No matter how prepared for the school year you think you are, it can always be challenging to figure out what to pack for school lunches and snacks. Trying to balance healthy, nutritious food and things the kids will actually eat can be difficult, too.
Here are a few of my family's favorite lunchbox treats that are not only good for you, but delicious and fun to eat, too. The kids love to help make them—I find that they usually eat food they prepare themselves (even vegetables!), so I usually let them help out in the kitchen when I can, especially when we're making their school lunches.
My daughter absolutely loves cheese tortellini (and what kid doesn’t?) so we make these neat little skewers for a lunchtime treat.
1 8-ounce package of fresh cheese-filled tortellini
1 8-ounce container small fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine)
Stock up on waste-free lunch gear from Fabkins, Mimi the Sardine and Lunchbots tonight Wednesday, August 15 at Mimi the Sardine's Corte Madera Store. They'll have items up to 40% off, including organic cotton napkins, stainless steel containers, Mimi Kids items (lunchbugs, backpacks and more!), and the entire Mimi Home Spring/Summer Collection.
Enjoy wine and nibbles while you shop! It all takes place from 3–6 pm at 305 Montecito Ave A, Corte Madera.
We're also giving away a fabulous Mimi the Sardine lunch clutch to one lucky Marin Mommies reader! To enter to win, send an email with "Mimi" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 pm on Friday, August 17. We'll choose a winner at random. See our full giveway rules and terms here.
The start of the school year is just around the corner, so it’s the time to start shopping for those back-to-school clothes, backpacks, lunchboxes, and all the supplies needed for school itself.
The costs of all those clothes and other necessities add up, of course. Seeing how much you actually spent on back-to-school stuff can often come as shock. Fortunately, there are ways to cut down on the expenses of back-to-school. Here are a few tips to get the things your kids need while not breaking the bank:
Make a list of the items your kids need and prioritize them by importance.
Once you make your list, stick to it when you go shopping. All those little things you put in your cart can really add up.
Check your home school supplies inventory before you set out on a back-to-school shopping trip. You never know what you’ll find that you can check off your list.
Set a back-to-school budget and stick to it.
Seek out those end-of-summer sales and stock up if you can.
Research clothing, backpacks, and other items online first to compare prices and find the best deals.
Visit your local consignment stores, especially those that specialize in kids’ clothes like Marin Kids Consignment in San Rafael. You’ll be amazed at some of the deals you can find there on gently used and like-new items.
When it comes to back-to-school, green is the way to go! Instead of throwing away plastic and paper products in the trash every day, invest in some reusable eco-friendly lunch box supplies for your kids this school year. The ones listed below are durable and will last for years. Our family owns several of the items that I’ve listed here and use them all the time for school lunches, snacks, and picnics.
Here are some of the green items that my kids’ lunch boxes are never without:
Reusable cloth lunch bags:
Mimi the Sardine's lunch bags, like their signature Lunchbug (shown here), are made right here in the Bay Area from cotton fabrics designed and produced in Sweden. Their fabrics are spill-resistant, machine-washable, meet the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard, and are made without harmful chemicals. They even come in colorful patterns that mom and dad might even consider taking to work! Prices range from $18.55 to $26.50. Visit their retail store in Corte Madera at 305-A Montecito Avenue.
LunchSkins sandwich bags are perfect for holding sandwiches, chips, vegetables, or any other lunch item. LunchSkins are made from a thick cotton fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner. They’re dishwater-safe, durable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns like pink berry flower, green lizard, navy shark, red bird, mango slice, and red apple. Snack bags are $7.85 and LunchSkins are $8.95.
Graze Organic sandwich and snack bags are made of washable and durable organic cotton, so they'll last for countless uses and eliminate the need for disposable plastic baggies. A velcro closure keeps contents secure and fresh. Designs are suited for both kids and adults—original artwork is screen printed by hand with water-based ink. Prices start at $ 24.00 for a set of 3 bags.
