If we can eat REAL FOOD while traveling full-time and living in this teeny space, I bet you can find ways to eat more REAL FOOD, too! :) Click video below to play…
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(Or maybe that “someone” is you?!)
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But what if your child’s school is still serving a processed menu full of food additives?
It’s easy to take control of the quality of your child’s lunch by packing it at home with these great tips:
1. Don’t be fooled!
Many pre-packaged junk foods are masquerading as “natural” options at the grocery store. Unfortunately, “natural” is not a regulated term – it indicates nothing about the types of food additives the product may contain. Also, just because an item is sold at a “natural” food store or labeled as “organic,” that is no guarantee that it is additive-free. Always read the entire list of ingredients, and make sure you understand what every word means!
2. Save time!
Take advantage of the truly additive-free “short-cuts” that are available. Admittedly, these are few and far between. But if you look hard enough and scrutinize ingredients lists, you’ll find a few good store-bought snacks and treats made from truly natural ingredients. For example, at many natural health stores you’ll find serving-sized canned fruits and applesauce packets that contain no sweeteners, preservatives or other additives. Dried fruits without added colors, sweeteners or preservatives (e.g., sulfur dioxide) are also available at some grocers. If you don’t have access to these stores where you live, check online because many of these items are also available for purchase through natural health websites.
3. Get equipped!
More often than not, you’ll be sending perishable foods to school, so a brown paper sack simply won’t suffice. Check out the wide variety of lunchbox equipment and supplies that are now available online or at your local department store or natural health store. Ice packs, a lunch box, re-usable sectioned containers and a good thermos are must-haves. I have even seen nifty containers available online for sending frozen smoothies along for lunch!
4. Make your own nutrient-packed sweet treats!
Homemade granola bars and muffins are easy options, and you can use them to disguise all sorts of healthful ingredients (e.g., shredded zucchini and carrots, nuts and berries). Recipes are available online for a variety of dietary restrictions, as well (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, egg-free, etc.). Trail mix is a quick option, too. Just combine a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Make sure to check the ingredients list when purchasing these items because unhealthy oils, flavorings and other additives commonly lurk there.
5. Think outside the sandwich!
Skip the processed bread, mayo and cold cuts. Send a variety of homemade entrees, instead! Leftover servings from last night’s dinner are a great sandwich replacement. Pasta salad is a fun main dish, too, and it’s a great vehicle for all sorts of cold leftover veggies; just be sure to make your own homemade dressing. You can add leftover chicken or some garbanzo beans for a heartier dish.
6. Make a menu!
Literally – schedule it out, and write it down! It takes a little more time in the beginning, but the peace of mind is well worth it. Once you’ve created a few weekly menus, you can simply rotate them. So within the first few weeks of school, all of your lunch planning is essentially done for the entire year!
7. Plan ahead!
Guided by your menu, you can strategize and make large batches in advance of items that will store well in the freezer or fridge. Chop fresh veggies and boil and peel eggs for the next few days, and store them in the fridge so they’re ready to go. Bake muffins and granola bars in large quantities, and store them in the freezer for upcoming weeks. Be sure to make extra servings of dinnertime meals, too, so you can pack them in a thermos for lunch. Many dinners are well-suited to freezing, as well, so you don’t necessarily have to use them for lunch the very next day.
8. Pack in advance!
Pack lunches the night before, so you’re not stressed or scrambling for ideas during your hectic morning rush. If you pre-slice fruits that are prone to browning (e.g., apples), sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice before packing away. If your kids think their fruit is “rotten,” it’s more likely to end up in the trash than in their tummies.
9. Involve the kids!
Get the kids involved in the planning and preparing of their lunches. They are much more likely to eat things if they were involved in the process and feel like they had choices.
10. Take a deep breath!
Remember that you are doing your best. Your love and energy goes into the food you prepare, so remain calm about these lunch box changes, and transition your menu at a pace that works best for you and your family. Don’t stress out if your lunches aren’t perfect, and try not to feel resentful or overwhelmed about the extra time and energy it takes to prepare things from scratch. Instead, reflect upon how much you love your children and that you care enough to make sure they are well-nourished. While you’re at it, why not share your feelings with your child by adding a brief hand-written note to the lunch as a finishing touch?
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People are always shocked to hear how much we love Costco!
They don’t expect us to benefit much from a warehouse store membership because we live in a tiny space (and travel full-time) and we eat very few processed foods.
So, are we the “World’s Most Unlikely Costco Fans”?! Read below about the 2 reasons we think we might be…and YOU be the judge. :)
Reason #1 –
People are surprised we shop so much at Costco because we are passionate believers in the idea of living simply.
We personally own very few things. We live and travel full-time in our tiny campervan – literally everything we own fits in here and travels with us. We don’t have a storage unit full of stuff anywhere, and we sold our home and property years ago.
Because we own so few things, we only own things that we LOVE! And so many of our very favorite things were purchased at Costco because we love the savings as well as the quality of the products they sell (not to mention their awesome return policy!).
Here are a few of our favorite purchases from Costco…
While traveling, we’ve developed a passion for nature and wildlife photography (and documenting our travels, too). All of our photos are taken with the Canon 70D camera that we purchased from Costco last year. Our nature and wildlife gallery is on display at www.ChristyP.com. These photos allows us to earn some income while traveling since we are only in our 30s and nowhere near retirement age.
My eyeglasses are a Costco purchase that I use all day, every day.
And, of course, we make use of the savings on gasoline – one of the most critical things we need for our travels! We try to run out of gas anytime we’re near Costco’s awesome gas prices!
Our GoPro video camera is great for recording our adventures, and we’d literally be lost without our Garmin GPS that we use every day (also a Costco purchase)!
We love our Bem portable speaker for listening to music during the day, but we especially rely on it for listening to white noise at night since we’re always sleeping in new places with unpredictable noises.
Thanks to the Braun cordless razor (which we got a great deal on at Costco), we’ve both switched to dry shaving since we live with limited amounts of water on board our RV; and this razor works WAY better than others we’ve tried!
We were super excited to find the Smart Works Pop-Up Organizer at Costco, which we use every week when we do laundry. For nearly a year, we wished someone would invent a collapsible laundry basket. We even scoured the internet looking for a space-saving solution. Then, one day, we spotted this amazing item while walking through Costco! YES!
Needless to say, with our adventurous lifestyle, we track a LOT of dirt into this tiny little space. So we needed a powerful vacuum that we could store conveniently. We tried out dozens of options, but there was no contest once we discovered the Dyson DC 44 stick vacuum at Costco!
And, since we’re on the road full-time, it’s great to have peace of mind knowing that we can fill our van tires to the recommended tire pressure or jump start our rig anytime if necessary without finding someone to help when we’re in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to the jump box we found at Costco, these things are never a concern for us – plus, we can air up our own bicycle tires in a snap, too.
Reason #2 –
People are surprised we shop so often at Costco because we are natural foods advocates.
Until I tell them about it, most folks have no idea that Costco sells so many natural and organic food items…and at great prices! The savings on these foods alone literally more than pays for our membership fee!
When we moved into our camper van, I assumed I’d be kissing my Costco shopping days good-bye.But, actually, we can squeeze a surprising amount of goodies into our van as you can see by this snapshot of the inside our our pantry.
(The fridge is packed, too, with all sorts of meats, fruits, veggies and eggs from Costco…but I had trouble standing back far enough to get a good picture. LOL!)
I like to think that if we can eat natural, additive-free foods and benefit from the savings at Costco with our lifestyle and our teeny kitchen and limited storage space in our less than 150 square feet of living space, then anyone can find ways to eat more natural foods!
Some of our favorite natural foods that we are still able to purchase at Costco are:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Organic eggs
- Organic and grass-fed meats
- Organic salsa
- Olive oil
- Organic coconut oil
- Organic peanut butter
- Natural almond butter
- Maple syrup
- Organic lemon juice
- Organic quinoa
- Wild-caught canned salmon
- Organic raisins and other dried fruits
- Larabar snack bars
- Organic bread
- Organic tomato paste
- Pure vanilla extract
- Sea salt, black pepper and other dry spices
Of course, when we had a full-sized kitchen and more storage space we were able to benefit from even more of Costco’s products…and I still encourage others to do so by sharing all sorts of recipes on our website.
We love Costco for all sorts of products that are not specific to our businesses or lifestyle, too. Even with our tiny living space, we still find room to store other bulk goods and household items from Costco like paper plates, paper bowls, parchment paper, foil, plastic wrap, feminine hygiene products, Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap, etc.
So, what do you think? Are we the “World’s Most Unlikely Costco Fans”? Do you shop at Costco? Are you intrigued? What are YOUR favorite Costco goodies? We’d love to hear from you below!
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