Thursday, January 27, 2011

Variety is the spice of life

Have you ever thought about use of colour in your lunch box? It's one thing I try to do every day. I try to get the whole rainbow spectrum, or as much of it as I can in my goodbyn. Not only does it mean I get a nice selection of flavours to savour, but its good for you and is really appealling to the eye. Whenever I have a colourful lunch box it always starts my mouth watering in anticipation!

For this lunch I have Raspberries, Mango, Kiwi, Flapjack, Yoghurt, Sausage roll, Potatoe Salad, Beetroot, Lettuce, red cabbage, tomatoe, coleslaw and cucumber.  So thats - Red, Yellow, Green, Brown, White, Purple and Orange. I also like to brighten things up with colourful silverware too.

Here are some interesting articles on the health benefits of colourful food:

Article One
Article Two
Article Three
Article Four

How about some ideas for different colourful foods to include in your next goodbyn box - why not try for one in each colour!

Orange and Yellow
Blue and Purple

OOoh and one last link - check out these photos of colourful food!! CLICK HERE very inspiring!

If you are looking for a fun thing to do on Valentines Day - you could even include all red foods in your goodbyn! Or How about an all green lunch box for St Patricks Day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Lunch Rescues

Hi everyone!  I've been a bit MIA since December.  You can thank this adorable little girl for that:

In other words, I have been the most airheaded forgetful human being on the face of the planet.  I barely know what month it is, let alone day of the week!  lol 
Regardless, I have been trying to find ways to make my life a little easier in the lunch packing department, and I have some quick ideas to share with you all today.

Helpful Tips:  
  • When I make dinner, whether it be a casserole or just chicken breasts and rice I try to make at least 1 extra portion, which makes packing a lunch that much easier!  Also, if there is more than 1 portion it can double as lunch for those of us at home.  This one may seem like common sense to a lot of us, but you would be surprised how much time and money this can save!
  • I keep junk food OUT of the house - except for certain occasions.  I don't know about you, but anytime there is junk food in the house, I tend to eat that and then I don't feel like making a real, healthy dinner or lunch for the family.  Healthy meals can be just as simple and quick as junk food, so keeping the junk out of the house has made it easier for me to be creative and come up with delicious and fun meals for my family.  If you don't know where to start, Leanne Ely over at Saving Dinner has some great ideas.  Sign up for her menu mailer, or just her free newsletter.  I have gotten some wonderful ideas for snacks, lunches, dinners; ways to make everyday favorites healthier - you name it!  I also just got an email saying everything in her catalog is 20% off today with the proceeds going toward helping in their quest to provide food to under-nourished children and families in the US.
  • When I buy fresh fruit from the market, I immediately come home and wash and cut it up.  I keep it all in a rubbermaid container in my refrigerator sort of like a "fruit salad" of sorts.  I usually throw in some melons, pineapple and grapes.  This is great because I can just grab a handful to throw in one of my DH's Goodbyn compartments, or for a snack for my 2 year old son... or myself!  And I can cut up an apple or a banana to add to it if I want.  It has been a huge help not having to worry about washing and cutting up fruit every day.
  • Freezer meals!  I love freezer meals!  I will make up a large batch of say, chicken fingers (it is so much easier to prep them all at once than to have to make separate batches every time I feel like making them).  Then I can just pull the small baggie out of the freezer and throw them in the oven.  It's an easy and nutritious way to fill a Goodbyn with something yummy and fun.  I often do this on Mondays because we eat at my inlaws' house on Sunday nights (read: no leftovers, and I am lazy on Monday mornings!  lol) and the cafeteria at my DH's work serves chicken fingers on Mondays... so this way he doesn't feel left out.  Besides, my homemade chicken fingers are way better than those fried ones at his work!  lol
  • My last tip for you today is to meal plan!  I find that when I meal plan it takes the guesswork out of packing lunches.  And that way if I pull out some leftovers and I don't know how old they are - I can check my calendar and I know exactly when I made it!  Realistically this only takes me about 10 minutes a week, and I do it every week the day before I go grocery shopping.  That way I can take into account what I have in the pantry already and head to the market for whatever else I need.
I hope these tips have helped a bit.  And I will be back next week with a yummy lunch to share!  Happy snacking my friends!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leftovers to the Rescue

Jamie made the yummiest pot roast last night . . . and some delicious buttermilk dinner rolls from scratch that he found on  We've always figured a successful dinner can easily translate into a yummy lunch, so today the kids had pot roast, mashed pots, and some of that delicious homemade bread!

