How to Make a Handy Bento Box for Kids

How to Make a Handy Bento Box for Kids

Introduction

In this article, we’re looking at an alternative lunch box option for kids – the bento box! The bento lunchbox is a handy tool for packing the perfect school lunch, and we’ll help you understand why. After that, we’ll show you how you can make your very own bento! It’s easy and only requires a few supplies. Let’s get started!

What is a Bento Box?

First thing’s first, if you aren’t quite familiar with a bento lunchbox, allow us to explain. The bento box is a food container of Japanese origin. Essentially, it is a container for storing foods, that has built-in dividers to separate different parts of the meal.

A bento box contains different compartments for food, which makes it easy to separate the food, and ensures that the taste and texture doesn’t “spill” into other parts of the dish. This is great for a picky eater, and a child’s lunch can be split between lunch food and snack food, and any sauces or condiments like nut butter.

Bento boxes tend to vary based on the size, number of compartments, and size of each compartment. There are many options depending on what you tend to pack for lunch.

Next up, let’s check out the main benefits of a bento box.

main benefits of a bento box

Why Make Your Own?

In deciding to make your own bento lunch box, you might first be wondering whether you even need a bento box in the first place? Simply put, they aren’t for everyone, and you might prefer packing school lunches in a traditional lunchbox or lunch bag.

That being said, we think they are worth your consideration. So, before you dismiss them entirely, check out some of the top benefits of a DIY bento lunch box:

Environment

Firstly, a DIY bento box is an environmentally friendly option. These boxes are reusable, and will last you for many lunches to come! You can stop packing lunch in disposable packages, and stop worrying about harming the environment. A homemade bento box is a solution that lasts!

Additionally, because there are built in storage containers, you won’t have to rely on plastic wrap or Ziploc bags to keep everything separate. Simply place it in the container, and it’s good to go for your child’s lunch!

Portion Control

One of the main reasons that so many people turn to bento boxes is for portion control. Bento boxes have built-in dividers to keep your food separate, but these dividers also make it quite easy to pack appropriate portions. Measuring out portions can be a real pain, especially for a growing kid, so why not make it easy? A bento box allows you to take the guesswork out of packing, and settle on consistent sizes each day.

Keeps Food Separate

Keeps Food Separate

Another major benefit of bento boxes are that they keep all your food separate. This is particularly useful to keep the taste and texture of food from mixing with each other. You wouldn’t want your sandwich mixing with your salad dressing! A bento box makes it easy to keep food separate, and you don’t have to stress about putting everything into its own bag, or wrapping it all up in plastic wrap. 

Inspires Creativity

Because a bento box contains so many different containers, it will also inspire you to make creative lunches. You will be inspired to fill each container each day, and this will result in varied lunches that your kids will love. You can rotate through different mains, sides, and dips! There are so many fun ideas with a bento box and the desire to keep it stocked with fun lunches will always keep you on your toes!

Fun Project to Do with Kids

Finally, a DIY bento box is a fun project that you can do with your kids. Spending time with your kids is great, and spending productive time with them is even better. It’s fun and easy, and anyone can make their own! Next up, we’ll show you how to make a bento box with supplies that are super easy to get!

How-To Make Your Own Bento Box

In this section, we’re running you through an easy DIY bento box tutorial. We know you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, so we’re keeping this one simple. Follow these easy steps and you can make your own box in under an hour!

Step 1: Box

First up, you need the box! For a DIY bento box, any lunch container will do the trick. You can use a traditional lunch box, or even just a good-sized Tupperware container. As long as the box is rectangular and solid, it should do the job just fine.

The size of the box is really the key factor here. You want a box that will be big enough for a main course, and a couple sides. Consider how big of a lunch your child tends to eat, and use that as your guide.

There are a lot of things you can use as a bento box. First, you can invest in a real bento box.

Pyrex containers are also a great choice. They’re made of glass so you can wash them and reuse them again and again.

There’s also a good chance you already have something that can serve as a bento box in your kitchen. Large, flat Ziplock containers work great.

Step 2: Plan the Box

As we’ve talked about in this article, bento boxes come in many different designs. Before you make your own, you need to decide how many compartments you actually will need. Typically, a bento box has 2 big containers for carbs and protein, and 2 smaller containers for sides (such as fruit and veggies).

Step 3: Dividers or Cups

There are two great ways to divide your bento box. The first is silicone cups. These are fully reusable, and you can insert as many as you want to pack the perfect lunch. You can even buy them in different shapes and sizes.

The second option is to buy some plastic dividers. These dividers are removable, and you can place them however you want depending on the size of your portions. Some even will use real lettuce as dividers!

Step 4: Make Lunch!

It’s just that easy! All you need is a box and some dividers and you are ready to go! The most important part is planning healthy, tasty school lunches for your child. A bento box is only there to make it easy to pack, store, and divide. So now that you have your very own bento box, you are free to let your creativity run wild!

Top 5 Benefits of Insulated Bento Box

Benefits of Insulated Bento Box

Introduction

In this article, we’re checking out a neat idea for packing your child’s lunch – the insulated bento box. We’re going to explain the top benefits of using a bento box for your packed lunch. While a bento style lunch box is certainly a less traditional option, it has some unique benefits that can’t be ignored.

How-To Make a Reusable Lunch Bag

What is an Insulated Bento Box?

First thing’s first, what exactly is an insulated bento box? Well, to answer this question, then first we have to explain what a bento box is.

A bento box is a food container of Japanese origin, usually made of metal, stainless steel, glass, or hard plastic. A bento box typically contains an entire meal, separated out into portions and sizes, in a single container or “box.” A bento box resembles a tray, but has dividers that separate each part of the meal in the lunch box. The dividers demarcate areas where each serving should go. As you might imagine, there are bento boxes of various, sizes, designs, and with different numbers of compartments.

