August 29, 2010

Less Waste Lunches

With the school year starting just around the corner, I needed to find some new healthy snack and lunch ideas for my kids. What it didn't expect to find was how much waste lunches create. 
"the New York State Department of Conservation has estimated that a child taking a disposable lunch to school generates an average of 67 pounds of trash per school year."

That's almost twice as much as my youngest weighs!  Its so easy for us not to think about how all those snack wrappers, sandwich bags, juice boxes, napkins, not to mention uneaten food adds up day after day.  Home-made lunches are definitely healthier and more cost effective, now it's just a matter of packing smart.  I thought I'd share some of the things we do to make healthier, cost effective, echo-friendly lunches.

  1. Buy some reusable plastic drink containers.  I use juice box size/shaped ones.  We have been using them for the past couple years.  I fill them half way with juice, lemonade, or water and then freeze it over night.  In the morning I fill them up the rest of the way.  This helps keep their drinks cold until lunch time rolls around.
  2. Stop buying individually prepackaged snacks.  Sure it's easier to grab the little bag of chips, yogurt, fruit cup, etc. but the 'convience' costs you a lot more.  Get regular sized packages of snacks and put a serving size portion in to a reusable container.
  3. Use reusable plastic containers for everything from sandwiches to snacks.  They keep foods from being 'squished', are better for the environment, and more cost effective.
  4. Make home-made snacks.  There are lots of internet sites out there; so use them to find your kids favorite snacks that you can make at home.  Buying the ingredients cost less, cause lets face it you're really paying for the name brand packaging.  You can also make it a fun activity to do with the kids.  One of our family's favorites is Rice crispy treats.
  5. To save time in the mornings, pack lunches the night before and store them in the fridge.  Also get the kids involved.  My six year old helps put everything in the lunch box, where as the twelve years olds make their own lunch.  This is great in two ways; having the younger ones help teaches them responsibility and the importance of a nutritious lunch and the older ones doing for themselves saves you some time.
  6. Make the most out of your left-overs.  We often turn a dinner from the night before into a healthy lunch for the next day.  The kids like having something different than the same old sandwich day after day.
"the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey’s estimate that 16 percent of children and adolescents ages 6-19 years are overweight."
Now that we're packing smart and getting our kids involved, what foods should we be putting in their lunches?
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.  Kids should be eating 3-4 servings of dark green, red, and orange vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit daily.  Try finding recipes that you can add fruits or vegetables into.
  • Whole-grain breads, crackers, rice, pasta, and cereal instead of white varieties.  Kids should be eating 6-8 servings from this group daily.  Whole grains provide lots of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein.
  • Beans, nuts, poultry, fish, and lean meats.  Kids should be eating 2-3 servings of protein foods daily.  Avoid meat products from animals that have been treated with hormones and antibiotics.
  • Yogurt and cheese.  Kids should be eating 2-3 servings of dairy products daily.  When packing keep these items closest to the icepack to avoid spoiling. 
"Children who eat well and exercise regularly experience less fatigue, more energy, and better concentration. They are more fit for sports and other physical activities, and they have lower obesity rates."
With just a little thought and planning we can pack lunches that create less waste and are healthier for our children.  It's also important to get our children involved.  Talk to them about the changes in their lunches, whether it's the food or the packaging.  Teach them about reducing waste to help the earth and how eating nutritious meals helps their minds and bodies.

A home-made lunch may take a bit more planning and an extra ten minutes a day, but given the obvious benefits, it’s well worth the time and effort.

~Earthy Mom

August 28, 2010

Thought for today

It is easy for us to get caught up in looking at how far we have to go in reaching our goals instead of celebrating how far we have come.Joyce Meyer

August 24, 2010

Save More and Waste Less

Here's some tips to stretch your money, save time, and help the environment.

  1. Power Down - Plug electronics into a power strip, and turn off everything before bed with a single switch.  Saves money,  time, and the environment.
  2. Recycle Greeting Cards - Remove the message portion and use the front panel as a postcard or for a child to make in to a collage.  Saves money and the environment.
  3. Home Grown - Make your own garden.  Garden fresh veggies taste better and cost less than store-bought.  You can freeze extras to enjoy in the winter.  Saves money and the environment.
  4. Save Your Scraps - Toss fruit and veggie remnants into a compost pail.  Bonus use to fertilize your garden.  Saves time, money, and the environment.
  5. Before Grocery Shopping - Search online for printable coupons.  Check out the store's website or circular, and plan meals around sale items.  Saves money.
  6. Reusable Shopping Bags - You can gets these at almost any store for just a few dollars.  Plus some stores offer money off your total for using these when you shop.  Saves money and the environment.
  7. Tired of Waiting for the Handyman? - Invest in a home repair book and learn to fix simple things yourself.  Find a neighbor or friend who has handyman skills and trade their time for something you can do for them. (ex: childcare, dinner, job or personal skill)
  8. Cyber-Swapping - Trade for school supplies, car repairs, clothes, and other gently used items with other families.  Saves money and time.
  9. Use Smart Products -  Shop for safer household, bath & body, and personal products that don't contain the toxic chemicals found in name-brand products.  There are many online stores that sell safer for your home products.  Save the environment, money, and time.
  10. Washer-dryer - Set your washing machine's water temperature to cold.  When weather permits line dry your clothes.  Saves money and the environment.
  11. Weekly Veggie Meal -  Once a week serve a meat free meal with lentils or tofu for protein.  Saves money.

