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Lunch Prep: How I Stock The Fridge

Last week I shared how I stock my pantry so today I wanted to share how I stock the lunch prep fridge. We’re lucky enough to have 2 extra fridges in our garage. Large family = Extra fridge space. I have one fridge dedicated solely to lunch prep to help make it easier for the kids to pack their own lunches every day. We’re over a month into school and the system is working! So today I’m going to give you a peek inside my lunch prep fridge and share how I keep it stocked. 

This is my garage lunch prep fridge. It’s nothing fancy- just a basic $450 fridge that we got for $200 in the scratch and dent section and it works for what I need. It used to be a drink fridge but this year I decided it needed to be more functional for our family. The lunch prep fridge was born! I bought the colorful baskets at The Dollar Store and they are perfect for what I need. This fridge holds everything cold that the kids need to pack lunches every day. I took the kids with me to the grocery stores the first time and together we chose items that they wanted to pack for lunches this year. I tend to keep it stocked with the same stuff but every once in awhile I add something new for a change. I bought 6 of the shallow bins and 2 of the deep buckets to keep the fridge organized. Let’s face it- none of my kids are willing to sort through big full buckets or unorganized shelves to find stuff for lunch. They’d just pick the very first stuff they saw and everything else would go bad. Kids. 

I use the bottom 2 drawers for drinks. Zoey likes the Honest Co juice boxes and Mason likes the Country Time lemonades. They always take a full water bottle to drink during the day and the juice boxes/lemonade are for lunch time only. They don’t take these every day, maybe twice a week. The rest of the days they just drink their water. I keep water bottles on the bottom 2 shelves for them as well. 

The blue bin on the first shelf is for yogurt. My kids love the YoCrunch yogurts. I buy them in the smaller sizes and I typically buy 3 packs a week (M&M, Oreo, and Cookie bite) plus a few of the Twix larger ones. I know they’re not the healthiest but it’s a nice little treat for them and at least their eating yogurt! The red basket is where they put their chosen lunch items for the next day. My biggest rule for lunch packing is that it must be done the day before. I do not have time to poke and prod kids to pack lunches in the mornings. 

On the middle shelf I have a basket for lunchables and P3 packs. I only buy a couple of these per week because they’re not my first choice for lunches but the kids love them. I buy the lunchables at ALDI because they have the organic ones and all the kids like the P3 packs from Walmart. In the middle basket I keep hummus and naan bread dippers- these are for Maliah. She loves the chocolate hummus for fruit and the roasted red pepper hummus for the naan bread. She also uses the naan bread dippers for her chicken salad which is kept in the next basket. 

I alternate buying her regular chicken salad and cranberry pecan chicken salad and I buy them wherever they are cheapest that week (mostly at ALDI). I also keep several of the Philadelphia cream cheese packs on hand for them. They love those! There are several flavors- strawberry with bagel chips, chocolate with pretzels, and garden vegetable with bagel chips. And Zoey is a huge fan of the little packs of crab sticks! They’re the perfect size for lunches.

On the top shelf I keep lunch snacks. In one basket I have string cheese sticks and the Laughing Cow cheese packs. The kids love to spread those on Wheat Thin crackers or Melba Toast.  I also keep applesauce and apple slices packs with either peanut butter or caramel sauce in a basket. I know it’s much more cost effective to slice our own apples but I have 2 kids that will not eat an apple that has even a hint of brown. I bought some powder stuff to use to keep the apples fresh but some weeks I just don’t have the time or the apples are too pricey so I buy the apple packs instead. 

In the last basket I keep the packs of pickles. I alternate between these Dilly Bites and the Mt. Olive pickle paks. Maliah is the one who loves pickles but Tyler will also snag one for his work lunch occasionally. They come in both dill and sweet pickle petites varieties and they’re the perfect size for lunch. 

So that’s my lunch prep fridge! I shared some important info about how I stock the fridge on my Lunch Prep 101 post including how often I restock and how much money I budget weekly for stocking the pantry and fridge so be sure to check it out if you want those kinds of details. Next week I’m going to share how I grocery shop! You can find all the posts in my Meal Planning & Prep and Lunch Planning & Prep series HERE



New Releases This Week {10.8.19}

These are the new releases for the week of October 8 that I’m adding to my wish lists.