An “insulated” bento box takes it one step further. This insulated bento box actually has built in insulation to keep food warm or cool until lunch time. It prevents heat transfer, and keeps your food fresh longer come lunchtime. Typically, an insulated bento box will be similar to a traditional bento box, but will come with an insulated compartment where you can place the tray. The main idea is that it still contains separate compartments for different portions, but can be packed away into something that keeps it insulated. Of course, the design may differ by product. Some insulated bento boxes even contain stacking compartments for easy storage and easy packing.

Bento boxes contain numerous benefits that deserve your consideration, and we’ll outline them next.

Top 5 Benefits of an Insulated Bento Box

In this section, we’ll run you through the top five benefits of an insulated Bento Box. While they might not be the traditional option when you think of packing your child’s school lunches, they are still a great choice for a few reasons, and we’ll examine them here.

Keeps Food Warm or Cool

First up, you have the benefits of insulation. The insulated Bento Box keeps food cool and warm. The insulated layer acts to keep temperature transfer from occurring. Insulation works with multiple layers, including a middle layer that acts to keep your food cool or warm. Typically, an inner layer will act as a waterproof layer, a middle layer will handle the insulation, and the outer layer will be for function and design.

Typically, an insulated Bento Box will have an insulated container or cooler bag in which you can store the Bento Box itself. However, other models will simply be made of a material which is more or less insulated.

Keeps Food Separated

Another great benefit of Bento Boxes is that they keep food separated. If you’ve ever packed lunch for yourself, your kids, or anyone who’s a picky eater, then you know the benefits of keeping all food separated. Firstly, it keeps food fresh. It keeps the food from spilling into each other, which could be a problem if food is particularly moist or flavorful. It keeps all aspects of your meal separate, and keeps them with the taste and texture that is proper for them.

Inspires Creativity

A bento lunch box contains various compartments for different aspects of your meal. This will often inspire a creative and healthy lunch, as you will be motivated to fill each compartment with a different food option. Simply put, Bento Boxes are a great way to be sure that you have varied food groups come lunchtime. There’s ample room for a main, and two or three sides (depending on the type of Bento Box you buy). Sometimes, by having the proper containers to pack our meals, it makes us more likely to pack the perfect size!

And not only does this inspire creativity, it inspires balance. Your meals will be balanced, because that’s what it takes to fill up a Bento Box! No more boring meals that only consist of one item. A Bento lunch is fun, varied, and creative!

Forces Portion Control

Another great benefit of Bento Boxes is that they are ideally sized for portion control. Each food compartment is the perfect size for each part of your meal. So, if you struggle to know how big your lunch-time portions should be, especially when packing lunches for your kids, then a Bento Box might be the perfect solution!

Forces Portion Control

Typically, a Bento Box will have a larger container for a main. Then, they will contain smaller containers for the sides. Often, they might have an even smaller container for dips. This helps you to portion your entire meal. You have space for everything you need, but not too much space so that you overpack.

All-In-One Convenience

And finally, an insulated lunch box in a Bento Box-style simply provides you the all-in-one convenience that you are looking for when you pack lunches. You get all the benefits of a Bento Box, combined with all the benefits of an insulated lunchbox! It’s hard to go wrong here, and you’ll get every single benefit mentioned above. A creative, varied lunch that keeps its temperature perfectly! There’s a reason Bento Boxes are so popular in certain parts of the world. They also work great as a meal prep container as well, since they’re usually leak proof and can hold hot food, veggies, salad, and more!

So, if you’re still not convinced, why not just try it out? Bento Boxes are inexpensive, and highly accessible. There are all sort of different Bento Boxes depending on the situation, and you can pick the one that’s best for you. It’s all about making lunches an easier experience overall and we think the Bento Box is the perfect tool for the job!

Conclusion

Thanks for checking out our guide to insulated Bento Boxes. We hope we’ve helped to convince you of all the benefits that this product provides. But of course, it’s really just about which type of lunch container is best for you. If all the benefits of a Bento Box appeal to you, then that’s great, and there are many options for you to consider. Compare your preferences to our list above, and we are sure you can make the perfect choice for packing lunches!

Keeping Lunch Cool: How Does an Insulated Lunch Box Work?

How Does an Insulated Lunch Box Work

Introduction

In this article, we’re talking all about keeping lunches cool! That’s right, we’re talking about insulated lunch boxes! An insulated lunch bag is a great, convenient choice for packing a cold lunch. These products tout numerous benefits, and we’ll examine them all below. Specifically, we’re going dig deep and actually examine how these products work!

So, if you have an inquisitive mind, read on to learn more about this useful lunch cooler that’ll keep your packed lunch cool.

How-To Make a Reusable Lunch Bag

What is an “Insulated” Lunch Box?

An insulated lunch box is just what the name implies. It’s a lunch coolerbag that has extra layers of insulation to keep cold food at a certain temperature. There are several options of insulated food containerson the market, but most of them tend to follow a pretty similar design pattern. In the next section, we’ll explain how they work. Understanding how these lunch boxes work can help you to evaluate the product offerings on the market.

How Does It Work?

An insulated lunch box works by having a multi-layered design. Each layer of the lunch box (or lunch bag) serves a certain purpose. Typically, there is an outer layer, an inner layer, and a middle layer.

An insulated lunch bagor lunch container starts with a hard outer-layer. This layer is typically made of a hard plastic or vinyl material (or even stainless steel). In the case of an insulated bag, it might also be polyester or nylon. Regardless of the material, the primary function is similar, to provide a layer of rigidity and protect the lunch boxes contents from damage. In the case of a lunch box, the outer layer holds its shape quite well, and will prevent the lunch box from getting crushed when placed into a bag (such as a backpack).

There is also an inner layer. The primary purpose of the inner layer is waterproofing. The inner layer is typically made of something like plastic, aluminum, or vinyl, although other options are available as well. The waterproofing keeps any water that may run off the food (or even ice) from damaging the lunch box (or anything surrounding it). Any water would stay inside the lunch box, so that it can be easily drained. A leak-proof lunchbox is essential if you are storing your lunch box in a bag with your valuables. Of course, you probably want to minimize water regardless, as it could make your meal wet and soggy!

