Saving Money on School Lunches

 

Saving Money on School Lunches

Back in the “old days” when I was a kid, every morning my mom would fill up my Ghostbusters lunch box with a peanut butter and jelly or baloney sandwich, an obligatory piece of fruit that usually ended up squished and uneaten, a cookie, and a juice box. It was pretty boring basic. But, it was inexpensive and easy. Now, times have changed, peanut butter isn’t allowed in classrooms, and lunch foods are becoming much more expensive. A pound of good lunch meat will set you back at least $10, a loaf of bread another $5, and that doesn’t even include sides. You could easily spend $100 a month just on school lunches for a couple kids! So, how can you save money on school lunches, while keeping them healthy and fun?

1. Give Leftovers a Chance
As a kid, “leftovers” were my least favorite food group. It wasn’t until I got married and had to start paying for my own groceries that I realized leftovers weren’t that bad if done right. Leftover soup or chili can be brought to boiling in the morning and placed in a quality Thermos (leakproof!) in an insulated lunch bag and should still be warm by lunchtime. Leftover chicken can be turned into chicken salad, and leftover homemade pizza is really good eaten cold.

2. Rethink Protein
Many schools have banned nut products from classrooms, which means the standby protein source of peanut butter is out. But lunch meat is so expensive! Cheese, beans, and eggs are all inexpensive proteins that can be used. Think pita chips and hummus, hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs, and cheese sticks.

3. Homemade Lunchables
You can make your own homemade Lunchable Pizzas by packing separately one or two sliced English muffins, a small container of pizza or pasta sauce, and a handful of cheese, to be assembled by your child at lunch. You could make 10 pizzas for the cost of 1 purchased Pizza Lunchable. You can also make your own Lunchable Nachos by serving tortilla chips with separate containers of salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and homemade black beans.

4. Pack Better, Not More
Things like chips and cookies fill space in the lunch box, but they are empty calories that will keep your child from getting full. Pack intentional side items that contain protein and fiber. You will save money by packing less, and your child will be full quicker. Some ideas include: Fruit with Cottage Cheese, Oatmeal Cookies, or Apple Slices with caramel sauce (there is a lot of fiber in apple peels.)

5. Make it Fun
You’re probably thinking, “My kid won’t eat that!” But, if you change the presentation and make it fun, he can’t help but want to eat it! Turn cheese and fruit into kabobs. Cut fruit or vegetables into fun shapes with Veggie Cutters. Make foods DIY (like the homemade Lunchables or veggies with several dipping sauces), or serve everything in a Bento Lunchbox.
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What are your favorite ways to save money on lunches? Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, and find more ideas on Pinterest!

Book Review: Bonding with Your Child Through Boundaries

Bonding with Your Child through BoundariesI have read my fair share of Christian parenting books. It’s always interesting to see how people’s personal experiences shape their views on parenting, and how they suggest other people apply the information to their own parenting struggles. Some people lean towards heart based strategies, some towards a more rigid approach. Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries is sort of a mix…using boundaries with kids as a way to get to their hearts. Author June Hunt, along with Peggy Sue Wells, use years of counseling and hands-on experience with struggling families to bring a practical resource to parents of toddlers through tweens.

I wasn’t sure about Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries at first, because, if you’ve read more than a few parenting books, you’ll know that there isn’t really anything new under the sun. Many books harp on the same ideas, but don’t give much in the way of practical advice. As soon as I started reading this book, however, I realized that there would be a lot of practical suggestions in every chapter. The first section of the book defines and describes boundaries and how to best implement them. The second section gives theoretical scenarios in different situations that may arise (Anger and Aggression, Bullying, Chores, Gossip, Lying, etc.). The last section includes a piece on bringing your child to Christ.

Each chapter starts with a theoretical situation about a specific issue a child may struggle with, then explains the what, why, and how about using boundaries to remedy the situation.

Since this book is meant to be a resource for ages 2-12,  we haven’t experienced many of the “big kid” issues yet, but I found the chapters on chores and whining to be helpful for us right now.

Because of Junior’s deafness and sensory issues, he gets frustrated with his communication skills and it sometimes comes out in the form of hitting. Nosy Rude Well-meaning comments from non-special needs parents have suggested I find a more useful discipline strategy for him, but I was relieved to read that “children with a hearing impairment” may act out in aggression out of frustration. I liked how, unlike other parenting books that give a broad “discipline more”, this book asserted that some issues are physical or neurological and not a result of poor parenting, and that therapy may be helpful.

