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The Advantages of Planning Ahead

07 December 2011

Leftover mini pumpkin pancake, cottage cheese, carrots and grape tomatoes, "goldalicious" apples

I'm not much of a planner, but I'm trying to be. I'm realizing how much more smoothly life flows when I've planned ahead rather than taking things as they come. A part of me feels like planning kills the spontaneity and doesn't allow me to jump on opportunities when the arise, and part of me feels like there's so much going on, that I don't have time to plan. I'm realizing, however, that by planning, I can head-off problems before they occur, and that planning actually gives me more options when I want to be spontaneous.

Here are a few ways that I've planned ahead to help my kids be better eaters...

Planing Ahead with "Snacky" Bentos

My sons' preschool is located right by the grocery store. I pick the boys up at noon and often decide to "quickly," run in to the store to pick up a few things.  Between managing two boys (who want to "help" me with the scanner gun) and analyzing everything to try to make sure I get the best deal possible, I am always shocked by how late it is when we leave.

It's usually after 1:00, which means my boys are starving and I have to try to quickly pull something together for lunch. It also means that their behavior deteriorates the longer we are in the store!

One day, it occurred to me that I needed a better plan (or, at least, any plan!) Before I headed off for pick-up, I packed a snack Bento for both the boys and for me. When I picked them up, I drove to the store and then let them eat their snacks while I sorted through my coupons.

It worked so well that I now pack "Snack bentos" any time I don't plan on going straight home after pick up. Here's another snack bento I made on a day I had to stop at the post office to mail a few packages...

Though I didn't think of it that way at the time I made it, I've seen a lot of "homemade Lunchables," lately, and I guess this would qualify: grilled chicken, apples slices, cheese slices and Kashi crackers.

Plan Ahead for Family Outings

This past Saturday, the adorable town of Lititz, PA was hosting a (FREE!) kids event, called, "Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas." I love (LOVE!) Lititz, and if you're ever in the Lancaster, PA area, Lititz should be on your list of places to stop.

I anticipated that an event aimed kids would mean, "junk food." I don't exactly expect them to be handing out apples and carrots and I'm not opposed to occasional treats. However, I also know that if we "sugared" our kids up, starting at 10 a.m. it was going to be a LONG day and by the time we got home we would have to deal with cranky, miserable kids, which kind of negates the whole idea of a fun family day.

Normally, even though I knew that it would be a good idea to bring some healthy snacks along, I would have felt too pressed to get out the door and head off on our fun adventure, to take the time to pack snacks.  However, I also had to plan ahead for me. Having gestational diabetes, means that I actually have to think about what I'm eating, and when. This is a big change for me, and it's been a struggle.

I grabbed a small cooler and packed, cheese slices, crackers, apple slices, blackberries, and a bag of apricots and walnuts. I also packed two bottles of water.

At 11:00, while waiting in line for horse drawn carriage lines, my kids were starting to get a little fussy, it was also time for me to test my sugar and have a snack. I pulled out the snacks and my kids were like vultures devouring just about everything.  It was perfect timing, because we then realized that the carriage rides weren't starting until noon. We left the line, and rounded the corner, only to discover that the Boy Scouts had set up a station to roast marshmallows!!

Since my kids had just had a good healthy snack with fruit, whole grains, and a little protein, I knew that the marshmallow would not have the effect it would have if they were eating it on an empty stomach. This meant that I could enjoy the moment without worrying about the fact that this was, potentially, a moment that could start everyone on a downward spiral...

In fact, I was so confident that our snack had done it's job, that we next decided to warm up with hot caramel apple cider with whipped cream!

The whole day went smoothly. We had so much fun that we weren't able to make it home for lunch until 2:00, but no one was, "starving," and no one was, "cranky." 

My daughter was even able to "mail," her letter to Santa.

Don't forget to check out "What's for Lunch Wednesday." I found lots of fun ideas for Christmas Themed lunches that I'm hoping to try out in the near future!


  1. I am inspired by this thing you call planning ahead. It has actually been on my To DO list for awhile. To Do: Plan ahead. :) Love the snack bentos, and the pictures of the family enjoying the day together. Happy WW!

  2. To Do: Plan Ahead--- Love it!! Kind of like me, To Do: Make a "To Do," list!!

  3. Where did you find your silicone baking cups? Great dividers in vibrant colors :)

  4. I found these ones at Home Goods. I've seen similar ones at Michaels in their cupcake section, but, of course, they're more expensive :) I do like these ones though... In one package for $3.99, I was able to get a good mix of cups in a variety of shapes and colors. If you don't have a HomeGoods (we just got ours!) I would try TJMaxx or Marshalls (they are all sister stores.)

  5. Hi Julie, thank you for your comment on my blog. I did not even know your blog until now. But I find it really great, so I will follow you :)

  6. Great ideas. I truly need to follow your lead more in this area.

  7. Thanks Hines-Sight... I'm still learning to follow my own lead in this area ;)

  8. I never thought to go to Home Goods for the silicone cups. Thanks for the tip! I found some of mine from Target's $1 bin a few years ago--they were not actually sturdy enough to bake in without having a cupcake tin, but they were extra flexible and thus great for lunch--and did buy some from Michael's, too, and a local kitchen supply store. But I want more interesting shapes, so Home Goods is on my list.

  9. Home Goods is kind of hit or miss, but that's what makes it fun... It's kind of like a treasure hunt :)

  10. I've got the "plan ahead" down - but I usually change my plans spur of the moment on a daily basis. Luckily, I have a weekly meal plan that I hang on my fridge, so I just pick and go - despite what I planned for the day. But I'm having to learn to stick with my meal plan, only because my son will remind me what is on it!!! LOL

    Stopping by from TGIF!


  11. I try to make weekly meal plans but am not the best at sticking to them... I posted about one of them and it definitely made me more accountable. I definitely want to do it again... maybe next week! So many plans... so little time!

  12. what a delicious & healthy lunch! I love how it is all neat in cupcake pans =-) Thanks for linking up to TGIF! See you next week,
    Beth =-)

  13. Thanks Beth! I love TGIF, I always get so many good ideas from your readers!


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