Then there’s the middle layer. The middle layer is the primary layer for insulation. The insulation material will vary, but often it is a foam-like substance, such as polyurethane, polyethylene, or thermal batting. Basically, this insulation material prevents heat transfer. It prevents heat and cold from escaping the lunch box, keeping your food at the desired temperature.

How Effective Is It?

It goes without saying that there are various degrees of quality when it comes to an insulated lunchbox. Numerous factors will actually influence how well it performs. These factors include: 

  • Temperature Outside:The outside temperature is one of the top variables when considering how effective an insulated lunchbox will be. It goes without saying that, if you live in a hot climate, your food will quickly heat up to room temperature You need to consider this when you’re packing lunch and when you buy your lunchbox. Hotter areas may require a more extensive lunch box! 
  • Materials: The quality of a lunch box’s design will also influence its effectiveness. The materials used, as well as how much of the materials are used, and how the lunch box is actually constructed. Materials with thicker, more durable middle linings will provide more effective insulation. 
  • Quality of the Seal: Another important variable is that actual quality of the seal on the lunchbox. The seal is found in the area where the lunchbox opens. If temperature is able to escape through this seal, then you have a lower quality insulated lunch box on your hands. For example, a Velcro seal on the lunch box is less effective than a zipper seal. 
  • Contents Within the Box: What you are actually packing for lunch makes a pretty big difference as well. For example, you probably won’t be able to get away with packing actual frozen food without expecting some melting. Insulated food containers are meant to keep food cool, but they aren’t meant to be perfect. They don’t provide total insulation, and are really only good for holding temperatures for about 3 hours (the distance from breakfast to lunchtime). So, unless you get a top-of-the-line lunchbox, you probably can’t get away with packing things like popsicles in a school lunch.

Is There Any Way to Make It Better?

Now that we’ve examined the typical properties of an insulated lunch box, is there a way to actually improve the performance of these products? Yes!There are a few ways that you can keep your food cooler (or warmer) longer!

First, if you want to keep things extra cool, try a cooling pack. An icepack or a gel pack will emit cold throughout the day, and further extend the cooling properties of the lunch box. Additionally, the lunch box will insulate the temperature emitted from the pack, so the two work together quite nicely!

Next, be sure to add some layers of “insulation” to your food as well. This insulation can be as simple as plastic wrap for a sandwich, or keeping your food in a Ziploc bag. This simply provides yet another layer to keep the temperature locked in!

And finally, don’t open the bag! Every time you open the bag, you let a lot of the inner temperature escape. Everything that was efficiently being insulated escapes the bag, and a lot of the efficiency is lost. Definitely keep your bag closed until you need to use it!

Definitely keep your bag closed until you need to use it

Conclusion

Thanks so much for checking out our guide to insulated lunch boxes! Hopefully we’ve given you some useful tips and tricks for buying your next lunch box, and keeping your food cool or warm until it’s time for lunch!

How to Use Insulated Hot Lunch Container to Keep Meals Safe

How to Use Insulated Hot Lunch Container to Keep Meals Safe

Introduction

In this article, we’re concerning ourselves with one thing – hot lunches! Specifically, we’re looking at how you can pack a hot lunch for school, and keep it at a desired temperature until lunch time. We’re going to evaluate the effectiveness of various insulated lunch containers, and see which product you will require to keep your lunches at an ideal temperature. After that, we’re going to give you some safety tips to ensure that kids know how to properly handle these hot meals!

Hot Lunch Containers

First up, the most important thing in keeping a lunch hot is the actual container in which you pack the lunch. There are a few options to get the job done, and each has a varying degree of effectiveness. However, they all have specific purposes. Generally speaking, each are better for storing different types of food. For example, packing soup would require a different lunch container than packing chicken breast.

The best way to decide on the ideal insulated lunch container for yourself is to view the options available. Here are the main types of containers for keeping lunches warm:

Types of Insulated Lunch Containers

Insulated Lunch Bag

First up, you have the insulated lunch bag. The insulated lunch bag achieves just what the name implies. Its layer of insulation is ideal for keeping heat (or cold) inside the bag. It keeps external temperature out, and keeps internal temperature in.

Typically, these bags work through a series of layers. The external layer is the outer material, responsible for the durability and form of the bag. The inner layer is primarily for waterproofing, and it ensures that no leaks escape the bag, or damage the bag itself.

The middle layer is what is primarily responsible for insulation. It is typically a foam-like material such as polyurethane. It is an insulated substance, and prevents heat transfer, keeping the contents of the bag warm or cold.

These bags are pretty good for packing hot lunches. Although they are effective insulators, they aren’t perfect. They’re usually only good for keeping things warm for a few hours. In all likelihood, your child would still have to use the school microwave to reheat a meal once they get to lunch time. However, they keep the heat well enough that your hot food won’t get cold, and won’t need extensive heating up in the microwave, which could dry it out.

Insulated Lunch Box

An insulated lunch box is very similar to the insulated bag above. Its function is generally the same: to keep food’s temperature consistent.

The main difference is in the outer layer, or “shell.” As you can see from the picture, this one has a hard outer-shell. This outer-shell is better for durability purposes. For example, it can be placed inside a backpack, and you don’t have to worry about the food inside the box getting squished.

Similar to the insulated bag above, these are generally good insulators, but not perfect. They have different degrees of effectiveness, but generally, your child will still need to reheat a hot meal that you pack into an insulated lunch box.

Thermos

If you want to pack hot food and keep it hot, then a Thermos is your best bet! Depending on the Thermos, it is often very insulated, and some even utilize double or triple insulation, with a vacuum seal on the lid to keep hot food hot.

