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Thursday, February 25, 2010

60 February Featured Space: Kitchen - Snack Attack!

At first I thought this post would be all about the kids again, but really, who am I kidding?  We as adults snack as much as youngsters do, so I am not gonna profile here, this post is for everyone!

Snacking is actually considered healthy, when done in moderation.  However, how many of us open up the cupboard, stare at the insides for many minutes, and due to lack of options, grab a big 'ol sack of potato chips or cookies, only to realize that before you know it, the bag is half empty, or even worse, gone.

I found myself guilty of this, and my kids as well.  Which takes snacking from healthy to deadly in a matter of seconds.  So, I put my little organization hat on, and decided to dedicate a portion of our new pantry (sharing the project in pieces before the big reveal) to nothing other than, SNACKS.

This week, when I returned home from my weekly grocery shopping trip, I did something a little bit different when I was putting away the goods.  Actually, it started at the grocery store itself.  I only purchased snacks from larger packaging (forget those pricey pre-packaged snack packs and 100 calorie packs), and I made sure they were somewhat on the healthy side.  Then when I returned home, I laid the snacks out on the counter, grabbed a bunch of sandwich and snack sized baggies, and started filling them with the contents of the big bags/boxes.  This included everything from Trail Mix, Teddy Grahams, Goldfishy Crackers and Popcorn.  And some things are just easier in pre-packaged smaller pouches, such as Peanut Butter Crackers, Raisins and the not so healthy Rice Krispie Bar splurge.

Once they were all packaged up, I tossed them into a big green plastic basket, the same kind I use for recycling:


So inside their new home, it looked like this:


Totally a snacker's paradise!  And it took like a total of like 15 seconds to do this, and the payoff is HUGE!  First off, the kids don't need any assistance getting a snack, because they can now easily find what snacks are for them, and only eat good portions.  Secondly, it actually takes up far less cabinet space than all of the boxes and packages would have.  Win win!

Then, referring back to the exact same process I used here to create my suitcase tag, I created a label for the front of the SNACK basket:

And here it is all printed out, matted and laminated:


Then, I just used a Velcro square to attach it to the front of the basket:

 

Like so:

 

And then into the pantry went the basket:


We have been living with the new SNACK basket for almost a week now, and the whole family totally HEARTS this one!

Anyone else doing something similar in their kitchen?  And really, there is no reason for me to stop here.  In fact, this was such a positive outcome, that I am already thinking ahead to my next grocery trip, and how I can use this idea in the fridge, and store healthy fresh fruit and veggie snacks!  As I frequently say, ideas can be used over and over in many different rooms and areas of your life!




Psssst!  Plastic baggies are SO last year!  Check out how we updated this process to be a little more earth friendly

60 comments:

  1. What a great idea! Simple and functional. When I reorganize my pantry, I am totally doing this!

    Thanks for the great storage tip! :)

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  2. This a great idea!! You have inspired me to reorganize our pantry this weekend! :)

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  3. So happy to hear this! Hopefully I have more tips up my sleeve you will enjoy!

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  4. Awesome ideas!! What size baskets did you use for your snacks? and bread? I noticed on the (container store website) they had three options. I am in pantry heaven :-)

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  5. Hi Nicole!

    I am so excited that you are in a happy pantry place! Great question about the basket size! They are the Large Stacking Basket with Handles, 17" x 13-1/16" x 6-3/4" h.

    I hope that helps and happy organizing!

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  6. Thanks so much for letting me...I think I may just need a quick trip to Target and pick me up a few :-) Then again, its never just a "quick trip" to that place. Would you mind sharing how you made your labels or do you have a template? They are fantastic!!! Here is my email if you have a template that you don't mind sharing:-)

    colee160@aol.com

    Keep up the awesome ideas!!

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  7. I started doing this a few years back. We now have a drawer for my son that has his foods in it. And mommy's snack (chocolate) is up high :)

    I also use reusable bags or small jars ( baby food or rubbermaid) for our snacks. All those little baggies drove me bonkers

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    Replies
    1. What kind of reusable bags do you use? I can't stand buying all those bags either and the thoughts of the in the landfill makes me sad.

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    2. You can also wash and reuse the plastic bags-they take up much less space for students in a bag or purse than a container does. :)

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  8. I love this idea! It is definitely something I am keen to try.

