Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to School Lunch Box Ideas

I've been doing research on what to pack in my son's lunch box. Why? Up to this point, my husband had taken care of school lunches. But now, since we'll have two households, I don't think I can count on him to take care of that anymore!

I wanted to find fun, yummy and fairly healthy foods for my son. Things that I'd pack myself for lunch. Since I've been to a ton of different websites and compiled a list for my own convenience, I thought I'd share the ideas with others.

Main Dishes
  1. Sandwiches - PB&J, PB&Banana with Honey, Various meats & cheeses, egg salad, chicken salad. Liven up the sandwiches by using pita bread, mini bagels, tortillas, English muffins, dinner rolls, regular sized bagels with cream cheese, or use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into neat shapes
  2. Macaroni & cheese (try to slip in some steamed broccoli or another veggie they'd like)
  3. Potstickers with dipping sauce on the side
  4. Cold tofu with a soy, sesame oil and green onion dipping sauce (serve w/edamame)
  5. Cold noodle salads (sesame noodles with chicken)
  6. Pig in a blanket (a hot dog baked in a crescent roll/biscuit coating)
  7. Hot soup in a thermos
  8. Cubed cheeses with cubed ham, crackers, olives, pickles, and artichoke hearts (think: party tray)
  9. Try chicken salad in an apple "cup" - cut the top 1/3 of the apple off and removed interior flesh, fill with chicken salad and replace the top
Side Dishes
  1. Carrot sticks and other veggies with ranch dip in a container
  2. Low-fat crisps/chips (smaller snack size bags)
  3. Rice cakes or oat cakes
  4. Baked pita chips (easy to do at home, using pita bread)
  5. Pasta salad
  6. Potato salad
  7. Rice pudding
  8. Banana or zucchini bread, also try carrot pineapple muffins
  9. Dried fruit (apricots, raisins, etc.)
  10. Fruit salad, fruit cocktail (remember to buy those with light syrup or juice)
  11. Fresh fruit (apples, bananas, citrus, pears, pineapple, melon, cherries, grapes, peaches, nectarines, kiwi, mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)...make fruit more interesting by placing it on bamboo skewers
  12. Granola / trail mix (Wild Oats' website has recipe for trail mix)
  13. Applesauce cup
  14. Olives / pickles
  15. String cheese
  16. Yogurt
  17. Reduced fat, hard cheese
  1. Water
  2. Water with a Country Time lemonade pack mixed in (low sugar and it's real sugar, not HFCS)
  3. Sparkling water flavored with fruit
  4. 1% milk (regular or chocolate)
  5. Juice box (check to make sure it's 100% juice...freeze the juice box and it'll thaw by lunch)
General Tips
  1. Use low-fat cheese on sandwiches. Though cheese provides calcium, it's the second leading source of artery-clogging saturated fat in kids' diets.
  2. Switch from ham, bologna, salami, pastrami or corned beef to low-fat alternatives. You can still buy the ham and bologna...just look for a lower-fat, lower-sodium variety.
  3. Include at least one serving of fruit in each lunch.
  4. Use whole grain breads instead of white breads (beware of 'enriched flour' means it was ground so fine that it lost all it's nutrients and they've been added back in; however, your body doesn't absorb the added nutrients the same way it would in their natural forms).
  5. Limit cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, brownies, and other sweet baked goods. These are big sources of saturated fats.
  6. Pack baked snacks instead of fried snacks - even if they use Olean (it can cause cramping & diarrhea...cha cha cha).
  7. If you send juice, use 100% juice.
  8. Avoid Lunchables.
If you have any ideas to add to mine, leave me a comment...I can certainly use any good suggestions! Also, if you haven't checked it out, Google 'laptop lunches' to see the American version of the Japanese bento box.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So, what would you do?

I have been hurriedly searching for a place to live the last few weeks. I've been searching online, in newspapers, and by word of mouth. And after about a month, I don't really have much to show for my efforts.

My problem? Well, it's a few things.

First, I have a small budget that I'd like to stick to, simply because I don't feel like throwing away most of my paycheck each month to someplace that isn't going to give me much return in the way of a long term investment.

Second, I will have a 7 year old boy half of each week and that cramps some folks' style.

Last, I have certain standards that I won't compromise on. I won't live with a creepy 45 year old man who's interested in the fact that I'll be recently divorced. I won't live with partying 21 year old kids. Or people who have older kids that may prematurely educate my son about some of the more delicate intricacies of the relationships between men and women.

So, right now, I feel that I'm faced with two choices.

The first...dum - dum - dummm - is a mobile home in a small trailer park not too far from here. Or as my friend Ben would call it, "wheel estate." I would have one small room to myself, the living room and a small kitchen. The owners keep the other room and are in town about 3-4 weeks per year. Otherwise, it's all mine. Yup. And, in case you're wondering, the trailer park is just like you'd imagine a trailer park being. Inexpensive cars...lots of them...The only other thing is I am not sure if trailers get more bugs than regular apartments...I hate spiders...or if they're more/less expensive in regards to utilities. It's also an older place, but has new carpet and paint. And a swamp cooler. That's right, no A/C.

The second is a room and shared living space in an apartment just across from mine. The benefits of this place is that it's really close to my son's school. I'd be in a regular apartment, so I know what to expect, and I'd still live close to my neighbors that I'm friends with. Very close. But I would also have company. I guess that can be good or bad, depending on how well we get along long-term. Also, my current place also has an exercise room. The bad part, I'd be sharing with a 24 year old bachelor. But, he's the geeky, non-partying maybe?

Each would probably cost about the same.

So, what would you do?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Got a job!

Since I'm not starting until the 20th, I'm not going to say too much about it except that I'm really happy!

I think that the people are going to be great to work with and that it will be a fun place to work. I feel like my coworkers will be very supportive of me and allow me to grow.


Thursday, August 02, 2007