One of the characters mentioned eating a peanut butter calzone.   My son wanted to know what a calzone was.  It dawned on me that he had never eaten one!  You see, until the last year or so, he was probably the only child to not like pizza.  Then one day (most likely at a birthday party) he scarfed down a few slices in a row and declared that he does, in fact, like pizza.

When he found out I was making pizza crust yesterday (I make it a day ahead and fridge it overnight)  he was all excited to turn it into calzones!
With clean hands and an eagerness to learn, he entered my domain and helped me make the calzones. He did a great job!
We then used the rest of the dough to make small pizzas for mom and dad.  Our pizzas have tomato sauce, oregano, sun dried tomato, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, kalamata olives, and shredded chicken tossed in homemade pesto (I make this and freeze in cubes).

This picture was taken before the fresh tomato was added - should have taken an after the oven picture, they looked awesome!  Individual pizzas are such a great dinner item to get the kids involved in making!


I bought tofu last week. Apparently it has a life span to it.   I have never made anything with tofu... ever.  I have no idea as to what to do with it.  I'm not sure why I bought it, but I did and now I am feeling a little overwhelmed and out of my element.  The tofu robot picture cracked me up because when I look at the package of tofu, that is kinda what I see - this strange little creature staring back at me ready to shoot me down with lazer beams or something.  I need to come up with something to do with it soon, very soon....

Anyone have a great tofu recipe?? anyone? anyone? bueler? bueler? (ok, tell me you've seen that movie...).

Funky Monkey Giveaway! - healthy and organic snacks.

Giveaway now closed.
THE WINNER of the Funky Monkey Giveaway was #11, Jen - moorethanamom.  Congrats, Jen!

Funky Monkey sent me a sample of each of their current four flavors to try.  They came in the mail last week and the kids were begging to try them from the minute I opened the box.  Between the fun name of the product, the fun flavor names, and the packaging, the kids were excited.

Here is where it gets really good! 

3 of the 4 flavors are USDA certified ORGANIC!   These snacks are just freeze dried fruit with no sugar added, no preservatives added, no coloring added, no additional flavoring added!  Funky Monkey Snacks are glute-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, and are certified Kosher-Parve.

Finally - something SAFE to serve no matter the allergies in the room! 

Just the natural fruits with crunch.  A wonderful alternative to chips or candy as they give you that crunch factor and a natural sweetness without being too hard to bite!  Each of the bags shown contain one serving size.   That one serving size gives you 3 of the recommended 4 daily servings of fruit! 

They claim that the freeze drying process retains nearly all of the flavor and nutrients found in fresh fruit.  The natural flavor of the fruit is really strong!  As soon as you open a bag, you can smell the fruit medleys!

The flavors?

  • Bananamon (freeze-dried banana and cinnamon)
  • Carnival Mix (freeze-dried banana, pineapple, apple, papaya, and raisins)
  • Jivealime (freeze-dried pineapple and lime juice)
  •  Purple Funk (freeze-dried banana and acai - pronounced ah-sigh-EE)

We have tried all but the jivelime as of yet - they were inhaled!  I think my personal favorite so far was the bananamon.  I love cinnamon and banana together!  The banana was really strong, but oh so good!

Funky Monkey snacks are available in some grocery stores (including super target, kroger, winn dixie, hyvee), all whole foods stores, online at amazon (where I see some new flavors - applemon, pink pinnaple, and mangOJ will be available soon!)

Check out the Funky Monkey website -
Make sure you have the kids around and plenty of time!  The website is a lot of fun!

My only negative (and it is minor) has to do with the size of the package.  The serving size is a great amount, and makes a very filling snack or lunch component.  I am guessing the bag has to be larger to hold a certain amount of air because of the freeze drying?  Not sure... but the package iteself for one serving is pretty large.  I am going to see how they make it to school tomorrow when transferred to one of our airtight lunchbox containers.

Overall, I will definitely be on the lookout for these at the store!  They made a great grab and go this weekend when we went on a family mall trip!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

fall 3, the return of the great pumpkin

We had a pretty busy day today, so I was pretty much exhausted come lunch making time.  I started to try some sort of a sandwich roll up tonight, but my picky boy was gagging over the thought of meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato touching in a sandwich form... OH WELL.  The point is to make healthy things that he will eat and he obviously wasn't thrilled about that idea.  I figure that is why I have two very different children :)   I will save that idea for my daughter.

So he decided on  pumpkin shaped quesadilla.  This one is just cheese (no butternut squash added this time - they liked it before, I just didn't think about it in time) with some dried oregano on top.  Fresh Peaches with a slight sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and some frozen blueberries, and a whole wheat cinnamon banana flax muffin round out this lunch.

the three c's - coffee, cheese and chicken

We did the organic switch fairly abruptly in the sense that we cleared out the 'junk' (I know a few college students who scored big time) and replenished most of our basics right away.
I think we are roughly 80-90% organic or all natural.

Here is a quick run down of where we seem to be...

Our baking items - organic
kid snacks (applesauce, chips, fruit strips, other snacks)- organic
rices, couscous - organic
store bought bread - all natural
soft fruits and veggies - organic
bananas and avacados - organic sometimes but mostly conventional
milk - organic
pastas - organic
beef- (still waiting on the cow!) organic or grass fed/hormone free
eggs - organic when possible, or cage free if not

we cut sodas but when we do buy, we go for the natural sugar products.

now for the kickers...

Coffee - currently non organic.  I can only seem to find whole bean organic and cheapo here doesn't want to buy a grinder.  The ground organic I have seen is $$$$$$$.  **UPDATE - bought a grinder! found some deals on organic! We've been enjoying our organic coffee!

Cheese - The only organic shreds and slices I have seen are horizon brand.  Former coupon queen, whom always had her 5" binder in the car, can't seem to keep the dinky 1-incher handy.  Without coupons, I just can't seem to buy organic cheese.  The packages are much smaller and cost a few dollars more.  The cheapness takes over and I just can't do it!  The last purchase was a higher end (primotaglio) all natural cheese and it was quite a bit cheaper than the organic version. I did buy organic cheese sticks for the kids once - they were half price and STILL were more expensive than the store brand. **UPDATE - pretty much the same.

Chicken - 4 chicken breasts for $9.99.  I just can't do it.  The internal struggle in the store is obvious.  I am 'that' lady.  The lady who is still there in the meat department 20 minutes after you have left.  There I am, staring at the same packages over and over...  **UPDATE - I've done it!  I've switched!  I do however still stand in the meat dept. for about 20 minutes and I cringe as they ring up the chicken.  BUT I have hit a few half price deals.

I'd like to change those three items to organic, I really do.
So there you go.  There are my/our current struggles on our organic journey.


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