If you buy a quality thermos, it should keep your food hot for roughly 6 hours. Many only think of Thermos containers for soup, but they’re quite useful for solids as well. You can pack whole meals into a Thermos if you want to keep them hot until lunch time.

Insulated Bento Box

Here’s another fun option. An insulated bento box gives you the benefit of multiple compartments for your food. You can pack separate parts of your meal, and keep them apart so that the taste and textures don’t mix.

Many insulated bento boxes are quite efficient. Stainless steel options will keep food hot, and come with an additional insulation pouch where the entire bento box can be placed. The example above is very efficient at keeping multiple components of your lunch warm until lunch time.

However, as with all insulated products, different options on the market will have varying degrees of effectiveness.

Safety Tips for Kids

When packing a lunch for kids, there are additional considerations associated with packing hot lunches. These considerations revolve around safety. Simply put, hot meals can be dangerous for kids, as they present a burning hazard. So be sure to follow these safety tips when packing a hot lunch:

  • Teach Your Kids to Use the Container: While these products might seem pretty intuitive to us, it might be your kid’s first experience with them. For example, a child may not know how to properly use and reseal a Thermos. You need to teach them the importance of opening and resealing these products properly. Also, keep them aware that the food might be very hot, and that they might want to wait a few minutes before eating it.
  • Don’t Pack Food Too Hot: If you’re packing food into a container that is particularly insulated (such as a Thermos) it’s probably a good idea to not pack food that is overly hot. Remember, these products keep their heat very well, so only try to pack food that is at the proper temperature for a child to eat.
  • No Metal in the Microwave: If your child is going to need to use the microwave to reheat their meal, be sure to tell them the #1 rule of microwave usage – no metal in the microwave!

Conclusion

Thanks very much for checking out our guide to insulated hot lunch containers. Hopefully, we’ve helped you understand the various uses for different products on the market, and opened your eyes to some of the safety concerns associated with these products. Remember, the best insulated lunch container is just the one that is best for you!

Packing the Best School Lunches – Top 10 Tips

Packing the Best School Lunches

Intro

Packing a school lunch is kind of an art nowadays. From knowing what to pack that your kid will actually eat, to knowing how to make it nutritious, to having fresh ideas for what to pack every single day, there sure is a lot to think about when it comes to a healthy school lunch!

In this article, we’re giving you 10 tips for packing the best school lunches. We’re covering everything from nutrition, to planning, to mixing in different cuisines. These are sure to give you tons of school lunch ideas that go beyond packing the usual granola bar, celery sticks, apple slices, and lunch meat sandwich in your kids’ lunchboxes.

10 Tips for Packing the Best School Lunches

Talk to Your Kids

Our first tip may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it’s forgotten. Talk to your kids about what it is they actually like, and what it is they’d prefer to pack in their lunchbox. Kids will be much more likely to enjoy the lunches you pack if they are involved in the decision-making process!

Of course, this doesn’t mean just let them eat whatever they want (unless you want to be packing chocolate bars for lunch every day), but rather to involve them in the process, and let them settle on a range of options they enjoy that still make a healthy lunch. See if they want to be involved in the lunch packing process so they can see the healthy food and snacks going into their lunchbox.

Plan Ahead!

packing school lunch

You’d be surprised how much easier it is packing school lunch if you plan ahead for the week! Take some time each weekend to make a lunch schedule. Even if you just write it out and make kids’ lunches on the day-of, you’d be surprised how much time you save by simply knowing what you are going to pack each day. This also allows you to ensure that kid’s lunch hasa sufficient variety of fresh fruit and veggies, and are in line with a healthy lifestyle. Planning goes beyond your child’s lunchbox – you can even plan ahead on your own lunch to make sure you’re also getting a healthy lunch!

Prep Ahead (On Your Own Schedule)

If it works for you, then you can also prep ahead! Meal prepping is a popular trend these days, because it allows you to save time throughout the week by preparing all your meals at one time. Not only do you save time, but you save money on ingredients, and you make sure that your lunches are sufficiently healthy. If you have the time, then look into meal prepping as an option for school lunches.

Mix It Up

Our next tip is to mix it up! Lunches are so much more fun if they have sufficient variety. Don’t settle for the same old boring ham sandwich each day (although we’ve got nothing against the ham sandwich!). Try to settle on a few solid lunch options, and rotate through them regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to craft new lunch creations each day, but rather just to have a well-established routine of different options.

Hide the Veggies

For kids, we all know how difficult it can be to get a picky eater to eata veggie. Our next tip is to hide the veggies whenever possible. This is especially relevant for younger children, who simply might not eat their lunch if it contains something they don’t like. Whether you puree the veggies into a pasta sauce, hide them in a cheese quesadilla, or simply add them to a sandwich, there are many ways to make healthy options more tolerable for kids!

Don’t Be Afraid of the Classics

Our next tip is to not fear the classics! There can be a tendency among parents to think that the tried-and-true lunches lack sufficient variety, or that they seem like a “lazy” option. But remember, the classics are classics for a reason. So, don’t fear the turkey sandwich, the PB & J, or the ham & cheese sandwich. These all became lunchroom staples for a reason, after all.

Get Good Containers

good lunch container

Our next tip is to buy good lunch containers. Lunch containers make it so much easier to pack lunches, and you can find different varieties to suit your needs. Whether you need an insulated container to keep food fresh, a container with dividers to separate food, or simply a container that is easy for your child to lug around all day, there are many options, and you’d be surprised what a difference it can make in packing the perfect lunch.

Buy in Bulk

Next up is an economical no-brainer. Anything that you can conveniently buy in bulk, you should! Whether it’s non-perishables, or something that you know you will be using quite often, you’d be surprised at the money you’d save by buying in bulk. If you find you’re packing rice in school lunches often, then why not buy a big bag of it? Not only do you save money, but you save yourself additional trips to the grocery store.

