Peanut Free Lunches for Picky Eaters

Packing lunches is one of the tasks I detest the most. My boys' schools are peanut free, and they don't like sandwiches, so my options for filling the lunch boxes are limited. I know I am not alone in this struggle, so today I am sharing some simple peanut free lunch ideas that kids will actually eat.


Make your own "lunchable" - These DIY "lunchables" are healthier and better for the environment than the pre-packaged, store-bought versions. The kids won't be able to resist the adorable (and easy to open) containers filled with their favorites. You can even get your kids involved by letting them choose what they want to put in the containers.


Make ahead freezable smoothies - Make a batch of your favorite smoothies, put them in these freezer jam jars, and stick them in the freezer. If you put them in the lunch boxes in the morning, they'll be ready to enjoy at lunch time.


Breakfast for lunch - My fussy eaters don't love sandwiches, but they really enjoy breakfast foods. So, "breakfast for lunch" is a perfect option for my boys. Their lunch box staples include: cereal in a thermos, french toast, and hard boiled eggs.




Homemade baked goods - It's always helpful to have a well stocked freezer. I bake large batches of goodies, store them in the freezer, and pop them in my boys' lunch boxes each morning. Three of my favorite lunchbox recipes are: 





Fridge and pantry favorites - A well stocked fridge and pantry on Sunday will make it easier to pack lunches quickly and efficiently all week. In addition to fruits and veggies, I like to purchase: morning rounds, preservative free meats, unsweetened fruit cups, cheese strings, yogurt tubes, raisins, whole wheat crackers, pretzels, hummus, pasta and salad dressing (for a quick pasta salad), granola bars, etc...


My boys don't like taking leftovers because they think the school microwave is gross, and they take too long to eat. However, if your kids enjoy leftovers, that is another great option.


I hope some of these options work for you and your fussy eaters. I also have a school lunch ideas Pinterest board that you can check out for more simple lunch ideas.

Do have a fantastic peanut free lunch idea you'd like to share? I'd love to have you leave it in the comments below. I am always looking for school lunch inspirations.


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Have you ever had a peanut butter cookie craving? The next time the urge strikes, you need to try this recipe for triple peanut butter cookies. If you like peanut butter cookies, you'll love this cookie that is packed with THREE types of peanut butter goodness!


To make this cookie, you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 cup mini Reese's Pieces

Directions:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine butter, peanut butter, and both sugars.
  2. Add baking soda and baking powder, and beat until combined.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, and beat again.
  4. Stir in flour.
  5. Stir in peanut butter chips and mini Reese's Pieces.
  6. Spoon onto cookie sheet, and bake in preheated oven (at 375 degrees) for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

These cookies were a huge hit with my boys. If you are a fan of peanut butter cookies, you are going to love these triple peanut butter cookies.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Vampire Teeth Treats (and free printable tags)

It's always fun for kids to have unique Halloween goodies to give to their friends, and today I am sharing a few adorable vampire-themed treat ideas. Check out these easy and inexpensive vampire teeth treats... and free printable tags.


Plastic vampire teeth are plentiful at the dollar store this time of year, and they can be used to turn a regular donut into a special vampire treat. You can package them up with a darling "A Sweet Treat to Sink your Teeth Into" tag. Cute, right?

I used Picmonkey.com to transform my son into a vampire and create some spook-tacular tags.


If you don't want to use donuts, you can just package a pair of teeth with a small "sweet treat".


These are the tags I designed using Picmonkey.


If you aren't feeling adventurous enough to create your own tags, you can use the generic tags that I designed. Just right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.


Don't you just love this simple Halloween treat idea? I think any child would be delighted to receive one of these vampire teeth treats.


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Using a CHEAP Bookcase to Get Organized

As a mom with a small house, three growing boys, and a lot of stuff... I am always looking for easy (and cheap) ways to bring a little order to my chaos. Last week, I was looking at the "piles" of "stuff" all over my older boys' room, and I knew I needed to find a way to organize their things. Today, I am sharing my tips for getting organized... with the help of a $30 bookcase.


My two older boys (who are 9 and 10) share a room, where they like to pile their stuff on top of any free surface. I needed to find a way to organize their stuff in a way that they could access it, and easily put their items away in a logical place.

The starting point for my project was a little blue table in their room that they have outgrown. I removed the table from their room, and I replaced it with a $30 three-shelf bookcase.


This little shelf looks a lot neater, and all of my boys' belongings are definitely more organized!


