Monday, November 30, 2009

a lot less lunches for the limbo.

After a week off of school for Thanksgiving break, I forgot to make lunch last night.  So, this morning I threw a bunch of stuff into the lunchbag.   My son went to school with a 'regular lunch' (as he calls it).  He had a pb&J in a plastic baggie, a prepackaged organic applesauce, annies bunnies in a bag, and some cheese and crackers thrown into a plastic baggie.

He likes the regular lunch.  I've known this all along... I've just tried to fight it. 

With his laptop lunchbox still missing (and most likely gone for good), I find myself at a crossroads.  Who knew I would put so much thought into lunchboxes.  really.  who stresses over this?

I declared not long ago that I was going to buy a new laptop lunchbox, but I am not so sure.  The kids go straight out to recess after lunch, with many other classes and a few grade overlaps.  He still seems to think someone else picked his up by mistake - really?  I highly doubt someone else has an electric blue/green alien lunchbox, and if so, wouldn't there have been a duplicate remaining in the lunchbox pile by the door? 

Knowing he prefers 'regular lunches' over the laptop, I flat out asked the accusatory question - "did you lose it on purpose?"  he swears up and down he did not.  I do believe him.  He has always been a kid who is super easy to break.  He would have cracked by now if he had anything to do with the mysterious disappearance.  

So, that brings me to this super tiny in the grand scheme of things, yet stressful to my little life, decision.  Shell out $50 for a new system  (lost the silverware, the water bottle, a few containers including one of our  killer awesome large inner containers that is only sold in the separate 'buddy' kit which tacks another $12 onto the system total)
OR, knowing he likes a 'regular lunch', meet him in the middle and just use some of the remaining laptop lunch containers mixed with whateverr tupperware and the occasional baggie or prepackaged item and hodgepodge it into his old (current) lunchbag.

Considering we've had his laptop lunchbox for about three months, I just can't see shelling out that much money when he could possibly lose it again.

so.... that is where I am at:  He is going to still be getting healthy lunches with minimal packaging, but they will just be more 'regular' in format.  I won't use all prepackaged, processed or so much plastic baggies as I did for today's lunch, but they just are not going to be as fancy, creative or decorative since I am limited to use random containers and will have to use some plastic bags just to be able to fit it all into the lunchbag as the bulky containers make arranging enough food, plus a drink difficult!  Being that I have to cram it all together, it just doesn't make sense that I spend so much time on making them look 'pretty'. 

My daughter on the other hand is at a preschool where there is pretty much no possible way her lunch could get lost in the shuffle.  So, you most likely will only be seeing her lunches from here on out.   It will be less often as she only goes to school two days a week.

Here is her lunch for tomorrow...

 A spinach salad with raisins and seeds, cheddar bunnies, small orange, black and orange carrots slices. 
After the picture, I added salad dressing and cut into the orange so she can peel it easily.

Monday, November 23, 2009

grocery shopping but not for us.

School is out this week - there are a lot of children who attend our local elementary school whose main meal of the day is lunch.  With school being out an entire week that can really have an affect on grocery budgets, especially if extra daycare costs or lost work days come into play.
I spoke with the Community in Schools liaison for our elementary school and she referred me to the local food pantry.  There are a large number of students at the school who qualify for services that the food pantry provides.  Between school being out and it being thanksgiving week, they are expecting an influx of need at the food pantry.

I offered to purchase some fresh fruits and vegetables.  I was shocked at how much I could get with so little.
I filled a grocery cart with 45 apples, 45 oranges, 30 lbs. of potatoes, 12 lbs of bananas, 16 lbs of mini peeled carrots, 9 cucumbers, 17 bags of lettuce/spinach.  My main thought was grab and go items for any kids left at home while parent worked, and of course healthy and fresh foods. The food pantry normally wants non perishables, but this week is an exception and they were so thrilled with the donation.