Don’t Be Afraid of Repeating

Don’t be afraid of doing the same lunch twice in a row! While it might seem a bit weird at first, there’s nothing wrong with repeating lunches day after day, especially if it’s a well-balanced lunch that your child really likes. Just be sure to talk to them to be sure they’re really enjoying it. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it – it’s just lunch after all.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Cuisines

If you’re running out of inspiration and new ideas for lunches, why not look to a different cuisine altogether? Looking to different styles of cooking for new lunch ideas can be a great way to spark new inspiration and get you excited about lunch all over again. For example, if you’re tired of the same old sandwiches, maybe try a bento box style lunch.

Include a Treat (But Not Every Day)

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with the odd treat every now and then. Because let’s face it, nothing is going to get a kid more excited about lunch than a treat! Not everything has to be perfectly healthy, so why not throw something in there that they’re guaranteed to enjoy. Just remember, as with all areas of nutrition, it’s about moderation. Portion control is huge, and you definitely don’t need to include a treat every day. After all, it’s not really a treat if it’s just a staple of their everyday lunch!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to packing lunches. With a few easy tweaks, we’re sure you’ll be packing lunches like a pro!

Meal Planning Tricks to Keep on A Budget

Meal Planning Tricks to Keep on A Budget

Intro

Do you struggle to think of fresh ideas for your weekly meal plan or monthly meal plan? Are you constantly having to run to the grocery store to re-stock on ingredients for dinner? Do you wish it was easier to stick to your diet or nutritional strategy? All of these reasons are why budget meal planning might be for you! In this article, we’re showing you how to meal plan on a budget!

Does Meal Planning Help You Save Money?

Weekly meal planning is an effective way to save time by planning all of your meals ahead. Not only does this make it easier to prepare meals and stick to a diet, but it can also save you a lot of money! You buy only the food you need on your shopping list, and limit the food you waste. It also gives you the opportunity to plan meals that are inexpensive, encourage healthy eating habits, and avoid take-out meals.

Here are our top tips for meal planning on a budget.

Top Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget

Set a Time to Plan & Stick to It

First up, you need to set a plan and stick to it. Effective meal planning is all about picking a time to menu plan, and turning it into a habit. You need to pick a day and time that you know is going to work for you, and you need to make sure that you stick to it. Trust us, it becomes a lot easier to meal plan if it is a habit that you can rely on.

Set a day and time, and settle on a method of planning meals. We recommend you break it down by date, and separate each date into the healthy meals you need to plan. This way, you have a meal schedule prepared, and can stock up on all the ingredients you will need to prep meals for the week. This allows you to only buy what you need on your grocery shop, which saves a ton of money on food waste and overall grocery spending.

Don’t Skip Meals!

meals in the traditional sense

No, we don’t mean “skip” meals in the traditional sense. We mean don’t skip out on your plan! Sometimes there is the temptation to skip prep and take the easier option of grabbing takeout. Try to resist this urge, as takeout can end up being the most expensive part of your food cost. For a budget meal option, make a plan and hold yourself accountable! You’d be shocked at the money you save by cutting takeout out of your food budget.

Know the Cost of Ingredients

The first step is to know your overall food cost (or at least have a rough idea!). What this does is it allows you to estimate the cost of your grocery list. You’d be surprised how some healthy food can really put a dent in your grocery bill! So if you stay aware of costs, and take some time to really survey price in the store, then you can save a whole lot of money over time. Of course, this is a skill that becomes easier and easier the more you shop.

Buy in Bulk

Another simple tip is to buy in bulk! Bulk buying is one of the easiest ways to save money with grocery shopping. However, only buy products in bulk that you are sure you will eat! If you buy in bulk and it goes bad or you don’t eat it, then you really aren’t saving much money. Take a look at your meal plans and look for common ingredients. If the ingredient is quite frequent, and isn’t too quick to spoil, then stock up!

This also saves you additional trips to the store.

Plan for Meals That You Like

Another way to save money is to plan meals that you actually enjoy! This means planning tasty meals, but also adding variety so you won’t get bored. You might be wondering how this is actually going to save you any money. Basically, if you are planning meals that you enjoy, then it makes it much more likely that you will actually stick to your meal plan! No skipping meals to get takeout, because you’ll be more than happy with the meal you have planned at home.

Buy Ingredients, Not Dishes

Buy Ingredients

Next up, avoid buying prepped ingredients when you can. You save a lot of money by buying ingredients and preparing them into dishes. Buying food from the prepared section of the grocery store will cost you a lot more than making it yourself!

Know Your Diet

Next up, in order to plan effectively you need to know your nutritional and dietary goals. Meal planning should be done in accordance with your diet. Not only does this allow you to lead a healthier lifestyle, but it makes it so that your meal plans are sufficient to maintain that lifestyle.

If you under-plan, then you may not buy enough food, and you might have to rely on a takeout meal to fill you up! Make a detailed nutritional plan before you start meal planning that is specific to your lifestyle and activity levels.

Forget The Desserts& The Soda!

Another easy way to save money is to skip the desserts and the soda! Not only is this a healthier choice, it also saves you a lot of money on things you don’t need! Let’s face it, soda is never going to be part of any dietary outlines. This isn’t to say you can never treat yourself, of course! But try to moderate your intake of these things, and your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Have Good Containers

Finally, invest in some good containers. This is especially important if you are meal prepping, and thinking ahead for the week. Containers make it so much easier to store your food, and freeze it if necessary. This makes it much easier to stick to your meal plan. Additionally, reusable containers will save you money from not having to constantly replace them.

 Thanks for checking out our guideto meal planning on a budget!

Planning Meals for the Week – Top Tips, Tricks & Full Guide!

Planning Meals for the Week

Intro

Have you ever thought about getting into meal planning? Some people swear by a weekly meal plan as a way of moderating what they eat, sticking to their dietary goals, and simplifying their meal prep process. In this article, we’re giving you everything you need to know to get started on your healthy meal plan, including whether or not meal planning is for you!

Why Should I Meal Plan?