Getting Played by Emma Chase– Dean Walker is all about keeping life simple. He’s effortlessly talented and intelligent—spending his summers playing drums in the local band and the rest of the year teaching high school in the same Jersey town where he grew up. He likes his love life simple too, enjoying the commitment-free hook-ups his good looks and sexy charm have always made oh so easy. Then he meets Lainey Burrows. And his simple, easy life gets turned upside down. One wild one-night stand was all it was ever supposed to be, so Lainey is shocked when she discovers that her sizzling summer fling is also her son’s new math teacher. But that’s nothing compared to the most unexpected twist of all—their hot hook-up left Lainey knocked up, and now they’re about to become parents. Together.

Daddy Dilemma by Avery Flynn– One night and my life completely jumped the tracks. Actually, a pack of expired condoms did that –– the rest of the night was pretty amazing. Open bar at a friend’s wedding. Bad dancing all around. Stupid trivia bets with my fellow Ice Knights hockey teammates. And Tess Gardner. The factoid-blurting, fandom-T-shirt-wearing, no-I-don’t-want-a-relationship-with-you woman makes me forget for one night that I’m a man with a routine, and my future all mapped out. Still, it sucked she left our room without giving me her number. Fast forward to when she tracks me down and tells me I’m going to be a daddy. Jaw meet floor. Now I’ve insisted that she and our little peach pit move in with me after her apartment floods. She agrees as long as there’s no funny business, no shotgun weddings, and no more nights spent naked together. Sounds easy enough. I was prepared for the late night runs for more pickles and peanut butter but I wasn’t prepared for Tess. She’s like a glitter rainbow sparkling in the middle of my all-neutrals house, messing up my rigid schedule and turning my world upside down. What the hell do we do next?

Child’s Play by Danielle Steel– A senior partner at a prestigious New York law firm, Kate Morgan couldn’t be prouder of her three grown children. Tamara, Anthony, and Claire all went to great schools, chose wonderful career paths, and would have made their father proud. A single mother for years after the death of her husband, Kate keeps a tight rein on her family, her career, and even her own emotions, never once asking herself if she truly knows her children . . . or if her hopes for them are the right ones, and what they want. She is about to find out. During one hectic summer in Manhattan, Kate’s world turns upside down. One child has been keeping an astonishing secret while another confesses to an equally shocking truth. A wonderful match and picture-book wedding are traded for a relationship that shakes her to her core. A totally inappropriate love affair and an out-of-wedlock baby complete the chaos. Challenged as a mother and as a successful independent woman herself, Kate struggles to keep up with a dizzying and escalating chain of events, and begins to realize that she has a part to play in the chaos. Because Kate too has kept secrets from her children. Sometimes the surprising choices our children make are the right ones . . . better than what we wanted for them. More often than not, parenting is about letting go of our dreams and embracing theirs.

I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson– Zahra Gaines is missing. After three long years away, Ruthie Hayden arrives in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to this devastating news. Zahra was Ruthie’s best friend–the only person who ever really understood her–and she vows to do whatever it takes to find her. Zahra vanished from a party just days before Ruthie’s return, but the more people she talks to, the more she realizes that the Zahra she knew disappeared long before that fateful night. Gone is the whimsical, artistic girl who loved books and knew Ruthie’s every secret. In her place is an athlete, a partier, a girl with secrets of her own. Darker still are the rumors that something happened to Zahra while Ruthie was gone, something that changed her forever…As Ruthie desperately tries to piece together the truth, she falls deeper and deeper into her friend’s new world, circling closer to a dangerous revelation about what Zahra experienced in the days before her disappearance–one that might be better off buried.

Faker by Sarah Smith– Emmie Echavarre is a professional faker. She has to be to survive as one of the few female employees at Nuts & Bolts, a power tool company staffed predominantly by gruff, burly men. From nine to five, Monday through Friday, she’s tough as nails–the complete opposite of her easy-going real self. One thing she doesn’t have to fake? Her disdain for coworker Tate Rasmussen. Tate has been hostile to her since the day they met. Emmie’s friendly greetings and repeated attempts to get to know him failed to garner anything more than scowls and terse one-word answers. Too bad she can’t stop staring at his Thor-like biceps…When Emmie and Tate are forced to work together on a charity construction project, things get…heated. Emmie’s beginning to see that beneath Tate’s chiseled exterior lies a soft heart, but it will take more than a few kind words to erase the past and convince her that what they have is real.



Meal Prep Monday {10.7.19}

 Each Monday I share a weekly menu plan and what I’m prepping for the week. I plan 4 dinners a week, we have 2 leftover/Fridge clean out nights, and we make Take ‘n Bake pizzas on Saturday nights. My kids take lunch to school 5 days a week. You can read more about my meal planning and prep HERE. Please feel free to share with anyone you know who needs some dinner or lunch inspiration and don’t forget to pin on Pinterest for later! 

Dinner #1:

Easy Baked Pork Chops, Garlic Parmesan Potato Wedges, Asian Glazed Brussel Sprouts

Dinner #2:

Bacon Cream Cheese Cheddar Chicken Breasts, Roasted Ranch Potatoes, Garlic Butter Green Beans

Dinner #3:

Spinach Stuffed Salmon, Jasmine Rice, Parmesan Roasted Carrots

Dinner #4:

Pesto Chicken Tenders, Parmesan Potato Stacks, Roasted Eggplant

 

Each week I prep all the produce and fruits ahead of time for the week. I also stock the lunch prep fridge and pantry for the kids’ lunches. I have specific containers that I use for food prep that are designed to maximize the life of the produce which helps when I only shop once a week. You can read more about my process and see pictures of my fridges HERE

This week for the meal produce I transferred the fresh brussel sprouts, green beans, carrots and eggplants to the veggie containers. For fruit I prepped strawberries, red and green apples, green grapes, clementines, and pears. I added baby carrots, cut celery, and mini cucumbers as well for lunches.

This week I prepped a large container of spaghetti, a large container of macaroni & cheese with turkey dogs cut up, a large container of Big Mac Sloppy Joe meat, a large container of Ranch pasta salad, a large container of white cheddar shells, 24 baked club pinwheels, and 24 mini corndog muffins. The kids eat these as snacks, for lunches, and on leftover/clean out the fridge nights.



2019 Monthly Goals: October

I accomplished the majority of my goals for September and it was so nice to check some things off my very long to-do (eventually) list! I’m hoping to keep the streak going for October!

Goals for October:

1. Personal Goals:

  • Clean out & organize my closet
  • Start listing clothes & shoes on Mercari
  • Delete 10 unwatched things off the DVR

2. Family Goals:

  • Plan 2 family nights
  • Start planning Thanksgiving 
  • Work on a family budget for next year

3. House & Organization Goals:

  • Organize laundry room
  • Organize bonus room & closet
  • List all winter uniforms for sale

4. Book & Blog Goals:

  • Read 5 books 
  • Organize collections on Kindle App
  • Schedule out one month of posts



Book Review: Things You Save In A Fire

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Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center– Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: August 13, 2019

Acquired: Public library E-book

Series: N/A

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: This book had layers and depth that I wasn’t expecting. I was anticipating an easy, light, fluffy beach read. That’s not at all what I got. And I loved it. I had a hard time connecting to Cassie as a main character in the beginning. I thought she was hard-headed, closed off, and too distant to be a good main character. I was so wrong. Once I understood why she was that way and the things that she had experienced in her life I was completely sucked into her story. I began to admire her stoic strong shell and how she conducted herself. The story really took off for me once she began working at her new fire house. I could feel the emotions that she kept buried from her new co-workers. I was so pleased with the number of funny moments that happened in this book. I think that’s what made this a 5 star read for me- the contrast between the serious and the funny. Without the moments of humor, this book would have been way too heavy. I highly recommend this one!