It is eating at me that I purchased conventional produce and not organic, but I knew I could help many more people and that the fresh fruit and veggies were better than alternative foods.

total spent - $115

Ironically, I moved some term CD's around whose time was up and sure enough, the interest made was right around $115.  This means this trip has no impact on our grocery budget!

I took a picture of the groceries in the back of the car using my cell phone, but it turns out it was really a video and I can't figure out how to just add a still from it on here...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pom Wonderful giveaway winners

Thanks you to all who entered!!
CONGRATS to Astrid, Jill and Christa (#'s 4, 16, 28) in the comments. Those numbers were chosen using for the pom wonderful giveway! All are CONFIRMED!  your coupons should arrive soon! enjoy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

red celery

I teach 3 year olds part time.   Last week was our farm unit.   Most of the week is spent talking about farm animals; we sing animal songs, play animal games, make animal noises, pattern with animals, work with animal related manipulative items - even 'milk' a cow (our easel transformed into a cow with a rubber glove filled with water as the udders).
  We do however throw in a little talk about food grown on farms.  We read books about plants needing water, soil and sunlight to grow.  We pretend to be farmers and pretend to plant, water, etc.  Our science experiment for the week is to take a leafy stalk of celery and place it in water with red food coloring.  By the end of the day, the stalk and leaves have a tinge of red to them and the kids can see how a plant needs water.

I've done this lesson in the past and didn't even give it much thought.  This year, it really struck a chord.  The red dye is was in the water, the plant 'ingested' that dye.  I am sure there is a lot of higher level science involved = size of the particulates, temperature and evaporation rates, blah blah blah.  But the basic, preschool level thought of the day...
If chemicals are sprayed or added to the soil -  The plant will 'ingest' it.
Maybe we should add funky colored dyes to any chemical put on or around conventionally grown plants so people can SEE that those things are actually there in the 'final product'. Oh wait - that would just be marketed as fun, exciting, and would have a character endorsement.
*eye roll*

POM wonderful giveaway ends tonight!

click the link on the right sidebar to enter!

My Pom wonderful juice arrived today.  Good timing!  I am off of work all next week - time to get creative!!

I can't take it anymore!

I am ordering a new laptop lunchbox for the boy.  Wow, I made it how long - only a week before breaking down?!?!

I sent the LL bean one the other day with some rubbermaid containers and a lid did not get tightened before being returned home.  I can't just quickly wash and dry like I can with the hard box of the laptop lunch.  Nope, It needs a date with the washing machine.  What can I say, it has been a busy week and that date has yet to happen... (don't worry, I did wipe the funk out... just needs a deep clean still).
He brown bagged it today and will tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

squinty corn

You kinda have to squint a little, maybe use your imagination....
It is a piece of corn made out of a tortilla pb&j.  It is on top of a cut apple, lettuce, and noodles with parmesan.

I miss his laptop lunchbox.....   We'll see how long I go without buying a replacement.  I'm still holding out hope that it will appear.  Although...  not sure how funky it will be if it does.

Monday, November 16, 2009

fruit turkey

This will be my daughter's only thanksgiving themed lunchbox.  On Thursday her class will be having a party/feast.  The turkey is made from a pear half, orange and apple slices, with raisin and quinoa eyes.  It is placed on a bed of quinoa with some cinnamon and a tiny touch of brown sugar mixed in.

The kids loved the horizon natural yogurt blends.   The last ones I picked up on markdown had .75 off coupons on the inside of the outer package.  I found them marked down again and used the coupons also.  I paid a total of .75 for a four pack! 
A cut up organic pickle rounds out this lunch.

still MIA

Well, it seems as though his laptop lunchbox is for sure MIA.  I went up to the school today and peeked around, checked lost and found, etc.   It was nowhere to be found.

SO, we go back to how we began the year when only my daughter had the laptop lunchbox.  He uses the laptop inner containers, packed in an L.L. bean lunch bag which he had previously.   I am going to wait and see if it still turns up or not before I do anything differently.

