Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Making Lunch Packing & Lunch Eating....Fun!

This Summer, I slowly started collecting items that I felt would be helpful in creating fun lunches for my kids. Our kids refuse to eat the school lunches (I can't say that blame them) and I refuse to pack a ground hog day lunch. If you read this blog consistently, you already saw what our kids' first day of school lunch was, but honestly, I don’t think they even noticed.  Many of my blog “stalkers” wrote and said how adorable it was. I think my children just believe it’s what every mommy is supposed to do and does do. Ha! I only know one other. Oh well… it sure does help my 4:30 am snack and lunch making a tad more exciting. 

My selection of lunch accessories/tools has grown since taking these photos, but I haven’t taken pictures of my newest items. Allow me to share what I collected this Summer and photographed.
Ice Packs:
Cool gear makes many useful ice packs.  I was only able to find the green and blue packs, at Wal-mart, but Bed, Bath, and Beyond saved the day by providing the girly colors: pink and purple. I think it’s incredibly disgusting to eat warm fruit or a warm salami/cheese sandwich and I am pretty sure most everyone would agree. Keeping my children’s food not only safe, but also fresh to the palate is important to me. I couldn’t find a link, online for the packs, but I believe I paid $1.99 each. Not too bad. After school, I unload their lunches, dip the ice packs in warm soapy water, and pop them right back into the freezer for the next day.
Most kids don’t even consider using a napkin. After all, isn’t wiping your dirty mouth on your sleeve just as good. AHHHHH, that irks me and YES, my children do it...sometimes. "Okay, so you don’t want the food stuck on your face or your mouth or your fingers, but you want to wear it all day long on your clothing?" I thought using fun napkins would entice my kiddos to desire using them instead of their sleeves. Maybe Jax will think it’s funny to wipe his dirty face onto Spidey’s web.  I think I bought all of these napkins at Wal-mart.  They are so cheap…actually cheaper than my nice dinner napkins. I try to pick up a new pack once a week, so I have a fun collection forming.
Frozen: Elsa and Anna!
Zebra Striped!
Fun Zipblock Bags:
If I haven’t mentioned it 100 times that I love the Dollar Tree, I haven't mentioned it ONCE.  The Dollar Tree supplies some great lunch box items during the “Back-To-School” season and usually all throughout the year. I spotted the below character baggies there. I bought all three characters so the kids don’t get sick of using the same ones. Each box contains 20, resealable bags. I bought Lightening McQueen, Monsters Inc., and Disney Princesses.  60 bags for $3.00.  What a steal!
I also found a box of rainbow colored baggies at Target. I paid $2.49 for 80 bags.  I love these because I can color coordinate the bags to a particular holiday or to the color of the month, that the twins are working on (even though they’ve known their colors for years), or even to the color food that is going inside.
 Sandwich/Fruit/Cheese Cutters:
I have a MULTITUDE of cutters, probably over 75, but I recently added this cute little apple cutter to my collection.  It will come in handy for both the kids and the teachers throughout the years to come. I used this cutter for the kids' first day of school sandwich. I bought this cutter from A.C. Moore. I use these cutters primarily to take the crust off of the bread, but also to create something fun to eat. You could also use them for cookies, fruits, cheeses, and veggies.  As I was typing this, I realized you could even make miniature pizzas with your cutters. I believe I paid 99 cents for this cutter.
Puffy Stickers + Picks = Your Own Bento Picks
I snagged this idea over at  Many of the picks that she uses are purchased online or even in china, so I think it is clever that she has come up with a way to make her own picks when she gets bored with the ones that she has on hand.  I found these puffy stickers at the DOLLAR Tree (yes again).  I thought the owls were adorable for back-to-school and the space ships were perfect for the boys. In order to create a pick, you have to have two of the same exact stickers, so you can put them back to back, and insert a pick in between both stickers. I accompanied these homemade picks with the kids' containers of fresh watermelon. I absolutely LOVE the idea of making your own bento picks because you can create the picks your child will love or a specific holiday that is nearing.
 "Owl" always LOVE this idea :)
 Wiggly Eyes:
As soon as I spotted these colorful wiggly eyes, I had to have them. I got them at A.C. Moore. I believe for 80 wiggly eyes, I paid $2.99.  These will last a long time. I plan to use peanut butter or frosting to adhere the eyes to things. I just have to remind my children that they are not edible. Unlike these…. candy eyeballs.  
These have become a hot commodity in the food world.  You can turn any lifeless food into something that looks alive. You can find the candy eyeballs almost anywhere. I have seen them at Kroger, Wal-mart, and every local craft store.
Bento Leaf Picks:
These bento leaf picks came from Amazon.  I fell in love with them when I first spotted them on Jill’s website.  It turns a boring Clementine into cuteness. Maybe that’s why they call clementines, "cuties". LOL! I warned my children to be careful NOT to throw out any picks or lunch supplies and sadly, each of them have already lost 3/10 picks. Booo!  Some of the picks come with dual leaves, so you can actually insert them into two cherry tomatoes or two cherries. How adorable, right? I paid $5.44, on Amazon.  Awesome pricing.
Silicone Cups: 
Colorful silicone cups, used to hold delicate fruits and other loose items. This is definitely something I won’t use every day, but again, it makes the mundane lunches colorful, fun, and enticing to eat. I purchased these at JoAnn’s Fabrics.  They were originally $4.99 for 12, but I used a 40% off coupon, making them $2.50. You can also use these for cupcakes and muffins, as well.
Fun Straws:
These paper straws are such a weakness of mine. I LOVE THEM and I want a collection of every single style and color.  So far, I have only purchased these pink dot straws, from Michael’s, because they were on sale for $1.00. Just yesterday, I found some insanely cute Halloween paper straws, at the Dollar Tree. I cannot wait to decorate my kids’ lunches for Halloween. I have yet to use the straws because the kids usually have a juice box or roaring water in their snack bag and a water bottle in their lunch box.  I will have to come up with a creative use for these paper items. 

