Buying in bulk isn’t always an option since most stores are still limiting the number of items one can purchase at a time. Since we are still avoiding crowded stores and long lines, buying bulk items on Amazon and having them delivered is a time saver. I can stock my cupboards and keep my little eating machines in snacks.
We typically buy the kids snacks in bulk and hide them away then ration them out. Otherwise they will eat everything at once and still claim to be hungry.
Here are some of favorite snacks we buy in bulky proportions:
This month I took on the Veganuary challenge and committed to eating vegan for 30 days. Many of you are probably asking WHY!?! Well, I am always on the hunt for healthy options and after cooking nearly every meal for a year straight, I am kind of in a food rut. I enjoy trying new things, I thought this might be an interesting way to explore. I was also curious to see if it impacts any changes in my health.
Thankfully, I truly love my veggies. After two weeks into eating all vegan, I felt great! My energy levels increased and my chronic pain issues decreased. I found some new foods to enjoy and new nutrition combinations. So, this week I am sharing some of the vegan recipes I’ve tried so far and enjoyed.
Vegan donuts are a new family favorite. This recipe calls for bananas and nut butter and maple syrup instead of processed sugar. A new family favorite!
Quinoa bowls not everyone in my family is a fan of quinoa. But, I love that I can make so many different types of dishes with it. I make up a big batch and leave in the fridge and mix into my veggie bowls or salads.
Smoothie my hands down favorite is a chocolate avocado smoothie. It is filling and chocolatey! I love this recipe but I omit the bananas because my smoothie mixer can’t handle how thick the avocado makes this drink!
Un-chicken salad on a wrap warning, this does not taste anything like chicken. But it is delicious as it’s own recipe. I highly recommend if you are not used to vegan mayo, start off by using your favorite brand. Easy to make ahead for a few lunches through the week.
Hummus wrap hummus is my new favorite go-to condiment for almost everything. I slather it on my wraps, add a dollop on my salad or quinoa bowl and I even top my baked potato with it. Adding it to a veggie wrap adds flavor and protein to your midday meal.
Portobello or veggie burger with sweet potato fries: I’m not going lie, I buy all of these premade from the freezer section to make it an easy night off from cooking. My family will eat this with me, so it’s nice when we are all eating the same meal at once.
Lentil Bolognese over pasta this one was a hit at home. No one noticed the extra veggies. I will say that I’ve also cheated by just warming up meatless crumbles into our favorite sauce and tossing it over pasta to save time.
Chickpea curry over rice this one is loaded with veggies and glorious nutrition. It is also a little more time consuming, so I make it on the weekends when I have more time to devote to cooking.
Popcorn with crunchy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds, cranberries. I just mix all of these together in a bowl and munch on them while I am working.
Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with nut butter. This is also a new kid favorite. They don’t even complain that it’s healthy.
Orange slices with chocolate hummus is a new go-to sweet snack.
Oreos with almond milk. Yes, it’s true, Oreos are VEGAN!
If you are interested in going vegan be sure to research it well to be sure it is a diet you can follow and check with your doctor first.
Plan your meals and snacks ahead because you will be definitely be hungry more often as veggies tend to be less calorie dense.
Try to include healthy fats so your body can feel fuller longer.
Drink a lot of water and herbal teas between meals to keep all that extra fiber moving.
Don’t make it all or nothing to start. You can try one meal or new product a week, then add another and another until you are fully vegan or at a place where you feel comfortable including more plant based meals into your diet.
Also, don’t hate me. But there is no good vegan cheese substitute. There. I said it! I do add nutritional yeast in place of grated cheese for a mild cheese flavor. But, I have yet to find anything that has the same taste or texture equivalent. If you’ve found one you love, tell me in the comments below!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer. The Whatever Mom blog is here to help other moms accept the messier parts of parenting and find solutions.
Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.
Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.
1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.
2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.
3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.
4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.
5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.
Going back to school this year looks vastly different than any other year. Many of us are working from home, while also teaching our kids at home. We are not sending our kids off on the bus and our back to school traditions may have changed.
At least this time around we are not feeling the last-minute scramble of a complete shutdown, we are starting day one at home. Thankfully, we learned what worked and did not work and we can use that to plan this year.
The one big thing I learned during our shutdown in the spring, is that I am over standing in my kitchen all day making meals on demand. Scrambling to prepare food in between Zoom classes did not work well for me. I spent a lot of time making fresh meals three times a day for picky eaters and it was exhausting. So, to free up that time this year I am ramping up my meal prepping.
Since becoming a mom meal prepping is my go-to sanity saver and number one-time management technique. It does require a one to two-hour time commitment in the kitchen, but the amount of time it saves me from clean up and standing in front of the stove the rest of the week is worth it.
