« Where the magic happens | Main | (Un)Employment »

April 28, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I LOVE this post.

I used to work in the meat industry (ugh, don't ask) and I thought you might like to know that the "tube" of Jimmy Dean sausage is referred to as a "chub" in the meat industry.

I cannot walk by a display of them today, many years later, without giggling like a seventh-grade boy.



We make Waffles from scratch on the weekend and freeze the leftovers for the kids to cook in the toaster the rest of the week. All natural, and we can bump up the nutrition with whole wheat flour and pureed fruit.

I also by bread/english muffins/hot dog and Hamburger buns that are baked at the in store bakery. They usually have no preservatives or funky ingredients.

Amanda P. Westmont


And Jackie, I've TRIED doing that with the waffles, but they never seem to make it into the freezer before they all get eaten! (I also really REALLY hate cleaning the waffle iron.)

bethany actually

I love that you feed your kids all-natural stuff at home. That is a great idea, one that I should be more conscious of. Though we do eat mostly natural food at home, I don't make it a goal like you do, and I should, especially since I am blessed with a kid who's a bit more adventurous than the average 6-year-old! One of her favorite foods is pork or chicken stir-fry, with carrots and broccoli, with a sauce that's simply soy sauce, white wine, water, and brown sugar. She also loves homemade chili (very easy to make all-natural, even with canned beans), and her favorite snack is an apple with some peanut butter or cheddar cheese.

And you know, it's pretty easy to make crackers at home! It sounds too Martha Stewart for words, I know, but if you can bake cookies you can totally make homemade crackers. :-)


I once read that one Lunchable has the same amount of sugar as three Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Scary...


I can get food police, too, but I tend to get all "hippie-self-righteous-first-world-problems" about wasteful packaging in lunches. We aim for a zero-waste lunch box because schools generate so much garbage and not all schools recycle or compost like ours. This means that we:

-use kleen kanteens for water (Srsly-- individual water bottles are THE DEVIL! Landfills are made of those!)

-wrap sandwiches, tortilla roll-ups, bagels etc in Wrap-N-Mats. They are washable and hang dry over night. We have several that have lasted 2+ years. If I were crafty, I'd make my own.

-buy things like nuts and yogurt in bulk whenever possible and we have little plastic bento containers that we put them in. I try not to use plastic bags (though, god, i am SO the target market for those cute little snack bags).

-pack cloth napkins and real silverware (thrift stores are great to pick up "lunch sets" of forks and spoons that you won't care if they get lost) in lunch boxes.

Works for us and saves us money, too!


Oh my gosh, Tillamook cheese YUM! One thing I love about the PNW!

A ding dong? Really?!? My son has gone to two birthday parties so far this year and the parents served vegan cupcakes from a local bakery.

Amanda P. Westmont

Stefania - I bought a 100 count box of those snack bags accidentally like 3 years ago and I'm still trying to get rid of them. I tend to put the cut up foods in glass mason jars. The small ones work perfectly and since the lunch bags are padded, they never break. I never EVER use plastic silverware, but I do admit to using the sandwich bags. One of my rules is that Alex isn't allowed to throw ANYTHING away. This is how I keep track of what he actually eats, but it also means I get to make sure the plastic bottles are always reused and then recycled.


Thank you for being a pre-Jamie Oliver lunch genius.


All natural?!? Don't throw anything AWAY?!? Reuse? RECYCLE?!?

Exactly what kind of conservative are you?!?

I kid, I kid... loved this post!


I love reading this! I am also very anti-Lunchable and refuse to send one with my son (who, admittedly, is only 2.5) when he has Mother's Morning Out. When I was teaching preschool, one of my kids would bring a homemade lunchable of sorts, and it was SO much more appealing.

My deal is this, we have nothing like Trader Joes where I live. I'm lucky that I have the option to shop at Kroger where there's a good organic section, but it's pretty pricey. I'm trying to elimate HFCS as much as possible. I do plenty of Annie's, have never even introduced fruit snacks, and have always given my son whole wheat pasta - he And I've NEVER seen mandarin oranges packed in water - would LOVE that. Luckily, we do lots of fresh fruit. Thanks for all the good ideas!

Elise Logan

We talked about this on twitter a bit, but let me introduce you to one of the best things I ever found as a parent concerned about what goes down my kid's throat: justtomatoes.com


My daughter eats the (organic) freeze dried peas like candy. But everything is great. Need something that doesn't require refrigeration for diaper bag or road trips? Hit these guys up. They were originally aimed at the camping crowd, but this is a parent's best friend. Seriously.


Not to sound like a total ass but just because something is "all natural" doesn't mean it's healthy....egg, cheese and sausage on an english muffin for a 5 year old? Seriously? That's something most grown-ups shouldn't really eat because of the fat and cholesterol!!! I'm all for feeding kids natural and healthy...but let's be honest here...pancakes, sausage, lots of cheese ("just slice a hunk off the block"), chicken nuggets, hot dogs and hamburgers -- those are all very un-healthy foods and should not be consumed on a regular basis!


awesome post with lots of great ideas/new combos i hadn't thought of.

highlights for me:

• a big bucket of genetic shit soup - half ditto but i know how dominant MY mom's fat genes were so, yeah.

• all-natural sausage CHUB - available at the wal! i didn't know!

• water or, uh, water - kills me how many people who are thoughtful about what their kids eat but who continue to fill 'em up with juice/soda/capricrap

• manrito - yes!

• ikea plates - we have those and LOVE.

• no restrictions on quantity - a big deal at our house. no force feeding, no limits at mealtime.

the other thing i was going to suggest was the pancake/waffle mixes from bob's red mill. they have whole grain varieties and you can add shredded veggies or dried fruit or whatev and they are yum. great for freezing too.