    Something a little different that we did when I was a kid - but somewhat along the same lines - is called a "Friday Box"

    Chocolate bars and sweets were mostly a no no in our family - but every friday evening after dinner, the Friday box came out. This was filled with the goodies that we normally weren't allowed. My mother must have bought all different sorts of chocolate bars in bulk.

    We kids just LOVED being able to CHOOSE one treat from the box - and it was a no brainer dessert for my mother to organise on Friday at the end of a long week.

    It's a fun tradition that I will love to do when my kids are older!

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  9. Love this idea and want to implement it in my house. For the background on the snack labels, did you create it or find it via goggle search? I am new your blog and my husband thinks I am addicted :-)

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  10. Hi Amy!

    I actually just used Microsoft Word and mixed and matched different "Shapes" by changing their outlines and fills.

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  11. Gotcha!, thank you for your response. One last question, what kind of laminating sheets to you buy?

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  12. @Amy - I am not sure of the actual brand, but I find them in a bulk of I think 200 at Sam's Club for around $20, which is a steal compared to the prices I typically see at Target and Walmart!

    xoxo!
    Jen

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  13. Great idea! I will use this for preparing school lunches. We usually add one fun snack to each day's lunch. If I were to use this idea for at-home snacks and leave the kids to select for themselves, my daughter would have the bin empty in a couple of days!

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  14. I also LOVE this idea. I do it with my 3 boys and it's great because they know what they can and can't have.

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  15. I actually do this for my fridge. I have three children who take their lunches to school. I got tired of spending 2.50 to 3 dollars on a 4 pack of fruit cups. So I bought little round containers and then just by a large can of fruit or fresh whichever I want for the week. I then separate the fruit into the containers. I can usually get a $1 can of fruit and split it between the three of them. I also do this for homemade pudding, jello and yogurt. So much cheaper.

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  16. You could do this for cereal and oatmeal - premeasured portions out of the big boxes also . I just moved and am still trying to organize the kitchen - this will help a lot

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  17. What about cereal?

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  18. @Brianna,

    We keep our cereal in "cereal keepers" so it stays fresher longer. However, the way our kids go through it, I don't know that it would ever get a chance to go bad, lol.

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  19. It sure seems like you would go through a ton of ziplock bags this way, vs. just putting a snack in a bowl. I wonder if there would be another way to do this that would not be quite so wasteful/harmful to the environment.

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  20. This is great! I've been doing this for years now and it makes life with three kids SO much easier! I also make snack bags of different fruits and veggies and store in stacking containers in the fridge. My kids love it! I also store chopped onions and bellpeppers in single serving sized bags and I divide meat into single meal sized portions before I freeze so it's just grab and go for cooking!

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  21. As a Kindergarten teacher, I had a parent who did something like this. She had snacks in one basket, juice pouches in another basket, and mini fruit cups and fruit rollups etc. in another basket. This was used only for school lunches.... When it came time to pack lunches each child got to pick something from each of the baskets while Mom made the sandwich... Made the whole packing process much easier for everyone. (She even had the children help make the little individual bags.)

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  22. @MaggieO,

    We actually wash and reuse our bags to both save money and the earth! :)

    xoxo,
    Jen

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    Replies
    1. You can also make or purchase fabric snack bags with zippers that are washable. I love mine and hope to make some soon. I feel better about not buying plastic. Also, going to canning jars instead of plastic ware. They come in many sizes, and are better to store your food in so the chemicals don't leach into your food.

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    2. I am with you on the glass storage. Doing that already. I have looked into the fabric snack bags, they seem SO expensive. Any thoughts on where to snag a good deal?

      xoxo!
      Jen

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    3. I've tried the fabric snack bags and, while I LOVE the concept, it failed me in practice. They're usually held closed by Velcro strips, so moisture gets in and out. Our crunchy snacks got stale and our veggies dried up! :( I haven't found anything that beats plastic baggies, unfortunately. But I will follow your example of washing & reusing them!

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    4. I tried washing sandwich baggies before, but they always seem greasy on the insides, and are hard to dry too. I have recycled bread bags and other food safe bags (breads and tortillas mostly - never any kind that held meat), and this helps a lot with not having to buy so many sandwich bags. I also recycle a lot of glass containers, but my cupboards only hold so much. They seem safer to me than plastic, but bulky. Eliminating plastics makes sense to me in many respects, but throwing out what I already have also seems wasteful to me, especially if it is safe enough to use for storing items at room temp or fridge. Anyway, if you don't mind using the baggies, chances are that you won't mind using hard-plastic containers either. No reason I can think of not to substitute; they come in all shapes and sizes too.

