DIY Meal Prep

You’re either 1, 2 or 3 weeks out from the start of school – and it’s going to get here fast – just like our sale in a few short weeks!!

To keep your sanity, how about a little meal prep for busy parents? Check out this week’s post from the JBF Corporate Blog!


meal prepThere’s no doubt how overwhelming meal prep can be. Sometimes trying to figure out what you want to eat for your next meal is hard enough, let alone an entire week! But with just a few tips, meal prep can become a breeze. Not only does it help you become more organized, there’s no debate over what’s for dinner and you save time on prep. Here are a few tips to help you meal prep like a pro!

Deciding What Will Be On The Menu

Before you start writing a grocery list, planning what you want to serve every night is key. The best time to do this is over the weekend, where you have time to concentrate and even get some input if you don’t want to do this part alone. You’ll start with deciding on one food category per week. There are a few foods categories – heavy protein, heavy carb, and specialty cuisine. Heavy protein will mostly consist of burgers, steak, chicken, pork, etc. Heavy carb will be pasta, rice, potatoes, chilis, and bread. Specialty cuisines are Italian food, pizza, Mexican, Asia, or anything else your family loves. Once you pick out a category, you can narrow down which meals you want to cook within that category. This helps cut down on time when deciding what to eat and helps narrow down your choices. Make sure to write down things you know your family will enjoy and you’ll enjoy making.

Meal Planning

After you’ve decided what meals you want to make, it’s time to put them on a calendar so you can schedule accordingly. Make sure to double check what events may be going on that week. If you have any appointments, meetings, or even birthdays it may have an effect on your meal plans. Meals that may take a little bit more time and effort should be scheduled for days that are lighter, versus a busy day. After you decide how you want to schedule your meals, don’t forget to add in sides or any family favorites! Once you have everything mapped out, you’re ready to start your grocery list. Tip: when making your grocery list for popular meals, try to save it or make an extra copy. That way when you make this meal again in the future, you don’t have to go back and look at recipes, and your list is ready to go! 

Planning Prep Schedules

This part is kind of scary if you’ve never done prep for future meals, but it’s actually pretty simple! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you never did it before. Not only does is help you plan out your week, it saves a huge amount of time if done right. You don’t need to be a professional, and it doesn’t have to be a chore. Make sure to pick a time where you’ll have a few hours to focus on what you need to do, what needs to be portioned, cut, or seasoned. If you know you need to make dough for a pizza, make it the night before. When it’s time for dinner, your prep time will be short and sweet. When trying to figure out what meals to make on busy days, think about leftovers. If you make double servings of dinner the night before, there’s no need to worry about what’s for dinner.

Veggie Prep

As soon as you get home from the store, try to start on some of the meal prep. Even if you can’t plan out meals right now, taking care of your produce all at once is a huge time saver. Slice and portion all of your veggies and fruits that you can. If you know you’re making something in the next few days that requires diced peppers, do it now and you won’t have to worry later. Make sure to use sealed bags and Tupperware, because moisture is not your friend. Portioning is a huge part of produce prep, too. If you cut fruit and have it portioned and ready to go, you have a healthy snack ready! Make sure to rinse all of your veggies and fruits before anything else.

Portioning Snacks

Whatever dry snacks you buy, try to portion them after you prep your produce. Portioning snacks really helps with portion control for the whole family! Additionally, when packing school lunches or snacks for sporting events, it super easy. Can you imagine reaching in the pantry, grabbing a Ziploc and throwing it in a bag? You may not be able to do this with all of your snacks, but you won’t regret portioning the rest.

And that’s about it! It may sound detailed or over-complicated, but it can really come in handy when time is not on your side. If you’re not super organized, don’t worry. The plans aren’t set in stone and you can’t plan everything! Look at the calendar as a guideline to make cooking a little more stress-free. Start out with just planning dinners, and if you come to love meal prep, add in breakfast and lunch too! There’s not really a wrong way to meal prep, but it can be a learning process. How do you feel about meal prep? Leave your comments for us below!

Healthy Snacks

It’s funny that the JBF Corporate Blog had a post about granola this week – just as we did our trip around the world to Australia and their love of the stuff.

If your kids are like my kids, they need to be involved in creating healthy food (if I am ever going to have a chance that they’ll eat it!).  So here’s a fun way to get your kids channeling their inner “down under” and have a little fun while they do it.

Enjoy!


granolaGranola bars are a staple in every pantry, but during the summer you can never have enough. But instead of store bought granola bars, how fun are homemade granola bars? Not only are they delicious but they’re even healthy! We’ve finally found the perfect recipe that your whole family can’t get enough of. The best part is, they’re no-bake and take only ten minutes to make.