And finally, the best of the best lunch item, so far, for this year is….

The craziest thing about this item is that I found it at Target, on a whim, and when I got home, I read my favorite blog, meetthedubiens and she was bragging away about the same lunch items. I was so excited that I actually found an lunch box item that was brag worthy, without the help of Jill Dubien herself. 
I bought some at Target, some on Amazon, and then my dear friend Ashely spotted them at Kroger and they were buy ONE, get ONE free.  So I bought a few more.  I have a total of (6) or (2) sets per child.
Normally, $14.99, but I have located them as low as $7.54 on sale!
The light blue piece is a reusable ice pack!!! It fits in-between the sandwich containers and the other two small containers. Keeping everything fresh.  
The blues/orange set for the boys and pink/purple set for Lilah!
The set includes: (1) sandwich container, (2) side containers, (1) blue ice. These are 100% leak proof.
The combinations are endless.  
Just snap 'em and stack 'em, then off you go!!!
For the sake of time, I will send the traffic over to Jill's blog for a description of these amazing kits, but I have used them daily, without fail. The blue ice allows the kids sandwiches to stay fresh and cool. This kit is especially great when I pack the kids a salami and cheese sandwich. 

I also purchased the "Rubbermaid Entree Kits", (3) of them, but I have yet to use them. They fit perfect in the twins' lunch box, but until I get Ty a similar sized lunch box, I do not plan to use these.  
It's hard to tell how big this entree kit really is, but it's pretty large compared to the lunch kit.  
Check out all of the pieces the entree kit comes with. Target was having a sale on these items.  Normally they are $25.99 each, but I got them for $12.54.  
This is what it looks like when it's all packed up and ready to go! Shew! Makes me tired just looking at it. 
After school, it's a daunting task to get it all unloaded and cleaned.  I have been getting Lilah to help me wash them, since one of her new favorite things is to wash dishes.  I always get this task done BEFORE Darren gets home, but yesterday I failed to complete that task until he arrived home. When he saw the mother load in the sink he said, "What in the world is going on here?!?!?!?!" He's not used to seeing dishes in our sink.  LOL!  I said, "This is something that I deal with DAILY and have yet to get to it!"  He replied, "I'd find a new process... this is insane!" Yes, yes it is.  But it makes a huge difference in the safety and freshness of the kids' lunches!!! #sacrificesacrificesacrifice
I hope this post has helped you!  Using enticing items that are fun for both you and your children really helps packing and eating lunch more enjoyable.