So, yet another summer bites the dust as Open House dates loom, parents start gritting their teeth over the mountain of paperwork the first day of school brings them, and school buses hit the road, polluting up all of our summer fun with their hissing brakes, squealing doors, schizophrenic timeframes for arrival, and generally just causing traffic jams everywhere they roll.
If your kids havenâ€™t had to endure this undignified return to early bedtimes, blaring alarm clocks, fights over what to wear to school, and skirmishing in the hallway amid shouts of â€œBathroom hog!â€, I envy you — a lot.
But, itâ€™s inevitable that they surely soon will be heading off into another school year, so enjoy the unfettered summer freedom while you can, friends! Today, Iâ€™m hitting a little bit on must haves that my kids request for the start of school, but mostly (since we are huge snackers in my house) Iâ€™ll be talking about new after school and study time snacks that Iâ€™ve found for them from Simple MillsÂ®, JunklessÂÂ®, and Betty Crockerâ„¢.
No matter what the age or level of schooling, thereâ€™s one thing Moms across all walks of life simultaneously look forward to and dread, at the same time — Back To School shopping and planning snacks for after-school and study times. I look forward to summer time every single year, mostly because we get to sleep in and adopt a much more leisurely daily pace. And I ainâ€™t gonna lie, not having to check in on grades and nudge the kids to turn in late work or remember to study for upcoming tests is something I donâ€™t miss a bit! But, shopping isnâ€™t something I enjoy (gasp!) — I know, Iâ€™m an anomaly apparently. So, I tend to try to be as absolutely organized as I can about it so it can be accomplished quickly and hopefully in one trip to town.
Luckily for me, long gone are the days when my elementary-age childrenâ€™s teachers asked for an entire small-font printed page full of various supplies, storage bags and paper products (sometimes really very ODDLY specific on brand, colors, sizes, etc. Am I right?!) These days, since my kids are older, itâ€™s much easier to shop for school supplies and clothes since I really just have to help them choose items they prefer rather than teachersâ€™ requests.
Sometimes I miss those times when my kids were younger. But, I am very much enjoying the slower pace of school shopping as they get older. Currently we have two college-age kids and a high school sophomore. My girls (the oldest and the youngest of the three kids) are just as big a nerd for office supplies as I am. My son could care less what I buy him for school as long as he has paper, a pencil and a flash drive for his laptop.
School supply must haves in our house include:
~folders with pockets and prongs (I personally like the plastic ones, more durable)
~notebook filler paper (and PLENTY of it!!!! I usually stock way up before school starts when itâ€™s cheaper)
~Composition Notebooks (I love this one with the plastic red cover that I found at a local dollar store!)
~Stapler (with a box of staple refills), paper clips (various sizes), staple remover, pencil sharpener, and a hole punch (the hole punch doesnâ€™t get a lot of use — but man, try not having one around and the universe will smack you HARD with some weird school project that requires the use of one, trust me on that one!)
~various self-adhesive items like these arrow-shaped ones (and post-it notes of various sizes) to mark pages (or passages in chapters) or to jot notes on
~Index cards (to create study guides or plan projects or research papers)
~earbuds / flash drive / extra device battery chargers
~my youngest daughter is into art so markers, colored pencils, paints and brushes, etc. are usually something we buy to have around for her to use and she always needs these items during the year when the school Art Club gets going
~A PLANNER!!! Honestly, the kids are pretty hit-and-miss with using this tool but I always get them one anyway. I guess I figure somewhere down the line they will use it as much as I do.
~And, of course, the textbooks. High schools used to provide these to students, but increasingly (with federal budget cuts) they are being phased out. Iâ€™ve noticed that some classes have online course materials available, but many schools only allow kids to use a set of textbooks that are kept in the classroom. Colleges, on the other hand, have not sunk into this particular funding hole. There are often multiple books required for one class. Though, interestingly, Iâ€™ve noticed that some offer online textbooks or unbound textbooks that you put into a three-ring binder. I love these options since you can have your text book available to you on your laptop or tablet or only take out the pages you need for a class instead of having to drag multiple heavy books every day.
What supplies a student will need for school can vary widely based upon what grade theyâ€™re in, whatâ€™s requested/preferred by their educators, what kind of classes are on their schedule, and their own personal preferences. But, this is a pretty good idea of basics that we purchase each school year for our kids at their current stages of education.