Here are my quick tips for planning and prepping for each meal of the week. Maybe it will help you save some time/sanity around remote learning this Fall.
I use the weekends to prep ahead a few different breakfast options that my family can grab and go or warm up for themselves. I wake up an hour before the family on Sunday morning to have the kitchen to myself. You can check out my Pinterest board for ideas, but some of our favorites are breakfast burritos, protein pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, hidden veggie muffins and smoothie blender cups. I make two options for my family to choose from and then I make the blender cups for myself. I have them preloaded and stacked in the freezer to make my mornings easier. My family can reheat their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes on their own or grab a muffin from the fridge.
Each night after dinner, I have the kids pack a lunch just like they did when going to school. And my husband and I pack up our own lunches. This saves me the headache of making two different sandwiches or rummaging around for leftovers to reheat every day. Preparing all of our lunches each night saves enough time for all of us to take our lunch break together, and it encourages my kids to be self sufficient.
Before I even go grocery shopping, I make a dinner menu for the week. My meal plan for the week includes a DIY pizza night (or take out) and a leftovers night to give me a night off from cooking. On my grocery shopping day, I like to wash all the produce before putting it away and I prepare as many meals ahead of time that I can. I am especially fond of freezer meals that I can toss together in a freezer bag and dump into the crock pot later. This is a huge time saver and way less mess to clean up during the busy week. I am also a fan of one sheet pan meals to make in the oven. And on really busy nights, I’ll make a charcuterie board that fits everyone’s picky favorites. You can find some of my favorite go to meal pins here.
I discovered my kids will eat through a bag of chips like its an Olympic sport. So, I stopped buying bags of chips that literally disappears within minutes and leaves my kids crabby. I set up bins in the fridge with grab and go options like cheese sticks, baby bell cheeses, yogurt tubes, mini oranges, hummus cups and bags of veggies. Don’t get me wrong, chips are delicious, and I do not judge anyone buying them for their kids. I just know my kids stay fuller longer (and stay less moody) when they eat protein and fruits.
It took me a little while to make these prepping hacks a routine. So, don’t think you have to do all of the above to be efficient. Pick the toughest meal of the day and prep it in advance to help make that time of day run a bit smoother for you.
What’s the toughest meal for you to prepare each day? Mine is breakfast, so I will always prepare breakfast in advance. I like sleep more than I like to cook.
If you have any great meal prep hacks or recipes, feel free to share in comments below or send them to [email protected]
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, fur mom, wife and freelance writer just trying to eek out as much sanity as she can from each day.
Last year, I made a big plan in my head to celebrate my summer birthday with a backyard bash. I wanted lights, catered food, friends and music. Just a relaxing summer night with people I enjoy most, eating cake and toasting with prosecco. As always, when I make a plan the world steps in with different ideas.
One of the bummers about this COVID Pandemic is that birthday celebrations just aren’t the same. We can’t have our usual big gatherings to celebrate. There can be no sharing of bowls filled with snacks and dips for potentially contaminated fingers to swim around in. Pouring drinks from large containers means a variety of hands touching the same surface and sanitizing after every use. It feels daunting to try to entertain safely right now.
But, I wasn’t giving up on what I want, which was food and friends. Instead, I found another way to celebrate on a much smaller scale while enjoying some of my favorite things. Instead of fifty people, I had five. I didn’t serve a catered menu, but we did enjoy some safe snacks at a distance. And yes, there was prosecco and music. For a background playlist I chose the Hamilton musical soundtrack. If you haven’t listened yet, you are missing out.
Our small group enjoyed gathering around the firepit in the open air where we could maintain enough distance without worrying about spreading germs. Since no celebration is complete without food and wine, I got a little creative with how to serve sanitary snacks at a distance without constant sanitation.
I picked up some reusable storage bins at the dollar store to fill with ice and some snacks. I added a bottle of water, two mini bottles of my favorite prosecco and prepackaged snack plates that include cheese, prosciutto and toasty bread. It was a big hit! Plus, moms could take the entire bin home with them, so no worries about sanitizing after.
I placed the individual snack boxes on the ground six-feet apart around the firepit in my yard, and asked each mom to bring their own chair for seating. When they arrived I pointed them to a sanitized snack box to set up next to in our circle. We spent the next three hours socializing and snacking safely. I also asked moms to bring their masks just incase, but we didn’t need them because we sat far enough apart. Chatting without a face covering felt a little more like the normalcy of pre-pandemic times.
It also felt great to celebrate my birthday with friends, but it was even better to commiserate with other moms in person. We laughed about our kids, shared our anxieties about school, told hilarious stories about ourselves and it felt like we left our worries behind for a bit. It was a great moms night out!
