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Friday, July 11, 2008

Not as good as homemade, but better than fast food

For years now, I've subscribed to The Dollar Stretcher's weekly tips newsletter and have collected quite a few great tips. I was a little surprised to read a tip from a mom who did a little price checking and discovered that "crust-less sandwiches" (I'm assuming she was referring to Smuckers' Uncrustables), tubes of yogurt, and juice boxes are a lot cheaper than fast food.

I've always avoided the pre-packaged foods for health reasons, but as I've admitted previously, we do end up getting fast food a few times a week for meals on the go - usually when the boys are extremely restless and it would be stressful to make them wait for me to prepare something healthy. I am going to be more open-minded now about pre-packaged foods, since I don't think they're less healthy than the fast food we've been eating, and I'm all for saving money. I can probably find really good deals since I'm using coupons more, too. Now I just have to figure out what my kids can/will eat.

I get free loaves of bread that are about to expire when I buy a certain amount at the bread outlet. I always make peanut butter sandwiches and freeze them (thanks, Cleverdude!), so I won't be buying Uncrustables. But I need ideas that go beyond PB&J since Tyler is still too young for peanut butter. Any suggestions?

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  • At 7/11/08, 8:42 AM, Anonymous Jen said…

    First of all, I love, Love, LOVE your blog and am learning the drugstore game-THANKS.
    My kids all started eating frozen yogurt tubes when teething and still eat them frozen all the time. Healthier than popsicles, try to get the flavors without extra sugar/colorings. At Costco it's labeled as Gogurt Simple.

  • At 7/11/08, 9:37 AM, Blogger Angela said…

    How do you thaw the sandwiches so that they don't seem soggy?

  • At 7/11/08, 9:45 AM, Blogger ktoth04 said…

    How are kids too young for peanut butter? I don't get it =/

  • At 7/11/08, 12:12 PM, Blogger Chief Family Officer said…

    @Jen - Thank you so much for the kind words, and for the tip about frozen yogurt tubes. I'll have to keep that in mind!

    @Angela - I haven't had any problem with my PBJ sandwiches being soggy, and I don't do anything special with them. I do wrap them up individually or put them in sandwich bags, then put all of the sandwiches back into the bread bag. There hasn't been any extra moisture when I take them out. Hope that helps!

    @ktoth04 - I think the latest recommendation is to avoid giving peanut butter to kids under the age of three to minimize the risk of a peanut allergy. Our pediatrician is actually okay with PB at 18 months if there's no family history, but I like to be cautious. I don't avoid everything with peanuts, so for example, I'll let Tyler have some Reese's cereal if I'm eating it and he asks for some, but I won't give him a PBJ sandwich until he's 3. Hope that helps!

  • At 7/11/08, 3:16 PM, Blogger Gina said…

    I cook a double batch of pancakes on the weekend when there's time, and then whatever the kids don't eat, I freeze or stick in the fridge. They'll eat that for dinner when we're in a rush. They reheat quickly in the microwave.

  • At 7/11/08, 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I had no idea... That is so weird...

  • At 7/11/08, 5:59 PM, Blogger Meredith said…

    My kids loved the Horizon organic yogurt tubes after trying them as part of a Panera kids meal.

    I seem to be able to find them on clearance (near expiration) and freeze them for later. They thaw and resquish just fine or they can even be eaten frozen.

    Even at $3 for 8 tubes, the price is not bad for portable organic.

  • At 7/11/08, 9:29 PM, Blogger Wendy said…

    I think that is a great way to look at prepackaged food--as an alternative to drive through. There are just some days when I don't feel like cooking. Since I don't typically buy premade stuff, I end up in the drive through.

    My kids are always begging me to buy the individual Chef Boyadree (sp?) meals (we used them once on a trip and now they want them anytime they see them). Corn dogs would also probably be another thing they would love and would be pretty fast.

  • At 7/12/08, 4:15 AM, Anonymous Barbara said…

    leftover pancakes spread with peanut butter and a touch of syrup rolled up are a good on-the-go food, and it is filling

  • At 7/12/08, 8:08 AM, Blogger katy said…

    Place a tablespoon of apple pie filling in the center of a small flour tortilla. Roll it up and microwave for about 20 seconds. You can use any type pie filling.

  • At 7/12/08, 7:38 PM, Blogger NH Mom of 3 said…

    I haven't tried making my own frozen PB&J, but will likely try it kids were on a PB & Fluff kick for quite a while but they are back to raspberry jelly now. We LOVE tube yogurts and also freeze them. They were a staple in school cold lunches -- put them in frozen, they were "squishy" again by lunch time, plus added some coldness to the insulated lunch bag. Our favorite brand is YoKids from Stonyfield Farm. Sign up for their e-newsletter at and you can print out coupons!

  • At 7/16/08, 11:01 AM, Blogger Mel said…

    Our pediatrician says no PB under 2 years interesting that yours says 3 years.

    At any rate, our little one likes a sandwich made with pumpkin and fruit preserves or honey. A friend had success feeding her toddler sandwiches spread with cream cheese and hummus, but our baby's taste buds don't like that combination just yet.

    Try something new!

  • At 7/20/08, 12:43 PM, Blogger Chief Family Officer said…

    @Gina & Barbara - I love the pancake idea. Thanks!

    @Meredith - I've always been hesitant about those tubes, mostly because of the mess. I'll definitely keep them in mind for when the boys are just a little bit older though. Thanks!

    @Wendy - Thanks for the good ideas!

    @Katy - Mmm, that does sound good. Thanks!

    @NH Mom - Good tips - thanks! You know how I love my coupons :)

    @Mel - The pediatrician is actually okay with PB at 18 months if there is no family history. I just err on the side of caution since we do have non-food allergies and eczema. The pumpkin sounds great, I'll have to try that. Unfortunately, my kids have already rejected hummus, although I'm sure they will eventually come to like it. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • At 8/30/08, 12:18 PM, Blogger Quirky Mama said…

    You could use sunflower seed/nut butter instead of peanut butter. Sometimes I mix ours with pumpkin to make it easier to spread.


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