Doing this will save you a whole bunch of time in the school lunch making department!

When you ask moms what their least favorite thing about the weekday school monotony is, packing lunches is always at or near the top of the list.

So a couple weeks ago I asked readers to share any tips/tricks/shortcuts they had that made the lunch packing a little less sucky.

I’m still working on that post…

But one of the suggestions was to make a whole bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and freeze them. Then you can just pull one out of the freezer, throw it in the lunch bag, and it will be defrosted and ready to eat by lunchtime.

Once I read that, I started thinking about how much stuff was freezable for lunches.

I did some Pinteresting and some Googling.

And if there is one thing you can do to make packing lunches easier (aside from having your kids learn to pack their own lunches which is something we’ve been doing for a couple years and is a major sanity saver)  it’s to prepare as much as you can ahead of time and freeze it!

Not only does this allow your kids to have lots of stuff ready to grab and quickly put in their lunch boxes, but it also serves another purpose.

Some of their food is now a built in ice pack!

I want to share with you what I’ve made ahead of time and what I’ve frozen that has made lunch packing so much easier:

1) I’m trying to use less plastic. And we mostly use reusable containers when we pack our lunches.  Eventually I’m going to get reusable  sandwich bags. But I’m not there yet.

So I’ve been using deli style wax paper that I got from Costco.

img_20160925_163406209I use this to  wrap up sandwiches, muffins, etc, and then I store those in a big plastic freezer bag. The kids can throw whatever is wrapped in the paper right into their lunch (depending on what it is) and they can also microwave whatever is inside it if they need to.

So what have I wrapped in those?

1) Sandwiches

PB&J. Make sure you put peanut butter on both sides so the jelly doesn’t soak into the bread.

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I know peanut butter isn’t allowed in some schools or classes, but you can also do cream cheese and jelly. I also do raisin bread and butter.

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2. Peanut butter and honey “sushi”

I saw this on  1oo Days of Real Food.  She cut the crust off of  bread, rolled it with a rolling pin to make it super flat,  put PB&J on the bread, rolled it up, and then cut it into little “sushi rolls.” I thought this was so cute. So I did it, and it’s been kind of a big hit!

Today I made some peanut butter and honey “sushi rolls.”

(I save the crusts and freeze them and chop them up in the food processor when I need bread crumbs).

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These are good for snack after school, too!

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I filled up a bunch of containers and they are good to go.

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3. Chocolate chip banana bread muffins

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You could obviously do any kind of muffin, but this is one of our favorites and muffins freeze so well!

4. Tacos

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We will microwave these in the morning and put them into a thermos to keep them warm until lunch time.

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(We have lots of thermoses).

5. French Toast

I made a butt load of French toast.

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Then I cut it up into French toast sticks.

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We either eat these for breakfast of heat ’em up and put them in a thermos and pack a little syrup. (Cause everyone loves breakfast for lunch sometimes!)

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6. Soup

I didn’t get to the soup this weekend, but any kind of soup freezes well. If you freeze it in smaller portions, you can just take one out in the morning,  heat it up, throw it in a thermos, and you are good to go!

7. Apple pouches

We don’t always get these. But when we do (we have some now) they freeze well, they serve as an ice pack, and they are defrosted in time for lunch.

 8. Pudding packs

These freeze well too, and just like the applesauce pouches, they serve as an ice pack but also defrost in time for lunch.

 9. Gogurts

Same as the applesauce and pudding! You can also freeze regular yogurt. I make little containers of plain Greek yogurt with honey in them. My kids love those.

 10. Juice boxes

We don’t do juice boxes, but if you do, you can freeze them and also use them as an ice pack!

11. No Bake Peanut Butter Honey Chocolate Chip Granola Bites

YUM. (get the recipe here)

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Where do you keep all this stuff?

We are fortunate to have a chest freezer in our  mudroom, so I have three separate bins in there, and the kids know exactly where to look.

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They are very good about packing a balanced lunch. They know they can’t pack  pudding and french toast and raisin bread and cookies in the same lunch.

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But they can quickly grab a taco and apple sauce and some cookies and have most of their lunch done in about 30 seconds!

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(The other stuff for their lunches is in the fridge ready to grab, and I’ll get to that next week).

