Friday, February 25, 2011

Airfare Sweet Spot

photo courtesy of xlibber on
If you are planning to travel in the sky in the next year, wait until you hit the "sweet spot" for airline prices.  If you  book too far in advance, you will pay full price.  If you are too close to the travel date, you will pay a lot because they know you don't have a choice.  According to an expert on this Rachael Ray episode, if you book a flight exactly 3-1/2 months before your departure date, statistics show that is when you'll get the lowest price.  So go ahead and schedule your "booking" date as well as your travel date!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Veggies on the Go

This tip for packing veggies and dip to-go is from a Rachael Ray show episode where she gave ideas for packing food for air travel.

First, find a small container, cut your veggies the height of the container then pack them with a little dip already in the bottom!  Kids love to dip and it will make eating their raw veggies so much more fun!  

You can try this with anything that can be stick sized, cucumbers, celery, carrots, red, yellow or green bell peppers.

I'm going to attempt this week to fill up a medicine cup with carrots and this greek yogurt dip at the bottom.  I'll use Glad Press and Seal to keep it from spilling in my new Easy Lunch Box bento-style containers.  (Which are fabulous, by the way.)  

Photo courtesy of Flickr, tlillis4

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Discover Greek Yogurt

photo courtesy of whitneyinchicago on
Greek yogurt is getting a lot of "pub" because of its rich creamy taste and high protein content. But what you may not know is that you can substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream as a topping or a dipper. Most conventional stores only carry the fat-free Greek yogurt, but you can buy the full fat version at some specialty stores. It's worth trying because I'm telling you, the protein numbers will just blow your mind.

We've made the switch with our vegetable dip. And we use the fat-free version because it's easier to get each week. We also use it to spread on burritos or to dollop on tacos. If you want to try OUR favorite dip, combine a packet of Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch dip with a 16 oz container of plain Greek yogurt. My kids call it "Dorito Dip-Dip" because it's tastes like a familiar cheesy chip.

UPDATE: All Greek yogurts are not considered equal.  Read the labels before purchasing.  Some containers  have 32 grams of protein per serving, while others only contain 4 grams.  Do not be fooled by conventional "Greek" marketing!

Lunch box ideas

I have been packing lunches a lot more lately and I want to speed up the process and reduce the unnecessary waste.  I have been using WAY too many sandwich bags and plastic water bottles to try to make everything fit.  These lunch-packing tips have been recommended from friends who pack lunches often:

1. Choose a lunch box that is large enough to hold a substantial lunch.  I love our new Thirty-One Large Thermal Totes.  The small ones may have been large enough, but more room is always nice.

2. Use a drink bottle that does not leak.  You can send your kids with water, milk, lemonade, juice, etc. without having to purchase individual boxes/bottles every week.
  • For younger kids, I recommend the Nalgene Grip 'n Gulp.  It holds 12 oz liquid and is now available at Target.  We had one for almost 3 years and only purchased a new one because we misplaced it.
  • Older kids may prefer this version, the Nalgene Mini Grip.
  • For adults, I recommend the Camelbak Better 0.75L Bottle.  I have been using this water bottle for years, but I will admit, after a year or so I do have to replace it because it starts to leak.  But since I use it everyday, it's worth the investment.   Target also carries these now.

(Be sure to label the bottle with an InchBug Orbit Label or make your own sticker label using a label maker like these.)

3. Purchase containers or a lunch box system that allows you to pack without using multiple plastic bags and dozens of small containers.  I like the Easy Lunch Box system.  There are 3 compartments.  I will use the large one for protein (sandwich, roll-ups or just meat and cheese), another one for fruit and/or veggies and the smaller one for a salty treat or dessert.  When the kids and hubby get home, I will simply load it in the dishwasher for the next packed lunch.  (This lunch box system was highly recommended by my friend, mom of four and author of the blog,  Please visit her blog if you like this tip!)

Click below to see a EasyLunchBoxes webisode featuring "Greg" from the Brady Bunch:

What tips do you have regarding lunch box packing?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Score Before You Store

I love this ground beef tip from Real Simple.  You basically freeze ground beef in a plastic freezer bag and use a chopstick to score it into sections for easy defrosting.  So easy!!