My only regret is that it was too dark for photos outside. But, I’ll have the memories of our time together to look back on as we get through the uncertainty of the winter ahead of us.
Did you celebrate a birthday during the pandemic? How was it different this year? I’d love to hear about your creative celebrations in comments below!
Roxanne Ferber is raising twins with double the fun of writing from home during a pandemic. Her parenting style is messy with a side of chaos and archiving it all on her blog for others to read.
I have to confess, I am addicted to drinking smoothies. Not only are they easy to make, but I can just toss a bunch of stuff in a cup without measuring and it still tastes good. The one thing I don’t like, is the clean up. Plus, rummaging around for ingredients and pulling them all out of different locations in the kitchen while I am barely awake, is a pain.
It is so tempting to sign up for a smoothie subscription and have premade smoothies delivered to my door step. I even found a local company to source them, but then I saw the price. It will cost me around $100 for one dozen premade smoothies. I can’t justify spending that much just for my personal breakfast each morning. I’d save time on the prep, but I’d still have to dispose of all the packaging and shipping materials after I transfer all the cups to the freezer. That still takes up time. But man, I’d sure love the convenience and simplicity of dumping a cup of ingredients into a blender.
That’s what I do!
I found some left over disposable coffee cups with lids stashed away on a shelf in my basement and realize they make the perfect DIY grab and go smoothie cups. I make seven smoothies ahead of time, stash in the freezer and grab one each day. My kids have caught on to this and will grab one for themselves occasionally. They won’t make their own smoothies if they have to lug out all the individual bags of produce. Now that mom has done all the prep work it’s suddenly fair game. At least they are eating healthy and feeding themselves, right? In the future, I’d like to switch out the coffee cups for glass jars with lids to minimize waste, but since my kids are young and clumsy, paper cups do the trick.
Ready to see how easy it is to make a weeks worth of smoothies in about 10 minutes?
Line up seven freezer friendly cups.
Pull out all your favorite fruits and veggies to divide between containers. You can add nut butters or protein powders, seeds or any extras you like in your smoothie.
Just layer in each ingredient, attach the lids and put in the freezer.
When you are ready for a smoothie, remove one from the fridge and fill container with your favorite milk or water (are you a creamy smoothie drinker or a watery smoothie drinker?), dump the entire cup into the smoothie blender and give it a whirl. Then you can dump the mixture right back into the cup to take along with you. If you need something fancier to transport, I’ve attached a couple of options here in this post.
I topped each cup with a piece of waxed paper before adding the lid. This provides an extra “seal” against ice crystals and it keeps the fruit from absorbing any funky flavors from the freezer. Now I have breakfast already made for the entire week (as long as neither of my kiddos takes one for themselves).
Now you have a full week of breakfast (or snacks) for significantly less money and with less wasteful packaging to have to cart to the curb. I love a good hack that gives me more for less!
Our favorite combination so far is bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter. What do you put in your smoothie?
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Maybe you are not lazy, but some days I am just too tired, and I don’t really feel like making dozens of cookies. A pizza cookie is basically one giant cookie that the kids can top with their own little hands. Less work for me and dare I say, life skills for the kids?
I made this cookie from scratch, which I really don’t advise. Unless baking is your thing. Then go for it!
Otherwise you can grab a tube of ready-made cookie dough and spread it out in a circle on a pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake according to the directions on the package (around 11-13 minutes).
Once the cookie is cool, top with fruits and berries. We used strawberry sauce as the pizza sauce and topped with banana slices, frozen blueberries, chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, that’s it. A super easy and quick dessert any night of the week.
The strawberry sauce:
1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)
2 TBSP cane sugar
Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries and leave in the fridge for a few hours. The sugar breaks down the berries until they are juicy. I used a potato masher to squish them into a sauce. Spoon over the cookie crust as the pizza sauce.
You can get as fancy as you want and add whatever fruits or berries your kids will eat. If your kiddo can have nuts, drizzle on some melted peanut butter. You really can not mess this up, just make it your own and enjoy!
Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.
Picking your own berries and fruit is a great way to get kids outside and enjoying nature. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season right now. And we are here for it!
This week we picked 4 gallons of strawberries and 8 lbs. of sweet cherries. We definitely could have picked more, but the storm clouds were moving in fast. We climbed into the car to go home just as the first raindrop fell. Perfect timing! My kids love cherry picking the most because they can climb the trees to reach the top branches. Thankfully, cherry trees are’t terribly high. Tomorrow we plan to pick blueberries and I can only imagine how many we will come home with.
After we picked all of our strawberries, I washed them and divided into freezer bags and tossed in the freezer. This assures me they will be usable later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let the berries sit for too long and wasted them, literally spoiling the fruits of my labor.
We have our standard uses for Strawberries. I toss them into our smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. And every year I make fresh strawberry ice cream. I make it right in my food processor and it is ridiculously easy.
I also make frozen banana ice cream pretty regularly. So, when I eyeballed those sad little bananas on my counter just turning brown, I had an idea. Why not make banana strawberry ice cream cupcakes? I’ll throw a little peanut butter into the banana ice cream for protein and it will practically be a health food! ~ genius
Here is the recipe I whipped up for my family to enjoy. It is dairy, gluten, soy, dye free and there is no added sugar. We did add a layer of graham cracker crumbs between the ice cream layers, but that is optional. Next time I am going to make the strawberry ice cream with coconut milk to see how that changes the texture. This makes six cupcakes, however, there will be about a pint of additional strawberry ice cream you can tuck away for yourself for later. You’re welcome!
I hope you make these and enjoy! Do you get out to pick your own berries? What do you make with all of those sweet berries?
Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at whatevmom@gmail, or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.
Do you have a kid that just will not drink water, no matter how much you remind them? I have two kiddos that I have to constantly remind to drink water on the daily. It is frustrating. I barely remember to drink my own ounces and somehow I have to remember to get them to drink enough too?
Water is essential for so many things, but most importantly, it is essential for our mood and energy levels. So, if you want the kids to have enough energy to log off of their video games without an attitude make sure they are properly hydrated. OK the attitude part is not a guarantee, but at least they should have enough energy to log off the screens for a little bit.
Thankfully, water isn’t the only way to hydrate. If you have a kid that is not a water drinker, there are still plenty of ways for your kids to get their ounces each day, including water dense fruits and veggies and icy cold treats.
Go nuts – coconuts! Coconut water is a fantastic way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes without artificial dyes or added sugar. You can purchase coconut water in a variety of flavors, or as a powder to mix into your bottled water.
Just add ice – puree your favorite berries, or fruits and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. Then just add to a glass and add water. It will keep things cold while slowly adding flavor to your water.
Skip the mix – fresh squeezed lemonade is a tasty way to get those ounces with the added benefit of vitamin c. As my kids say, homemade lemonade is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Harness the power of the sun – Sun tea requires very little effort and brews while you are playing in the yard. Add 2-3 caffeine free herbal tea bags to a gallon pitcher of water and place it in the sun. Pour over ice to cool down while you rehydrate.
Go Natural – fill up a gallon pitcher of water and add slices of your child’s favorite fruit, or frozen berries. It will add flavor and antioxidants to your next drink.
Solid advice – freeze herbal teas or fruit infused coconut water in popsicle molds. Your kids will be more than happy to eat an icy treat on a hot day. Or offer your kids fresh fruits and veggies with high water content like apples, oranges, watermelon, blueberries and raspberries. Snacking on fresh foods through the day goes a lot further for hydration than eating salty processed snacks. Plus there will be more salty snacks left over for you to enjoy once those little cherubs go to sleep. 🙂
Water can taste bland and seem like a chore for kids to finish. But if you keep a few of the flavorful options listed above, on hand, they may be more willing to sip through out the day.
How do you make sure you and your kiddos get enough hydrating ounces each day?
My family has had a long-standing tradition of making our own pizza every Friday night. It began while my kids were toddlers using their little chubby hands to sprinkle the cheese topping and smuggle extra pepperoni to their mouth while I wasn’t looking. Cooking together is one of the first educational activities we enjoyed together as a family.
I confess there have been several pizza nights we skipped the DIY process and just ordered out, because it was easier. Since we have been home and easing up on take out during this pandemic, we have found new tasty and fun ways to enjoy our family DIY pizza night. This is the next big hit at my house – pizza rolls. These are ridiculously easy to make at any age and it is a huge time savor since it uses store bought ingredients.
You will need:
Any store bought, pre-made canned biscuit dough.
Grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP melted butter
Dried parsley (optional)
Begin by rolling out the individual biscuit slices until flat and three times larger than original size.
Next, sprinkle on a little shredded mozzarella and top with 2-3 pepperoni slices.
Now you can fold the ends of the biscuit dough toward the center and close it up. It looks like a cute little bun! Place the roll seam side down on a baking sheet (I love using my baking stone).
Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan and dried parsley.
Bake according to the directions on the side of the package (about 12-14 minutes depending on your oven).
You can serve with your favorite tomato sauce for dipping or serve plain for the picky eater refusing anything tomatoey this week. You can bump up the veggie count by adding puree veggies to the dipping sauce. You can bump up the vitamin and fiber content by sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the shredded cheese or swap out the melted butter for olive oil. You use whatever ingredients works for your family and just enjoy the silliness and conversation while building these delightful little pizza bundles!