I was even able to remove a lot of the items from the top of their dresser and find places for their books and treasures on the bookcase.


This is what their dresser looks like now. Much better, right?


I am loving how much tidier my boys' room looks now. Not bad for $30!


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Several years ago, I shared my mom's recipe for "no fail" banana bread. I use this banana bread recipe frequently... and sometimes I use the same recipe for muffins. These banana chocolate chip muffins are simple to make, they always turn out great, and they are perfect for my boys' lunch boxes.


To make my mom's simple banana chocolate chip muffins:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a muffin tin.

2) Whisk the following dry ingredients together:
     2 cups of flour
     1/4 cup white sugar
     1/4 cup brown sugar
     3 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2-1 cup chocolate chips

3) Beat the following ingredients together:
     1 egg
     3/4 cup milk
     1/4 cup melted butter (cooled)
     1 1/2 cup mashed bananas

4) Mix wet and dry ingredients until combined, and pour batter evenly into the muffin tin (to make 12 muffins).

5) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.




I make these muffins every couple of weeks, and I often freeze them for school lunches. If you give them a try, let me know what you think.


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Fantastic Family Movie Night Ideas (including special treat pairings)

After a busy week, there is nothing like getting into comfy PJs and cuddling up with the kids for a special family movie night. Netflix has a growing catalogue of family movies and Disney classics, and today I am sharing some fantastic movie ideas and super-fun (and easy) matching treats. It's everything you need for the perfect family movie night!


1) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - This movie might be a bit scary for younger kids, but older kids will love it... and so will parents. 


For pirate treats, why not try some peanut butter and jelly fish sandwiches? Make regular sandwiches, cut them out with fish-shaped cookie cutters, and add chocolate chip eyes. Easy peasy!


"Fish and chips" is another fun option! My boys think this idea is hilarious.


2) Tangled - This classic Disney tale is based on the story of Rapunzel, and it is sure to delight children and their parents.


For Tangled treats, why not bake up a batch of these Pascal cupcakes? 


To create these Rapunzel's Chameleon (Pascal) Cupcakes:
1) Make your favorite white cupcakes.
2) Cover each cupcake with green icing.
3) For the eyes - use white chocolate candy melts and chocolate chips (with chocolate icing for the "glue").
4) Use chocolate icing to draw a simple nose and mouth.
5) Use green icing to pipe on eyebrows and the protruding part of its head.

3) Lilo & Stitch - This sweet Disney movie is set in Hawaii, features a quirky and adorable alien, and focusses on the importance of family. What's not to love?


For Lilo & Stitch themed snacks, why not try some "beachy" treats? For example: gummy sharks, pool water (blue juice), fish and chips (gold fish mixed with salt & vinegar chips), sea creature crackers, pool noodles (liquorice), and chips served in (clean) buckets.

4) Cool Runnings - This classic underdog story is full of colorful characters and lessons about not giving up. It's great for older kids, and parents will be entertained too.


For a Cool Runnings snack, why not try a yummy and "cool" treat? Check out the recipe for our favorite homemade Reese's peanut butter cup no-churn ice cream here.


5) Planes - This airplane version of Disney's classic "Cars" movie is an entertaining adventure that will appeal to children of all ages.


For Planes themed goodies, why not add sweet tags to pre-packaged treats to create custom in-flight snacks?


To download the adorable tag I designed: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo. You can cut each photo into three tags, and staple the tags to bags of your favorite movie treats.


Aren't these fantastic ideas for making movie night special? Have you seen all of these Disney movies? If not, you should make plans to enjoy them on Netflix ASAP.

What are some of your favorite flicks to watch with your children?


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)


Disclosure: I receive special gifts and perks as part of my affiliation with Netflix.... however (as always) the opinions on this blog are 100% my own.

First Day of School 2016

Today was the first day of school for my sweet boys. They are now in grades 2, 4, and 6... and I can't believe how quickly time is passing. Today, I am sharing our back to school traditions and a few photos from our first day.


We started our day with a special pancake breakfast.


Then, the boys reluctantly posed for a few pictures. We always take pictures with some photo props and with the boys holding their "first day of school" photos from the previous year.


After they finished their mini photo shoot, the two younger boys headed to school with some little treats for their friends and teachers. 

Apparently, when you are in Grade 6 you don't really want to do this anymore. :-)



Fun, right?

My oldest son has hockey practice after school, but after that, we'll all have a special snack and talk about the day. I can't wait for them to get home. I miss them already!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
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