No More Soggy Sandwiches?

If you are a frugal parent, odds are good that you’ve packed plenty of lunches–for yourself, your spouse, and/or your children. And if you’ve packed a lunch, chances are, you’ve experienced the soggy sandwich. My husband, for example, loves tuna sandwiches. But if I make it in the morning before he goes to work, the bread is soaked nearly all the way through by the time he gets around to eating lunch. After a couple of times of that, I started packing the tuna in a little container and popping the bread slices into a zipper-top bag. That fixed the soggy sandwich problem but it created two new issues–crushed bread and money wasted on disposable sandwich bags.

That is why when I saw the Perfect Sandwich from Contain This!, I just had to try it. The Perfect Sandwich is a single container with one layer to hold wet ingredients and another layer to hold the bread. This keeps the wet and the dry ingredients separate. Best of all, there is an included ice pack that fits in the bottom of the wet compartment to keep your meats, cheeses, and veggies cool and safe.

 

When my Perfect Sandwich container arrived, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. I started by using it pretty much exactly as directed. After freezing the chill pack I inserted it into the bottom of the container and topped it with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and meat. I closed up that section and was pleased to see that it really does create a tight seal. I then placed my bread in the top compartment and voila! No wet bread, no crushed bread, and no wasted zipper-top bags.

 

Of course, not everyone wants a sandwich for lunch so I decided to try out the Perfect Sandwich container with one of my personal favorite lunches–hummus. Again, I used the chill pack and filled the bottom section of the container with two types of hummus, sliced cucumbers, and Kalamata olives (yum!). Then I placed wedges of pita bread in the top compartment. I took this with me on a picnic playdate and I was very pleased to find that the contents of my lunch didn’t slide around very much. The Perfect Sandwich kept them well contained.

 

Finally, I decided to give the container a whirl with my hubby’s favorite–the tuna sandwich. This was where I truly appreciated the included ice pack. It keeps your food at a safe 40 degrees for five whole hours–which is vitally important, especially when you’re packing foods that include mayonnaise or other highly perishable ingredients. I am happy to report that my sweet husband’s sandwich was perfect at lunchtime–his bread wasn’t soggy or squished and his tuna was nice and cool.

 

All in all, I am thrilled to add the Perfect Sandwich to my collection of lunch containers. It’s functional, it’s high quality, and it solves a common lunch dilemma. By the way, if you make bento lunches, this would make a nice two layer box but you would probably need to remove the ice pack from the bottom layer to make enough room for your foods.

If you want to read more about the Perfect Sandwich or if you want to buy your own, visit the Contain This! website or check them out on Facebook.

 

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me at no charge for the purpose of review. I was not compensated in any other way and this review reflects my honest opinion of the product. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.

Keeping Your Baby Safe in the Hospital

When I was taking a tour of the hospital before my first child was born, I was somewhat amused by the extreme measures put in place to protect the newborns from abduction. First there was the electronic anklet that would sound if the baby was removed from the hospital. Then there were the color coded nurses uniforms that let me know which nurses were allowed to take the baby to the nursery. There was also an intricate procedure that visitors had to go through before they would be allowed into the maternity unit.

Honestly, it all seemed a little….dramatic, or something. I remember thinking at the time, “It’s not like there are kidnappers just lying in wait for an opportunity to grab a baby.”

Turns out, I was wrong. According to statistics provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than two-thirds of infant abductions take place in a healthcare facility. Why? Because it’s relatively easy for someone to pose as a nurse and literally walk away with a baby. In the vast majority of cases, this is exactly what happened.

It’s interesting reading, though I’d skip it if you are pregnant–don’t give yourself added scenarios to worry about. Instead, just be aware of your hospital’s safety measures and be diligent about knowing who has your baby and for what purpose. If a nurse comes to take your little one to the nursery for any reason–tests, bathing, weighing, etc.–don’t hesitate to ask to see her identification. If you ever have any doubt or concern, call the nurses’ station. When it comes to the safety and well-being of your child, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Frugal Remedy for Cradle Cap

I was shocked today to discover a cream to treat cradle cap that cost $24! As a dug a little deeper, I found that even the “inexpensive” treatments would set you back $5 or $6. Really?

Both of my babies had cradle cap. And both times, I used the same frugal remedy and it cleared it right up. So before you go out and spend $24 to treat your baby’s cradle cap, try this.