Healthy Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking/instant oats, such as Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats 
  • 1-3/4 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup flax meal or wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (or to taste)

Directions: 

  1. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot, combine the butter, brown sugar and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly thickened about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
  3. Add the oats, rice cereal, almonds, and flax meal to the pan and fold with a rubber spatula until well combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press down lightly with a rubber spatula to even out. Sprinkle the miniature chocolate chips over top, adding more or less to taste, and press down firmly with the spatula so the chips stick.The mixture should be tightly compacted in the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 1-1/2 – 2 hours to cool.
  5. Use the foil overhang to transfer the uncut bars to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into rectangles. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you have to stack them, be sure to use parchment paper or foil in between the layers, otherwise, they’ll stick together and fall apart.

And there you have it! A delicious recipe, that’s easy to make and super fun to eat. Your whole family will love them and you’ll never have to buy store-bought granola bars again! What’s your favorite sweet summer snack? Leave your comments below!

Glitter Slime

Summer is in full swing – and we’re alllllllmost to the point where I am counting down the days until they go back. But ideas like this from the JBF Corporate Blog keep the fun in summer, even when “Momma Weary” sets in!

Enjoy!


GLitter slimeWith fireworks, good food, and the red white and blue, the month of July is one of the best times of the year. Whether it’s the parades, parties, or a good time with our loved ones, summer is always a good time. However, keeping the kids entertained isn’t always easy, with the excitement surrounding your those summer days. We’ve got an awesome glitter slime recipe for families of all ages, sure to make your summer special.

Glitter Slime

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 oz of white glue
  • Liquid starch
  • Food coloring – pink, blue, green and yellow
  • Glitter
  • Cups and craft sticks for mixing

Directions:

  1. First, mix 1/2 cup of white glue, 1 tbsp of water, food coloring, and glitter in a red solo cup.
  2. Use 3 different cups for each color. Use a craft stick to mix completely.
  3. After mixture is combined, add 1/4 cup of liquid starch.
  4. Keep stirring and slime will form. When slime forms, take the slime and begin kneading.
  5. If the slime starts to stick, add some more liquid starch. Be careful not to add more than 1 tsp at a time.
  6. Braid the three colors of slime for a marbled appearance.
  7. Store in a sealed container until you’re ready to put this colorful slime to good use!

And there you have it! A fun AND pretty way to display your creative side. This slime is perfect for kids, parents, and everyone in between. We hope you try making this slime to make this summer extra fun. What’s your favorite summer craft? Leave your comments below!

Snack Time!

It’s blueberry time in West Michigan – WOOHOO!! If you’re not already loaded up on cherries and strawberries – or if you just bleed blue – it’s your time to shine! Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for this cute post on summer snacks. Happy Munching!


BlueberriesJuly is here, which means tons of family fun and full-time demand for hungry kiddos! If you’re tired of hearing “Mom, I’m hungry”, this one’s for you ladies! Whether you prefer fresh fruit and vegetables or prefer to go for something a little more exciting, we’re here to help with some summer snack hacks for all appetites. Not only do we have some great ideas that will make your summer go smoothly, they’ll also keep your kids happy!

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

What You’ll Need:

  • Colby-Jack Cheese Snacks
  • 30 Seedless Grapes
  • 1/2 lb fresh strawberries
  • 4 oz low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Honey
  • Skewers

Directions

  1. Before cutting your fruit, cut cheese into rectangles or cubes – whichever you prefer.
  2. Then cut strawberries into thirds, or keep them whole if you prefer. However, make sure they still fit on your skewers!
  3. Following chopping the fruit and cheese, place ingredients on the skewers. Start with alternating cheese, grapes, and strawberries on skewers.
  4. Finally, drizzle honey over the vanilla yogurt and serve as a dip for fruit kabobs. Enjoy!

Apple Nachos

What You’ll Need:

  •  1 crisp, sweet apple
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped almonds

Directions:

  1. Before melting your drizzle, core your apple and slice completely. Arrange in a single layer on a plate.
  2. Then, put chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave for 15-20 seconds at a time, until completely melted and smooth. Mix between heating.
  3. Following step two, in a separate bowl, melt the peanut butter for 20-30 seconds, until soft. You’ll use this to drizzle over the apples with a spoon.
  4. Finally, Drizzle chocolate and peanut butter over the apples. Sprinkle coconut and almonds over the drizzle and enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Pizza

What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 2 whole bananas

Directions:

  1. Start by cutting watermelon into circular slices, then cut into quarter slices.
  2. However, before you begin topping your slices make sure all other fruit is chopped. When toppings are ready, start with some strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. Add or remove whatever fruit you prefer!
  3. Lastly, trim the rind of the watermelon if you wish, if not your snack is ready to eat and enjoy.

