Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting Ready For School Start, Beyond The Supplies

With the start of school less than one week away here I am gearing up for a good start. Of course school supplies are on the list, but this I am waiting to do that until they actually start. Yes, my kids go to school, my best friend homeschools and she is my hero. She has schedules made, oh my gosh she is so patient and her children are so incredibly smart. Through out the school year I make sure to get ideas from her to do fun activities with my kids to help them with skills they need help with. My children have more learning issues, unfortunately, than I am able to deal with so I do rely on trained teachers that I very much appreciate to teach my children. Which brings me back to every year the teachers send home personal lists that they need for their class, so lesson learned to just wait. There are other things that I make sure to do before that though. It's so much easier when I do a few things to make sure I am ready. 

Snacks - Most of my kiddos are young enough that snacks are still done in their grades. I try hard to make sure that my children have healthy snacks that fit the "nut free" atmosphere in schools now. For those of us that have those classrooms you know that can sometimes be a challenge when your house is not "nut free" from the start. So if I make them ahead of time I have them ready and I know that all the ingredients are fresh and not processed. 

Here is what my year is starting out with. I take a couple days to make these the week before so this is my week!

Fruit Leather - the recipe is basically the same as all those out there but I use honey instead of sugar and don't simmer mine, just warm enough to mix honey in easier. I made vanilla strawberry roll ups and a mixed berry with shredded unsweetened coconut for a little fun texture and flavor. Next month I will make pumpkin applesauce and sweet potato applesauce fruit leathers for fall. It's easy being I have my pumpkins from the garden already processed into puree, applesauce is made frequently, being I buy apples by the case, and we eat a ton of sweet potatoes so always have those on hand. :)

Banana Muffins (gluten free even)

Applesauce (no added sugar) in squeezy containers, I found the BooginHead Squeeze'Ems reusable food pouches to work the best because the lids are secured on. I love the size and how easily 'Yummi Pouches' can be filled but those don't have caps that are secured and my kids get sidetracked far too easily to remember them. 

Wholly Guacamole  and sprouted chips (Way Better Snacks brand) - yes, this one I buy. 

Maple Pecan Granola, I just don't add the pecans if they have nut free classrooms. This also makes a great addition to our yogurt in the morning. 

So this should be a good start for snacks...

Frozen dinners - I make sure to pre make a few frozen dinners along with other quick means to make other dinners with less hassle. I have to admit the first week usually includes a lot of raw veggies and fruits with dinners as "fillers" to keep things easy so most times I just add some protein or other main dish to go with whatever veggies/fruits I have on hand. I do have a few dinners set for easy "grab and go" convenience and potentially (depending on how hungry the family is) leftovers to be divided and used for lunches as a bonus. Here are a few that I use to start. 

4 lb Meat loafs, this year I made 2 being I had all the stuff out and set. Sadly, usually not a lot left of these to use for lunches the next day. I can sometimes get enough that I can use in my husband's lunch. 

15x11x2 Veggie Lasagna, this one I will definitely have some perfect left overs to be portioned and put into ziplock lunch containers. Then I just pull them, add stuff I have to go with that and send. It stays frozen usually until time to eat. My husband loves these leftovers for work that can be pulled out later and enjoyed days, weeks and months after we have it. This veggie lasagna has no sauce to it being that I let all the ingredients bake and make their own sauce, its a bit lighter which makes it a great lunch meal. I do make one with zuchini strips instead of pasta, but it doesn't work as well made ahead of time because the zuchini breaks down too much before baking the first time. 

Chicken, I buy 4-8 whole chickens from sprouts to have on hand for a quick grab to add to my veggies and fruit on hand. 

Cubed Beef, this works great on days I just want to throw some into a crock pot with veggies and make a quick beef stew. 

Whole Wheat Cheddar Biscuits, while not a main course there are times I use these to accompany meals. (From 100 Days of Real Food)

Whole Wheat Tortillas, these are great to grab and make wraps with. We do lettuce wraps but sometime we like to change that up with using tortillas. Again, very quick and healthy meal and if these are made all I have to do is add some chicken, veggies and wrap.(Again, from 100 Days of Real Food)

5 lbs. of taco meat - my family LOVES a taco night or just having taco salads, having this premade and put into a container that I can grab and put into a pan to warm is a bunch of time saved. 

Marinated chicken or steaks in vacuum sealed containers helps to cut down on time. I just grab what I need, thaw and cook. I have the food saver that has the marinade function that really helps in getting this one set faster. 

Lotions, Lip Balm and "Hanitizer" - I have 2 children that have beautiful brown skin that becomes HORRIBLY dry out here in the desert. When you add the constant hand washing and hand santitizer that gets pushed on them it gets worse. On the other hand my little white boy gets terribly dry lips that his tongue just can't wait to make red, swollen, dry and cracked ALL the way around his mouth down to his chin. SO, I make sure to make some portable lotion and lip balm that tastes like Burt's Bees brand lip balm to send with all of them. I know they love using it, and so there is never an issue that this is a waste of time to make all this solely for school. I always make enough that I have some on hand for when the kiddos run out or, well, lose them (that usually happens before they run out). The "hanitizer" (my princess has called it that and so now that's become a family word for hand sanitizer) is just basically to appease the teachers. I can't stand that they use that as a substitute for hand washing. This year I am sending a note with my kids just asking politely for them to be able to wash their hands with soap and water and not use the hand sanitizer, if hand sanitizer is needed they have there own alcohol free, triclosin free "hanitizer" all set to use. I will do a seperate post later of the recipes I use for this section. 

One week before school and I am set for the start... Once I get the school lists I do make sure that I always grab more than what's listed. That gets a bit expensive, but running into the kid's teachers every year buying extra supplies definitely makes it worth it. I can not tell you the respect I have for teachers, all the planning, prep work and supplies bought out of their own funds (This goes equally for homeschool moms!!). So we make sure to help bless our teachers with some extras to help them to have what they need. 

I hope this helps others gear up for the big first day of school! 


  1. Sprouts!!! Are you in Southern California? I miss Sprouts since they only have whole foods here. UGH!
    I love getting food prepped in advance. It makes life a bit easier.

    Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist! Hope to see you again this week.

    1. Ha, no, we are in AZ. It used to be a different natural food store and thankfully Sprouts kept most of the stuff I buy from there. They have the best chicken I have found in a store. It's cheaper than Whole Foods on a few things, closer and more quaint so I like it. However, they are a lot less easy to deal with since Sprouts moved in if I want a specific product so that has slightly turned me off. But yes, good small store for my small list of stuff I get from there.

      And yes, oh how prepping in advance saves me during the week. I know the weeks I don't do it because I have a harder time keeping up!! :) This week is starting out like that because of things that have come up I didn't prep like I usually do.