First things first, why should you have a healthy meal plan? Meal planning offers several benefits that all pertain to creating and sticking to a diet that you choose. It offers a way to create nutritional goals, and to create a healthy meal plan that sticks to those goals. It also offers the benefits of simplifying your meal prepping process, as well as your grocery shopping process. If this sounds like it could work for you, then check out our top tricks to be a pro meal planner.

Step 1 – What is Your Diet? Do Your Research

Before you come up with meal planning ideas, you have to know what you are meal planning for. What this means is that you need to have a diet or nutritional outline for healthy eating that you are planning around. After all, the “plan” in meal planning is only relevant if you have a goal that you are planning toward.

What this means is that your first step is to outline your nutritional goals. This depends wholly on your lifestyle and your personal goals. Whether your goal is to lose weight, fuel an active lifestyle, eat more healthy food, or just to save time by planning your meals, you need to outline these goals before you get started so you can plan properly.

Step 2 – Set Aside Time to Plan

make a weekly menu plan

Next up is that you need to set aside time once a week to make a weekly menu plan (or at whichever interval works for you). Pick a day that works best for you. Many people choose Sunday, as it represents the start of a new week, and it’s a day where many people have a lot of spare time to come up with different meals.

Pick a day that works for you, and one that you know will work for you going forward. It’s a lot easier to stay consistent if you know you have a certain day each week to get the planning done.

Step 3 – Stick to It, Make It a Habit

Building on the last point, you need to turn each week’s meal plan into a habit. Whichever day you choose, stick to it, and make sure you do it each week. The most important part of meal planning is making sure that you stick to it. Habits are much easier to keep if they cease to become an option. So whichever schedule you choose, stick to it, and do it every time. After a while, you’ll simply be on auto-pilot.

Step 4 – Plan

The next step is to actually plan! Once you’ve set aside the time, you need to actually plan your meals in accordance with your dietary goals. Many prefer to plan lunches and dinners for the week, but you should plan as many meals as you are comfortable with. Try using a grid calendar to simplify things. Plan meals in accordance with your goals, but also try to give yourself variety, and try to choose meals that you actually enjoy.

The basis of a good meal planning routine is in choosing meals that you can stick with. So be sure to actually choose meals that will meet your goals, without sacrificing on taste too much. Of course, the more you do it, the easier it become.

Step 5 – Purchase and Prepare

weekly grocery shop

Just like the planning stage, you should also set aside a time to do a weekly grocery shop. This way, you might only have to go to the grocery store once a week! Once you’ve planned out your meal ideas, make a list of all the ingredients you need, and get shopping. If there are ingredients you know you will be using regularly, then you might want to buy them in bulk, so you’ll have them for future weeks.

Your next major decision is how far ahead of time you want to prep your meals. Many find that meal planning goes hand-in-hand with meal prepping for the week. However, it’s up to you. You can prep all your meals for the week, or you can prep them day of. It’s all about sticking to whatever schedule you chose.

Step 6 – Adjust as You Go

Of course, you’re probably never going to plan your meals perfectly. Any good plan allows for some leeway. After all, you’re never going to perfectly predict what your week entails. So, leave some room for adjustments as you go. If you feel like switching it up one day, go for it. Just be sure to try your best to stick to your initial menu plan. The more closely you stick to your meal plan, the easier it becomes to stick to the habit, and keep it going in future weeks.

Step 7– Reflect

When you’re still new to meal planning, it’s important to take time to reflect. What worked for you? Was the planning process effective? Are your dietary goals sufficient for your lifestyle?

Take some time to reflect on your goals and also on the planning process, so that you can adjust them for future weeks. Look at your vegetable, fruit, and protein intake to see if you’re getting enough and if you need to change up your grocery shopping list. It is all about getting closer and closer to the point where your meal planning for the week is a breeze! Nutrition is always a work in progress, but the more you do it, the better you get at it!

Step 8– Repeat

And finally, repeat the process! Once your planning period is complete, start again. As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, meal planning is all about turning a routine into a habit. It’s a way to turn your nutritional goals into things that you can actually achieve. So, once you’re done with your first round of meal planning, get started on the next one!

How to Plan Meals for Picky Eaters

How to Plan Meals for Picky Eaters

In this article, we talk about what can be one of the biggest hurdles for any parent at dinner time – a picky eater!

Organizing breakfast, lunch, and dinner each can be stressful enough on its own, and that’s without having to account for what your child will or will not eat. In this article, we’re focusing on the root cause. We’re going to give you strategies to address picky eating, and how you can start introducing your child to new foods the right way. You might be surprised how much can be changed simply with a shift in perspective!

Tips for Planning Meals for Picky Eaters

Planning meals for a picky eater is tough. Thinking about what your kids can and cannot eat, and modifying whole recipes because of it, or cooking them an entirely separate meal when they could eat a family dinner with you. It can all add up pretty fast, and can end up in a headache you don’t need.

But if you are simply focused on avoidingthose contentious foods, then you might be going about this the wrong way. In this section, we’re giving you tricks to address the problem, and helping your kid overcome their picky eating to gain a full and well-rounded healthy diet.

Talk to Them

The first step for how to plan meals for picky eaters is a simple one – talk to them! You’d be surprised how opinionated your kids are about the foods that they eat. Talking to them is a great way to find out which foods they don’t like, and whythey don’t like those foods. Before we can solve the problem, we need to get to the root of it.

So, talk to them, find out what they don’t like, and then try to change that. Next up, we give you a few ideas for getting the picky eaters in your family to be not so picky! 

A Little Each Time

The first method for addressing a picky eating problem is to slowly introduce new foods into a diet. If there’s a specific food that your picky eater doesn’t enjoy, try to give them a little bit with certain meals. Sometimes, it’s all about little steps here and there.

For example, if they don’t like mushrooms, try to have them eat a couple mushrooms alongside one of their favorite meals (or chopped and incorporated right into the dish). It’s all about training your palette to realize that their least favorite foods really aren’t all that bad!