Overall, I enjoyed the insights given, and thought it gave good practical advice about how to use boundaries to create responsible children. I liked how the boundaries weren’t harsh, but used a lot of natural consequences to teach children personal responsibility. The only thing I would have changed about this book would have been to divide it into two separate sections for younger vs. older children issues, since some chapters didn’t apply to me. Also, much of the public school problems (cliques, cheating, homework, etc.) didn’t apply to us since we homeschool.

I received an advance reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

Guest Post: How to Save Money at Kohl’s

Today I’m sharing a Guest Post from Jason Feller at Dealspotr. DealSpotr is a community that helps you save money by offering the most recent and reliable coupon codes from hundreds of online retailers, in addition to a well-written blog featuring comprehensive consumer guides.

Jason has shared his Kohl’s store guide with my readers to help save money and make the most of our Kohl’s shopping experience. I especially love Kohl’s clearance and have purchased many clothing items for under $2.  

How to Save Money at Kohl’s

With more than 1,200 stores across the country, Kohl’s has more locations than any other department store in the United States. The secret to its success? Offering low prices and great deals on quality merchandise. Kohl’s customers are incredibly loyal and keep coming back because the store makes it fairly easy and provides lots of opportunities to save. Get ready to become a Kohl’s deal expert with these tips.

Use Kohl’s Cash

Kohl’s frequently runs a unique promotion where it gives customers a chance to earn store credit when they reach certain spending requirements. Most promotions are run over Kohl’s Cash weekends, during which time customers can earn $10 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 they spend in store or online at Kohls.com. Kohl’s Cash can be used the same way as a storewide coupon, so if your items total $25 and you have $20 in Kohl’s Cash, you would only pay $5 out of pocket. If your total was only $20 and you used Kohl’s Cash, all you would have to pay would be applicable sales tax.

Kohl’s Cash is superior to similar programs at other stores and is a beloved program for many frequent customers. Here are the reasons this program stands out from the rest:

*Use leftover Kohl’s Cash on successive transactions. Kohl’s Cash works more like store credit than a traditional coupon, because unlike a traditional coupon that doesn’t carry value after it is redeemed, Kohl’s Cash can be used across multiple transactions during the redemption period. If you have $20 of Kohl’s Cash but only have $10 in your transaction, you can use the remaining $10 in Kohl’s Cash on your next purchase within the redemption period.

*Combine Kohl’s Cash with sale and clearance items. Similar programs at other stores often dictate that rewards can’t be used on sale and clearance items and often come with a long list of excluded items. This isn’t the case with Kohl’s Cash—it can be used on anything in the store or online, including sale, clearance, or discounted items. The few exceptions for redeeming Kohl’s Cash are for Kohl’s gift cards, Kohl’s Cares for Kids charitable merchandise, and items from Wayfair.com, an online-only Kohl’s partner.

*Stack Kohl’s Cash with coupons and promo codes. Similar to a lack of exclusions for sale merchandise, there are also few limitations for combining Kohl’s Cash with coupons and promo codes. Note that Kohl’s Cash is applied to your purchase before any coupons, meaning that if you have a 20% off coupon and $20 in Kohl’s Cash on a $100 purchase, the Kohl’s Cash will be applied first, leaving you with 20% off the remaining $80 for a total of $64.

*Apply Kohl’s Cash retroactively. If you forget to use Kohl’s Cash for a purchase during the redemption period, you can come back later and take your Kohl’s Cash to customer service to credit the amount to your purchase. For example, if you make a $20 purchase but forgot your $10, you can come back later and redeem the $10.

*Round up your purchase. Kohl’s is a very unique store in that it rounds up your purchases. If you spend $48 ($2 below the Kohl’s Cash requirement), Kohl’s will still give you Kohl’s Cash worth $10 because they round up your purchase.

Kohl’s Cash can only be redeemed during specific redemption periods that often only last a week. Shopping at Kohl’s is best done when you are ready to make a lot of frequent purchases so you can take full advantage of Kohl’s Cash on things you want and need.

Join Yes 2 You Rewards

Aside from Kohl’s Cash, the store also provides a more traditional rewards program that is totally free and a great chance to save even more money at Kohl’s. The Yes 2 You rewards program is fairly basic but useful. Simply sign up online at Kohls.com, in store at the register, or through the Kohl’s app and provide your name, email address, phone number, and birthday. If you sign up online, you’ll have to link your membership to your Kohls.com account to get all of the program’s benefits.