I'm not terribly upset with him.  The kids go outside for recess right after lunch and set their lunchboxes on a table or a bench.  In his class, only about 4 or 5 kids bring a lunch, so I can see how it would be easy to leave it outside after lunch, especially when all of your friends walk right past that area without stopping.

Friday, November 13, 2009

MIA and out of commission!

The lunchbox did not come home yesterday.  I sent him to school with lunch money and a reminder to find and bring home his lunchbox today.  He got off the bus and.... yup, no lunchbox.
I called a friend/neighbor, who is also a teacher at his school and she looked in lost and found before leaving for the day..  no lunchbox.

It is friday.
I last packed yogurt.
IF it turns up on Monday (I'm going to go search for it on Monday) it will smell something fierce, for sure.

So, for now his box is MIA, and upon it's return it will be out of commission - at least for the duration of a few cycles through the dishwasher!!

I am the stalker...

I think I have checked this blog about 20 times in the last two days to print coupons and check for new deals.
So, to Susan at Organic deals and coupons - yes, I am the stalker...

here, stalk for yourself...

shopping trip

Small trip this week - went to central market and picked up just a few things.  See the little white block just above the eggs??!!  It is white chocolate. Not cheap white chocolate either - the good stuff!   I bought just enough to try this scrumptious looking pumpkin white hot chocolate recipe I stumbled across on another blog.  I pureed the pumpkin and was ready for a nice evening treat, and could not find that chocolate!  I've looked all over - fridge, pantry, you name it.  I put groceries away in a rush that day and I may have left it on the counter before walking out the door.  If that is the case.... the dog got it - plastic wrapping and all!  There is no sign of it anywhere!  

I roasted up the spaghetti squash and added toasted nuts (i had pecan chips) and sage (it is in the plastic baggie next to the eggs).  Topped with cheese, and YUM!

Other than the spaghetti squash, sage and missing white chocolate, the other items are: couscous, organic rolled oats, frozen strawberries, organic tater tots, organic sweet potatoes, avacodo, carrot chips, fresh peanut butter, organic green leaf lettuce, cereal, bananas, eggs, and yes, that is ghiradeli hot chocolate!

So, total for the week - 44.97

My husband picked up some milk on his way home this week - so add a few bucks on for that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

O happy day!

This was a totally kid inspired lunch.   My son came up with this idea - he wanted a total happy face lunch.  I was supposed to buy baby bell cheese today  (the yellow kind) to do a happy face on, and forgot it... so it's one face short.
This one is actually my daughters lunch.   She wanted the broccoli and cheese from dinner tonight in her lunch tomorrow, but him... not so much.  He gagged down two helpings with dinner so that he would not get any in his lunch tomorrow (his idea, not mine.  I have to say it was a good one though).  His lunch is just like this one, but instead of broccoli, he received the rest of the cut apple.

no lunch today

I took a break last night and did not make today's lunchbox.  I had to pick up my mom and go for our hair appointments last night and did not get home till late.  Got the kids ready for and in bed and turned to look at the mound of dishes in the sink.   Once I realized my son's laptop lunchbox was part of that pile, I opted for a brown bag lunch today. 
I guess that means I have to make up for it tonight and pull out something really cool? lol... we'll see...

Monday, November 9, 2009

leftover lunchbox

Haven't done any cutesy lunches yet this week  I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen cooking and baking today, so by the time making lunch came around, a little less effort went into the 'gza gza' of it. 

This lunch has some of the Lemon Garlic Chicken and Honey Apple Pie/crisp I made earlier today.  i also added a little blends yogurt, pickle, ketchup for dipping, spinach lettuce with feta.  My children are about to go on a spinach boycott - I bought a big tub of it and don't want it to go bad, which is why it has been in the last...oh... several lunches!  I think I will pick up some frozen fruit and make some green 'incredible hulk' smoothies with the rest.  They have NO problems eating/drinking it that way!!

