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Cooking

Great App for Lunch Planning

Lunch planning app

Packing lunches has always been a struggle until I found this great lunch planning app!

You know how it goes, you pack lunch and it comes back home uneaten or you let the kids pack their own and it’s mostly cookies and chips, right? This app makes the whole process so much easier, it’s called La La Lunchbox and has been a huge timesaver on school mornings.

It is super easy to use, in fact the kiddos can do most of the work. They get on it over the weekend and pick out items for their lunch throughout the upcoming week.

Lunch Planning App 

La La Lunchbox comes preloaded with tons of options, and you can also take photos and add your own items to the list.

Kids take ownership by choosing from fruit, veggie, protein and snack to make sure the lunch is nutritious, balanced and also enjoyable.  The app creates a grocery list for the week, so when I’m at the store I can make sure to get the items needed.

Then in the morning before school, myself or the kids just open the La La Lunchbox and start packing from the list for that day. So easy, no thinking required!  And no nagging to have them pack something other than cookies since the list is right there and the kids chose the items on it themselves.

Great App for Lunch Planning

Give La La Lunchbox a try and see if it makes your already hectic mornings a bit more relaxing.  And if you have any other apps that you recommend to make your kiddo routines easier, please leave them in the comments below!

Tacos in a Bag

tacos in a bag

Our family hosted a playdate and dinner for our good family friends last week. While I was doing my grocery shopping for our dinner, a store employee saw me wandering back and forth in the aisle and gave me a suggestion for tacos in a bag.

Here’s the deal – I don’t really cook.  I mean, I feed my family as nutritiously as possible, but I don’t enjoy cooking.  There, I said it.

For as much time as I spend on Pinterest pinning delicious recipes, it’s amazing that I don’t take more of an interest. My mom jokes that the “cooking gene” skipped me.

All you need to make tacos in a bag is all the fixings for tacos, but instead of serving them to the kids in the traditional fashion, you can have them participate in making their own – in a messy, fun way. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

- Ground beef or ground turkey – your preference – cook taco meat thoroughly
- Shredded cheese (I picked up a Mexican cheese blend, already shredded)
- Iceberg lettuce (I chopped and shredded this as well)
- Chopped tomatoes
- Sour cream
- Salsa (or as my kids prefer, ketchup)
- Any other favorite taco topping
- Fritos or tortilla chips (to act as the taco “shell”)
- Sandwich ziplock baggies

Here’s what to do:

- Set out all of the taco ingredients out in little, easy-to-handle bowls.
- Give each child a baggie.
- Have them spoon whatever they want into each bag to make their “taco.”
- Once all ingredients are in the bag, close the bag and have them mix the stuff all together (a lot of giggles happened at this part in the process).
- You can either have the kids eat out of the baggie with a fork OR pour the mixture onto their plate.
- Enjoy!  YUM!!

Once I conducted this little dinner experiment, I realized that this type of fun food activity only works for kiddos who don’t mind their food touching.

Note to self – my kids were upset with different ingredients mixed. But the visiting kids had a blast and smashed and smushed away, enjoying the experience and the yummy result.

What’s your favorite kid recipe?  Any fun family dinner ideas?

Let me know how your taco in a bag experience goes!

Getting My Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

Getting My  Picky Eaters  to Try New Foods

Does anyone else have super picky eaters? I have been blessed with two little angels who think they can survive on chicken nuggets, peanut butter and apples. After much frustration – and making multiple main dishes for one meal to keep everyone happy – my husband and I decided enough was enough.  So, here are my tips on how to get get picky eaters to try new foods

Please help moms everywhere out if you happen to have any of your own tricks up your sleeve.

At first, this was a little overwhelming for me.

My kids always eat things from different food groups, they just haven’t been eating the “fancier” dishes my husband and I cook.  Knowing that our kids needed to transition to eating what the whole family was eating, we did our research (Google, polled our parent friends, read articles, and asked our pediatrician), decided what was reasonable, and have been implementing the “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” plan.

Here’s what’s been working for us…I hope these tips are helpful for you, too!

Family Style Serving

Instead of making their plate in the kitchen and setting it in front of them, we now put plates of food on the table (usually represented from all food groups) and let the kids take turns putting food on their own plate.

We find this works to our advantage in two ways -

1.  The kids take ownership in picking their own food.  They can take as much or as little as they want…as long as they try one bite of each dish.

2.  We always make sure there is at least one item that we know they like.  Carrots, apple slices, hummus…that way they have some of their comfort food to fall back on once they try at least one bite of the new stuff.  This has been a consistent piece of advice we’ve received from our parent friends…and it works!

Setting a Good Example

Kids are little sponges – I know mine watch me like a hawk.  For the most part, they want to be just like my husband and I…and my little one wants to be just like his big sister.  This means that setting a good example has been very important to our family in this process.  When I ask my kids to try something, that means that my husband and I are also eating it.  We also sit down together as a family to eat.  Or whoever is home…we all sit down and make the meal a family event.

