When the kids are home, they want to eat ALL THE TIME. Seriously, you’d think they were starving. In reality I think it’s more boredom than anything. We are limited in the amount of out and about time we can have since I run a childcare from my home and taking 16 kids on outings is no small production. You’d think that with 16 kids here they couldn’t get bored at all, but its amazing how quickly that happens.
I’m trying to budget and make sure that having them home all summer isn’t going to blow my grocery budget out of the water. After all, you know they are going to want frozen treats and the older girls will want to bake up goodies. . .
My plan is to have soaked steel cut outs set in the rice cooker for breakfast, so all I have to do in the morning is push start. If I keep a watch on the “sweetener” the kids add, we should be okay. Generally, I allow them to use a bit of stevia, raw sugar (sucanat), palm sugar, raw honey, or maple syrup. The trouble is, if I don’t regulate, some of them will dump WAAAAAAY too much sweetener and/or cream into their oats. This is pricey and unhealthy. They also love to add berries, which is awesome if they use the 1/4 cup measuring cup with the frozen berries vs. dumping them willy-nilly. Gluten Free bread and pancake fixings are expensive, so those are off the menu except for a weekend or special occasion. We always add scrambled eggs for protein (thanks to our happy hens for providing them!).
Lunch is where I’m experimenting. Somewhere out there in the blogosphere, I read about pre-soaking beans and allowing the kids to fry up their own fat, bean, & veggie combo at lunch. They can each do their own (or ask for a big helper). I’m thinking of expanding to include pre-soaked/cooked rice as well so they can choose rice or beans plus veggies and fat (sweet? rice, coconut oil, carrots, and a dash of wheat free tamari. . . savory? beans, lard, kale, & salsa). I have a feeling I will need to make a refrigerator list with examples of combinations for them to build upon. My kids love the rice/bean thing so I don’t think this will much of a stretch. It should also be cheap and filling. Thankfully, my very active kids can handle a couple servings of properly prepared carbohydrates. If my gallbladder remains in flare up mode, I will have to avoid beans, but the baby probably won’t mind an occasional fried rice lunch either. Maybe the kids will even let me place my order. 🙂
For frozen treats- we have lots of popsicle molds on hand. We will use a variety of juices, raw milk, coconut milk, & fruit to make pops. The kids enjoy making them and eating them. . . so not a problem. Smoothies are an all time favorite around here. I like to culture kefir and we use that as base. Then they can add spinach, berries, and bananas. I don’t think this is a cost savings, but it is full of nutrition. And of course, beats a trip to the smoothie store (um hello sugar, calories, and bye-bye money!).
With the carbs added at breakfast and lunch, dinners will stick to our non-grain plan as much as possible. Meat, fat, veggies, followed by fruit for dessert.
I’m seriously considering making each of my children a check list that illustrates how many servings of fruits they should eat (and what a serving is, like 1/2 that giant apple), how many veggie servings, how many grains, dairy, etc. . . Because, my kids LOVE fruit and want to eat it NON-STOP all day long. This really isn’t a terrible problem to have (it’s not candy, right?) but fruit is expensive and does create an insulin response. So. . . if they have a write on/wipe off check list they will be empowered to seek out their own meals and snacks according to their bodies need for fuel and know when they’ve had their limit on things they tend to binge on. I’m hoping this will help encourage more veggie intake. It will also provide a tool for us to talk about healthy eating, fueling our bodies, listening to our bodies signals about hunger and being full, etc. . . We can custom tailor each list to the specific child (we have one who only wants to eat fruit and meat but REALLY needs healthy fats).
My goal is to limit baked treats to once a week. I might reserve these for the weekend when we can make a batch of almond flour dark chocolate chip cookies or coconut flour french toast topped with maple syrup. This will help our budget and our waistlines while not encouraging our sweet tooth too much.
Thinking ahead to next school year. I intend to buy no more plastic bags. I buy few now, and encourage the kids to stop and think about why they’d use a baggie over a reusable dish. I want to be at the point where we have a system that works so well we need no baggies except for those field trips that require a “throw away” lunch. I will be researching the best methods to accomplish this. My kids have lost almost all of my 1 cup Pyrex glass bowls I purchased in the last few months, which is annoying since they are about $10 for 4. Our Laptop Lunch system is far from perfect (especially for the age and calorie needs of our kids) as is the PlanetBox. These are perfect lunch systems for preschool-early elementary kids, however all but my 8 year old daughter has outgrown their capacity. There is no option for reheating lunch items at school and we’ve not found a suitable system for keeping food hot until lunch, so I need a container system that allows 4-6 items, plus components and a water bottle (this past year I bought each child a CamelBak, and I think most of them are lost, so much for $18 water bottles!).
Good thing we have the summer to plan!