Sunday, December 18, 2011

21 Fast cheap and healthy snacks for you and your kids

I'm going to start off by saying that we've always been horrible when it comes to organizing meals other than dinner. We used to have our morning coffee/tea at 9 or 10, then maybe some cereal around 11 or 12 and then stare blankly at the cupboards and fridge around 2 or 3 when we were really hungry. This usually resulted in grabbing takeout, eating too much and then not having dinner until very late at night when the lunch food coma wore off. Not to mention that you really don't feel like doing much when you're very full so a lot of lazing around was going on.

We've drastically changed our eating habits now that Alice is with us, she's tiny and needs to eat small amounts more often since she's constantly on the go and growing. Everything needs to be healthy as well to fuel her little body and brain when she's playing hard. She also doesn't like to sit in her chair for extended periods of time and gets restless and throws her food when she gets bored.

Snacking also works a lot better for me than sitting down and eating a midday meal, snacks are faster to prepare, you can eat them on the go or while you work on things around the house and they keep my blood sugar even as I'm one of those people that gets dizzy and cranky between meals.

So here's a list of some of the things we have throughout the day between meals or as a small lunch.

  1. Veggies and dip - Celery, carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and cauliflower with salad dressing. Ranch dressing is our favorite, caesar is tasty as well.
  2. Sliced fruit with dip - Apples, oranges, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, mangoes, etc. Try almond butter for apples and yogurt with a bit of honey for the softer fruit.
  3. Dry cereal - Cheerios, Honeycomb, Vector, Captain Crunch, etc. Not the healthiest option but pretty tasty.
  4. Granola - An even healthier alternative to the cereal, but costs a bit more. Eat it dry or microwave some with water or soymilk for a yummy hot cereal.
  5. Yogurt and berry parfait - Vanilla yogurt + fresh berries + sprinkle of granola
  6. Popcorn - Air popped or DIY in the microwave preferably. Go easy on the butter! Give it a shake of cinnamon sugar, parmesan cheese or chili powder for a bit of a kick
  7. Toast - 12 grain bread with peanut butter or almond butter, add sliced banana or strawberries with a drizzle of honey
  8. Pita chips - These easy to make chips are great on their own or with hummus
  9. Crackers & cheese - Not the cheapest option on the list since cheese is a bit pricy but better for you than french fries
  10. Mixed Nuts - Kids love to break things. Food + safe fun is a great combo. Don't feel like cracking them open and dealing with the mess? Buy a big bag of mixed dry roasted nuts or trail mix.
  11. Dry soy beans - Super healthy and fairly inexpensive. We got a big jar from Costco that lasted over a month.
  12. Ants on a log- Celery sticks filled with peanut butter or Cheez Whiz, use raisins or dried cranberries as the "ants"
  13. Edamame and rice-We always have a bag of frozen, peeled edamame in our freezer. Fry some up in olive oil, garlic and onion, scoop them on top of your rice and give them a salt and pepper or sprinkle of parmesan
  14. Smoothies-Make these any way you like! Milk or fruit juice blended with fruit and ice, both kinds are tasty, filling and good for you.
  15. Nachos- Throw the chips topped with cheese into the oven for a couple minutes while you chop up some tomatoes and avocado to go on top. Garnish with sour cream or squeeze half a lime over the entire thing!
  16. Quesadillas- I like to make a quick version using just 1 tortilla and whatever leftover meat, cheese and veggies are in the fridge. Bake or fry.
  17. Grilled cheese with ham. We usually do this when there isn't enough deli meat left to make a sandwich, just 1 slice is enough. Grilled cheese is great with tomato soup.
  18. Mini pizzas on a bagel, tortilla or whatever bread you have handy. Toast the bread, spread with a tablespoon of pasta sauce, add some pepperoni or ham, some cheese and then pop it into the oven just until the cheese melts. "Pizza toast" is still one of my favorite snacks.
  19. Quick mac and cheese. Cook and drain a half package of pasta. Don't rinse it, just dump it back into the pot, add a teaspoon of margarine, a splash of milk and a handful of grated cheese. Put it back on the warm burner and stir until everything is combined, salt and pepper to taste.
  20. PB and jam. A classic for a reason, it's quick, filling and tasty.
  21. Sandwich rollup- Basically a sandwich made from a tortilla. PB+jam, veggie cream cheese+deli turkey, fruit cream cheese+sliced strawberries. Make it any way you like!
If you're at home, most of these should be on hand already. Planning a day out? Bring some snacks, save a LOT of cash. Don't forget to bring your own water or Iced tea.

More of a full lunch person? Combine a few of the items to make a full meal: have a fruit, veggie and cheese plate or a smoothie with your sandwich.

What kind of snacks do you rely on?

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    DIY Laundry Detergent

    I've been eagerly waiting to run out of laundry soap so that I could make my own, I found this recipe quite some time ago and it seemed to be the simplest one to make. I actually halved it though just because I only had the one container to store the soap in and it takes me a good 6 months to go through the contents of it anyway. It only took about 10 minutes total to make so that was a plus for me as well!

    Here's how you do it!

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Orange Cleaner- Made From Orange Peels!

    Here's an awesome idea for a non-toxic cleaner that I got from one of my favorite blogs Penniless Parenting, her post on it is here.  check out her site, she has a ton of money saving ideas as well as recipes and other things.

    I started buying Bio-Life products, similar to Method products when I was pregnant with Alice and couldn't stand the smell of most cleaning products. Not to mention that I didn't want to subject myself to any potentially dangerous fumes while Ladybutt was still on the inside. The Method products are fairly expensive though at over $5 a bottle and still had a weird chemical smell. I rinsed out and kept the bottle when it was all gone because I intended to use it for a different cleaner recipe but still hadn't been able to find essential oils near where I live.

    The orange cleaner recipe is simple, just orange peels and vinegar. So you're actually making use of something that would normally go straight into the garbage.

    All you have to do is pack your orange peels into whatever container you would like to use and fill it up to the top with vinegar. Then let it sit for a minimum of 2 weeks, the vinegar will pull all of the orange oil out of the peels, that's the good grease-busting stuff. I just had this small container, if you use something bigger you can keep adding peels and vinegar to it until it's full.

    Here's mine after nearly 2 months of steeping, I could have topped it up with vinegar along the way but I honestly kind of forgot about it. I wasn't really in a rush to get to it anyway since I was still using up the last of my "bad" cleaning products. No use in throwing them out and wasting the money!

    Pour the liquid out into an easy to pour container such as a bowl with a spout or large measuring cup. I let mine sit for a couple minutes so it could all drain out and then squished at the peels with a spoon to try and squeeze out as much as I could.

    I ended up with just under 3/4 of a cup of concentrated cleaner. Not too bad!

    I poured it into then measured out about 1 1/2 cups of water and added that. My cleaner still seemed pretty strong and dark colored so I went ahead and topped the bottle up with more water until it seemed right to me.
    And here's the finished orange cleaner! Nearly a full bottle of it for the price of less than a cup of vinegar! It has a nice orange smell and you can't really smell the vinegar at all which is great for me because I can't stand that smell.

    So far I've only tried it out on a stinky metal diaper pail, the garbage was changed but the smell wouldn't go away. We sprayed it down and wiped it and it got rid of the smell no problem and made the metal nice and shiny. I plan on taking all of the burner plates off of my stove at some point and seeing if this will get rid of the burnt and caked on grease that was left for us by the previous tenant. Hopefully I can get to that within the next week, I'm just always using the stove so I haven't had a chance!