Try Methods to “Mask” Flavor

Try Methods to “Mask” Flavor

Another strategy to deal with picky eaters is to switch up the flavors of their least favorite foods. Cooking is a versatile art, and there are lots of ways to push a fresh spin on different ingredients.

The first method is to mix the tricky foods into a larger dish. This way, you can “mask” the flavors so they won’t even realize they are there. For example, cooking their least favorite veggies into a pasta sauce or putting them into a stew.

If you reallywant to hide them, you can even blend or puree them up as a vegetable mixture before adding them to certain sauces.

The second method is all about seasoning and cooking methods. Perhaps the reason that your kids don’t like certain foods is not because of the food itself, but because of the way they are cooked. After all, any veggies taste better when they are properly seasoned and cooked. Try mixing with some salt and oil and frying them up. You will find that once kids grow to like a certain variation of a food, they will tend to be okay with that food in any situation!

Reward Good Eating

Another method to deal with picky eaters is with an effective reward system. We were likely all told as children to finish our vegetables or we wouldn’t be getting any dessert, and there’s a reason our parents used this method. Rewarding healthy eating goes a long way with kids. Give them some incentive for trying the dishes that they don’t like.

Just be sure to hold them accountable to these standards. Always follow through on your promises, but only if they hold up their end of the “deal” on trying a new food.

Also, be sure not to overdo it. Desserts should be properly portioned, and shouldn’t accompany every meal. A reward can go a long way, but not everything needs to be rewarded. A healthy meal needs to be established as a necessity in its own right.

Examples of Meals for Picky Eaters

Before we wrap up, here are a few examples of healthy food that you can try out for any picky eater. Thesedelicious meals use some of the strategies mentioned above to either hide certain foods, or to make them even tastier!

Pasta with Sauce

Pasta with Sauce

We touched on this above, but a pasta sauce is a perfect place to hide any veggies that your kid may not enjoy and makes a great family meal. A pasta sauce is full of strong flavors already, so mixing in certain veggiescan go almost undetected. Throw in chicken and cheese to help mask the veggie flavor. If you really want to hide it, chop it up really fine, or even puree the sauce so it is rich and smooth.

Sautéing

Often, it’s not about the veggie, but how they are cooked! Sautéing is such a simple way to elevate a veggie dish, and your kid may discover that they actually dolike some of the foods they thought they didn’t. After all, everything is better with fat and salt, and when it’s properly cooked.

Homemade Healthy Pizza

How about a healthy pizza? Pizza gets kind of a bad reputation, but there are ways to make it quite healthy. You can even take our above tip and hide some veggies in a pureed pizza sauce. Alternatively, try to get your kids to dress up their pizza with certain veggies. Sometimes, by mixing in their least favorite foods with their favorite dish, they can realize that there wasn’t much to be afraid of.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide on dealing with picky eaters. It’s definitely not an easy task, but you will find that, with small steps and gentle progress, any kid can overcome their eating habits and start eating nutritious food.

Packing The Best School Lunches – Top 10 Pro Tips

Packing The Best School Lunches

Packing lunches is perhaps one of the most dreaded parts of your week. From deciding what to pack, to making it, to ensuring that it is healthy, to keeping it fresh and secure, there is so much to think about for what should be such a simple meal!

In this article, we’re giving you ten tips to turn this most frustrating part of your week into one of the easiest. Follow these tips and making lunches will be a quick and easy routine. Eliminate the stress and pack something for your child that it is good for them and they enjoy.

Tip 1: Plan Ahead for The Week

The first tip is that planning is everything. No one likes having to scramble every single morning to have to make lunches. And it’s even more hectic when you don’t even know what you’re going to make!

Our first tip is to use a calendar to plan lunches for the whole week. This ensures that your lunches have variety, are healthy and balanced, and taste great! When it comes time to prepare, simply check your list and prep. No more confusion as to what to make each day.

Tip 2: Use Plan to Grocery Shop

Our next tip is to use your weekly calendar to grocery shop. Get all your ingredients at once, so you don’t have to run to the store every day. Take an inventory of what you have in your house already, and then check your plan to see what else you need. This way, when the time comes to make lunches, all you have to do is check your list and use the ingredients you bought!

As you can see, by doing all this work up front you are saving yourself tons of time down the road. One plan, and one grocery shop, and you are good to go!

Tip 3: Healthy Alternatives

With all the options out there all day, you can find a healthy alternative for almost anything! Lunch is a very important meal, so it’s imperative that you find a way to make it healthy. Search for a healthy alternative for each item you buy. For example, multigrain bread instead of white bread.

These little changes make a huge difference, and often it doesn’t involve sacrificing taste!

Tip 4: Buy in Bulk

Tip 4 Buy in Bulk

When possible, buy your ingredients in bulk. Not only does this save you money, it saves you repeated trips to the store. If there’s an item that you use a lot, and doesn’t spoil easily, that’s a great candidate for buying in bulk. Look at your weekly plans, and look at your ingredients list to identify anything that you can simply buy in bulk. You’d be surprised how much time and money you actually save.

Tip 5: Include a Treat

A great idea for any kids’ lunch is to include a treat! A healthy lunch doesn’t mean they can’t have something sweet as well. Kids enjoy it, and it’s extra motivation for them to eat their meal. Just be sure it is a reasonable portion, and that they don’t overdo it. Pack something tasty but reasonably sized – like a cookie, a pudding, a granola bar, or something of this variety.

Tip 6: Don’t Forget the Fruit and Vegetables (But Make Sure It’s What They Like)

Talk to your kids and find out what they actually like in terms of fruits and vegetables. We all know they’re important to include, but if your kid isn’t going to eat it then it defeats the purpose! The easy solution is to talk to them. Include them in the process and find out what you can pack that they will eat.

This advice extends to the entire lunch-making process, but is particularly important in the tricky area of fruits and vegetables.

Tip 7: Use Dividers!