Apple pie/crisp

I found this Apple Honey Pie recipe at Finding Joy In My Kitchen .  It is a healthier version of an apple pie, and more of a cross between a pie and a crisp.  Either way, it hit the spot tonight!

Here is a picture of my results, following the recipe link above.

Lemon Garlic Chicken with Chives

I have to admit, I am terrible at following recipes.
I bring the laptop into the kitchen and place it on the island countertop, rendering the island useless for cooking because I don't want to spill food on the computer.  I then cook/bake on a small section of countertop located across from the computer. I spend my cooking time constantly going back and forth between reading the recipe and cooking.  I just about always forget the measurements or ingredients that I need during the two step walk, turn and shuffle it takes to go back and forth.  I must look like a 90 year old man when I try to follow recipes;  Straining to read the recipe, forgetting over and over what and how much... it's a mess.

So, lately I have been winging it... a lot!

I found this recipe online somewhere, but I can't remember where.  I'd love to give credit... but being as I changed it so much, it is probably such a far cry from the original anyhow.

I started by roasting a head of garlic in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Typically, I would wrap in foil... but I was out.  A quick call to mom saved the day.  She said, "Ina roasts it in a pan all the time, just put some olive oil on it and watch it really well."  Mom is a food network junkie - says Ina's name like they go way back or something...  That's ok, buddy-buddy Ina's advice helped a lot!

Lemon Garlic Chicken with Chives

1 roasted head of garlic
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
8-10 chicken strips/tenders or 4 thin chicken breasts
1 lemon
3 tbsp. butter
fresh chives

Lightly coat chicken strips with flour and place in a hot pan with a little olive oil. Cook thoroughly.  
Meanwhile, add one cup of chicken broth to a bowl.  Add the zest and juice of one lemon to the bowl.   Add the bits of roasted garlic to the bowl.
When chicken is finished cooking, add contents of bowl to the pan of chicken and bring to a slight boil.  Reduce heat and stir in butter and 1/4 cup of fresh cut chives to the mixture.

I served with a side of Quinoa (bottom picture) and Green beans.  The kids loved this chicken dish! 

dippity do da lunch - pumpkin style

Our house rule is no eating anywhere there is carpet unless you, personally, can afford replacement carpet.  This pretty much takes care of the under 18 crowd.  I think maybe a few of our grown up friends too...

We made pumpkin dip this weekend and let the kids break the house rule by taking it, and a bag of gingersnaps upstairs to munch on while watching a family movie.  Sometimes ya just got to!

My original 'martha' plans were to make a pumpkin cheesecake on a homemade gingersnap crust.
But in the midst of my friday night sweet tooth, hunger, and rule breaking rampage, there was no time for
'Martha-ing'.   I wanted it, and I wanted it NOW (well, then... you know what I mean...)

The sugar pumpkins I intended to bake and puree are still on the counter.  I shamelessly grabbed the 'emergency' can of pumpkin puree from the pantry and had the concoction whipped up in about 5 minutes.
Someway, somehow, some dip and gingersnaps made it through the weekend unscathed.  The gingersnaps join a cut up apple for dipping.  A spinach salad with feta, and some cheddar bunnies finish out this lunch.

This recipe is on the Nestle/Libbey website, but with double the cream cheese and more than triple the sugar!
we find this version to be sweet enough!

Easy Cream Cheese Pumpkin dip
1 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
1/4-1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 - 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves)

In a mixing bowl, blend cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.  microwave cream cheese for better blending if needed.    Add spices and confectioners sugar to taste.

great for dipping graham cracker, gingersnaps, breads, apples...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

POM Wonderful giveaway

A representative for POM Wonderful contacted me this week to see if I would be interested in trying their products, and develop a recipe using them.  Talk about pressure!  I hope I can come up with something edible!! The juice should arrive on my doorstep in the next week or two, so be on the lookout for my concoction.  Right now, the outcome is a surprise to ALL of us, myself included!