Okay, so enough with the supplies. I know you are really hanging around to hear about the snacks. I get it! I do. Snack shopping is one type of shopping that I do enjoy. Kids tastes in snacks change over time, too. When my kids were smaller they were all into things like Pop-Tarts, fruit snacks, peanut butter or cheese crackers, sliced apples, dried fruit, etc. In middle school, they could use the microwave on their own, so they wanted frozen waffles/pancakes, single-serve mac nâ€™ cheese and so on. While they still like all those things, they are more and more asking for snacks they can eat on-the-go or carry in their backpacks.
So, here are a few new ones I added to our snack lineup this year.
JUNKLESSÂ® Chewy Granola Bars
For many families, granola bars are a staple pantry snack item. Theyâ€™re quick and easy for the kids to get for themselves. And, itâ€™s a snack that we donâ€™t generally have to feel too guilty about giving them because it does contain mostly healthy ingredients.
The thing about granola bars is that kids can get tired of the same old brands and the same old flavors. So, I always keep an eye out for new ones to rotate into the snack tote. We are currently enjoying JUNKLESSÂ® Chewy Granola Bars. They have the stand-by flavors my son prefers, chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip. But, they also offer Strawberry and Cinnamon Roll flavors that my girls and I think taste pretty divine!
And check out these claims from JUNKLESSÂ® about their granola bars:
- non-GMO verified
- No hydrogenated oils
- No high fructose corn syrup
- No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- No trans fats
So, while all that sounds great, I know youâ€™re asking the important question — How do they taste? Well, the short answer is that they taste really, really good! Weâ€™ve had plenty of granola bars that were dry and tasteless, full of sugar, or highly processed in our quest for the best. But, these are soft, chewy, and flavorful — itâ€™s like I just whipped up a batch of super-fresh snacks in my own kitchen. They offer the good stuff (healthy ingredients) with minimal processing for a snack I can truly feel good about offering my family.
JUNKLESSÂ® Chewy Granola Bar Varieties:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
100% REAL Strawberries
Each variety is made with eight or fewer ingredients and contain at most 6 grams of sugar. They use wholesome ingredients instead of scientifically engineered ones that taste like a food but are devoid of the healthy benefits. The ingredient list on the packaging is completely comprised of recognizable terms like whole grain rolled oats, rice crisp, brown rice syrup, and non-GMO canola oil among just a few others which vary depending on the flavor of the bars. There isnâ€™t one single ingredient that I have to look up online to find out what on earth it is, and that is a rare treat these days.
That being said, if you or a loved one have allergies to food, hereâ€™s something important to note. If you are allergic or sensitive to soy, wheat, milk, peanuts or tree nuts this product may not be for you as they may contain any or all of these ingredients or have been made in a facility where those items are present.
Each box contains six 1.1 oz. granola bars. You can purchase JUNKLESSÂ® Chewy Granola Bars on Amazon or find them in retail stores including Kroger, Albertsonâ€™s, HyVee, ShopRite, and Safeway, among others.
Simple MillsÂ® Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers
I have to say, the first thought I had when getting ready to try these snack crackers was about how I donâ€™t like nuts in my food. I like nuts, by themselves, but VERY rarely do I like them in an actual food item. This stems from childhood experiences where I ate a Snickerâ€™s Candy Bar and the awful crunchy peanut butter sandwiches a babysitter made me eat. It triggered my gag reflex, and was just â€¦ awful.
Anyway, looking closer I realized that Simple MillsÂ® Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers donâ€™t contain big nutty chunks, but are made with almond FLOUR. Okay. Iâ€™m all in to try them. And, omg, am I glad I did! They are super good! They have a nutty flavor, and are salty like I love snack crackers to be, and have the most satisfying crunch.
Snack crackers are a constant struggle for me. I will take them over potato chips any day, but I still always have that nagging thought in the back of my head that they arenâ€™t any healthier than chips. So, hereâ€™s the low-down on the health quotient for Simple MillsÂ® Almond Flour Crackers: they are gluten-free, made with nutrient-dense ingredients, are soy-free, vegan, corn-free, paleo-friendly, and grain free.
Again, I am struck by the short, easily recognizable ingredients list: Nut and Seed Flour Blend (almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds), Tapioca Starch, Cassava Flour, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Organic Onion, Organic Garlic, and Rosemary Extract (for freshness).
The only ingredient Iâ€™m not already familiar with is Cassava flour. After a quick internet search I found this article which explains it, check it out if youâ€™re interested. Basically, itâ€™s a flour made from the root of the cassava plant and is made by peeling, drying and grinding the root. Tapioca flour is also made from the root of the cassava plant but by a different process and each flour serves a different purpose. It is closest (out of many grain-free or gluten-free flours) to wheat flour which means that it can be used to make breads, cakes and side dishes where some other flours cannot.