And there you have it, folks! After all, who doesn’t love a summer snack that tastes good AND is guilt free? Even if you love the classics like celery and peanut butter, trying out a new snack this summer is always a good idea. What are some of your favorite snacks that your family loves? Leave your comments below!

Fun Poolside Activities

Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for some fun, creative ideas for your doodlebugs by the pool this summer. Here’s an inexpensive one that’s got some staying power. Enjoy!


Going to the pool with your kids is probably one of your go-to activities over the summer. Your kids probably love soaking in the sunshine and playing with their friends at your local pool and hanging out poolside. But how many times do you see your kids getting bored of just swimming around? Switch up your summer days by introducing some fun poolside arts and crafts! Your kids will have so much fun making these and will love playing with them in the water. Now you can relax and read a book by the poolside while your kids are entertained. One less worry for mom!

Pool Noodle Boats

Materials

Pool noodle
Plastic Straw
Hole puncher
Foam sheet
Directions

  1. Cut the pool noodle into 1- 3 inch pieces. You can use scissors or a knife to do so
  2. Cut the foam into triangles to be the “sail” of the boat. Punch holes on the top and bottom of the foam.
  3. If you have creative little ones they can decorate the foam sail. Bring some sharpies to the pool and your kids can doodle their favorite pictures and write their names on them! Or bring some stickers and decorate the foam with them as well. But be careful, these decorations may come off when wet.
  4. Fit the straw through each of the holes in the foam, and place the straw into the pool noodle.

 

These pool noodle boats take two minutes to make and your kids will love playing with them. They can put their toys inside of the boat and swim with their favorite toys! Your kids will also love playing with the boats with all their friends. They can have boat races in the water, play pretend games, you may even see them wanting to play with the boats once they’re out of the pool as well. The possibilities are endless!

Tips for a Great Summer with the Kids

Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for this great post!


Photo-Apr-24-4-45-34-PM.pngSummer fun. A phrase we all love to hear, but often causes parents excess stress. Yet, this stress does not come from work, it comes from making plans every day for their children. Keeping them busy and enjoying the summer sun is something we should all learn to enjoy.

Tips for a great summer

1. Look for locals. There are plenty of young, fun teenagers in neighborhoods throughout the US who want part-time or full-time summer babysitting opportunities. Reach out to them and set up a weekly schedule, even if it is just two or three days a week for some free time for yourself.

2. Plan a weekly activity. Each week map out a plan. Whether that be dropping the kids off at Grandma’s for a day or taking them to the local park, having something to look forward to will make it a lot easier for all of you.

3. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Often times, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc. complain about how little time they get to spend with their younger relatives. Explain to them your busy schedule for the week and see if they are willing to take the kids for a while once or twice a week. It doesn’t have to be every week, just a monthly visit that will sure to bring smiles to your kids!

4. Read. Read. Read. This does not get emphasized enough, but setting aside time to read, especially in young children and teens, does a lot of good. Make sure they are completing one decently sized book every two weeks. This will keep them busy, smart, and ahead of the game!

5. Assign Chores. A task that makes life easier for you, what a joy! Each week create a chore to do list and assign each child a few duties or errands a couple days of the week. Again, this does not have to be every day, but make sure your kid knows they still need to be doing SOME work during the summer. This will also provide them with a good work ethic for later on in life.

Summer is supposed to be fun for all! So sit back and relax. Do your work, but also help your kids out by using a few of these tips and tricks. You sure will be happy you did!

Eat Those Veggies

Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for this little diddy – as it’s not always an easy spoonful to swallow!

Why are toddlers so hesitant towards eating vegetables?

Focus on Taste Buds

From a young age, many parents are not actively concerned with feeding their children vegetables. This causes young children to lack the taste buds needed to enjoy these particular foods.

Instead, they resort to foods that contain high fat, sugar, and salt. Therefore, if children are being fed mainly foods that contain these ingredients, they will become accustomed to only these.

It is important to help shape toddler’s taste buds.

Naturally flavored foods, like vegetables, have not been a popular choice for young children who are used to the sweet and salty flavored of processed baby foods. In order to shift away from this, parents must be willing to incorporate natural foods during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

By doing this, toddlers will increasingly become more open to the idea of filling their plates with delicious and beneficial vegetables.

It is a fact that if taste buds are shaped at an early age, one is more likely to enjoy the flavors they have grown up with. It may not be an easy task to accomplish, but start small. Create a food chart to track what your child is eating and where vegetables can fit in throughout the day. Little by little you will begin to see the difference in their diet and in their positive attitude.