Massage a liberal amount of olive oil or mineral oil into the affected area. Allow the oil to sit for about 15 minutes. Then, take a fine tooth comb and gently comb out the loosened flakes. Next, thoroughly shampoo your baby’s hair/scalp. If there is still an oily residue, shampoo again. Finally, brush your baby’s hair/scalp with a soft brush to help loosen any remaining flakes. If necessary, repeat this process in a couple of days.

All About Baby Names (and a Giveaway!)

*We have a winner! Random.org picked comment #14 which is Kendra! Thank you all for your entries!*

When you’re pregnant, choosing a baby name is one of your biggest challenges. I mean, this is something that is going to stick with your child FOREVER. Let me repeat, FOREVER. As a child who, through no fault of my parents, had a somewhat amusing last name, I am extra aware of the type of teasing children can endure because of their name. And it’s not just the name itself that you have to watch out for. It’s also the initials, the potential nicknames, and any connotations associated with the name.

When I was thinking about baby names during my last pregnancy, I really wanted to name a boy Paul (after my grandfather) Michael (after my husband). Unfortunately, our last name begins with an S. So our poor child’s initials would have been PMS. I quickly crossed that one off the list.

And while you want your child to have a name that is as close to tease-proof as possible, you don’t want to give your child the same name as every other kid on the block. Imagine the confusion of having three or four little Isabellas or Jacobs in one class (please note, I only used those names as an example because they are the top two baby names in the U.S. right now).

Fortunately, the Internet can be a huge help when choosing a baby name. There are baby name suggestors, baby name polls, baby name surveys, and forums dedicated to sharing their opinions on various names!

And of course, there are a ton of baby name books on the market–books on unique names, books for choosing a name based on its meaning, books of boys names, books of girls names, and pretty much any other baby name topic you can think of.

With this topic in mind, I am giving one reader the chance to enter to win the 2011 Baby Names Almanac. It is packed full of up-to-date baby name information including trends, forecasts, and meanings. Want to win? Here’s all you have to do (be sure to leave a comment for each entry you complete):

  1. Leave a comment below and tell me about the most unique or interesting baby name you’ve ever heard (mandatory).
  2. For a bonus entry take a look at the 2011 Baby Names Almanac on Amazon and tell me something you learned about the book.
  3. One bonus entry EACH for following The Frugal Baby on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Friend Connect (leave a separate comment for each).
  4. One bonus entry for signing up for The Frugal Baby newsletter.
  5. Bonus entries for post this on Twitter and/or Facebook.: “Win the 2011 Baby Almanac at The Frugal Baby! http://bit.ly/mLCoyz” (you can do this daily)

You may enter through July 4, 2011. A winner will be drawn randomly from all entries on July 5, 2011 and the winner will be notified by email that day. The winner has three days to send me his/her mailing address or another winner will be chosen at random. Please note that this prize can only be shipped to U.S. addresses but is open to everyone 18 and older (void where prohibited).

 

Lazy Days of Summer

As I was sitting in the kiddie pool this morning with my little ones, I found myself thinking about all the things I should have been doing: breakfast dishes, laundry, catching up on emails, etc. As moms, I think we usually have our minds on several things at once, primarily because we always have so many things to do and obligations to meet.  But you know what? It’s okay to spend a lazy summer morning splashing around with your babies. It’s okay to spend an afternoon at the park pushing them on the swings or riding down the slide with them. It’s okay if the dishes sit in the sink for a few hours and it’s okay if your emails don’t get answered right away.

Enjoy these summer days with your children. Your little ones won’t be little forever and your older ones will be back in school soon enough. Give yourselves a break and enjoy your kids. As for me, I think I’ll head back outside and play in the water.

Watermelon for Babies

I love summer fruits and vegetables and watermelon is pretty close to the top of my list. And why not? It’s full of water (of which you need extra during the hot summer months), it’s packed with nutrients, and, it is often very reasonably priced. Right now in my area, a couple of stores have watermelons for $2.99. For a five pound watermelon, that’s about 60 cents per pound.

Anyway, watermelon is also one of my favorite baby foods. Again, it’s packed with nutrients like Vitamins A and C, lycopene, and beta carotene. It also offers a bit of calcium and folic acid, too. Because of it’s natural sweetness, most babies love the stuff. Add to all of that the fact that watermelon is super easy to prepare and you have a real baby food winner.

To serve it to your baby, you can go one of two routes. You can put a chunk of watermelon into a mesh feeder or you can puree it like any other type of baby food.  The nice thing is, you don’t have to cook it and pureeing it only takes seconds. Just cut the melon into chunks and remove any seeds (even the white ones found in “seedless” watermelon). Then toss the melon into the blender and whir until smooth.

In addition to eating it plain, pureed watermelon mixes in nicely with rice cereal, yogurt, and other baby favorites.

Photo by Simona Balint

A Good Trip to Kroger

Late last night, I realized that I had a Kroger catalina that was going to expire today. Although I had not planned to go to Kroger this week, the catalina changed that. So I sat down and took a look at the store’s deals, made my list, and headed out first thing this morning. All in all, I thought I did pretty well. Here’s a photo of the haul:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got:

  • 1 Coke 2 liter
  • 1 Diet Coke 2 liter
  • 2 packages of smoked sausage
  • 2 packages of sliced cheese
  • 2 bags of chips
  • 1 gallon of milk
  • 3 bottles Snuggle fabric softener
  • 2 Suave hair products
  • 2 bottles of tea
  • 1 bag of sweet potato fries
  • 1 pound deli-style lunch meat
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 package of razors
  • 1 tub of Cottonelle moist wipes
  • 1 loaf of bread

My total before coupons was $79.69.

My total after coupons was $20.91.

My total savings was 78%. All in all, I was pleased with this trip.

Edible Learning

Not long ago I was able to get a great deal on Cheez Its so I bought a couple of the Scrabble Junior variety. If you’re not familiar with them, they are simply Cheez Its designed to look like Scrabble tiles with letters stamped on each one. I thought my kids would enjoy them and I figured any exposure to letters is probably a good thing.

I had no idea what a valuable learning tool those little crackers would become. My two year old immediately began asking, “what’s this?” as she picked up each Cheez It. By the third time she ate these for a snack, she was telling ME some of the letters.

As it turns out, there are a number of alphabet products out there:

Do you know of any other edible learning tools? Leave a comment a tell us about them!

 

 

 

Amazon Deal on Easy Ups

If you are a frugal parent, one of the best places to find deals is on Facebook. Get out there and “friend” all the deal-finding bloggers you can find and watch the deals just pop up on your wall. One such deal popped up on my Facebook wall this morning courtesy of  Here’s The Deal. She found a case of Pampers Easy Ups in a boys size 3/4 for just $11.29 on Amazon!

 

 

 

 

 

To get this great deal, you will need to sign up for Amazon Mom (if you haven’t already) to get 15% off and then choose the “subscribe and save” option to save an additional 15%. You can cancel the subscription at ANY time. Plus, there is a $1.50 off coupon right there on the product page! When you combine savings, your total is just $11.29 for 60 Easy Ups!

If you want to follow some of these deal-finders on Facebook, here is a small sampling of some of my favorites. Check ’em out!

Here’s the Deal

Mommy’s Money Saving Obsession

Consumer Queen

Super Coupon Lady

Raining Hot Coupons

2 Kids and a Coupon

Thrifty Wifey

 

New Dietary Guidelines from the USDA

By now, you’ve probably seen the USDA’s new nutrition icon. The image pictured at left plus the new “My Plate” brand are all part of the USDA’s nutrition standards campaign that replaces the Food Pyramid.

While they have not released specific guidelines for young children yet, the basic formula will be the same: fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables (with the emphasis on vegetables), fill one fourth of the plate with grains (whole grains are encouraged), and the remaining fourth with protein (lean being best). Round out the meal with a glass of milk to get your dairy requirements.

While there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about these new guidelines, I am happy to see them laid out in such an easy to understand format. I love it that finally, the U.S. government is on board with filling half your plate with fruits and veggies. I don’t know about you, but I grew up with my dinner in thirds–meat, starch, vegetable. And honestly, the starchy food was often a larger portion than the meat or vegetable. And that seems to be the norm for a lot of people. If we can make these new USDA guidelines the norm, think how much healthier we will all become.

For a super handy way to serve your child the proper portions, check out these divided plates: My Healthy Kids Plate and The Portion Plate for Kids. How cute!