Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop and Giveaway

We're looking at a new private school for my 6-year-old for 1st grade this Fall, so she's doing a week of all-day Summer camp there to try it out (and so they can see if she'd be a good fit there too!) So this has been like a dry-run for me for September, having lunch made (and photographed... *cough*) and everyone up and out the door to get to school by 9am.

You can read about the first few lunches, and the tools and products I use to help me pack them healthy but still fun - and always full of love! Then stick around for the Back-to-School giveaway and blog hop down below!

Deconstructed Tuna Sandwich
Glutino crackers, organic raspberries w/Enjoy Life chocolate chips, organic yellow carrots, dye-free pickles, tuna w/mayo
Hubby had made some tuna over the weekend (I'm not sure what to call it... "tuna salad" doesn't seem right, when it's just a can of tuna mixed with a small blob of mayo...) for sandwiches, which must include sliced pickles too. So I built a DIY version, but with gluten-free crackers instead of bread.

Because I wanted this week to be extra successful, I made sure to pack a Lunchbox Love note each day - one of the new Riddle ones that they sent me (I vaguely recall agreeing to do a feature post with them a while ago, timed for the back-to-school season. And I warned her that I would totally forget. And surprise surprise, I opened the package and had no clue why they were sending me new cards!)
These each have a positive message on one side (except the two blanks per pack) and a riddle (with answer) on the other. My girl loves puns and word jokes, so I picked ones I thought she would be able to "get" once she read the answer. The riddle on this one was "The more of them you take, the more you leave behind." (Footsteps)

Since I was going with a "Love you!" theme, I used a silicone heart cup and mini heart cutter from All Things For Sale as well. And included a pink reusable spork in case she needed it to scoop her tuna. (My girl likes to experience her food, so often eats with her fingers, one morsel at a time...)

 [This post contains affiliate links.

MOMables PB Cracker Stackers
Earth Balance coconut PB sample, Glutino crackers, GF cinnamon pretzels, organic snap peas and strawberries
While I'm usually too lazy to even follow the weekly lunch menu plan with recipes and shopping lists provided (seriously, it's just that easy!) I always read my MOMables subscription ideas for inspiration. Then settle for something easy I can make with stuff I already have on-hand. (Did I mention that I'm too lazy to make my life that much easier by following the MOMables lunch menu plan? Being lazy is hard work, man!)

I had some sample packets of Earth Balance coconut and peanut spread, which was the perfect size to send with some gluten-free crackers for a DIY version of the MOMables PBJ Cracker Stackers! (She likes these without the jelly, and likes building them herself, so I'm happy to do less of the prep work and oblige!)

Nut-Free "PBJ"
Organic champagne grapes, sugar snap peas, long beans; GF Sunbutter-jelly sandwich, dark chocolate blueberries
Even though this school doesn't require a nut-free peanut butter alternative, thanks to letting her build her own during a lunch packing event I did at her school, Z prefers Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) with jelly when I use the Udi's gluten-free bread. No problem!
Sadly, most of my sandwich cutters no longer fit the smaller gluten-free breads, but I was just able to squeeze on the cupcake from the Lunch Punch Sweets set to help make her lunch fun! I also sent a Lunchbox Love note telling her how proud I was, after a fun riddle about Darkness ("The more you have of it, the less you see.")

I mention most of them here, but here is a list of my Top 5 Lunch Packing Essentials - talking about some of my favorite gear, brands, ideas, and more!
While we aren't ready to start school quite yet, here are lunches featuring back to school apples, general apples, the first day of Pre-K, and the first day of Kindergarten if you're looking for some lunch-spiration!

Don't be late for your next class with Organized Bites! Be sure to click through all the posts in the hop and take notes so you can pass the test at the end! Here's your homework from me (note the letter and number - once you've gone through the entire loop, arrange them numerically to spell out the codeword needed to enter the giveaway!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tools of the Trade
 Biting the Hand Biting the Hand     [image name]

Monday, July 28, 2014

MOMables Monday: The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet cookbook

Laura Fuentes, creator of the MOMables lunch menu planning service has just released a new book, The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet! From what I've seen so far, reading all the advice bits at the beginning and looking through all the recipes (and even trying a few,) this book lives up to its title!

[disclaimer: I received a copy of The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet! for free. This post contains affiliate links.]

In addition to getting a copy to review after it was released (woot!) I got to test-cook one of the recipes months ago! I made a batch of cornbread muffins as instructed for Hubby, then did a few simple substitutions to make a gluten-, egg-, and dairy-free batch for the girls and I. (A gluten-free flour mix with xanthan gum already in it, non-dairy milk, and I made ground flax egg substitute.) Both versions were voted yummy from their respective taste-testers!
The book has some recipes and ideas that you may have seen on the MOMables blog or in the MOMables menu service, but here they're all in one convenient place! Plus there are so many more! Ideas for prep-ahead and grab-and-go breakfasts, making extra ingredients at dinner to repurpose for lunch recipes, using up dinner leftovers for lunch... So many ideas for making lunch prep quicker and easier! Laura even talks about where you can save money and where not to cut corners on grocery items!

The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet makes a great supplement to my MOMables subscription (which I subscribe to on my own dime, by the way!) for days when I don't have time to make the menu item(s,) or would have to make too many substitutions to make it gluten- and dairy-free, or even for something my kids just won't eat!