Preparing food ahead of time and freezing it is making a HUGE difference in lunch packing headaches for all of us!

Even if you can only make some PB&J sandwiches or throw some butter on some raisin bread, you will have done one thing that will streamline the lunch making process a little bit, and every minute counts!

Have something else you freeze that I didn’t mention?

Please share!

And happy(er) lunch making, Everyone!

 

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Two words you never want to hear during the school year. Or ever. And how to deal with them.

It’s back to school time. It’s exciting for kids because it’s time to reconnect with old friends and make new friends.

It’s exciting for parents because, well… duh.

But back to school time also means some other not so exciting things may be happening.

And it’s only a matter of time before you hear those two words that no parent wants to hear.

Head lice.

So I asked a friend of mine who is an expert in this field if she’d be willing to write a post about this subject because many of us will be affected by lice at one point or another.  

KNOCK ON WOOD, I have never had to visit this friend with any of the kids. But I know she’s the best at what she does. Keep reading to arm yourself this school year with advice from Renee Bento, CEO of All Natural Lice Removal.

Nobody likes to talk about (or even think about) head lice. YUCK. GROSS!!!

But it’s something we can try to prevent. It’s also a topic that has a stigma and misinformation attached to it.

Of course we don’t want to create paranoia or anxiety regarding lice. But arming ourselves with (the correct) information can really be helpful in preventing your child’s (and your) exposure to lice! Knowledge is power. Let’s be proactive this year instead of reactive.

So what can you do?

Educate your kids.

Young children at school and in childcare settings often play very close to one another. This may lead to the spread of head lice. Practice and conversations are the first step!

Try having a talk about personal space and setting some boundaries. Explain what lice is and how to avoid it.

Lice can crawl from one head to another or from an object to your head.

Discuss not sharing personal belongings such as:

  • Hair brushes, hair clips, head bands and all other hair accessories
  • Helmets, baseball caps
  • Hats and scarves
  • Head phones or ear buds
  • Towels

Wear your hair up.

A pony tail is good, a braid is better, but a bun is the best. This simple act can reduce your child’s risk of getting head lice by 80%!

Spray your child’s hair with lice prevention spray, or hairspray to keep all loose hairs at bay.

Shared spaces increase your risk of sharing lice.

Shared lockers and coat closets, cubbies are places where lice can crawl from one item to another.

Ask your child to keep all personal belonging inside their book bag, and zipped up. Such as coats, hats, and scarves.

When and if your school reports a case of head ice, be proactive by placing items in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes. Book bag, coat, hat, scarf and clothing. If you cannot dry an item you can place it in the freezer for 2 days.

Selfies and hugs are lice spreaders!

“Selfies” are becoming a huge contributor to the spread of head lice.  Talk to your child about head lice and explain what it is and how contagious it can be. Explain not to touch heads when taking selfies.

Kids love to hug one another, especially girls and especially after the long summer break. Fist bumps and high fives are much safer when it comes to sharing head lice. Remember “personal space.”

Check yourself!

Most importantly, “Once a week take a peek!”

Check your child’s head/hair once a week.

Catching head lice early can help eliminate it more easily and help to keep it from spreading throughout your household.

It’s not always easy to know if your child has head lice or not. It is very often misdiagnosed. It can sometimes take up to 5 weeks for someone with head lice to show common signs such at itching. But if you are checking weekly it can help to avoid this.

Nits are usually what you see first. If you have nits, you have to have had a bug. You cannot catch nits.

If you have nits you have head lice.

Nits are yellowish, grey, off white or light brown in color. They are very small, like the seed of a strawberry. They do not move. They are stuck to the hair, cemented to the hair-shaft. You cannot flick or blow them off. You have to use your finger nails to pry them off the hair shaft. The best way to check is to use natural light, like outside or by a window. Start by checking the nape of the neck, then behind their ears, looking at the hair very close to the scalp.

If you are unsure, you could have the school nurse double check or call All Natural Lice Removal and we can do a very thorough head-check.

It’s not your fault!

Remember the only criteria for getting head lice is having hair. Lice has a stigma associated with its name. But it is the second most communicable problem in all schools, second only to the common cold. Lice does not come from poor hygiene, dirt, the earth or trees. It comes from another human’s head.

