Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mott’s®. The opinions and text are all mine. #MottsMovieBonus

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

My boys have one week left of school, just one more week!  They are looking forward to summer and frankly, so am I.  I may be singing a different tune come August but for now I welcome the more relaxed schedule for them.  My schedule however, doesn’t change all that much because it’s summer time so I have to adjust a bit to keep things working smoothly here at Casa Gonzalez.
One big difference that happens in the summer is that both my boys will be taking their lunches to camp daily.  My oldest (12 years old) usually eats at the cafeteria during the school year, but once he enters camp, he will be taking his lunch with him daily.  My youngest (5 years old) always takes either lunch or a snack to school.  He is the kind that if he doesn’t like his school lunch, he won’t eat until I pick him up, so a heavy snack is necessary.  Since I am already thinking of different lunches to send my boys off with, I have partnered with one of my favorite snack companies – Mott’s® – to bring you summer lunch ideas for kids!

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

The Mott’s Apple Juices are a treat for my boys.  I want them to make smart snacking choices and there is no better time to learn than when you are young.

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

There are a lot of options for lunch or snacks that are fun and nutritious.  My kids like crunchy things, (I think we all do) so I like to add a few veggie chips to their lunches.  Mott’s Apple Juice and Mott’s Applesauce are a staple in their lunch boxes.  I usually buy them the original flavors but there are applesauces in various other choices, such as Mott’s Apple Cherry which is a new flavor.  Also, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt… so many options so that they don’t get bored with lunch.

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

And the trick to lunches made easy?  Having a stocked refrigerator.  I tell my boys which are their snacks for home and which are for camp.  They know that the deli drawer is my camp stash.

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

Most of the time, their lunches look like this.  That little sandwich that you saw in the picture above, is a Cuban Medianoche.  Do not fear, I will translate.  Medianoche means midnight and these sandwiches became popular in Cuba many moons ago when they were traditionally served as a midnight snack in restaurants.  This is an adaptation on the sandwich because they are made with fresh roasted pork and are finished off on a press…yum!

But we are keeping it easy over here – it’s the summer after all!  I just make the sandwiches with a sweet Hawaiian bread roll, a slather of mayo or mustard (or both), roasted ham, roasted pork (or even turkey, if you want), swiss cheese and a pickle.  Voila – Mini Medianoche!

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

I want to teach my boys about eating smart now that they are little.  My boys don’t like every vegetable or fruit, so I just find the ones that they like and I alternate them in their lunch bag.  The most important tip is definitely to keep your pantry or refrigerator stocked and organized so that in the morning, before the coffee has taken effect, you can quickly throw together a delicious summer lunch for the kids.  A finishing touch is a little note that I add to my 5 year old’s bag.  If I did this to my 12-year-old, there would be consequences to pay.  :-)

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

One more thing!  There is a super cool offer that you can take advantage of – I did!  I found all of the products in this post, sans the lunch bag :-) , at Walmart and I was sure to keep my receipt.  Why?  Check out the offer details below:

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

You will notice that the products have The Secret Life of Pets characters on packaging.

  • Purchase any 3 Mott’s Juices or Applesauces to Receive a Free Childs Ticket (Mott’s on pack offer) for The Secret Life of Pets
  • Purchase any 5 Mott’s Juices or Applesauces to Receive an additional $8 movie voucher  Note: Offers can be stacked – Purchases of 5 are eligible to receive the Free Childs Ticket as well as the $8 movie voucher

It’s really easy to do…below is a screenshot of when I did it.

Summer Camp Lunches Made Easy

If you want more details of either promotion, you can click here :

I hope you all enjoy your summer.  The school year went by so quickly and I think summer will too.  Enjoy every minute of it, snack wisely and stay safe!

 

Organizing the Fridge

Organizing the Fridge

We are organizing the fridge…again.  My fridge stays fairly organized until the holidays.  During the holidays every system that I have in place goes out the window and the priority becomes making space for the ham or the casserole.  This is how my fridge looked after hosting Thanksgiving, a Christmas Day brunch, a small New Year’s party and a New Year’s Day brunch.  My fridge needed some love (and soap!).

The picture below was taken at night so the lighting is horrible.  I wasn’t intentionally trying to make the before pic look bad.  Totally off-topic, but isn’t it funny how people always have to look miserable in those before pics before they start a diet?  They are never smiling.  Can’t they also be happy pre-diet?

But I digress.