Next up is dividers. If food isn’t properly separated, you run the risk of it mixing in an undesirable way. Whether it becomes wet, moist, or crushed, you need to actually pack the lunch in an efficient way. One option is to buy containers with built in dividers so that everything stays in its proper place.

Tip 8: Insulated Box

Tip 8 Insulated Box

Make sure the lunch box is insulated. Whether you want to keep your food cool, or even hot (such as in a Thermos), make sure the package you use has proper insulation. Food is always tastier at the proper temperature, and your child is sure to notice this difference as well. Many lunch boxes, containers, thermoses, and bags have proper insulation, so be sure to invest in one that gets the job done.

If it’s a particularly hot day, even consider throwing an ice pack in the box. This will keep everything cool and fresh.

Tip 9: Variety

Be sure to mix it up! Everyone likes variety, and your kid is surely no exception. One way to do this is to pack something different every day.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t repeat yourself, just try to rotate between at least 3 or 4 different lunches. Whether that means different types of sandwiches, different styles of food, or different cuisines altogether, try to find a few of your child’s favourites and rotate.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, just buy a few different ingredients and mix things up. Once again, your best course of action is simply to ask your child the things they like, and rotate based on that.

Tip 10: Make ‘Em The Night Before

Finally, our last tip is to make lunches the night before. Of course, it really comes down to your preference, but we find it much easier to pack our lunches the night before. There are so many things to do in the morning already that packing lunches will simply add stress.

Set aside a time each night to prepare lunches. It only takes a few minutes, and you can leave it in the fridge and pack it in the morning. If you make this into a simple routine, you’ll be surprised how much more easy-going your mornings become.

Planning Meals for the Week – What to Know and How to Succeed

Planning Meals for the Week – What to Know and How to Succeed

Planning Meals For the Week

There are plenty of reasons why you should plan your meals for the week, and in this article we’re going to show you how to do it right.

Whether it’s because you want to save your time from the hectic weekday scrambles, or you want to make sure you are sticking to a healthy, nutritious diet. Planning meals ahead of time is a great way to have all your meals in order before the week even starts. Also, if you plan the proper way, you can save on that grocery bill by only buying what you actually need.

Let’s take a look at how to plan your meals in the most efficient way to reap the maximum benefits:

Before you Start: Make a Nutrition Plan

Before you start to plan your meals for the week, you need a consistent plan to guide you. This plan comes in the form of some nutritional guidelines, or your own dietary needs. This one depends on your personal preferences.

Whether you are cooking for taste, for protein, to lose weight, or in accordance with a specific diet, you need to know what your dietary goals are before you get started with a meal planning regime. Having a set of nutritional guidelines to follow not only helps you to plan your meals, but it helps you accomplish your goals as well. So whatever your nutritional goals are, consider them in accordance with the steps below.

Step 1: Make a Consistent Time

Step 1 Make a Consistent Time

For the first step, set aside a consistent time to plan your meals. It will be a common theme throughout this list, but it is much easier to stick to routines if you simply make them a habit. Set aside a time every week, and stick to that time to plan your meals. By making these things a routine, it becomes one less thing to think about.

Many like to do this on Sunday, because it is a day off for many, and the official start of the week. Whatever you choose, you’ll want to set aside about an hour. Stick to this schedule and it becomes second nature.

Step 2: Check What You Have

For the next step, you want to take an inventory of what you have. Your meal planning is best done if it’s done by accounting for what’s in your house already. Not only could you potentially make use of some leftovers, but you will know of all the ingredients you have available to you.

This is an important preliminary step, because you will know what you have available to make, and what you need to pick up at the store.

Step 3: Use a Calendar

The best way to organize your list (in our opinion), is with a simple calendar. Divide a calendar into the days of the week, and leave a slot for all the meals you want to plan. Breaking it down this way is great because it is highly visual, and gives you a good overview to ensure that your meals are varied, and in accordance with your dietary goals.

From here, simply plug in your meals for the week. Keep it consistent with your goals, and be sure to consider the ingredients that you have available from step 2.

And remember, try to keep things varied! If possible, give yourself a few meals that you really enjoy. Eating is supposed to be enjoyable after all. You can even slot in a few meals where you get takeout, or order pizza!

Step 4: Get Ingredients

Step 4 Get Ingredients

Once you have all your meals laid out, take stock of everything on your list so that you can decide what you need to prepare your meals. From here, make a grocery list and get shopping.

If you have properly considered all the ingredients that you already had available in your house, then you might not need to pick up too much. Regardless, it is good practice to account for all the ingredients at once, so that you only have to head to the store once. This helps to streamline the entire process so you can get it all done at once.

Step 5: Prepare

And of course, for the next step we prepare the food! Of course, since you were only planning your meals, how and when you prepare them is up to you. Some prefer to prepare all their lunches for the entire week on one day, and some prefer to prepare their meals right before they eat. It really boils down to personal preference.

But whatever you choose, by following this process you already have a clear, consistent outline of your meals, and you have the ingredients to prepare them. You’ve already eliminated a major headache of deciding what to eat for each meal. Your plan is in place, your ingredients are ready, and you are ready to accomplish whatever your nutritional goals may be!

Don’t Forget: Consider Who You’re Planning For

Before we wrap up, remember to always keep in mind who you are planning for. If you are cooking for family or for kids, or prepping meals for anyone else, be sure to consider their needs as well.

Try to make meals that everyone will enjoy. Planning meals is a complicated process, but trust us, the time you spend here will be more than made up in the time you save later.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide on how to plan meals for the week. As you can see, the best strategy is to make a habit out of it. The main reason we plan meals is so that we can avoid the stress of planning each meal individually, and scrambling to get ingredients each time we need to cook. By planning meals, you are making it so your weekday meals are stress-free, and you always have the proper ingredients to get the job done.

It may seem like a lot of work up front, but when you see the time you save all throughout the week, you’ll wonder how you did it any other way.