A Financial Tip- Planning for Activities on a budget

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I get to be a soccer mom this week. I have never been a sports mom. Ever. My daughter does ballet but beyond that, I haven’t really done the whole sports thing. Well, this year we decided to try the Basketball camp offered by the town.

The times on these are weird. 11:00am-1:00. You eat before, its more time for a snack than anything else, and waiting too long after exercising is not healthy either! Since I home-school, I have never had to pack a lunch  for my kids. It is really easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to pack a full fridge for them. In reality, I’m learning to keep it simple. If I were to get all the little packs to make it cute and convenient then I could easily blow my full week’s grocery money on this.

It is easy to get into that mindset- for lunches I do a lot of “hot” meals-
Kielbasa with rice and veggies
Beans and Rice
Chicken and rice

They won’t be able to heat those up. So, what are some lunch ideas for a thrifty budget? Here is what I made (and remember, my kids eat adult size plates… and still ask for seconds!);
-Boiled eggs (protein) (2 each)
-Carrots (instead of baby carrots, I use regular carrots from the garden cut up into smaller pieces.)
-I bought 1 jar of Apple Sauce $2.99 at Walmart and divided it up into small portions.
-We have always done water and I see no reason to change it up now… but I did fill their water bottles up and add a bit of Apple Cider Vinegar (no more than 1/2 tsp) with some lemon juice, stevia, and ginger. Their very own Trim Healthy Mama- good girl moonshine. They love it and its like having a cool refreshing juice without the cost.
-Popcorn. A bag of popcorn costs like $5something from Azure Standard Co-Op and it last a LONG time. This probably cost me pennies and I just placed some in a container so that it wouldn’t get all mashed up in a baggie with the rest of the stuff.
-I have a huge bag of raisins someone gave me and so I divided them up into 1/4 cup servings.
-Yogurt, someone gave me a huge 12pack but previously I had planned on buying a large container for $2.50 and divvying in it up into smaller portions.

It’s a lot of small snacky type foods but as a whole, I don’t think anything would cost more than $7 for the two of them for the whole week. As for containers, I have a ton here already and didn’t need to buy any. You can pick some up inexpensively at the Dollar Store. I don’t have a lunch pail. I looked into one but the cheapest I could find was $4.99 and I would need 2 for that size! So, I just used a shoe box container. Wrapped 2 ice packs in some flour sack towels for each end and it will be just fine.

Oh, I did buy disposable plastic spoons. I did not want my good spoons to go and possibly not return.

This took some planning. It took thinking outside the box to think of a lunch box. đŸ˜‰ I kept my eye opened a few months ago for the the kind of things people buy for their children’s lunches and this is what I saw;

-Cheese sticks. Excellent source of protein I agree… but it would have been cheaper to buy a block of cheese and cut them up for the kidlets.
– I think it was a 12 or 16 pack of individual packs of potato chips. $14.99 was the best price I saw. Popcorn with a little Parmesan cheese and butter would still be a lot cheaper.
-Juice boxes $2.99 for a pack of 10. If you kids are used to this, it would be a drastic change to switch to water bottle. But can you compromise? Fruit infused water? Water is so essential for our bodies.
-some kind of treat- $2.99-$6 Bake brownies/cookies/etc. Not only will your kids love that time with you but it can also taste SO much better!

Probably the biggest argument I hear is that, “My kid won’t eat that, they will only eat….” Let me ask you; when you switch from donuts for breakfast into a healthy smoothie, for example, what kept you going? A) you are older and wiser and see the benefits, B) You probably didn’t like it at first either, you aren’t used to it, but you keep going. Kids are younger, and they don’t understand as much. It is up to us–the parents–to show a better way, like washing our hands before eating and after we use the bathroom or brushing our teeth daily. It isn’t natural, but it will become a habit over time. They may not like doing it but you still encourage and teach them how.

Start with a small simple change. Changing everything at once can be confusing and can cause a lot of confusion and hurt. Change one thing. Don’t be afraid or surprised if they don’t take to it at first, but be consistent. Maybe even make a game with it! Calculate how much your normally spend, then show your kid and show your kid what you could be spending NOW and then have a goal to use the rest of the money for! A new Lego set? A trip somewhere? Put the money in a clear jar, and see if that is a motivator for you.

Would love to know your thoughts on how you do lunch boxes in your family! Is it for you? For your children? Your husband?

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