Organizing the Fridge

So the next morning I decided to empty my fridge and give it a good clean.  I spot clean the fridge all the time, but sometimes deep cleaning is necessary, and this was one of those times.  Almost all the drawers, bins and shelves in my refrigerator are removable and they are easy to clean.  I am always surprised how much food falls through the back of the bins in between cleanings.

Once the refrigerator was clean, I added some FridgeCoasters to line every bin and shelf.  I have been purchasing these for years and they really help to keep the fridge clean from spills and (almost more importantly) they are so cute!  I change them out every year and chose a new color.  This year I ordered 2 different colors (gray and blue) and I think I will do that from now on because I love how they look!

Note:  There is a FridgeCoaster giveaway and discount code at the end of this post!

Organizing the Fridge

When the fridge is empty is a great opportunity to move the shelves (if adjustable) to the best positioning for the items that you purchase.  So many times we leave things the way that the manufacturer placed them, instead of taking advantage of the adjustable shelving.

Once the shelves are where I want them, I add all the food back.  I had not shopped for our regular food items for a few weeks, since I was making space for all the food I needed during the holidays.

Organizing the Fridge

I also added fridge bins to my deli drawer.  I am a big fan of these bins but only for the items that you purchase again and again.  They have some that are perfect for placing little juice boxes, but if you rarely buy those for your kids, then it will be another bin taking up space in your fridge.  Only buy the ones that will be used every time.

Organizing the Fridge

I did get rid of a few condiments that were expired and I tried to put back the good ones into the fridge with like items.  Fun fact – I don’t even like mustard.  I do use it for cooking sometimes but my husband is a mustard fan and apparently he has enough to last for the rest of 2016.

Organizing the Fridge

One thing that I purchase frequently is asparagus.  I always keep a wide-mouth cup with a little water to store it and it seems to last longer.  Also, I like that I see it and it doesn’t get lost in the crisper bin until it’s past it’s time.

Organizing the Fridge

This refrigerator model originally came with 2 bins on this side and a butter bin (the one with the little retractable door).  I eventually got rid of that butter bin since I prefer to keep my butter in the deli drawer and I ordered another regular-sized bin online.  There are a few websites that you can input your appliance model/serial number and then choose what you would like to purchase.  In this case, I added the top bin that I use for chicken stock cartons.

Organizing the Fridge

Another shot of this organized fridge so that I can at least document that once upon a time all the cans faced forward.

Organizing the Fridge

I know that not everyone keeps oranges in the refrigerator but since I often juice them, I like to keep them cold.  Also, I keep a bin within the drawer to separate items.  Otherwise, everything in that big drawer ends up mixed.  Also, this keeps produce from getting damaged by heavier items.

Organizing the Fridge

I have a fridge bin in the very top dedicated to defrosting meat.  This will avoid so many yucky spills!  Next to it, I have a small turntable that I place all my jellies and jams.  You know that I am a big fan of turntables and they are even great for the refrigerator.

Organizing the Fridge

Here is a closeup of the deli drawer.  There is so much butter and cheese that was left over from the holidays!  I can’t possibly consume that much leftover cheese?  Just kidding.  I can and I will.  Then I will go on a diet, but not before taking a before picture with a miserable look on my face. :-)

Organizing the Fridge

One more exciting detail…a giveaway!  FridgeCoaster will be giving two winners – two Fridge Packs of their choice!  Follow the prompts to be entered into the giveaway.  You do not have to complete all the prompts to enter the giveaway, but each one will better your chances of winning, since you will have more entries.  So no worries if you don’t have an Instagram or Pinterest account, you can still enter by leaving a comment.

If you want to order them for your fridge, they have also generated a special discount code for all Graceful Order readers – just enter SWEET16 at checkout and save 16% off your order!

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Organized Home Week 1 – The Refrigerator

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

Our Home Organization challenge begins today, and we start with a refrigerator makeover and a giveaway!  Double yay!

My refrigerator stays pretty organized during the year UNTIL the holidays.  After all the re-arranging in order to fit the extra food that I make for our Christmas Morning Breakfast and holiday gatherings, the fridge is a mess.  So I dedicate the following picture to those that wonder if my kitchen is always sparkling and my fridge is full of perfectly arranged bpa-free bottled waters that always face forward:

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

Here are the steps that I took to get my refrigerator in top shape:

1.  Empty the refrigerator and throw away expired food.

I emptied it out the refrigerator which was a good opportunity to sort and group like items on the kitchen table.