The POM wonderful rep agreed to do a giveaway for my readers!  
3 lucky winners will each receive 4 FREE coupons.  Each coupon is good for one FREE 16.oz bottle of POM wonderful in any flavor!

All of POM Wonderful Juices:
  • contain no added sugars, preservatives or colors
  • are a good source of potassium
  • are gluten-free
  • are flash pasteurized to retain both flavor and nutrients
  • are certified kosher
Flavors Include: 
100% Pomegranate
POM Blueberry
POM Cherry
POM Mango
POM Kiwi
POM Nectarine
see more at: - the POMx coffee drink really has me intrigued!

TO ENTER - GIVEAWAY CLOSED.  Congrats to the winners!  

  simply leave a comment and enter your email address below. 
Giveaway will close Thursday, November 19th at 9pm EST.    Winners will be chosen by

For a second entry (leave a 2nd comment) become a follower of lunchbox limbo (or let me if know you already are!)

Winner will be posted here as well as receive an email (must leave email address so I can contact you), Once notified, winner must contact me with their mailing address within 48 hours to claim prize.

*Disclosure: I will be receiving samples to try/develop a recipe with.  No other compensation was received.* 

Friday, November 6, 2009

shopping trip for nov. 1-7

Last weekend, we went to Costco and Kroger for just a few things at each store. I was thrilled to find organic all purpose flour in 10 lb bags at costco - perfect timing!  We've also decided to stick with natural cheese and just get organic cheese as we can.  The price for cheese per pound at costco seemed pretty good, so we bought a few types to have on hand. 
I ran into Kroger for just coffee creamer and scored discount organic cucumbers, and all those organic bananas for .99.  I had planned to bake with them, but the kids devoured them before I could!  I taught them a long time ago that bananas with brown spots taste sweeter -(so they would eat them) it worked like a charm - and it is true.  A real win/win! 
Total at costco - $54.86
Total at Kroger - $3.98

I also ran into Tom Thumb (safeway) for a few items later in the week.  Hit the dairy and meat department at a great time and scored some clearance deals! HALF PRICE ORGANIC CHICKEN!  wooo hooo! The yogurt, and milk were also half price. But the total was still $28.86 (dang chicken).

Total spent for the week - $87.70

Thursday, November 5, 2009

frogs and bunnies

Lunch tomorrow is a cheesy burrito.  We had a ground beef version for dinner tonight, but since he can not reheat his lunch at school, the cheese version will have to do.  I added green frogs punched out of spinach to jazz things up a bit.  The last of the reduced, near expiration, little blends (love those!), some chocolate chip annie's bunnies, and a spinach salad with cinnamon poached raisins to sprinkle on top finish off this lunch.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I teach at the same pre-school my daughter attends, so I have the inside scoop and know ahead of time that as part of their community helpers lesson,  the town fire department will be visiting her class tomorrow and bringing a fire truck and amblance along.
So, great inspiration for a lunch! 
The firetruck is an inside out sandwich, meaning that the middle is on top for display purposes, she will have to put the bottom bread on top to eat it.  This one is made from cream cheese and strawberry jelly.  The ladder is made from cheese, black is nori.  The sandwich is sitting on top of a spinach salad.  The letters (KFD) on the truck stand for the town fire department. 

I normally do not put packaged items in their lunches.  I ran into the store for milk and saw these horizon natural 'little blends' yogurts in the discount area.  With their expiration date nearing, I went ahead and added it to the lunchbox.  These are all natural with a few organic ingredients.  The part I really love is that they have both a fruit AND a veggie blended into the yogurt (this one is banana sweet potato).

Also in this lunch is half an orange, some annie's cheddar bunnies, and an organic pickle.  It took me a while to find an organic pickle.  My girl loves pickles and could eat them all the time, but most all pickles have dye added.  Since this is something she eats a lot of, I really wanted these to be organic.