My family, thankfully, doesnâ€™t have to worry about dietary restrictions, but if yours does I just thought Iâ€™d point this out for you to research a little more on your own. In any case, these snack crackers are healthy and delicious and appropriate for those with dietary restrictions.
Simple MillsÂ® Almond Flour Flavor Varieties:
Fine Ground Sea Salt
Rosemary Sea Salt
Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
Cracked Black Pepper
Smoky BBQ Cheddar
You can purchase them at Amazon and some other retailers including iHerb and Thrive Market. Check your local natural or health food stores and speak to the proprietors about including this delicious snack in their stores if they aren’t already available. Simple MillsÂ® also offers cookies, frostings, and muffin/bread mixes. So, snack away!
Betty Crockerâ„¢ Mug Treats
And, now! For the chocolate lovers out there! Weâ€™ve all probably tried mug cakes, right? There are about a thousand recipes for these delicious single-serve snacks out there in Internet Land. Which is great, when I want to dig all the ingredients out of my pantry and whip one up. But, sometimes, Iâ€™m even too lazy to do that — simple as it is.
And Iâ€™ve tried a few single-serve mug cake products purchased during grocery shopping trips. Mostly Iâ€™ve had a good experience with them. But, one thing I hadnâ€™t really noticed before is that the mug cakes Iâ€™ve made before (whether from online recipe or purchased from the store) is that I donâ€™t really recall any of those including frosting. I could be wrong. Itâ€™s been a while since Iâ€™ve made one.
So, a few things I love about Betty Crockerâ„¢ Mug Treats:
- The box includes four (4) mix pouches — whereas other products Iâ€™ve bought before have only contained enough for one mug cake.
- Also included are four (4) frosting pouches — I mean, really! What is a cake without frosting???
- The pouches are easily torn open with your hands, no need to go rifling through the junk drawer for a pair of scissors or risk cutting off a finger trying to open it with a steak knife.
- All you have to do is pour the mix into a mug, add a few tablespoons of milk or water, and microwave it for about one minute.
Thatâ€™s all there is to it. The mug cake rises quite a bit during baking, so donâ€™t be fooled by how little room it takes up in your mug when first mixed. After you remove it from the microwave, tear the packet of frosting open and squeeze it over the top of the cake. Let the cake sit for a minute or two to finish baking and melt the frosting a bit for spreading and enjoy!
Betty Crockerâ„¢ Mug Treat Varieties Available:
Hot Fudge Brownie with Fudge Topping
Triple Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting
Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Rainbow Chip Cake with Rainbow Mix Frosting
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Topping
Soft-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie with Fudge Topping
Chocolate Caramel Cake with Caramel Topping
Blueberry Muffin with Cream Cheese Glaze
I know, the other snacks I talked about were healthier ones. But, everything in moderation, right? We all need a little chocolate indulgence now and then and mug cakes are a quick and easy one. And, the kiddos love ’em, so…. yeah, I’m gonna buy them! They are currently available nationwide in WalmartÂ® stores in the baking aisle, but will be coming to other stores that carry Betty Crocker products very soon.
All eight flavor options look delicious, but if I had to choose a couple I think the next ones I’ll try will likely be Blueberry Muffin with Cream Cheese Glaze and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Topping. Desserts made with creamy peanut butter (not crunchy, yuck!) are a really close second to chocolate desserts. And any that combine the two flavors are pure heaven!
Betty Crockerâ„¢ products have been a staple in my pantry for many years and is a trusted brand. They make everything from cake, cookie and dessert mixes and frostings to the Helperâ„¢ line of dinner starters (which are great as they come, but I’ve customized them many a night by adding extra ingredients to make something new and different). I’ve also consistently purchased their line of potatoes and Suddenly Salad products for quick side dish options when I want to make a home-cooked meal without a lot of time in the kitchen. All of their products are delicious!
Any of these new snack options I’ve shared with you will work great for young kids attending elementary or middle schools as well as older ones who are in high school or living at home while attending a local community college (and likely able to prepare simple snacks for themselves in the microwave or oven). They will also be greatly appreciated in Care Boxes you might be mailing off to adult children who are living in dorms and not able to drop in at home often, too, trust me. They might even be moved to actually pick up the phone and give you a call to thank you!
Momâ€™s often show their families they love them with good food, and these are some delicious ways to do just that! School is hard. Snacks are an easy way to give them a positive transition out of that sometimes stressful state and comfort them a little bit.
What are your familyâ€™s favorite go-to after school or on-the-go snack options?
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Back To Life Back To Reality AKA School
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