August 14, 2010

School starts in only 17 days! Were did the summer go?

I guess this means it's time for us to start getting organized and back to a schedule.  The school lists have almost all come in, so next week there will be school supply shopping to do.  I need to clean and dust off our school shelves.  I am so happy we started this system several years ago, it has made keeping track of the kids school papers and homework so much easier.
I set up a small set of selves, one for each child, right next to our backpack and shoe cubby.  On each shelf I put a "in box" tray and a pencil box.  The tray is for any papers that come home for me and a place to keep homework that isn't due the next day.  Each child has their own pencil box with several pencils, box of crayons/collored pencils, erasers, glue stick, and a pair of scissors.  This cuts down on the time spent looking for these items for homework and arguments over who lost such-and-such item.  This year I've decided to cut out several bookmarks from heavy paper for everyone, so they aren't constanly looking for one/dragging their feet at bedtime.
I get very focussed on work so I really have to set up and stick to a schedule, or else the kids might noteat dinner till late.  I've been working on and tweeking our schedule from last year to work better this year.

6am - Make sure girls are getting up.
6-6:30am - Go for am walk
6:30-7am - Online time for business (posting, emails, etc.)
7:10am - Girls go out to school bus
7-8am - Wake up boys, get them ready for school, baby gets dropped off
8am - Take boys down to the bus stop
8:10-9am - Take care of baby and settle her down for a nap
9:15-10:15am - Make morning calls
11am-3pm - Open for appointments
12:30pm - Lunch time for baby
1:30pm - Nap time for baby
1:30-2:30pm - Afternoon calls
2:30pm - Girls come home from school, snack, start them on homework
3:30pm - Baby gets picked up and boys come home from school, snack
4pm - Start boys on homework and make sure dinner is in the oven.
5pm - Dinnertime
6-6:30pm - Evening calls
6:30-9pm - baths, reading, getting everyone to bed.
9-10:00pm - finish evening calls, check emails, finish up business or house work
10-11pm - Time for me and then bed.

Color Chart
Family time
Me time

When I right it all down I have a pretty packed day.  With the kids, the baby I take care of during the day, and our business.  I make sure to put in some me time at the beginning and end of the day, to destress and relax.  I'm also lucky that I don't have to do this alone, my fiancee works our business with me and does more than his fair share of keeping our family running.

August 13, 2010

Vacation Blues

We are home from vacation.  It's nice to be home, but I wish we had a couple more days just to sit back relax and enjoy being together.  The children of course loves swimming in the pool.  And surprisingly they all had a great time at our Letterboxing event!  Some of them even asked when we are going to go another Letterboxing event.  Luckily there is an event in September, A Mystical Event, in Mystic, CT which will be going to.  My son is very excited because he met a boxer that is also going to be at this up coming event!  Perhaps we will even get the kids out on the trails a couple times before the school year starts.

We enjoyed our short time, over the weekend, at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, ME.  Then we moved to Meadowbrook campground in Phippsburg, ME.  The pool was heated to a nice 75-85 degrees, so we swam during the day and evening.  The sites are nice, with lots of trees around.  We were very lucky and only had rain (with thunderstorms) one night.  And of course what camping trip isn't complete without having S'mores every night!

The unpacking has been done and everything put away!  And we've moved on to getting the house back in order.  I will start working again tomorrow.  I am hoping to have my self booked up through the beginning of next week.  Not to mention the tons of email we have to make our way through from this past week.  We have a big promotion going on this month and next, so I need to get rolling.  I can feel that these next several months are going to be big ones for our business!

August 9, 2010

Super Yucky :P

My family is on vacation, camping in Maine. We forgot our dish soap at home and had to buy some at the store. This may sound weird, but back in December we switched stores and started shopping for safer products without the harmful chemicals in them. So I haven't been down a cleaning supplies aisle at a store in a long time. The smell was so awful that I had to cover my face. It even burned Glen's eyes and made them water. We wouldn't even let the kids come down the aisle with us.
Lesson learned - Never forget dish soap (or other cleaning stuff) at home again.