I had to make this one in the morning (reason for the late posting).  Simple lunch of warm noodles with parmesan cheese, a pear and some yogurt with blueberries.

For those who follow the blog, you may remember when my husband ran out to buy the cheapest thermoses possible because right in the middle of the home made lunch boycott, my son decided he loved his dad's cinnamon chili and in my frenzie on non-defeat-wantingness, I decided it HAD to go to school with him the next day.  Well, those thermoses were junk.  The chili was cold, it stained and kept a chili odor.  I trashed them and bought new ones.  I know, I know, pretty wasteful. 
The new thermoses, made by thermos brand, and are of spiderman (above) and his friend barbie (yet to be photographed.. guess she is shy?) rock my world.  The noodles stayed nice and warm today.  It cleaned up beautifully and thanks to the stainless - no smell! 

Monday, November 2, 2009

sun, flower

A simple sun and flower combo with what was on hand tonight.  The sun is pear with a sweet potato center.  The flower is cucumber center, stem and leaf on a sweet potato flower.  The background is bulghur wheat pilaf with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices added.  The side containers have apple, pear and more sweet potato with a little sprinkle of brown sugar.

My daughters lunch is pretty much the same but due to their favorites, she received more cucumber than sweet potato in her lunch. 

butternut squash, goat cheese, hazelnut, chicken pasta

I had butternut squash hanging out in my fridge, cubed and waiting to be cooked.  My foodie friend Michelle, was over one day and started rattling off meal ideas using the butternut squash. 

I had told her of the hazelnuts I had just purchased because of their good price.  She knew I had goat cheese on hand because we had already talked about it (yes, we talk about food... ). She also knew I had basil in my garden, and leftover chicken noodle soup in the fridge.

So, viola.  'Butternut squash, goat cheese, hazelnut, chicken pasta'.  This dish may already exist, and have a fancier name.  But, oh well!
HOLY cow, it was soooo good. 
The goat cheese mixed with the hazlenuts and slight sweetness of the squash was awesome!

I can't give you 'exact' amounts, because I really have no clue as to how much I used..... so here is the ingredient rundown and guessed amount for our family of 4 -  you can experiment amounts for yourself.

Butternut squash, goat cheese, hazelnut, chicken pasta

4 cups cooked pasta of your choice
(1 cup - ?)chicken stock
(1/4 cup- ?) goat cheese
(1/4 cup-?) of hazelnuts, crushed to small chunks
1 chicken breast,
1 medium butternut squash, cut and cubed.
2tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Cook desired amount of noodles in a large stockpot according to package directions.  Drain water and add or make about a cup of chicken stock.  (I used about 2 cups of leftover noodles already in about one cup of chicken stock, then cooked about another 2 cups of noodles, drained and added to the existing noodles in a large stockpot.)

 Pan cook butternut squash slightly, add to stockpot of noodles/liquid.  reduced to med. heat.
In same pan used for squash, cook the chicken breast.  Add cooked chicken to pot.
Crush hazelnuts gently in a food processor.  You want these slightly chunky.  Add to pot.
Add chopped basil..... enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Meet Jane

I have discovered that I love themes!  Maybe it is the preschool teacher in me - I am used to planning and teaching around a theme.  I love decorating for holidays or designing themed children's rooms.   But, since it is too early for thanksgiving lunches and with Halloween being old news, I had no theme to roll with for lunch tomorrow.

Sooooo there I was staring at the cookie cutters.  I guess I was doing a little bit of whining about not having a theme, when my husband said, (in a 'sarcastic yet somehow supportive at the same time' kind of tone), "Well, I guess you have to do a plain Jane lunch."  I, (sarcstically, yet lovingly), replied "Ok, fine.  I will make a plain Jane lunch."

So here you have her - 'Plain Jane'.  She is made out of cheese, with stringbean bean eyes, tomato mouth.
Also are cheese and crackers, apples, and sunburst squash.


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