Members of Yes 2 You earn points on every Kohl’s purchase excluding gift cards and Wayfair.com online purchases at a rate of one point for every dollar spent. Points are typically added to your account 48 hours after making a purchase. One you hit 100 points, you automatically receive $5 in Rewards Cash that can be redeemed on any item at Kohl’s (except the same exclusions of gift cards and Wayfair.com items). Rewards Cash is good for 30 days after if it issued, and your points expire after a year. Checking your points balance is simple—you can click Account and then Yes2You Rewards on Kohls.com or click Yes2You Rewards on the Kohl’s app.

Aside from the normal benefits, Yes 2 You members also get a special gift on their birthday, multiple chances during the year to earn bonus points, and at least eight exclusive savings opportunities each year.

Use Online Promo Codes and In-Store Coupons

Yet another way to save at Kohl’s is through the extensive selection of promo codes and coupons. The store regularly releases valuable storewide or department-specific promo codes that can be used on Kohls.com purchases. Kohl’s also offers printed coupons for when you shop in store, which typically come in the mail or in newspaper inserts. You can stack a storewide coupon with a department-specific coupon for greater savings, but note that Kohl’s doesn’t accept manufacturer coupons.

Before you use a coupon or promo code, take a look at the long list of exclusions, which often features most major brands. Capitalize on savings by using promo codes and coupons on smaller brands and saving your Kohl’s Cash and Yes 2 You Rewards Cash for the larger brand names.

Shop Clearance Sales

Similar to other department stores, Kohl’s best deals come during clearance sales. The difference with Kohl’s is that it typically doesn’t treat clearance items different from other items in the store, meaning you can still use Kohl’s Cash, Yes 2 You Rewards Cash, promo codes, and coupons on clearance items to further reduce the discount and score great deals.

The best deals are found in the Final Clearance section, which is the last stop for sales merchandise. These items feature the largest discounts and can sometimes be up to 90% off the original price.

Take Advantage of the Price Matching Policy

It definitely pays to be a loyal Kohl’s shopper, especially when it comes to Kohl’s Cash or Yes 2 You Rewards. One problem with shopping almost exclusively at Kohl’s is that you miss out on opportunities to get a better price on the same item at other stores. However, Kohl’s knows this and implemented a price matching policy to ease customer concerns. Kohl’s will match the price on any item if you bring a copy of the competitor ad with the exact same item shown with a better price. This policy only applies to physical stores and does not work at Kohls.com or on many major brands.

You can also take advantage of price adjustments at Kohl’s. If you purchase a full-price item at Kohl’s and the item goes on sale (except clearance) within 14 days of purchase, you can return to the store and be refunded the price difference. Coupons and promo codes still apply to the adjusted price, and you must have the original sales receipt to get the adjustment.

Buy Discounts Kohl’s Gift Cards at Cardpool.com

You can also save a few more dollars on your Kohl’s purchase by buying discounted gift cards from Cardpool.com. Alongside the Kohl’s gift cards, the site also sells discounted gift cards at a huge variety of stores. Kohl’s cards are typically discounted at 4% off, which means you can get a $25 gift card for $1 off. It may seem like a small amount, but that discount can add up quickly, especially when combined with Kohl’s Cash and Yes 2 You Rewards Cash. Let’s say you have $30 in Kohl’s Cash, $20 in Yes 2 You Rewards Cash and eight $25 discounted Kohl’s gift cards (which cost $192 on Cardpool.com instead of $200); you can then purchase $250 of Kohl’s items for only $192. If you apply these savings to clearance and sales items, the savings can escalate quickly and become even greater.

Cardpool.com sells electronic Kohl’s gift cards that you can print at home and use in store or online. The site also sells physical gift cards that are sent to your home with free shipping. Physical cards come in more denomination options, so if you need a smaller or more specific amount, it is better to plan ahead and order a physical card. In most other situations, it is more convenient to get an electronic card and take advantage of it immediately.

Jason Feller is a distinguished journalist and blogger, who has worked in full-time editorial roles with companies such as The Washington Post, NFL.com and Yahoo! Currently, he serves as the lead writer for Dealspotr.com, a coupon community dedicated to helping people save money.

Book Review: Legend

Roy Benavidez LEGEND by Eric Blehm

The 1960s was a turbulent decade in American History. Between civil rights, gender equality, and political discord, it seemed that everyone was protesting something. That is probably why the Vietnam War became a most unpopular war. Still today, some 45 years later, many Vietnam veterans continue to fight their own battles on the home front after experiencing the horrors of a new type of guerrilla warfare in the jungles of East Asia.