With just a little bit of planning ahead (made easier with tips from this book,) I never need to be stumped for lunch ideas again! And neither do you! It's available right now on Amazon and at all major booksellers, or one lucky person can win a copy of their own! All you have to do is comment on this post telling me what your major lunch-packing hurdle is, and "like" MOMables on Facebook (you can do it right there in the giveaway box!) There are even a few extra ways to earn entries for more chances to win! (US residents only. Must still "like" or "follow" the page(s) at the time I draw a winner, and must respond within 48 hours of my email notification, or I'll have to re-draw. Plus all the other stuff in the Raflecopter T&C.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

On-the-Go with Good2Grow!

 I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinions here. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group or the manufacturer of the product.

Have you seen the good2grow juice bottles before? They're the ones with the innovative spill-proof SippaTop caps and fun familiar characters on them! My girls were excited about the selection at our Safeway and had a hard time narrowing their choices down to Tinkerbell and one of her fairy friends (I truly cannot be bothered to memorize all the cartoon character names anymore. The water fairy, if you've actually ever watched the movies...)
Seriously. There were so many to choose from that I didn't notice a poor lady standing there clearing her throat trying to get me to move my cart out of the middle of the aisle! I was too busy squealing and discovering even more characters!

good2grow is a family owned and operated company located in the US, and they are committed to creating wholesome drinks with fresh and nutritious ingredients - all their drinks are 100% fruit juice or fruit and veggie blends - in irresistible packaging kids are sure to love! My kids went gaga over them, that's for sure!
The toddler had a bit of a learning curve drinking though the spill-proof top (I think it has a silicone seal inside, like most sippy cups,) since she was expecting the automatic flow of a sports bottle nozzle. But once she got the hang of it, she had no problem!

The good2grow drinks were a great find for summer - the perfect addition to a camp snack at Little Gym! Running and jumping around for several hours is thirsty work! No more frantically searching for a matching bottle and lid from the jumble of dishes or the cup cabinet - all you have to find is a clean topper, then just grab a refill bottle, and off you go!

We also took our good2grow drinks for a picnic! Our city does weekly concerts and shows for kids at a little splash park downtown, and these were perfect for staying hydrated in the blazing sun while eating lunch and watching a fun magic show! And they didn't leak all over Mama's bag when carrying everything back to the car after!

Why good2grow Drinks are Awesome:
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • No preservatives
  • No added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Six delicious varieties: 100% Apple Juice, 40% less sugar Apple Juice and purified water, 100% Fruit Punch, Tropical Fruit Medley V-Blend, Strawberry Kiwi V-blend, and Organic 100% Apple Juice
  • Did you see they have a certified organic juice option? *swoon!*
  • Drinks are sold in three sizes (4oz, 6oz, and 8oz) so you can get the perfect option(s) for your family! And the SippaTop caps can mix and match between them all!
  • The character SippaTops are spill-proof, which give kids more independence and parents more peace of mind when taking drinks on the go
  • The bottles and SippaTops are BPA-free, plus they're reusable and dishwasher-safe!
  • With character options ranging from Marvel superheroes, Disney, Pixar, NickJr, Strawberry Shortcake, Thomas the Train, and more, there's something for everyone! It was hard to decide which ones we wanted!
Stuff I Was "Meh" About:
  • The spill-proof nozzle can be difficult to drink through until you get the hang of it
  • The seal on the bottles was annoying for Mama to try and get open without sharp things
  • My oldest wasn't a fan of the Tropical Fruit Medley V-blend.  But the toddler loved it!
good2grow drinks are available nationwide at a variety of grocery and drug stores, including Kroger, Safeway, HEB, Meijer, Walmart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us, Rite Aid, CVS, 7-11, Circle K, and a whole bunch of others I've never heard of! Hahaha! 

From now until 8/15/14, US residents can enter to win $500 PLUS a good2grow birthday party! Each person that enters will receive a coupon for a FREE refill pack ($2.99-$3.49 retail) with purchase of a single serve bottle ($2.49-$2.99 retail) Click here for details! 

Learn more online at, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Packed Daytime and After-School Kindergarten Snacks!

This past school year I got pretty lax about packing a daily snack for Kindergarten. The AM teacher told me that most snacks the parents were sending were safe for Z, so I'd often just toss a small bag of PopChips or popcorn and a GoGoSqueeze into her snack bag to sub in as needed.
But Z had started asking why I wasn't packing snacks in boxes like I used to. Last year I packed a mini bento almost every day! Her behavior and tolerance to frustration were starting to fray about halfway through the school year, and as she started complaining more and more about my lack of effort for her snack, I realized that maybe she derived some emotional comfort from a packed snacks. So near the end of the year I mustered up and attempted to pack snacks more frequently.

Organic apples, kettle corn
4/22/14 - I could not for the life of me find a snack bento box and paired lid, so I settled for a Kinderville storage jar (with mismatched lid!) They're narrow but tall, so I was able to stack a flower muffin cup on top of some apple slices.

 [This post contains affiliate links.
Organic apples, Sunbutter sandwich "fingers"
4/30/14 - This snack was actually packed to follow Z's afternoon class. She hadn't been eating as much lunch as usual (due to getting distracted experiencing the sensory aspects of her food,) so tended to be ravenous after school. And E would eat if I had a snack that wasn't her own lunch leftovers! Plus I started getting other scavengers too, with friends of Z's coming over to eat our packed snacks!

Sweet Potato PopChips, organic blood orange
5/16/14 - I stock up on mini bags of chips when they go on awesome sale on Amazon, to have quick grab-and-go snacks, but also to bust open to parse out in packed snacks! The blood orange half was wishful thinking on my part. I foolishly told her the name once so she's scared of the "red oranges" now. The toddler happily ate it later!

Organic grapes, HappyTot cookies, Glutino pretzel sticks
5/27/14 - Extra "crunchies" packed in this one. I must have been feeling generous that day!

Tools of the Trade