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    5. I wash my baggies out too. I will turn them inside out to wash them and leave them that way hooked over the sprayer for the faucet so they dry thoroughly.

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  23. I've been planning on doing this, so it's great to see it in practice and hear that it's working well! For the fridge I got one of those condiments trays like bartenders use and I keep fruits, veggies, dip and cheeses in those. They can grab the whole tray and pick from the various foods and then put it back in the fridge. It's been working well.

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  24. love this and would love to see your other ideas I believe I will be doing this soon

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  25. Love the blog! Did you buy the baskets in white and spray paint them, or were they once available in more colors? Thanks!

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  26. Oops! Saw them today at Target in green, teal and black as well as white!

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  27. We've done this for a while now; since the kids started packing their own school lunches in about first grade. The pantry one contains similar items to yours, and the refrigerated one has fruit, yogurt, meatstick and cheese cubes, etc. They each make a sandwich, grab two pantry snack baggies, and one refrigerated one.

    In about 4th grade, they wanted the option to buy lunch at school. Twins at $2.50 per kid per lunch added up fast. To put a spin on it a little, I started pricing out the snack baggies according to the cost of the items. I could buy a box of cheezits, portion it into 8 baggies and divide the cost to be about 38 cents each, etc. A loaf of bread with 22 slices made 11 sandwiches, so the cost of the bread was about 10 cents, plus the cost of the ham and cheese... you get the idea. They then had to "buy" their packed lunches based upon the $2.50 per lunch price at school, and whatever the packed total was, they subtracted from the 2.50 budget, and they kept the change. Gave them motivation to only buy lunch at school on special days, and learned about budgeting, costing, savings, etc. Also got them started with coupons and shopping for items according to the sales from the stores, etc. Who would have known snack baggies could be so educational!!

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    Replies
    1. That is a really great idea! I have twins too and I have been trying to teach them about finances & waste. They are in Preschool right now and can have snacks at school or "take their own" and they love to take their own now, so hopefully next year when they are in school it is still "Cool" :)

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    2. Such a great idea! I am a fan. :)

      xoxo!
      Jen

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  28. Love this idea! I always prepare snack bags for my car or to throw in to my diaper bag... but to have a fully stocked snack basket is genius!!! Thanks so much for the wonderful idea.

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  29. I do this with snacks AND with cereal... my boys and I are cereal lovers but we always pour too much, so I started portioning it out into baggies. No more wasted cereal and it really helps my husband because he's diabetic so he knows exactly how many carbs he is getting in each serving. I also do this with berries and snack cheese, otherwise my kids would eat the entire pint/bag in one fell swoop!

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  30. THANK YOU!! I found your blog today through Pinterest, and I need this so bad. We have one of those kitchens were all too many of the cabinets have avalanches awaiting anyone who dares pull the wrong thing out. I'm going to start with the snack shelf, and cant wait to read through your blog for more ideas!

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  31. We have been doing something similar for years and it is fabulous. I measure out at the most 1 serving according to the nutritional content on the boxes into snack sized ziplock bags and put them into a large plastic container and they grab a bag when they are making their lunches or want a snack.

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  32. I absolutely love this idea! I just found your blog via Blog Hop and am loving your organizing tips.

    I'm a Weight Watchers member and think this would be a great way to pre-portion your snacks for healthy eating too! I posted today on toy organizing and would love for you to check it out if you have time.

    Enjoy your afternoon.

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  33. In our house we have a "safety" snack drawer full of "good all-the-time choices" and then we keep our "sometimes" snacks in a cute bin on the counter. This week's sometimes snack is lemon puppy chow. Usually I measure it out into reasonable portions and bag individually to help the kids with portion control. This week I have put the challenge up to the kids and I put a 1/3 cup measuring cup in the bowl to let them do their own portion control. So far I'd say they are doing better than me (I took two scoops yesterday ;-)I love that every kid and adult that comes over knows where the safety snack drawer is and feels comfortable to help themselves without rummaging through my pantry.
    Additionally, I have found it helpful to keep the lunch packing "sides" separate from the snacks. It helps the kids when they are packing fill their lunches with filling healthy options and not just a bunch of snacks and a sandwich.