Staying Consistent 

As with anything, being consistent has been our saving grace.  Every meal.  Same rules every time. Now, we still believe in special treats and special meals on occasion…of course!  But on a daily basis, we are making good nutrition and consistent family meals a priority.

Little Shoppers  

The kids usually come grocery shopping with me anyways, so now I let them help me pick new foods when we’re out.  They love to shop, so this is kind of a big deal that they get to pick new things to try.

Educate

My husband is constantly asking our kiddos, Is this super healthy, medium healthy, or not healthy at all?”  Then he explains why the particular food in question is healthy or not.  He also tells the kids that they have to train their tongues to like new foods…and makes funny little jokes out of it.  Like, “Your tongue just don’t remember this food. See if it can remember what it tastes like?” The kids think he’s hilarious…Whatever works!

I’d love to hear your tips. What’s worked for you and your family?  Please do share below! 

Menu Makeovers with Menu Therapy!

Menu Therapy Coupon Code

My family needs a dinner menu makeover. Does yours? 

Could you use a family meal planning service? I could, because I always seem to be stuck in the same weekly food rut, cooking the same things over and over again because…

1.) It’s convenient.  I default to comfortable when I’m busy.

2.) I always “pin” hundreds of recipe ideas on Pinterest and then don’t have time to shop or actually cook them.

3.) Many of the recipes I find look delicious, but then take 70 minutes to prepare and two hours to cook – who has the time?

4.) My cupboard full of all of the cookbooks we got for our wedding – with literally thousands of recipes – can be overwhelming when I want something quick during the week – seriously, I don’t need gourmet, I need a tasty chicken and veggie dish.

5.) I’m tired.  (Not lazy, just tired by dinnertime!)

Can any of you relate?

I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to chat with our newest Tiny Oranges sponsor, Menu Therapy, about their fabulous family meal planning services they offer. They are offering the first month free for all Tiny Oranges’ readers, make sure to read below on how to sign up so you can try it out yourself!

Picture this – a new week rolls around and you can log in to Menu Therapy’s site and have access to five delicious, healthy family-friendly recipes, complete with a grocery list organized by food group.  My favorite part is the grocery list, already planned out.  Be still my heart.

Once logged in, you can also peek at the past month’s recipes so that as a new subscriber, you are still able to see what they’ve been cooking up for the past four weeks.

My next favorite part is that the culinary pro behind these fabulous menus, Loryn, picks five meals that will use ALL of the ingredients she puts on your list.  No more recipes that call for a “pinch” of cilantro or a teaspoon of whatever…and then the rest goes bad because you don’t use it in another meal.

family meal planning service

Hmmmm, a planned menu, well-balanced, delicious recipes, an organized grocery list, and a way to be more efficient with my food budget.  What else could I ask for?

Oh, I know.  Access to the chef!

Loryn explains that she created Menu Therapy to share her passion for food, healthy eating, and an easy way to help mamas who love to cook.

And because of that, she gives all of her clients her personal email address.  She explains, it’s basically like having a “personal chef on speed dial.”  So when you run out of an ingredient and want to substitute, have a dietary restriction question, or even want to know what an ingredient is, just send her a quick email!

Here are her Menu Plan Options

For only $15 per quarter (that’s just $5/month), choose from one of her tasty menus:

Traditional Menus
Vegetarian Menus
Prenatal Menus 

Yep, you read that correctly.  She creates prenatal menus for all of you expectant mamas! (Disclaimer: Loryn writes – “I’m a chef not a doctor. Always consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your diet while pregnant.”) 

Check Out Menu Therapy’s Recipe of the Week!

Sign Up Now and Get One Month Free 

It’s your turn for a menu makeover!  New subscribers who sign up from this blog for $15 for 3 months can enter in the Menu Therapy coupon code “tinyoranges” to receive your first month FREE.  That means you are getting 3 months of this family meal planning service for only $10. Now, that’s a pretty sweet deal!

Disclaimer:  Menu Therapy is a new Tiny Oranges sponsor and we are so glad they are!  I personally can’t wait to enjoy their menu services, and hope you do too!

Kid Approved Fourth of July Dessert: Brownie and Fruit Kabobs


Today I’m sharing a Fourth of July dessert idea for kids that every guest is sure to love: brownie and fruit kabobs drizzled with hot fudge because every birthday celebration deserves a fabulous dessert and America’s birthday is no exception!

Start with a batch of cooled brownies and then gather some “kabob worthy” goodies.

I picked strawberries, blueberries, and marshmallows.

I decided to use mini skewers because I found these festive ones at Target, but large BBQ skewers work just as well (and will save guests from having to go back for seconds!)

Enlist the help of family to skewer the brownies, fruit and marshmallows in whatever colorful design they choose and then drizzle with hot fudge.

  Be creative, remember you’re making brownie kabobs so really the sky is the limit.

My kids had so much fun assembling these brownie and fruit kabobs that I have a feeling we’ll be making them again throughout the year.

I hope you have liked this fourth of July dessert idea for kids (and adults too!)

Wishing you all a happy and sweet Fourth of July!