Also included in the bento:  carrots, oranges, Capri Sun Roaring Waters, peanut butter cookies.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Easy Twist on Ham and Cheese

One summer, back before I ever contemplated attempting creative lunches, I sent the kids to daycare with a ham and cheese sandwich almost every, single day.  Gosh, they were so tired of it by the end of the summer I thought I'd never be able to serve them one again.

So you can imagine how apprehensive I feel now when I need to throw a simple ham and cheese lunch together.  My solution was pretty easy actually.  By rolling out the bread slices and cutting off the crusts I can offer the sandwiches with enough of a twist to throw the kids off the scent of monotony!

Also included in the bento:  chips and dip, Capri Sun Roaring Waters, grapes, orange slice, strawberry, cherry tomatoes, chocolate cake with chocolate syrup.

Monday night's leftovers

So you made too much spaghetti for supper.  Oops!  Now what to do with it all?  Make "Spaghetti Pie" of course!  It is usually a big hit with kids.  All you need is your leftover spaghetti noodles, your leftover sauce, a couple of beaten eggs and some grated cheese.   I use a marble chedar but you could use whatever cheese you prefer. 

First off... preheat your oven to 375 and lightly grease your casserole dish or tarte plate.  Mix your leftover noodles and sauce together and let cool to room temperature.  Add a couple of beaten eggs and about half of the cheese (maybe 1/2 - 3/4 C) and mix to combine thoroughly.  Pour into your tarte plate or casserole dish and give it a firm push down with your spoon.  Top with remaining cheese and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.  Let cool and slice into wedges or squares.  This is a yummy alternative to just having leftover spaghetti in your lunch! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cozy Fruit?

What is the one thing that we all dislike about bringing in an apple or pear in our lunch?  It rolls around, it gets bumped and bruised.  Frankly, nobody likes bruised fruit.  So what do you do? 

You make one of these fruit cozies!  I do NOT know how to knit anything but a basic stitch but I do have a Knifty Knitter from Provocraft.  I just used the smallest loom and made a tube.  Closing off the top after I got a desired length.  Weave a ribbon through and voila, fruit cozy! You can also sew one if you were so inclined.  Even if you are not the crafty kind, I do have a quick and easy solution!  A wool sock!  Granted I would probably use a NEW one lol...but you could even dress it up a little.  Add some ribbon, bling, google eyes...the possibilities are endless!

P.S.  I have one of these made to give away to a lucky someone.  I will put the names of everyone who comments on this post into a hat and choose! I will choose a winner Feb 1st.

                        Have fun with your food!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Goodbyn on a budget!

When I originally purchased my first goodbyn it was for 3 reasons.
  1. I wanted a bit more variety in my lunches and something healthier than a dodgy pre packed sandwich from a shop which I ended up throwing half away - wasting it because it tasted weird.
  2. I wanted to pack my lunch in a box that I could re use again and again to be better for the environment.
  3. I wanted to save money. I was spending a fortune on lunches and packing my own was the only way to save!

I made the decision and got my goodbyn and haven't looked back. My household now owns 4 Goodbyns!

The problem is, as I have found, trying to get a variety in my lunches can sometimes proove difficult - I mean its all very well if you can have something different everyday, but I was finding my quest for variety was meaning I was buying more lunchtime type foods when I went shopping. Whilst I was enjoying the different tastes everyday, more food meant more chance for it to go to waste / out of date / mouldy!! I now preplan my lunches for the week so I don't over purchase when I go shopping and whilst I do have some variety in the main part, the rest is the same but presented in a different way.

Take this week for example. I managed to get a great deal on yoghurt, mango and kiwi when I went shopping and so I have enough to last a weeks worth of lunches and snacks for the rest of the family too.

I started the week with a simple cheese and carrot salad for my main. I put the orange yoghurt in the left compartment and cut the kiwi into small pieces in the right compartment. I also had some left over banana bread I had made at the weekend and a few of the last grapes.

The following day I moved the yoghurt to the right compartment (this time vanilla) and cut the kiwi into round slices (instead of small pieces like the day before). I also have a passionfruit a flapjack and left over pasta from dinner which I have added some sausagemeat from our fridge and a few slices of pepper to.

I got lazy the next day and didn't wash up so I used a different box! :) The kiwi was cut up fine but this time added to the right compartment with some chopped mango. The vanilla yoghurt jumped across to the left side again. I also have a custard tart. We had chicken fahitas and salad for dinner the night before and so the chicken salad was the leftovers from that - I had planned a fahita to go with it but there were none left after dinner!

And then finally I added some fruit compot to a yoghurt and put that in the left side compartment. This time I cut the kiwi into thin slices and added chopped mango and a chocolate bunny. I had another flapjack too. The main course was left overs from my dinner the night before - rice with homemade sweet and sour chicken.
Because all the main parts of my lunches were leftovers from dinners, you could argue that I spent nothing on that part of my lunch. I only really purchased the yoghurt, mango and kiwi which makes for a cheap week of lunches.
I guess what I am trying to get across in this post is that you shouldn't worry if you are eating the same things in your lunch box everyday. It makes complete sense if you are on a budget or simply don't want to waste food. Try and mix things up even a little bit like I have - change compartments; cut food up differently; combine foods differently to alter the flavour just a little bit. You will be really surprised at how such a simple thing can make all the difference and the goodbyns are perfect for this very reason!
I love taking lunch to work now. I enjoy the food I pack, it makes me more organised, I feel healthier and more alert and I simply save money!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick Fix

My son is a picky eater.  Here is one of my quick fix lunches that I know most kids would enjoy.  Today's lunch consists of the ever so fun pigs in a blanket!

As much as I would love to make my own pastry for is Pilsbury to the rescue!!  I simply wrapped some chicken hot dogs with crescent roll dough and baked them off at 350 until golden.  They are perfect for dunking into tomato soup (which is in the thermos) and a welcomed change to your average soup and sandwich combo lunch. 

In the Goodbyn lunch today:  Two pigs in a blanket with ketchup on the side, strawberries, dill pickles, Crush yogurt, Baby Bel cheese, tomato soup (thermos), a few small chocolates and a container of water. 

There are plenty of alternatives to just the plain pigs in a blanket as well.  You can use sausage instead of hot dogs.  You can add cheese and make cheesy dogs.  You can even do chili cheese wrapped crescent dough...these you have to make sure you seal REALLY well so you don't get oozage.  The possibilities are endless when you have some ready made dough at hand.  Let's hear some of your favourite ways to use your crescent roll dough!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hot Pockets

Had to show off this delicious lunch from last week! 

The Our Best Bites recipe for homemade hot pockets was scrumptious.  The bread by itself is quite tasty and super simple.  I've made it a couple times more already--once making it into rolls and once as a braided loaf.  Jamie wants me to make a simple loaf we can use for sandwiches.  And Carly, one of our readers, commented that it's just as good with whole wheat flour.  You should definitely give it a try if you're into baking bread.

Also included in the bento:  chocolate chip granola bar, grapes, oranges, salad, poppy seed salad dressing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Peach Crisp

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmastime. Sadly I was ill as were most of my family so we had a pretty quiet one this year. As a result we didn't actually go out to the store for 5 weeks!

Thank goodness for my food storage supply - it came to the rescue when I was in need of a quick desert to cheer us all up. Now I know we're not all in the mood for any more baking but this was SO super easy and tasted delicious that I just had to share. Your basic ingredients are these:

a can of peaches and a white cake mix - this also works well with yellow cake mix too.

Tip the whole can, juice/syrup as well into a baking tin and add a cup of sugar - mix it around. If the juice doesnt cover the peaches add a little water to just cover them.

sprinkle over a teaspoon of cinnamon powder - you don't need to mix it in

Pour on the boxed cake mix making sure to cover everything, poke a few holes in it so the juice can come through when cooking. Add 1 cup of butter dotted over the top and a sprinkle of cinnamon for good luck
Bake 180 for about 25 mins or until brown and crispy

Serve it hot with ice cream and then the following day serve the left overs in your goodbyn - it was just as nice cold as it was hot!

