Daily Archives: September 3, 2012

DIY Monday: Homemade Lunchables

Re-blogged From: The CSI Project

Homemade Lunchables
By: Nike

I’m thrilled to be here sharing back to school ideas this morning to help me and my six kiddos this year!

So here’s the deal:

I have a love/hate relationship with my kids’  lunches. 

hate shopping trips with my kids begging for all the pricey, pre-packaged lunch stuff that’s loaded with preservatives and wasteful packaging.

Sheesh that junk is expensive.

But the convenience? Oh how I love the convenience.

And there are times of the year when our schedule is so crazy that I cave and load up the cart with lunchables, little bags of crackers and jello packs just so that we can pull a lunch or snack together in two seconds flat.

But no more!

I’m here today to share my plan to eat healthier, save money and still enjoy the convenience that me and my kids crave.  And I hope you’ll tweak the ideas below to fit your family’s budget and nutritional preferences.

#1 – The Lunchable

Why?

Reusing the store bought tray and packing your own lunch meat, real cheese, crackers and a little treat will save you 40% — $0.60 for homemade vs. $1.00 for the store bought one. Plus the homemade version boasts real cheese, extra calcium and fewer preservatives.

A quick layer of Glad press ‘n’ seal or aluminum foil keep everything in place just like the original.

Don’t have a left-over lunchable tray? Or want a bigger tray to up the serving size for older kids?

No problem. You make your own dividers like I did for this dollar store container using an empty milk jug.

And that extra space means you can supplement that lunchable with some fruits and veggies without spending more than the store bought version.

Which $1 lunch would you rather send with your kids?

For a drink my kids prefer the juice pouch …

… while I’m more in favor of the reusable water bottle which make lunch $1.20 the first day and $0.98 every day after.

So we’ll do both: water most of the week and juice boxes on Friday for a little bit of a treat.

Either way these lunches come in significantly less than our $1.60 school lunch and WAY CHEAPER than the big-drink-included-lunchables at the store:

Really? $3.00 for a $1.00 lunchable and $2.00 juice pouch? Um, no thanks.

#2 – The Pudding & Jello Packs

Why?

Reusing those little cups (or the small tupperware containers with lids) and making your own will keep the cost and preservatives way down.

Same thing for the gelatin cups:

Making just this switch alone will save you a truck load. Six cents a cup vs. $0.56 for Jell-o brand? You could easily cover back-to-school paper supplies, back packs and shoes with just that little switch.

#3 – The Fruit Cups

The reduction in packaging, costs and preservatives make these easy switches.

 

#4 – The Mini Cracker Bags

You can enjoy the name brand crackers and still save almost 40% when you prepackage them yourself using $0.01 snack size sandwich bags. Just check out the cost per serving:

If you don’t mind generic, you can reduce those costs another 50+ percent.

And it’s just as convenient to grab a home-packed bag as the store packaged variety. The only difference is the price.

A few more THRIVE tips:

1. The ideas above are only guidelines. Each family will have their own nutrition and budget preferences. The idea is that by getting creative with recycled/reusable packaging, you can still enjoy the convenience of off-the-shelf while controlling costs and ingredients. So feel free to make your own tweaks with whole grain crackers, organic produce and nitrate-free meat. Or try packing a lunchable with mini tuna or PB&J sandwiches. Have fun!

2. Make your kids help with the prep work! They’re the ones asking for the “cool” packaging so they can help. It’s also a great way to teach basic food prep and math skills like measuring ingredients and dividing portions.

3. Have your kids help you shop! Don’t laugh — I’m serious. This is a fantastic chance to practice real life math skills as they determine price per unit, ounce or pound.  There’s also lots of fun ways to to teach math, spelling and budgeting with kids during shopping trips here.

3. Have cheese for sandwiches or lunchables pre-sliced at the deli. I buy the economy loaves and have them sliced right there at the store for no extra charge. It saves so much time and keeps the portions equal.

4. Rock What Ya Got! If your kids are like mine and want the meat for their homemade lunchables to be round like the store bought variety, trying using the lid of a spice jar.  (My cookie cutters aren’t the right size). Stack the meat in three layers and cut away. The lids from my 2/$1 Walmart spices worked perfectly.

And don’t toss those scraps! I save mine in a ziploc bag in the frig to use in omelets and salads.

5. Incorporate fresh produce from the garden! Now is a great time to up the nutrition with yummy, home ground fruits and veggies. I love it when I can ditch the high fructose corn syrup fruit snacks and send my kids with the homemade variety.

They have a soft, chewy texture like other dried fruits and are only $0.01 per serving vs. $0.20 for the cheapest store bought variety!  You check out the recipe here.

Yum!

… and finally …

6. Pennies add up! I know some of you may look at $0.25 or $0.50 savings a day and think it’s not worth it. But trust me – it so is! My kids have been back to school for a month now (year round school) and I’ve kept track of what we would have spent to buy the prepackage stuff vs. packing our own.  So far our averaging savings is around $8 a week.

If our family takes out the money saved each week and transfers it into savings (or puts it in an envelope Dave Ramsey style), that $8/week times 25 weeks of school should work out to $200 by the end of the year.  And $200 divided between my four school-aged kids equals $50 a piece, or enough to buy a new pair of shoes, back pack and classroom supplies for each of them.

Eating healthier, using less packaging, teaching my kids about cooking-meal planning-math-budgetting AND financing back-to-school shopping for next year? That’s so worth it to me!

Hope you and your kids have fun shopping for your own creative ways to make smarter lunch choices! And be sure to stop by THRIVE for more ideas for living and crafting without spending a dime. Hope to see you soon!

COPYRIGHT © 2012 · GENESIS FRAMEWORK

Absolute Trust

 

by Joyce Meyer – posted September 03, 2012

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness] and of the love which you [have and show] for all the saints (God’s consecrated ones)” —Colossians 1:4 (emphasis mine)

According to today’s scripture, when you and I exercise our faith, we place our trust and confidence in three specific attributes of God’s character: His power, His wisdom, and His goodness.

When we approach God in faith, we must first realize that He has the power, the supernatural ability, to meet our needs and solve our problems. He is able to work any kind of miracle we need. God has the power to do anything.

Faith also involves placing absolute trust and confidence in God’s wisdom. When we do not know what to do or how to do it, God does. In His power, He can do anything, but in His wisdom, He may choose not to do everything He is able to do. He always works in our lives with our best interests in mind. When He answers our prayers in ways we do not understand, we need to trust His wisdom.

God is a good God, and we need to have faith in His goodness. He always wants the best for us! He has good plans for our lives and will always do us good, not evil (see Eph. 2:10 and Jer. 29:11).

When you put your faith in God, you have complete confidence in the God who has the power to accomplish anything on your behalf, the wisdom to know exactly what you need, and the goodness to work in your life in ways that bring the greatest possible blessing.

Love God Today: Lord, I place my absolute trust in your power, your wisdom, and your goodness.


From the book Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2011 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

Greatness in the Midst of Criticism

Today’s Scripture:

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. – Matthew 5:44, NKJV.

Today’s Word:

If you’re going to do anything great in life, if you’re going to be a great businessperson, a great teacher, a great parent or a great leader, not everyone is going to cheer you on. I’d love to tell you that your family, friends and co-workers will celebrate you, but that’s not the case. Some people simply can’t handle your success. As you grow and increase, as God pours out His favor, somebody will get jealous. Somebody will start finding fault. Don’t be surprised if a relative tries to belittle or discredit you. If you focus on making everyone around you happy, you’ll start changing and lose sight of what God has placed in your heart.

Friend, your destiny is too great to be distracted by people who are never going to affirm you. Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. It’s their problem. Shake it off, run your race, be great anyway.

Greatness in the midst of criticism begins with forgiveness. Don’t hold a grudge. Bless those who curse you; pray for those who spitefully use you. As you keep doing what is right, God will honor you. He’ll promote you, and you’ll see the dreams and desires that He placed in your heart come to pass!

Prayer for Today:

Father, I come to You today with an open and humble heart. I choose to forgive those who have criticized me. I choose to bless those who have hurt me. I choose to be great because You have equipped and empowered me to rise higher in this life in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 Joel Osteen Ministries

Unexpected Ways

Posted by Joel Osteen on 8/31/2012

I read a story about this young man who was training for the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France. He was an American who was extremely skilled in canoeing. He could ride the rapids like no one else. He had won many competitions before and was the heavy favorite for the Gold Medal. That was his dream – to win an Olympic Gold.

It just so happened that his wife became pregnant and her due date was during the Olympics. In those days, of course, they didn’t have travel like we do today. To go back and forth across the ocean would take several months time. So, he made the decision that he was not going to miss the birth of his first son. Much to the surprise of his coaches and trainers, he informed them that he would not be competing in the Olympic Games.

The news sent shockwaves throughout the sports world. Here he had trained tirelessly for many years. He was the best in his field. As far as his career was concerned, this was the most important thing to him. But he was willing to surrender that dream. Even though it seemed like a great disappointment, he said, “God, I don’t have to have that medal in order to be happy.”