Tips

To get started, follow these few tips:

• Slowly wean your children away from excess sugar, fat, and salt.
• Temporarily add sugar, salt or fat to veggies so they taste more like foods they have previously liked.
• Shift your kid’s diet towards more natural foods.
• Allow them to have a yummy children’s treat every once in a while.

Healthy food means happy children. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! Try it out!

Helping Your Kids Fall – and Stay – Asleep

Another great post from the JBF Corporate Blog – enjoy!


Once your kids learn to fall asleep on their own it becomes a lot easier for the parents. These bedtime tips will come in handy and you’ll be able to pick and choose what works best for your family/child and what doesn’t.

Have Down-Time

Add at least an hour of down time at night before your child goes to sleep. By doing this you won’t be stressed out and ruches. It’s always better when kids have time for 1-2 books before bed. Stick to just 2 calm and relaxing books to help your child sleep.

Cuddle Time

No matter the age kids will always want to have cuddle time with their mom. It’s the one place they feel the safest. Cherish these moments because there will come a time when they feel they are too old for this. Having mom or dad lie down with their child as they fall to sleep can be very helpful. Once kids they fall into a deep sleep, they normally in it for the long run.

Get a Nightlight

If the darkness is scaring your kids to the point they can’t sleep opt for a nightlight. This way they wake up in the mid of the night and become afraid due to the darkness, the nightlight will help reassure them and help them fall back asleep.

There are several other ways that might be beneficial to helping your child fall asleep but these 3 are what helped me and my family the most.

Conquering Your Child’s Sleep Issues

Thanks to JBF Corporate’s Blog for this post – as I am sure so many of us have faced some challenge in the sleep department at one time or another!

Sweet Dreams!


Sleep.pngDoes your child have problems going to sleep and staying there? I think every parent goes through this stage but I’m here to help you find a solution. When a child doesn’t sleep, that means a mother doesn’t sleep either and this can cause several different problems… Have you ever tried to stay up all night and then taking care of a wild child? It can be very stressful but I hoping these few steps will help you avoid these issues.

Routines:

If you start your child on a bed routine STICK WITH IT! Don’t just follow this schedule for a few weeks and then give up on it. Once your child is used to a specific bedtime routine then they will know when they get put into bed it’s sleeping time and not play time.

Playtime is over:

Kids tend to want to stay up because they think they are missing out on something. If you make them believe that going to bed is more fun than staying up they won’t have a problem going to sleep. Be as boring as you possibly can.

Bribes:

I know this sounds silly and no one should reward a child for something they are supposed to do but at some point, you just give up and will do anything to make your child sleep. It doesn’t have to be anything big, it can honestly be something like you will give them 10 more minutes of TV for everything night they go to bed on time. Or give them that candy bar they beg for everything you go to check out at the store. It’s the little things that make life better.

Stick to your guns and don’t back down. You’re the parent and they are the children. When bedtime gets tough and you don’t know what to do anymore refer back to these few steps. Don’t have any more sleepless nights.

Family Traditions – The Bedtime Story

Another great post from the JBF Corporate blog this week. I can smile right along with the author, as I, too, remember so many nights with my mother reading books under the covers. In turn, I’ve created little readers myself – always longing for one more story.

The time with your child in that quiet space is precious – enjoy every last word.


StockSnap_KI0YU7B6O7-1024x683My favorite part of my night as a little girl was when my mom and I would read a story together. Although I hated the actual bed time part, I loved spending those extra few minutes with her and my favorite story. These days, the bedtime routine seems to be a thing of the past. Parents work late or kids would rather play their video game for twenty more minutes instead of reading a book. Here are a few reasons why we should bring back the bedtime story:

Encourages Reading: The bedtime story is obviously a great way to get your child reading. If he or she is young, read a book that he loves that also uses repetitive phrases that they can say with you. If he is older, take turns reading a page from a chapter book he enjoys.

Creativity: Bedtime stories also boost your child’s creativity. Reading these stories can help your child to retell them and add to their own ending.

Language Development: Reading stories every night boosts your child’s vocabulary. Exposing him to language in the stories will help him to understand and use what he is hearing.

Calming: Playing a game or looking at a bright phone screen keeps your child’s brain awake and does not help him to fall asleep. Being read to or reading will calm him. There is no bright light stimulating his brain, and he will become more relaxed making it easier to fall asleep.

Bonding: Parents and children can spend those last few minutes of the day enjoying something together. Not only can you and your child read before bedtime, you can talk, or sing nursery rhymes. No matter the age, children love to spend a few extra moments one on one with their parent.

Bring the bedtime story back to life and back into your family traditions!