Also in the goodbyn today - a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onion and sliced left over beef. Plus a serving of dried apple.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Balancing Act

Sometimes it is hard getting back on track after the holidays.  The kids get used to the junk food that seems to be abundant during this time of year.  Trying to give your child, husband or yourself something healthy AND something that is enjoyable can be hard sometimes.  Especially right after Christmas.  It is all about balancing the good for you foods with the treats.  Let's face it, we all like a treat now and then.

Today's lunch is one of the staple meals that I KNOW my son will not complain about.  An empty lunchbox at the end of the day is a happy belly.  Of course, it is all about using those leftovers too!  When I make spaghetti sauce, I normally make enough so that the boys (son and husband) can take some pasta with them the next day.  Spaghetti and meat sauce, sliced cucumber, carrots, dill pickles and a Babybel cheese round.

For the balance...he THINKS he is getting a treat with the Crush yogurt.  It is something fun for him to eat yet healthy.  I would rather not have the litter in the lunch but he does bring home his containers for washing and recycling.  The granola bar too is something fun he normally doesn't get in his lunch.  It is still a treat but has some healthy aspects to it.  Now for the full treat.  Two bought.  For shame I know.  But with all of the holiday cooking I have done recently, I do not feel like baking...this is going to have to do.  I have a 9 year old boy who eats like a horse and has low blood sugar problems, so on occasion I have to put another small snack on the side.  Today I put in giant Goldfish crackers for him to munch on in class. 

For those concerned about the tomato sauce staining the Goodbyn, don't sweat it.  I have had this box for over a year now and NO staining at all.  If you wanted to reheat the spaghetti (my son likes his cold, straight from the Goodbyn) I would suggest putting it into a different container.  Nena has posted about these awesome Wean Cubes that fit perfectly into the Goodbyn and can be removed for a quick reheating. 

Happy New Year everyone!  Let's get back on track!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today is the day the company I work for decided to take off for the New Year holiday.  So as it’s technically a holiday for me . . . I didn’t want to ruin it by waking up and making lunches for the kids.  :-D

I did wake up early though, because I have lots to do.  One of which is to help get our food budget back on track for the new year.  We tend to relax during the holidays by eating out more, which is perfectly fine for me because Jamie cooks almost every day and he certainly deserves a long break.  But when we put a pen to paper and figure how much we’ve spent—it hurts.  Especially when we realize we could have eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner for six months on the amount of $$ we spent on eating out and random food shopping over the last two months. 

When we look at it like that . . . it’s not so difficult to jump back on track.

One thing we’ve learned that is crucial to eating well and maintaining our grocery budget is that food cannot be random.  We MUST plan a menu.  I’m completely jealous of the fab cooks who can walk into the kitchen and throw a meal together from what looks like nothing.  I have tried to do that, but I always end up with some variation of chicken & rice or tuna mac.  And mediocre chicken & rice or tuna mac at that!  So menus are important.

Luckily, this does NOT have to be a huge chore because there is SO much inspiration on the Internet!  I’m working on our menu for the week right now, so I’ll share my finds with you here.  I’m looking for ideas that will work well for dinner and then translate/transfer easily into a bento. 

MON Dinner/TUE Lunch:  Salad / Homemade Hot Pockets –

TUE Dinner/WED Lunch:  Quesadilla Pie –

WED Dinner/THU Lunch:  Lemon Rosemary Chicken / Green Beans / Croissants –

THU Dinner:  Leek Potato Soup / Salad / Bretzel Rolls –

FRI Lunch:  PB&J

SAT Dinner:  Homemade Pizza

SUN Dinner/MON Lunch:  Ehhh, I’ll work on that next Saturday night.  LOL

I’ve got my recipes printed, my next task is to put together a quick shopping list.  Jamie will mark the list for the items we already have and head to the store for the rest.  Now, it’s time to get some dough rising for tonight’s dinner . . .