The day came when his beautiful son was born. Through the years, he poured into that young man. The son was extremely gifted in whitewater rafting just like his father. They spent year after year practicing together, training, getting better and better. In 1948, the son qualified for the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He went over and competed, and a few days later, here in America, the dad received a telegram. It said, “Dear, Dad. Thanks for waiting around for me to be born. I’m coming home 24 years later with your Gold Medal.”

The son came home and gave the medal to his father. Now the father had the Gold Medal he had always dreamed about. But it meant even more to him because it came from his son whom he loved so much.

Friend, God always has unexpected ways of working things out. When you let something go, when you put it in the hands of Almighty God, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not going to happen. You’re simply saying, “God, I’m going to let You do it Your way. I know You know what’s best for me if I put my trust in You.”

Remember, you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Just trust God. Turn things over to Him. Release the struggle. Release the frustration. Release the questions. Know that He is faithful, and He promises to fulfill every dream and desire that He has placed in your heart!

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV)

Copyright © 2012 Joel Osteen Ministries

Our Daily Bread – Why We Work

Read: Ephesians 6:5-9

In the late 1660s, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to re-design St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. According to legend, one day he visited the construction site of this great edifice and was unrecognized by the workers. Wren walked about the site, asking several of the men what they were doing. One worker replied, “I am cutting a piece of stone.” A second worker responded, “I’m earning five shillings two pence a day.” A third, however, had a different perspective: “I am helping Christopher Wren build a magnificent cathedral to the glory of God.” What a contrast in the attitude and motivation of that worker!

Why we do what we do is extremely important, particularly when it comes to our working lives and careers. That’s why Paul challenged the Ephesians to do their work, “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:6-7).

If we do our work merely to earn a paycheck or satisfy a supervisor, we will fall short of the highest motivation—doing our best as evidence of our devotion to God. So, why do we work? As that laborer told Wren, we work “to the glory of God.”

Be not always wanting
Some other work to do,
But gratefully perform the task
The Lord has given you. —Anon.
No matter who signs your paycheck, you are really working for God.

Our Daily Bread – Two-Way Communication

Read: Psalm 119:17-24

Have you ever been stuck in a conversation with someone who talks only about himself? To be polite, you strike up a dialogue by asking questions. The other person proceeds to talk endlessly about himself, and he never once asks you anything. It is all about that person—and nothing about you.

Imagine what it must be like for our heavenly Father to listen to our prayers during our devotional time. We may have read a portion of His Word, but then in prayer we swiftly shift focus exclusively to our needs. We ask for help in solving a problem, providing for a financial need, or healing a physical ailment. But the passage we’ve just read doesn’t even enter into our prayers. What God has just said to us goes largely unacknowledged.

Apparently the writer of Psalm 119 did not have this perspective. Instead, he sought God’s help in understanding the Word: “Open my eyes,” he said, “that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (v.18). And as he prayed he expressed how he treasured God’s Word, calling it his “delight” (v.24).

Let’s develop a discipline of praying our response to the Word. It just might transform our devotional time. Bible reading and prayer should reflect a two-way communication.

Lord, I’ve just read Your Word to me in Psalm 119.
Give me a strong desire like the psalmist’s to keep Your
Word. Show me what I can do to make it my delight and
counselor. Open my eyes and heart to learn from You.
Listen to God’s Word then pray about what you’ve heard.

Our Daily Bread – A Unique Choir

Read: Romans 15:5-13

When Mitch Miller died in July 2010, most people remembered him as the man who invited everyone to sing along. On his popular 1960s TV program Sing Along with Mitch, an all-male chorus sang well-loved songs while the words appeared on the screen so viewers could join in. A Los Angeles Times obituary cited Miller’s belief that one reason for the program’s success was the appeal of his chorus: “I always made a point of hiring singers who were tall, short, bald, round, fat, whatever—everyday-looking guys.” From that unified diversity came beautiful music in which everyone was invited to participate.

In Romans 15, Paul called for unity among the followers of Christ—“that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.6). From several Old Testament passages, he spoke of Gentiles and Jews together singing praise to God (vv.9-12). A unity that had been considered impossible became reality as people who had been deeply divided began thanking God together for His mercy shown in Christ. Like them, we are filled with joy, peace, and hope “by the power of the Holy Spirit” (v.13).

What a unique “choir” we belong to, and what a privilege it is to sing along!

Lord, we are grateful that we can be a part of Your
family. Help us to live in unity with our brothers and
sisters in Christ so that others may see how gracious
You are and want to know You too. Amen.
Unity among believers comes from our union with Christ.