2. Give the refrigerator a thorough cleaning.

I was so ready to get my fridge looking good again!  At this point it needed more than just organizing, it needed a good thorough cleaning.  I removed and washed all the shelves and drawers and also cleaned the refrigerator walls.

Hey there good looking!

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

3.  Add coasters and/or fridge bins to the shelves.

Then I added a new pack of Fridge Coasters.  I have shared with you in other posts how much I love them!  They have different patterns and colors – this year I chose green.  They will help to keep the refrigerator clean by soaking up any spills.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

Love. Love. Love.

 

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

After adding the coasters, I added all the bins that I use to corral items.  Some of my bins (like the one in the picture below) are simply OXO bins without a lid.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

 

4.  Place the food items back in the fridge.

The fun part, add the food and drinks back in the clean fridge!

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

No more expired salad dressings.

I may or may not have over done it purchasing butter for holiday baking.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

I keep asparagus in a wide-mouth sturdy cup and I add a little water.  It lasts way longer than if I kept it in the veggie bin.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

It doesn’t matter where I keep the milk, it doesn’t last more than a few days around here.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

I love to re-position the shelves to accommodate the groceries.  This really narrow shelf is for yogurt.  I don’t like to crowd the very top shelf of the fridge so that air can still circulate freely.

 

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

Although I love fridge bins and I am linking them HERE, I suggest that you only purchase bins for items that you always buy.  If you never buy juice boxes or yogurts then you don’t need empty bins taking up space in your refrigerator.  I also keep an open bin to place whatever I am defrosting for the following days dinner.  This avoids spills and keeps the fridge clean.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

Adding just one bin to this drawer keeps onion or garlic skins from taking over the bin and helps to keep veggies separate.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

Let’s not forget the large sliding drawer.  It is my favorite part of french top refrigerators (my least favorite part being the freezer section).  This is where I place the treats for little ones since the height it perfect for self-serve.

I use this container for the eggs which comes with a lid but I rarely use the lid since we buy so many eggs.  You can find a slightly larger one HERE.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

 

So maybe for the next 19 seconds my fridge will be sparking and full of perfectly arranged bpa-free bottled waters that always face forward.  Until the boys realize that I have replenished the fridge.  At least I have the pictures to remember it by!

But really, aside from the direction that the bottles face :-) it is easy to maintain a refrigerator when everything has a designated spot.

Refrigerator Makeover and a Giveaway

If you like the fridge coasters, then don’t miss out on the giveaway below!  Two Graceful Order readers will be given 2 sets of their choice..all courtesy of Fridge Coaster!

 

The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. January 16th.  Good luck to all of you and Let’s Organize 2015!

Maria

 

~ Graceful Order’s disclaimers and giveaway regulations can be found “here”.  This posts contains links, a few are affiliate links.  As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

 

 

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The Graceful Refrigerator

Let us begin our 2014 organizing series with the kitchen.  More specifically, the refrigerator.

Refrigerator Organization

I don’t know about you, but after the holidays my refrigerator is a mess.  During the holidays, I purchase food items that are either for Thanksgiving, Christmas breakfast and other holiday get togethers.  All these items, in addition to our regular shopping list, culminate in a messy refrigerator.

January is the perfect time to completely empty the refrigerator and start fresh!

The first thing you want to do is remove all sauces and dressings and place them on the counter.  This is a good opportunity to look at all the dates and toss out all the expired items.  Also, you may have opened a container of ricotta or sour cream, but you only needed half a cup…throw out what has since spoiled.

Refrigerator Organization

Once you have the bottles that you are keeping, wipe them clean and set aside.

Next, let’s remove the refrigerator shelves and bins (if they are removable) and soak them in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart of warm water.  You can use the same solution to wipe down the rest of the refrigerator.  Clean, dry and put all the bins back in place.

I use refrigerator coasters from “Fridge Coaster” and I had not changed them out in almost a year.  I used this opportunity to pick out a new set.  I love the pop of color that they add to the fridge!

Refrigerator Organization

This is also a good time to reposition your shelves to better suit your needs.  I adjust them fairly often to fit the products I buy.

Start placing all the items back in the refrigerator.  Designate a spot for everything.

Refrigerator Organization

And the side bins…

Refrigerator Organization

I keep clear OXO containers (without the lids) inside the pull out bins so that all the garlic and onion skins that collect at the bottom, can be easily cleaned up.  Also, any vegetable that has gone bad doesn’t seep all over my clean bin.