It has been passed from head to head for millions of years. It’s no one’s fault. If you sit near someone and they sneeze or cough, you are at risk for catching a cold. It’s the same with head lice.

It’s important to stop the stigma, to not be embarrassed, and to tell your child’s friends if your child had or has head lice. If your children’s friends have head lice then your child can get it again. By talking and communicating about head lice we can have the knowledge and power to stop it from spreading to others, and back to your kids.

Don’t freak out.

There are scary stories about “Super Lice” circulating, which makes everyone think of a meaner, uglier bug.  Super lice are the same lice bugs, they are just highly resistant to over the counter chemicals. Many people who have had lice have used several over the counter boxed chemicals and/or a prescription that has failed also. It makes parents very frustrated, because they are trying so hard, and doing everything they know how to, but these bugs and their nits are just “super” resistant.

The way to beat lice is to FOCUS ON THE HEAD, NOT SO MUCH THE HOUSE.

If you have more questions or you find yourself in need of help with lice treatment, visit All Natural Lice Removal online, and if you live in the CT/NY area call (203-702-3379).

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If your child is nervous about the first day of kindergarten, this might help!

I know a lot of you are getting ready to send a child off to kindergarten.

(And I know the thought of that first day of school is often way harder for moms than it is for the kids.)

But if your son or daughter is a little (or a lot) nervous about that first day, I want to make sure you know about the book, The Kissing Hand (affiliate), by Audrey Penn.

I was first introduced to this book when I was a sixth grade teacher about twenty years ago. And there is a good chance your child’s  preschool or kindergarten teacher will read it to him or her on the first day of school.

Number 6 was very apprehensive about going to school last year. (I was also a disaster, so I don’t think I helped matters).

I knew I needed to read him this story.

The Kissing Hand is the story of Chester the raccoon. Chester is nervous about going to school, so his mother kisses the palm of his hand and tells him “whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, ‘Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.'”

Last year Number 6 was having trouble dealing with the thought of going to kindergarten.

Of course I waited until the night before school to look for our copy of The Kissing Hand and I couldn’t find it, so all I could do was tell him the story.

It made him feel better. But he was still nervous.

So on the morning of that first day of school, he asked me to draw a heart on his palm so he’d have a kiss on there like Chester the racoon did.

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Then he asked for another one on the other hand. Just for some extra love.

And that’s what we did.

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Actually, we did that every day for about the first month of school.

And every day before he got onto the bus, I’d give him a kiss right on those hearts.

But that first day of kindergarten he came home and said to me, “Mommy! Guess what story my teacher read to me today!”

Sure enough, it was The Kissing Hand.

Knowing the story and having those little hearts on his hands made him feel a little more comfortable at school, too.

But I was kicking myself for not having the actual book the night before his first day of kindergarten.

Of course I found it the next morning, and we read it just about every night that first week of school.

It really helped me.

I mean him. It really helped him.

If you have a child with the kindergarten jitters and could use a cute story to read that will help him/her deal not only with that first day of school but also with any other unfamiliar situation where he/she is feeling unsure and apprehensive, I highly recommend it!

And hang in there, Mamas! Your kindergartener (and you) are going to be just fine.

 

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Need cool shades for your kids that will last? Check out Speckaboo!

A couple months ago I was given some sunglasses to check out by Speckaboo.

The kids loved them, but before I wrote a review, I wanted to have a chance to really check them out and see if they stood the test of my children who have never had a pair of sunglasses last more than a couple weeks before completely destroying them.

The results are in.

They are all still completely intact!

If you are looking for some shades for your kids that are not only cute but also durable, check them out!

They come in a bunch of different styles and colors, and they come in a super cute case.

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If you want to win a free pair, I am giving away two pairs over on Instagram.

To enter, all you need to do is follow me (@notyouraveragemomofficial) and then tag a friend!

The giveaway closes at midnight on Thursday, August 18th.

Don’t miss your chance to get a super cute pair of sunglasses (that would also make a great birthday present for one of the five million birthday parties your kids will be invited to in the upcoming school year)!

Check out Speckaboo today!

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