Marin Mommies presents a guest article by dad, parenting coach, author, and co-creator of Studio Grow Tom Limbert. Learn more about him and how he helps parents and families at parentcoachtom.com.
Somewhere in a big room with a long table and a bunch of chairs, some guys decided the way to fix our failing education system in America was to cram all the curriculum down to younger children quicker and sooner. These visionaries went on to conclude that it would be a good idea to test all those children and, based on those results, reward some schools and penalize some teachers. Teachers felt the pressure so they taught more children faster. They needed those more children to be more ready when they started kindergarten in the first place. So parents felt the pressure and decided to hold most of their children back until they were “ready” for kindergarten. If you have a preschooler right now you know all too well about this pressure. Bet you’re stressed about whether your child will be ready. Hoping your school will bring him up to speed? Me too. But there’s plenty parents can be doing at home to help prepare their children for kindergarten.
Most parents immediately think of numbers, letters and colors when they think of early childhood education and kindergarten preparedness. But any preschool or kindergarten teacher will tell you, there’s much more to it. There are social and emotional elements that are much-less quantifiable than the cognitive aspects of development, but just as integral to a child’s performance in school. The good news is there are many ways you can help prepare your child for kindergarten in your home on a daily basis. You don’t even have to go out of your way really. Just be a bit more alert to learning opportunities. Keep in mind that in order for the machine that we prefer to call our schooling system to operate effectively, children will mostly have to be able to focus, follow directions and respect others.
Get ready for back-to-school at Novato's Whole Foods Market. Swing by this evening, August 21, from 5 to 7 pm and you can make a free healthy school lunch for your child. Whole Foods will provide you with all the ingredients to make a great healthy school meal, and you'll get a kid's lunch bag to hold it all.
It all takes place on the mezzanine level of the market. There's a limit of one lunch per family; lunches are first come first served, while supplies last. Novato Whole Foods is located at 790 De Long Avenue, in the Millworks building. For more information, call them at (415) 878-0455 or visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/novato.
We asked Marin Kids & Maternity Consignment's Stephanie Brandelius to tell us a little about the back-to-school bargains that can be found at their retail store on West Francisco Boulevard in San Rafael. They try to live up to their motto, "Saving the Earth, one outfit at a time" by offering a great selection of gently used (or "new-to-you") children's apparel and more, much of it perfect for back-to-school! Marin Kids & Maternity Consignment is also a great place to sell your old children's clothing and maternity wear. They're located at 814 Francisco Boulevard West and open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm. Visit them online at www.marinkidsconsignment.com.
As parents of young kids, we all fall someplace on this continuum... We are so ready for school to start that we are counting the minutes to the first day, all the way to those who would give anything (short of home schooling) to get a few more long lazy days with our kids. Most of us fall some place in between as we gear up for the next academic year. Loving school, missing freedom, and (yes!) still waiting for the heat!
Send your kids back to school with stylish, eco-friendly, and non-toxic lunch kits from Kids Konserve! Through October 31, 2011, Kids Konserve is offering Marin Mommies readers 15% off their orders using the coupon code marinmommies.
Kids Konserve offers some great reusable lunchtime products to help make school lunches greener, cleaner, and waste-free:
School's only a few weeks away, and getting organized both for yourself and the kids is a must. Our favorite way to get organized is with the BusyBodyBook!The BusyBodyBook is a stylish and easy-to-use family organizer designed specifically for families. It allows you to keep track of the entire family's schedules at a glance, and it's something I can't live without. BusyBodyBooks personal and family organizers ($17.95) are available for both 2011–2012 school year (August 2011–August 2012) and traditional January–December, 2011 calendar yearversions.
In addition to their organizers, BusyBodyBook also publishes a neat "family central" wall calendar ($14.95) and an undated weekly grid pad ($12.95) that's handy for the fridge, your desk, a binder, or anywhere else that you need to keep track of your busy life.