Refrigerator Organization

Lastly, the deli drawer.  My kids favorite and the only one that my toddler can reach.

I have clear bins in here as well to keep like-items in place.  Also, I have a bin for oily items like pesto and other spreads, that would otherwise leave oily circles inside the refrigerator.  I keep a larger clear bin in the top shelf for defrosting items.

You can find some bins in my amazon shop under “Refrigerator Bin” and Fridge Bin.  You can also find them at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Sometimes, even Homegoods will have a few.  Just make sure that you purchase bins that are refrigerator safe so that they don’t crack.

Refrigerator Organization

Having a clean and organized refrigerator has more advantages than just being visually appealing.  If you always put your butter in the same spot, then you know when you are out.  Even grocery shopping gets easier.

Stay tuned next week as we move on to the rest of the kitchen, and eventually the whole house!

Happy Organizing!

Maria 

Kitchen: Refrigerator Organization

Give them food and they will come…the fridge.  Everyone congregates in the kitchen and everyone is always checking out what there is to eat in the refrigerator.  With all the hands coming in and out of the refrigerator it is bound to get messy fast.  There are ways that I have discovered to minimize the mess.  Here I will share with you how I organize the refrigerator in my home.  These systems work for me and maybe they can work for you too.

The fridge.  We have had this refrigerator for about 5 years now.  When it is clean it is perfection.  When it’s not….its gross.  I have to clean it everyday to keep it looking like this.  It’s part of my night routine to give it a little wipe down before I sit down to watch some TV with the boys.  Considering that I have a toddler that is always putting his little sticky hands on the freezer drawer, it doesn’t stay clean for very long.  I must admit it is kind of cute when I see his little hand print there at the end of the day.  When I see my 40-year-old husbands hand print it isn’t quite as cute :-) .

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Here it is on the inside:

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It’s ready for its close-up!

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The first thing I want to share with you are these adorable fridge coasters that you can see below and also peeking through the picture above.  They are so cute!  This proves that you can bring beauty to anything and everything.  They are from fridgecoaster.com and they are very absorbent and should be changed out as often as you change out your water filter unless they are still in great shape.  They come in many colors and designs.  I couldn’t decide on one design so I mixed and matched different designs in the yellow.   I don’t endorse the product, I just love it.  I will be doing a giveaway on the coasters at a later date so I will keep you posted!

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You see the huge blue water bottle?  How could you not?  Well, here is the story behind it:  I used to buy individual water bottles which I would later recycle.  The recycling helped me feel better about the environment but not about the BPA that was in the bottles.  I found these gallons at Whole Foods Market and they are BPA free and just cents to refill.  I place two of these in the bin (I took one out so that you could see the cute coaster).

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Here is the deli drawer.  My favorite drawer (also my toddlers favorite because it’s the only one he can reach) because somehow it stays organized most of the time.  I purchased the clear refrigerator containers that you see below and they help keep the items from shifting and the refrigerator clean from spills.

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More bins!  I have one container that I use exclusively to hold meat that is defrosting or marinating.  So many times I have had to clean one whole side of the refrigerator because of some spill from meat…gross.  This avoids that problem so I don’t put anything else in the large shallow container.  Next to it is a smaller container that I use for the boys juice boxes.  My 9-year-old started taking his lunch to school so I grab a juice from here everyday.

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Below is where I place the milk and creamer since I now place the large water gallons on the door bin.  As you can see the shelves on my refrigerator don’t line up.  I move them around to fit what I currently have in the fridge.  I have a really tall space for the milk and then a really narrow space for tortillas and small items.  You can really maximize the space in your refrigerator if you do this.  The bins on the door are also removable and I have moved those around as well.  Most newer refrigerators have bins and shelves that can be repositioned.

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The freezer.  I don’t like it.  I love the rest of the fridge so much that I just try to work with the space in the freezer.  We have to have a separate freezer in the garage because this one is so small and I can’t stock up here.  Also the ice bin takes up quite a bit of space.  In the top wire bin I keep homemade chicken stock and homemade waffles.  The bottom wire rack has an awkward shape so I just place things in there the best I can.  I do love the design of the fridge and having the freezer in the bottom.  I just think the freezer should have a better design.  Oh well!  That’s a first world problem.  Not a big deal!

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Enjoy organizing your refrigerator and thank God for the sticky hands!

Maria 

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