OH and i have a great recipe for steel cut oatmeal that you make in the crockpot. i stuff it full of dried fruit and nuts/seed and then we freeze it in individual portions. nearly as quick as the instant stuff but super hearty. PLUS, speaking of budget, one canister of steel cut oats makes TWO giant crockpots full so it's cheap too!

Amanda P. Westmont

balebusta - We might have to agree to disagree because I think eggs are actually a PERFECT food for children. Twice a week. I don't believe in low fat diets, either, not for me OR my children. And cheese will always be a staple because neither of my kids will drink milk. I think what it comes down to is moderation. And fruits and/or veggies with every meal and also in between.


I think you're doing an amazing job. It's not easy to avoid all the pre packaged stuff out there. And kids are picky eaters. Even I find myself not getting enough fruits and veggies and I like them!

I drink V8 Fusion Light to help out with some of that, but it's still hard. And well... you know I'm fat. My problem is sugar. I have a wicked sweet tooth.


Have you been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? Taking on school lunches big time in a community labeled the fattest in the country. The principal at the test school lost 25 pounds since they started serving healthy food in his school.


I think the best nugget in this entire post is that Magic Shell is natural. I don't buy ice cream to save (as opposed to by the scoop) much but next time I am definitely doing that.


You are doing such a great thing for your kids! I never buy Lunchables for my daughter no matter how many time she tells me everyone else brings them for lunch. Just gross! She also takes water in those little water bottles. We refill and she takes them many times. It makes me proud that she prefers to drink water over anything else. My hubby and I are also big people but we are trying to make changes--eating healthier and walking. We've started walking every night after dinner as a family. Keep up the good work!

Barbara Harrison

I love it that your school makes the kids take their leftovers home! I found this great website with lots of lunch and packing ideas. http://www.laptoplunches.com/ideas.html#waste


I always love reading posts like this for other people's ideas! I also feed my family an all-natural diet, and I try to make as much as possible from scratch (for budgetary reasons, health reasons, and because I like to cook).

Some things that show up frequently on our table that everyone loves:

-Steel cut oats (soak overnight with a big of plain yogurt--neutralizes phytates for better digestion and makes it super fast to cook) with dried or fresh fruit, cinnamon, milk, and honey.
-Whole wheat English muffins with peanut or almond butter
-Whole wheat bagels with cream cheese
-Whole wheat pancakes made from scratch with fresh fruit and honey
-Egg, cheese, and vegetable frittata (so quick and everyone loves it)
-Smoothies- plain yogurt, spinach or kale, frozen fruit, a banana, and orange juice

Lunch (some of these show up for dinner too)
-Hummus, veggies, and whole wheat pita
-Grilled cheese on whole wheat bread
-Black beans and brown rice with veggies and cheese
-Quesadillas with guacamole and salsa
-PBJ with natural PB, low-sugar natural jelly, and WW bread

-Plain yogurt with a little honey, jam, or cinnamon mixed in (I make the yogurt myself--no plastic containers, cheap, and easy)
-PB and crackers
-Frozen peas, blueberries, or pineapple (straight out of the freezer--they love it)
-Pretzels and PB

Dinner is always one dish for the whole family--healthy, balanced, and filling. We're vegetarians if you haven't noticed, but we eat meat-free (and fake-meat free) versions of what a lot of people eat: chili, enchiladas, soups, salads, lots of beans and lentils and whole grains (millet, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur).

We also drink water only, and are lucky enough to live walking distance from Trader Joe's, so much of our groceries and everything that is pre-made (bagels, pretzels, crackers, etc.) comes from there.


Oh, I meant to add that I totally agree that eggs, cheese, and the like are great foods for kids--nay, everyone! If you're eating whole, natural foods, not a bunch of fattening, processed crap, the fat is not a bad thing. Our bodies NEED fat (in moderation) and our kids' bodies REALLY need fat for their growing little brains and bodies!


that's awesome yer so conscious about what yer kids put in their bodies. just a heads up, though - "natural" doesn't necessarily mean "ok to consume" - tyson chicken is chock full of hormones and on most lunch meats "natural"=marketing. i'd go with local, hormone free meat (if you can get it) instead of the big slaughterhouse brands.
but, really, whatever.

we all do the best we can, no?

also, do you garden? i just started one and it is -seriously- the most exciting thing EVER. and we get to EAT IT.
oh, it's awesome.

(also - awesome spot for food info...
http://www.alternet.org/food/ )

Kerri Young

Hi Manda,
Mu children are now 12 10 and 3 and many years ago i decided that an organic diet = too much money so instead i focused on what I could do easily and that was breakfast.
So every single breakfast since then has been 100% ORGANIC.
EASY!! organic milk, organic cereal or oats or homemade pancakes
organic honey or raw sugar for sweetness. We have now added Organic agave syrup and quiet often my 12 y/o has an organic smoothie for brekky, easy! I also always buy organic free range eggs.
I can easily absorb the extra cost of these particular items into my shopping budget.
So one meal per day and it was easy... all those chemical calories saved.
Give it a go. and well done on your choices for your kids...



wow, you must have ESPN or something! *wink*
i was just about to post to facebook to ask people for lunch ideas. i have a VERY picky 3.5 yr old who will barely touch her school lunches. and i have to admit that they've been used to a steady stream of snacks (crackers, pretzels, fruit snacks and some fresh fruit) at home so i can hardly blame them for not wanting to eat healthy.

i'm trying to get them to eat better, but can i ask how "natural" is defined? i know it's easy to find organic stuff, but what do you look for when you go shopping for "natural" foods?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner