Monthly Archives: January 2017

Simple Lunch Boxes

The new school year is about to start here and the supermarkets are hawking the lunch boxes and lunch and snack foods so I thought it would be a good time to think about simplifying the lunch box.

Smash Enterprises Rubbish Free Containers

Packing a lunch box is a great way for anyone to save money and eat healthier food. Being organised and simplifying how you pack the lunch box will make sure you actually DO use it because it is READY when you are about to run out the door. Put a post it on the door to remind you to run back to the fridge and grab it though!  If you are mindful about what you include, packing a lunch box and s cheaper and healthier than bought lunches and snacks too.

Look at the tips below for organising and simplifying the task of packing lunch boxes.

If you don’t do this already, plan on dedicating an area in the fridge and the pantry or place where you store non-perishables, for lunch and snack items so the person packing the lunch box has easy, grab and go access to items. If you freeze lunch items designate an area in the freezer too. Keep in mind that you don’t have to designate a whole shelf or drawer, a basket or plastic container will do. Apart from making it easy to grab and go by having a designated spot for lunch items, the grocery shopper/s in the family can also see at a glance which items need replenishing.

Try to pick a regular time of day to pack lunches. Pick the afternoon or before dinner if mornings are a mad rush. If afternoons are a problem think of another time when you might be in the kitchen anyway, like lunch time, while you’re cooking dinner, or after you have unloaded the dishwasher- you will probably only need 5 or 10 minutes max. Consider delegating the task and get the kids involved. If they don’t want to help, tell the, that’s ok you were planning on packing sardine and liverwurst sandwiches, they will be happy to fetch the Vegemite then. Wink!
If you succeed in getting the children involved make it easy for them to help you by storing the items you will commonly use where they can reach it. You can even have your child make their sandwich when they have their afternoon snack or while you are making dinner or cleaning up after breakfast. It is possible that the more involved they are the more likely they are to eat their lunch! Consider posting a chart somewhere in the kitchen (like the inside of a cupboard door) with pictures of what you want packed, eg a sandwich, one or two pieces of fruit, veggie sticks, a treat, and a drink- whatever you wish they would eat!
Speaking of getting the kids involved, I started and continue to try and enforce the habit of bringing the empty lunch box and drink bottles to the kitchen as soon as we get home. This is usually the time when when I will be fixing an afternoon snack anyway so it makes sense to me. It’s a good time to discuss what and why something hasn’t been eaten and enjoyed so you can plan alternatives and it’s a good time to wash everything. A caveat-don’t rely on your child (or teenager!) to completely empty all the food and containers out of their bag, it is highly unlikely that they will ! Unless you personally check their bags frequently, you WILL one day be lead to an odour that turns out to be a shocking, soggy, mouldy mess that will permanently stain and ‘odourise’ their bag and turn you off your own lunch for quite some time-trust me on this one, I have l much experience in this matter.
Cut veggie sticks the night before when preparing the veggies for that nights dinner-(This is also a good time to prep veggie for the next nights dinner!) Store in airtight containers or ziplock bags lined with a paper towel liner and the veggies will stay fresh. Save little sauce containers if you get some with a take away to use to sometimes add a dipping sauce for some variety.
When washing grapes, take the time to wash the whole bunch. Use kitchen scissors to cut smaller bunches and pop them into containers or ziplock bags. Place these into a storage basket in the fridge for a grab and go snack or a quick addition to lunch boxes. Try popping a few of the pre-packed bunches of grapes into the freezer for a refreshing snack the is a healthy alternative to ice-blocks etc.
Most fruit can be washed ahead of time, but strawberries should only be washed close to the time when they will be eaten for the best texture and flavour. Oranges can be pre-cut but keep apples whole or cut them at the last minute and then reassemble it into it’s “apple” shape and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to keep out as much air as possible so it won’t go brown.
Most schools have a ‘munch and crunch’ programme for students to have a snack and reenergise during class time. You will probably be given a list of suitable foods, which are not only healthy choices, but are also ‘less messy’ foods. Use this list to remind you to pack the munch and crunch and as a jumping off point for what you can pack that is healthy and not as likely to stain that freshly ironed school uniform-you may say I’m a dreamer… You may note-cherries are NOT ON THAT LIST!
Half or quarter fill drink bottles with the chosen beverage and freeze them. Each morning top them up with the rest of the beverage to make a handy ice pack to keep lunches fresh as well as providing a cool drink.Remeber what beverage you froze though, some combinations that may occur as a result of forgetfulness may not be so palatable- chocolate milk and lime cordial comes to mind. Better to stick with water, I think.
Check containers are easy to open and close for your children to prevent them dropping or spilling their lunch and prevent leaks-refer to stained school bag dilemna above. Schools encourage labelled, reusable containers, and while try are better for the environment, they can be quite costly, so check that they are user friendly too. Don’t spend too much though, they will get lost! You may don industrial grade rubber gloves and check ‘lost property’ but don’t expect too much of this black hole of  scholarly belonging so-in fact, I limit my search to two minutes or less, lest I also be sucked into this portal where Tupperware lids, jumpers and yellow raincoats go to die.
Be on the look out for different sizes and shapes of containers. Reuse takeaway containers and  tiny sauce tubs too.Label the top and bottom with the families last name. Also have on hand ziplock bags, foil, wrap, paper towels and even some plastic cutlery. Try to find a common drawer or shelf to store all of this. Keep it as neat and organised as you can and try not to have too much, toppling Tupperware towers will NOT inspire you to pack a lunch and being hit on the head by an avalanche of alfoil and glad wrap boxes just plain HURTS, When you wash and dry a drink bottle or container put it’s lid on before storing it and discard the odd bods.
Consider having two lunch boxes per person. While one is being used or washed and dried, the other can be filled ahead of time and kept in the fridge, ready to go.
When you have time be creative with your child’s lunch just to make it more appetising and special, present it bento box style, cut food into shapes or make wraps or rolled up sandwiches, include stickers or a note, add a few treats to share such as home popped popcorn or some smiley faced biscuits.
That’s quite a few tips for now, I might leave it there and revisit this topic again later. I also think most of these tips apply to adults as well, working or not, consider taking more homemade lunches and/or snacks when you are not at home and I think you’ll feel better for it.
Add your own tips in the comments too, I’d love to hear them!
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Happy Birthday (Bargains) To Me *8*

My House

My House Advantage Club members receive a birthday voucher of $20 off anything instore or online with free shipping for Advantage club members, click here to sign up for free.

Happy Birthday (Bargains) to me *7*

Lots more birthday rewards turned up in my inbox this week. Some are great and some not so great-designed only to make you spend more or with conditions that make it difficult to bag a bargain. Here they are…


$20 off any item instore and online. The top I chose was $119.99 and I got it for $49. I’ll picture it below.

Become a VIP here.


$20 off anything online. I found a nice tee and got it for half price.

Become a VIP here



$25 off online, instore or at David Jones, the emails states ‘excludes clearance’ however I was able to buy a tee online using the voucher code- I did have to pay $10 postage because there was no stock in my nearest store in order to take advantage of Click and Collect. Still I got a 100% linen tee that was $79.00 for $4.00! I’ll picture it below. Become a Saba VIP here.

Fusion Brands

I remember receiving a voucher last year, but now Fusion Brands offer triple points for 7 days at your birthday time.Join Fusion by visiting Mathers, Williams ,Colorado or Diana Ferarri online and signing up.


Mimco has a reward club called Mimcollective. They sent me an email saying I will be rewarded NEXT year if I start spending now. Hmm.


Katies offer a $20 off voucher instore or online-minimum spend is $30. Sign up here.


Autograph offers $20 off full priced purchases over $30 instore or online. Become a VIP here.


Rockport offers a birthday discount of 20% off full priced items instore or online. Sign up here.

Novo Shoes

Novo Shoes offers a birthday reward of $20 off full priced items online at Novo Shoes

There are a few more vouchers in my inbox so stay tuned.

Happy Birthday Bargains To Me *6*

Here’s three more birthday offers for VIP members.


$20 off full priced items over $30 instore or online 

Join Jeanswest Rewards here.

BeMe 25% on a full priced purchase instore or online. Become a BeMe VIP here.

Veronika Maine gives privilege members $30 to spend instore or online for their birthday. Become a Veronika Maine privilege member here.

Happy Birthday (bargains) To Me *5*

Today’s VIP birthday perk comes from Forever New who offer 15% off on full price purchases (online only). 

Sign up at Forever New here.

Happy Birthday (bargains) to me *4*

Another birthday voucher! This time from Sheridan Outlet and it is $25 to spend on full priced or marked down items in store or online. Delivery is a flat rate $9.95 and purchases over $150 are entitled to free delivery. Sign up here.

Happy Birthday (bargains) to me *3*

Today’s bargain is a $10 off birthday voucher from Bonds to use I store or online with free delivery for being a Bonds and Me member sign up here. I chose some new socks 😀

Happy Birthday (bargains) to me *2*

Today’s voucher: Review $20 voucher to use in store or online, click and collect available.

Click here to sign up to Review Australia’s loyalty club.

Happy Birthday (bargains) To Me! *1*

For the month of January (my birthday month) I am going to share my birthday vouchers and discount offers with you. I join many VIP or loyalty clubs online for merchants where I shop or would like to shop and then wait for the birthday vouchers to roll in.
Most are from women’s fashion retailers because I find I get the most value from their vouchers as a way of updating my wardrobe. I save any $5 notes I get as change for a few months, add any Christmas or birthday money or vouchers I have been given and since January is also a huge sale month I usually do pretty well and save BIG!

I don’t sign up to many food or resturant VIP clubs, but for those interested their free birthday meals etc may be worth signing up for too. The Cheesecake Shop, Sumo Salad, Boost juice, Muffin Break plus many other chain and local companies off free deals and meals for your birthday day or month.

I might add that since I live a simple life and I don’t  wish to spend money for the sake of it, I do not take advantage of all the offers I get. If I can’t find something I want or need without adding too much more of my own cash from a particular company then I let the offer expire. I also consider if any postage costs are worth it.
Now for the first offer!

Strandbags Loyalty Club

Strandbags offer their loyalty club members a 10% off any full priced or promotional item in store or online. I have 31 days to use the voucher code emailed to me and Strandbags are currently featuring 25% off online, up to 50% off seasonal and up to 60% off luggage and store collection may be available on items in stock, so I can shop at home and avoid postage costs.

Sign up to Strandbags Loyalty Club in the link above or here.

I’m going to have a good look through the online store. I’ll let you know if I buy anything. 

See you when I get my next birthday voucher.

Simple Life Mum

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