Make Better Packed Lunches with a Copy of Vegan Lunch Box (Giveaway!)

Are you stuck in a lunchbox rut but don’t think tempeh, bulgur, and sprouted mung beans are going to go over so well with the kids?  If you’re familiar with the Vegan Lunch Box blog, you already know that vegan lunches can be creative, tasty, and even beautiful.

Just look at one of the entries from a recent Vegan Lunch Box contest:

 

(This makes me feel pretty bad about the crumpled sack lunch Audrey lugs to daycare.)

Jennifer McCann’s popular blog is also a book: Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!

According to the publishers, Vegan Lunch Box includes . . .
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Organic Food Deals at the Grocery Outlet

Grocery Outlet is one of those discount grocery stores that features deep discounts on name brands.  Some of the products have been discontinued, some cans are dented, and some packages are close to their expiration date.  I had never shopped in one before moving to my new neighborhood.  The sign above the store advertised “Over 120 Organic Products!”  Organic products at bargain basement prices?  This I had to see for myself!

Wandering through the aisles, the organic products were few and far between.  I found plenty of sugar cereals, chips, crackers, and cheap toys, but no organic food.  Well, not at first anyway.  I had to remind myself that I wasn’t in a hippie health food store or even a Whole Foods–organic items weren’t going to hit me in the face.  Upon closer inspection, I did find the organic products promised by the sign: a few packages of crackers, some Amy’s brand frozen dinners and canned soups, Organic Valley milk, and various organic cheeses. 
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How Do You Get Rid of Your Children’s Outgrown Clothing?

Today I walked into a children’s resale shop with a bag of Audrey’s clothing to trade.  I had carefully organized her outgrown garments, culled out the ragged, stained, and not-so-cute pieces, and waited until everything was seasonally appropriate.  I thought that my bag of clothes would earn me enough store credit to come home with something new for Audrey.   They took one item and gave me $2.00 in store credit.  That and $4.00 got me a pair of pants.  Not great.


Audrey, one month old, in consignment shop fashions

This store, as it turns out, does not donate the clothes they cannot sell, so I almost had to carry them all back home.  At the last moment, the store owner remembered that someone from “an orphanage” was going to stop by later in the day, so I didn’t have to lug the bag home after all.
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Your Garbage Can Live on as Art with SCRAP

A couple weeks ago I saw a brightly-painted truck driving around my Portland neighborhood with the word “SCRAP” scrawled on the side.  I later learned this was a part of Portland’s School and Community Resource Action Project.  They collect everything from buttons, wrapping paper, yarn, and paper towel tubes and distribute it to schools to use as art supplies.  I wrote a post about recycling the contents of my basement many months ago.  Some of the things we went to great lengths to recycle (such as CD jewel cases) could have been donated to this organization–and reusing is always better than recycling.
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Life with a Baby . . . and No Paper Towels

Many months ago, I wrote about the baby rules I break for the planet.  One of those “rules” included mopping up baby with wads of paper towels.  I don’t think I’ve ever bought a roll of paper towels in my life.  We do have two rolls of paper towels in my house.  One roll was generously left here by the previous owners.  We moved the other roll over from our last house, where it sat in the back of a closet for at least four years.  My husband bought that roll long ago, without my consent or knowledge.  I cannot be blamed!
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Easy Oats for Two: A Cheap and Nutritious Breakfast for Mother and Child

Oats were one of Audrey’s first favorite foods.  I’ve written a few times about the porridge I made for her as a little baby when I needed to fatten her up.  Once she was about fifteen months old, I started making her normal oatmeal for breakfast.  She has astounded me with her capacity for oatmeal.  Today I gave her a full adult serving (1 cup cooked) and she ate the entire bowl!  Normally, though, I will cook ¾ cups of dry oats for us both.  That will yield about a cup of cooked oats for me and a half cup for her.
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Save Some Trees–Never Buy Children’s Books

Here’s a tip that works for me: Never buy books!  Why?  Because reading is overrated and television is the wave of the future!  Instead of wasting valuable time and money on books for my young, impressionable daughter, we just plop her in front of the television, which is FREE (we don’t have cable).

I found this adorable picture on Multnomah County Library’s website

All right, calm down.  I do believe in books and reading.  I was an English major, after all.  I wasn’t kidding, though, about never buying books.  I just wanted a snazzier intro to the oldest tightwad trick in the book: Use the library.  Yes, it’s been said before, but despite the existence of this wonderful public institution, many people still spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on books, CDs, and DVDs each year–even though all these things can be acquired for free.  Not only does patronizing the library save money, it saves trees and other resources.
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Disguise Vegetables in Fruity Popsicles

Joy’s popsicle post provided me with a burst of inspiration: Could I sneak vegetables into my daughter’s diet by disguising them in a tasty frozen treat?  The answer is yes.  Here’s my groundbreaking recipe:

Strawberry Spinach Popsicles

Pint of very ripe strawberries (overripe is okay)
2-3 cups of carefully washed spinach leaves
1 TBS honey (or more, to taste)

Place the strawberries in the blender and fill the remainder of the blender with spinach leaves.  Add honey and puree until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds.  (Yields 2 cups liquid)

I invented this recipe and gave the strange-looking brown popsicle to my daughter.  She took one lick and said, “Yum, yum!”  Then she ate the whole thing, making quite a mess in the process.  Of course I sampled this brown concoction myself.  It really does not taste of spinach at all-it’s just pleasantly strawberry-flavored. 
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Are Secondhand Baby Clothes Greener than Organic Ones?

Here’s a green idea that works for me: I buy all of my child’s clothes at secondhand stores.  It seems like lately I keep hearing about expensive organic cotton onesies and bamboo socks.  While it’s great to support companies who use sustainable products, why not just buy clothes at a consignment shop?  I’ve found so many cute things—many of them from mainstream manufacturers like Old Navy, the Gap, and Gymboree–for much less than retail.  In fact, I have never paid more than eight dollars for an item of clothing.  (My limit used to be six dollars, but then I splurged on an adorable eight-dollar bunny sweater!)

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Riding on Public Transportation with a Baby in Tow

I will risk my green cred by admitting that I never got the hang of riding the bus with my daughter.  Before I had a baby of my own, I’d see parents wearing their babies in slings or pouches, hopping on and off the bus with ease.  During the ride, the babies would sleep or calmly stare out at the view.  Maybe it wasn’t as easy for these parents as it looked–I know it wasn’t that easy for me!  I tend to choose walking over bus-riding most days, so I hardly qualify as a baby-bus-riding expert, but here are some pros and cons involved in the different ways of traveling with your tot.
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