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  34. This is an excellent organizing tip...I have been doing this with my twins since pre-school and they are now about to graduate from high school. With all the activities they have been in over the years, this has worked for school lunches and once they were in middle and high school, it worked to pack for light dinners as well, so that we weren't tempted to stop for fast food because we were all "starving" at the end of a three hour track meet or soccer match. I enjoy your blog! Your family is adorable!

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  35. What a fantastic idea!! I just found your blog and love it!

    Donna E

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  36. What a brilliant idea. Now why haven't i thought about that?! Thank you for sharing.

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  37. Did you paint the basket green ? I see they are available in white on the website.

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    Replies
    1. Nope - Target stores still sell the green option I believe. xoxo,
      Jen

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  38. this is probably the best thing I have found that has streamlined our eating and it is perfect for 'clean eating' with the kids. we do what you did with the baskets, but with snack bags, fruits and veggies and put it in the fridge. it works so well we don't even make lunch anymore, they just help themselves all day. it is so much easier for them to just get up and do it themselves (I'm disabled, so any help is greatly appreciated). mostly fruits and veggies, a dairy, a carb, and a sweet is what they can choose from. they each get a bag of them and their initial on them so we don't get confused (they are 4 and 6). anything left carries over into a sit down dinner (veggies) or the next day. each bag has about 2oz in it.

    like today; they had 2 waffles and milk for breakfast. the snacks; homemade marshmallows, half a slice of homemade bread, grapes, pineapple, strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, organic graham crackers, an organic juice box each (the rest of the day they have water, milk with breakfast), and string cheese. dinner is lasagna and 2 veggies. and it's great when we are on the road all day, like today (10am-5pm) because we can throw them in a cooler with ice packs and no need to stop anywhere to eat or hear them complain about being hungry. I like seeing these posts, they really have helped :)

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  39. I have been doing something similiar to this for approximately 15 years since my oldest son started school. He is now going to be 23 next month!! I also have 20 year old boy, 18 year old boy and 9 year old girl. ALL of my kids still go to the "snack drawer" as it has been called since that first day I filled it so long ago :) It is in the kitchen on the microwave cart. I've got a feeling everyone will be lost next year when the kitchen finally gets remodeled. Our good old "snack drawer" has been a good, healthy friend to us over the years :)

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  40. What do you do with all the boxes of snacks that you still have some left of?

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    Replies
    1. I typically use majority of the package, but in the off chance that I can't/don't, we have a pretty deep pantry that an extra box here and there can easily accommodate. :)

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  41. When the boys were little, we started a great way to allow them to choose healthy snacks. We cleaned out one of the bottom "crisper" bins in the refrigerator for the "snack drawer". In that drawer we stocked yogurt, fruit cups, cheese sticks, baby carrots, apples, snack sized ziplock bags filled with grapes, celery, etc. They could access this drawer at their leisure when they were hungry since the items were all healthy. It has worked out beautifully and we still have it even though the boys are teenagers!

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  42. Great idea - I am going to do this for my self to keep my healthy, portion sized snacks on hand.

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  43. Hi
    I do the same approach for everythingfrom vegetables to meat. We buy the larger packets and then divide them. It has also helped in the prep for cooking and keeping within our calorie intake. Our pantry shelves also has names/titles of the items that go there. My hubby had problems "putting thngs back where he found them" and since he also wants to learn spanish then the labels for the shelves fits two purposes. :)

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  44. where can u get squares of velcro from? What kind of laminator do u use? Is there such thing as a non electric laminator?

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    Replies
    1. I find the Velcro at any home improvement store or department store. Same with the lamintor, they are around $30 at places such as Target and Walmart or even Amazon.com. You may be able to use Google to locate a laminator that is not electric as I am not sure about that.

      xo,
      Jen

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  45. what exactly IS a home improvement store? Like Target? Ikea?

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  46. As a mom of a diabetic child, pre-packing and labeling carb counts is a must. Gives independence for the child and less time consuming for me. We do it once a week and it makes life so much easier. Useful for everyone, really.

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  47. I do this but instead of using a basket (I dont have a pantry) I use a shoe organizer and it works wonderfully! (http://www.blissfullychicdiy.blogspot.com/2014/04/make-packing-lunch-easy-no-pantry-no.html) Great job!!! I love saving time!

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