Judging from the prominent stories of political unrest, peace protests, and PTSD, one would think that stories out of Vietnam would be just as dire. However, many young men that went over acted heroically, and some 60,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home. An unbelievably heroic and daring mission is brought to life in Eric Blehm’s new book, Legend.

The book is about one fateful day in May of 1968, eventually ending with a legendary act by Army Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez. Benavidez came from humble beginnings–a middle school drop out from Texas, orphaned at a young age, Roy and his brother Roger were adopted into their aunt and uncle’s migrant family. The family spent the summers working the fields of Colorado, all helping to provide for each other. Roy was often in trouble for fighting, and having grown up watching paratrooper movies at the local theater, decided he was going to join the Army National Guard. Soon, he volunteered for active duty and rose to become a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.

The first part of Legend details Roy’s early life from birth until marriage, enlistment, and examples of the his indomitable, tenacious spirit. In 1966, Roy suffered a serious injury and was medevaced from his first tour in Vietnam, having been told he would never walk again. But, that tenacious spirit picked up, and a year later after a much therapy and willpower, Roy not only regained his ability to walk, but qualified to become an elite Army Green Beret.

The 2nd part of the book gives a lot of background into the MACV-SOG (special operations out of Vietnam) and 240th Assault Helicopter Company, including a lot of names, dates, acronyms, and otherwise background information. A lot of reviews mentioned this to be “dull” or “dragging”, but because Vietnam was such a complex war and because there were so many players in the 2 May 1968 incident, this was actually a necessary part of the book. We got to know the history of some of the pilots involved, so I felt like I had a personal connection to each soldier when he was mentioned later on.

The last third of the book detailed the events of 2 May 1968, when a group of Green Berets were trapped deep beyond enemy lines and Roy Benavidez’s heroic rescue attempt where others had failed. Armed with only a knife and a bottle of Tabasco, Roy was able to hold of the Vietcong and save men who would certainly have died. Because this top secret mission took place in Cambodia (a country the government had vehemently denied being in), details could not be shared, so Roy was denied the Congressional Medal of Honor. Finally, years later after a compelling letter from a forgotten survivor, MSG Benavidez was awarded the CMH from President Reagan himself.

Legend was a compelling story of ordinary men doing extraordinary things, turning them into heroes. I also felt sad for the way Vietnam War veterans were treated as they attempted to fall back into society after their return stateside. This book is a must-read to understand exactly what kinds of things these young men experienced in the Vietnam War, and to appreciate the camaraderie and sacrifices they made. For every story that is told, there are a thousand more that aren’t.

Blehm is a wonderful storyteller, and every single word in his books has a purpose. It is a lot of information, but written in a way that reads like a novel instead of a textbook.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

10 Reasons Why Having a Child With Cochlear Implants is Awesome

10 Reasons Having a Child with Cochlear Implants is Awesome

10. They are the envy of all other children who do not have the ability to stick things to their heads.

“Why yes, I do have a magnetic personality.”

 

9. You don’t have to worry about vacuuming while they sleep.

Or, you’ve ever accidentally woken up someone else’s sleeping child because you forgot they can hear. Oops.

 

8. You have your own secret language.

To some, an Audi is a car. To us, they have magical sound powers. Both cost about the same.

 

7. If there’s ever bad language in a movie, you can pull his ears off.

Uh oh. He can lipread…

 

 

6. Every other cochlear implant family is an instant friend.

They just “get it”.

 

 

5. You have a reason to smile every single day. 

“Mommy” is the most beautiful word you’ll ever hear.

 

 

4. They can take their ears off whenever they want.

Husbands have been begging for this technology for centuries.

 

 

3. You’ve gotten really good at responding to dumb strange questions.

“Why yes, our toddler has her own Bluetooth for all her business calls.”

 

 

2. You have to laugh at some of the things that come out of your mouth.

“Don’t you dare throw your ears out the window!”
“Your ear is stuck to the refrigerator.”
“Please get me a pair of tongs. Someone threw their ears behind the bed.”
“Why are you beeping?”

 

 

1. Your deaf child can HEAR!

It hasn’t been easy, but they’ve come so far, and so have you. From diagnosis day until now, they have worked hard, overcome, and become an inspiration. They’re your super hero.

Start with Junior’s Story, Read about Diagnosis Day,  and see my list of “You Know You’re a CI Parent If…”

 

Follow Junior’s Story on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter