Cleveland Bop Stop Jazz Club, Ohio City

The Cleveland Bop Stop is not new to the Cleveland scene. Although, at times it can seem as if this spot has been only known through word of mouth.Donated and partnered with the Cleveland Music Settlement since 2013, the Bop Stop has been bringing an eclectic, intimate musical setting to the Lake Erie skyline for over 15 years.

My first experience at The Bop Stop 10 years ago was amazing. The light and heat from the cozy fireplace, coupled with a live band was like no other experience I had felt from Cleveland. I truly felt like I was in New York City or some other happening “major city.”

When I went again a few years later to see an electric violin player, I knew The Bop Stop was becoming one of my favorite places to go out to.

 

 

Location, Location

The Bop Stop is located at 2920 Detroit Ave in Cleveland’s Ohio City area within a beautiful view of Lake Erie.

Ohio City has quickly become Cleveland’s oldie but goodie location for sticking with a few popular landmarks throughout the years, such as The West Side Market and giving us new favorites such as Bar Cento.

 

Pom Frittes at friesBar Cento – DELICIOUS!

A visit to the Bop Stop makes for a great drop in to the City’s neighboring bar and restaurant night life that surrounds the area.

Although the parking lot is small, plenty of free parking can be found along Detroit Avenue.

 

Inside

Walking inside the Bop Stop you find small intimate seating of small tables and chairs that surround the stage.

 

Inside the Bop Stop

bop

 A full service bar with seating and a fire place with chairs make up the first floor. On warm summer nights a small patio overlooking the Lake make for a romantic feel when partnered with your favorite cocktail or wine.

The attire would be dependent upon who is performing that night (anywhere from casual to semi-formal) and tickets can be purchased online atwww.musicsettlement.com or at the door for a higher price. Tickets are very reasonable ranging in price from $10 to $35.

 

Calendar of May Events

bop2

 

Menu

Small plates and appetizers seem to be the choices at this venue. Snack on ranch popcorn or pulled pork sandwiches. Definitely not a “get your grub on” type of dining. The music is definitely the main event.

Donations & History

The Bop Stop was donated to the City’s beloved Music Settlement with good reason! The Music Settlement was founded on the belief that every child should learn, love and experience music at some point in their life.

Donations and scholarships are awarded annually to potential students who may not otherwise receive private lessons. It also helps to pay for other activities, supplies, and projects within the school.

During the day, The Bop Stop provides young artists with the practice of performing on stage.

At night, the location becomes a full-fledged adult jazz club. Every drink purchased at the location goes towards a student’s scholarship at the School (The Music Settlement)

 

Featured Artists

The variety of performances from the Bop Stop ranges from classical violin to R&B jazz funk. There seems to be something every month that should pique the interests of music enthusiasts from almost all genre of music.

 

The R&B Jazz Group The Xperience

jazz

The Bop Stop also caters to private parties and corporate events! The Bop Stop is a must to visit on the blossoming Cleveland Scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kids’ Corner: Breakfast Popsicles

After school the other day, my girls ages 5 and 7 asked when we were finally going to use the popsicle molds that had been sitting in the cabinet. After a long day at work and envisioning their excitement in the morning, I gladly said “Sure, why not?”

And so, my girls and I grabbed a few fresh fruits (I snuck in a few vegetables), pulled out the blender and began our healthy creation. This idea not only was quick and fun to make, but they were healthy enough for the girls to eat in the morning for breakfast!

Imagine telling your kids to go grab a Popsicle with breakfast! You can! Here is what we used, but honestly the possibilities are endless. Most importantly the containers are recyclable. This makes the healthy Popsicle’s become a normal healthy staple in the freezer. You never really need to buy boxed popsicles again. What’s really in those “healthy” popsicles anyway?

The following recipes are clear of artificial dyes and additives. What these popsicles are full of is loads of vitamin C and healthy sugars.

 

Breakfast Popsicles (version 1)

1 banana

1 mandarin orange

Half cup of blueberries

1 small carrot

1 cup of Almond Milk

 

Throw all fruits and almond milk into blender. Blend for approximately 10 seconds or less for more fruit chunks. Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze overnight.

poscicles

 

(makes approx.. 4 popsicles)

 

Breakfast Popsicles (version 2)

6 chunks of watermelon

2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon

Half cup of cherries

A few kale leaves

1 cup of freshly squeezed organic raw orange juice

Throw all fruits and orange juice into blender. Blend for approximately 10 seconds or less for more fruit chunks. Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze overnight.

(makes approx.. 4 popsicles)

girls pop

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Gin, Cider and Soul Food; Lakewood, Ohio

As a native Clevelander who has carried the travel bug for a long time, I love when I come across hidden treasures in my own town. It kind of ties me over until my family and I can go on our next out of state adventure. I believe every state and city have their own hidden jewels. You just have to get out and find them and on occasion sometimes they find you!

As we are slowly getting our dates night back, my husband and I have been venturing into other neighboring cities in Cleveland. One evening, we decided to set our sights on Lakewood, Ohio. Or, I should say, he surprised me by finally driving us to a few spots we had our hearts set on visiting.

The city of Lakewood like other nearby Cleveland cities has been revitalizing it’s streets with friendly enticing nightlife that not only lures the locals, but their neighboring city friends as well. You can find many favorites such as Melt Bar and Grilled (delicious colossal grilled cheese sandwiches), or if you are looking for something new I highly recommend giving Griffin Cider House and Southern Café a try.

 Griffin Cider House in Lakewood, Ohio

GRIFFIN

 

Griffin Cider House, a Lakewood favorite since 2015, has five star ratings for good reason! Not only is the ambiance and vibe cool inside, but it has the largest selection of gin in the state of Ohio, 10 cider taps, 3 craft beer taps and home to one of the most expensive gin’s I have ever come across called Nolet’s Dry Gin “The Reserve. If you love this particular type of gin they can make you a $100 drink called “The Gold Reserve.” It comes with Nolet’s “The Reserve”, Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth, Saffron and little gold nuggets to garnish.

Can’t decide? Take a “flight.”

PHLIGHT

 

If you aren’t necessarily a gin drinker, this bar is called Cider House for a reason. The Cider selection of beer would be appreciated by any Cider beer lover. We were so overwhelmed by the variety of selections that we decided to do a “flight” of ciders to sample.

The four we sampled were called After, Pear, Wake and Cranberry. If you like sweet I suggest the Cranberry and Pear. After and Wake had a soft tasting apple finish. All the samples were a delight on the tongue.

To top it off our bartender (the awesome lady with the cool tattoos) was super cool and was a wealth of information. She schooled us on the different ciders and gin’s and did a great job recommending places to eat nearby.

The owner was also super-friendly and welcoming and made a great House Martini (yes, I have a sweet spot for a good local Martini).

You can sit at the bar and chat it up with the locals, or you can venture to the back room for a comfortable setting of plush couches and small tables to enjoy your drink.

 

Southern Cafe in Lakewood, Ohio

As hungry as we were, we took the advice of our bartender and ventured a few streets over to Southern Café for some southern comfort soul food. My husband and I had been craving some really good soul food since our trip last summer to Winston Salem’s Sweet Potatoes Soul Food Restaurant near downtown historic Winston Salem, North Carolina.

 

 Southern Café surely did not disappoint at all! Oh my goodness this food was finger lickin good – and I do not say that often! Good vibes, friendly staff and great music greeted us again when we opened the door. We immediately were given a seat and greeted by a friendly server who offered us water in mason jars (just like my southern grandma would, I love it!).

 

Fried Green Tomatoes with house hot sauce remoulade.

GREEN TOMATOES

After wanting to order absolutely EVERYTHING on the menu, we ordered fried green tomatoes with a hot sauce remoulade as an appetizer to start. Talk about DELICIOUS! Hot, crispy, seasoned perfectly!

There was not a long wait at all until our main dishes came. My husband ordered fried perch fingers, nicely sweetened sweet potatoes, and some the creamiest, most delicious grits we had ever tasted.

Fried turkey breast with gravy and onions, Mac and cheese, greens and corn bread muffin.

SOUTHERN

The mac and cheese lover that I am, I had to order a side of mac and cheese, collard greens with a hint of sweet, and fried turkey smothered in onions and gravy. Mouthwatering!!Everything was seasoned so perfectly. I  truly appreciated our kind waiter mentioning that the turkey was purchased and selected carefully from a local butcher (you could definitely tell!). Each of our meals came accompanied with a cornbread muffin (not too sweet) that was the perfect complement to our perfectly seasoned food.

Without a doubt, Southern Café would be an impressive and affordable choice to bring your family and friends to for an over the top satisfying and tasty meal.

Next time you visit Cleveland or if you are a local neighbor, a visit to Lakewood  to visit these two establishments is definitely a must!

 

 

 

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Low Carb Moscow Mules

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Moscow Mules have become one of my absolute favorite cocktails aside from wine. The only problem with drinking when trying to maintain control of your figure: SUGAR!

Moscow Mules made “the right way” should be accompanied by a delicious bite of ginger followed by a hint of lime and smooth vodka finish.

Because I do not plan to stop enjoying libations anytime soon I decided to make some minor adjustments to my favorite cocktail. The result – a simply satisfying twist without losing the remarkable taste, but minus the additional sugar.

 

Low-Carb Moscow Mules

Ingredients:

2 oz. Tito’s Vodka (preferred)

8 slivers Fresh Ginger Root

½ Lime

Ice

4 oz. Club Soda (optional for fizz)

Chilled Copper Mug

 MOSCOW MULE

Prepare the cocktail by putting the copper mug in the freezer and begin slicing fresh ginger root minus the skin (8 slices should be a good amount per drink). Smash ginger root in cup with a spoon to release the ginger juice essence. Pour 2 oz. vodka in cup with the ginger and let sit for about 10 minutes.

 

Squeeze as much of the lime juice as you can into the cocktail mixture. Add ice cubes (I like about 3) and Club Soda. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

Not feeling the lo-carb thing? Here is my favorite recipe for the traditional Moscow Mule Cocktail:

 

Ginger Bitin’ Moscow Mules

Ingredients:

2 oz. Tito’s Vodka (preferred)

4 oz. Goslings Ginger Beer(preferred)

½ Lime or lime juice

Ice

Chilled Copper Mug

GINGER BEER

Prepare the cocktail by putting the copper mug in the freezer. Pour 2 oz. vodka in cup. Squeeze or squirt lime juice into the cocktail mixture. Add ice cubes (I like about 3) and Goslings Ginger Beer. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Gratitude Exercises for Kids

As another school year comes to a close parents everywhere are left scrambling with ideas on what to do with their children for the summer.

Summer camps are commonplace and have become a leading choice amongst parents for getting the children out of the house and active. According to acacamps.org, summer camps are a $18 billion industry!

Additionally, summer is a great time for creating structure with daily chores and reading. But, if you are a seasoned parent like me, you may have concluded there is that special something missing from your child’s personal development over the summer. That special something is appreciation and gratitude.

The rush of the school year and schedules can make it easy for one to forget to say thank you for the small things in life. We are all guilty of this – not just our children.

Summer to children (and parents) represent one thing: FREEDOM! A stray from structure and a welcome to long summer nights. Children get their

way a little more often than they did during the school year and parents just might be able to get up in the morning a little bit later. Not saying that children don’t deserve a little freedom. We all do! It is healthy and perfectly okay to want to yearn for change in a different direction than what you are used to.

However, none of us are perfect.  I began to notice with my own kids as the summer progressed a certain attitude tends to develop the deeper into summer we journey: THANKLESSNESS and ENTITLEMENT.

Upon the onset of summer, some familiar sayings my husband and I start to hear around the house from the kids:

 

“Can’t we go out for ice-cream during the week” (it’s summer)

 

“We should go get that new swim suit” (It’s summer)

 

“We should splurge on all the vendors and restaurants we want when on vacation (It’s summer)

 

Asking over and over and over again soon turns into entitlement. We can all say thanks to that summertime freedom that we might be feeling (yes, parents are included in that too).

To help balance the transition of my enthusiastic summertime clan, my husband and I came up with a simple summertime gratitude activity for our family. Here are some simple examples that you can make into your own. Be Creative! No matter the variation you and your family decide, the goal is incorporating more GRATITUDE and less ATTITUDE into your summer.

 #1 Each day do something for someone other than yourself. Example: Each child must approach a sibling, friend, parent, relative and help with anything. Or, simply do something for someone else without asking. For the younger kids we help guide them until it becomes a habit. My older children kept on task by texting me what they did. Eventually this will become habit and following up will become easier for everyone.

 

#2 Every night before bed or at the dinner table everyone must verbally say something they were thankful for in their day. Example: This is similar to incorporating prayer and can even be prayer at the dinner table. Instead of one person leading everyone becomes inclusive by going around the table one by one expressing the gratitude of their day.

#3 Write down a minimum of one thing positive they expect for the future and place it in a jar. Example: I will get along all day with my sister. This activity will encourage your child to want to act upon that challenge the next day. Thus, creating the positive result they wanted to happen.

#4 At the end of the week read the expectations that were put into the jar to see which may have came true that week (helps invite The Power of Positive Thinking)

To take it one step further, speaking and living in appreciation daily to where it becomes a habit (that would last way past summer) is the ultimate goal.

Most things that we do past 20 days or more become a habit. This activity has not only proven to work great for my family, but also has changed their mindset and ours for the better overall.

Blessings to you and your family! I would love to read what positive outcomes you have had incorporating your gratitude exercises into your daily schedule.

 

 

 

Experience a Native American Pow Wow in your State

POW JAIA

Grab your family, pack up the van and head on out for a taste of history you can’t find in the school books. If you ever wanted to experience a Native American Pow Wow, keep reading to find out where you can find one, and just what exactly a Pow Wow is.

As summertime pours in, the search for unique experiences for my family within my home state of Ohio continues. In fact, I encourage you to do the same within your home state for numerous reasons.

For one, you can save time and money on traveling expenses. Next, you get to see how awesome and unique your State truly is when you venture beyond the cracks and crevices of your city.

Finally, the chance to experience something new should never be put on hold. Many times we stay stagnant in our city because we are comfortable with the familiar. Or, you could also be saving up for the perfect trip out of state and/or to get out of the country. In the meantime, let the hidden jewels within your state and outside your city tie your family over until the next big adventure!

In a conversation with a friend, she explained how (on a summers eve zip lining a few years ago near (Hocking Hills, Ohio) she heard enchanting drums and bells bellowing throughout the air. To her surprise she was told a Native American Pow Wow was in full action. Although she didn’t finish her zip lining in time to go, it definitely piqued my interest to find out more.

I began to search Pow Wow’s in the State of Ohio and came across a plethora of information. The vastest website pertaining to this gathering was called Pow Wows.com. Within the site you can find a monthly Pow Wow event going on in states all across America. Some more elaborate and others more intimate like the one that my family attended in June, at Baby Bison Ranch in Cadiz, Ohio.

This particular Pow Wow was special for my family because of the close proximity it was to where my mother was born in Smithfield, Ohio. We have been told that my grandmother’s side of the family carried Cherokee Indian by way of Oklahoma. Most of my mother’s family have moved away from Smithfield. However, we had been planning to visit my Uncle who has a beautiful home with a scenery of land for miles. The combination of the two events created the perfect opportunity to discover what this gathering was all about.

As we began our journey, the scenic rolling hills and desolate winding roads gave way to hot summer sun that tanned all our skin. Anxious for the adventure, my family and I reached our long awaited event.

This precious girl in the white cap welcomed my family to her family’s ranch. She was a Cherokee Indian.

POW GIRL

As we walked through the gates, somewhat unsure of what we were stepping into, we were kindly greeted by a young girl, age 11, eager to welcome us and explain the sacred grounds that we stood on.

She explained that her great grandmother, a full Cherokee Indian owned Boss Bison Ranch. They were honored to be able to throw this tradition annually and welcome new faces who know little or a lot about their culture. We were warmed to be told that All were welcome.

For admittance to the event they required one canned good per person which would be given to local charities in the area.

Beautiful garb and colors adorn the Native Americans as they began their sacred dance.

POW DANCE

As soon as we walked through the gates, we were met with lively colors, the rumble of the drums, and a sacred dance began. We took our seats on barrels of hay around the grassy dirt dance floor.

Plenty of beautiful energy stones to choose from.

POW ROCKS

Around the perimeter of the Pow Wow were Native American Vendors who we quickly learned were friendly and a wealth of information. Although our attention was easily diverted to the beautiful jewelry, stones, herbs and oils that lie on the table, we soon realized how diverse the Native American’s there were. There were various shades of dark, brown and white skin tribes in attendance. Some had blond hair and blue eyes while others were black with dark brown or black hair. This was a discovery that most school history books have rarely shared. Here is my husband’s take on a conversation with a vendor:

A history lesson from a man that called himself a White Indian.

“I was told there was a lot of diversity in the Native American background particularly in Ohio. In speaking with a White Native (what he considered himself to be) American vendor that the Woodland Indians were known for capturing black runaway slaves and white women during battle. They would then take them back to their tribe and the elder mothers of the tribe would then decide if they could be adopted into their society to live side by side and learn their culture and their ways. Once one (white or black) was adopted into the tribe they virtually never wanted to leave because they were considered free.”

POW MAN

 

My brother-in-law made a new friend. We all did that day.

POW MIKE

As hard as it was for us to pull away from this event, what we took home with us that day was invaluable. The most memorable moment of the entire experience was removing the misconceptions I had been taught in the past about the culture and how welcoming the Native Americans were from the moment we stepped into the Pow Wow until the moment we left. To find a Pow Wow near you visit www.powwows.com

 

Someone had a real wolf as a pet. He was chained up nice and tight though.

pow wolf

 

Travel Tips for the SMART consumer

Traveling with family any time of year will cost you a pretty penny. Planning ahead and selecting alternatives to your travels can save your household hundreds, and in some cases even thousands of dollars. The larger your family gets the more important this “strategy” becomes. Here are some of my favorite traveling tips that has proven to be a great benefit to saving money.

 

EXPEDIA TIPS

Expedia has become my first choice in selecting pricing for hotels, flights and car rental for several reasons:

PROS: Expedia allows the customer to choose from a wide variety of hotels and car rentals across the United States without paying any costs upfront. Book your car or hotel in advance and select pay at hotel at the very end of your purchase. This is a great help for families who may not have access to credit cards or enough money to pay for hotel fees up front. It allows the planner to proceed with checking off their travel “to-do-list.”

CONS: You will have to place a credit or debit card on file, but you can cancel your booking up to one week in advance at most locations. Some of the “high end” hotels require you to pay at least one night in advance. This is a small CON as I have never had any issues with placing my card on file and cancelling.

 

DRIVING VS. AIRPLANE TIPS

If you have a large family like mine, traveling on an airplane can seem like a pricey luxury. More than likely, you will save hundreds and hundreds of dollars travelling by car. As I mentioned before, I always start my planning by searching on Expedia. Although I know my chances could be slim on finding discounted seats for my large family, there are those rare instances there (depending on the location) might be some discounted rates. In comparing the difference in price between driving versus airplane, let’s take a look at some simple math.

A family of five flying to Florida round-trip costs $348 per person bringing your total to $1740.

A family of five renting a van to and from Florida costs $650. Don’t forget to factor in gas (approximately $500) the total comes to $1150 or $230 a person.

So far you have saved about $590!

There may be times that absolutely calls for airplane travel such as traveling oversees or traveling from east coast to west coast. In those instances here are a few tips that could help:

Airfordable https://www.airfordable.com/ is a fairly new alternative to affording your airline tickets. For a small fee you simply search for your airline tickets on your favorite airline website or search engine. Upon selecting your flight, upload your screenshot to Airfordable during the booking process. Make bi-weekly payments up to your departure date. And no worries, your rates are locked in!

Southwest Airlines has a superb credit card that racks up points towards your airfare. Friends and family alike have raved about receiving airline tickets for free or little to no cost. More info: (put site)

A final tip: Timing when purchasing airline tickets is also super important in getting the best deals. According to Airlines Reporting Corporation, https://www2.arccorp.com/articles-trends/sales-statistics/  the best time to purchase airline tickets is at least 7 to 12 weeks out. The only exception would be holiday time travel. Purchase those tickets as soon as possible!!

 

AIR BNB VERSUS HOTEL TIPS

I recently began tweaking some final touches to my family’s summer trip. One factor of the planning that always seems to be an issue is finding a large enough hotel room. This room must be large enough to accommodate everyone (which is really code for: teens MUST have their own room, the kids ages 5 and 7 have their own space, and of course the parents need PRIVACY). Some of my favorite hotels over the road that can accommodate for large sized families are Sonesta Suites https://www.sonesta.com  , Comfort Suites https://www.choicehotels.com/deals/best-rate , and StayBridge Suites https://www.ihg.com/staybridge/hotels/us/en/reservation . If you notice a trend the “code word” is : Suites.

Nonetheless, there are times when the city that you are traveling to have no hotel “suites” around. If you are not interested in purchasing two hotel rooms at a time, I highly recommend giving Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com a try! Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com began back in 2008, but its popularity of allowing travelers to live like a local across the World has risen. The average stay per night at any given time ranges in 500,000 area. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/airbnb-statistics/

Not long ago as I searched for a hotel large enough to accommodate my family, I booked two rooms on Expedia totaling $350 for one night. Uncomfortable with the price, I decided to try a search on Airbnb. That search not only saved me $150, but my family and I will be staying in a full 3 bedroom house, on a Christmas Tree Farm! Savings and adventure! You can’t beat that!

 

GAS TIPS

Guzzle, guzzle! When traveling by car there is no way to avoid a fill-up. So, what can you possibly do to help ease those high priced fill-ups?

My first suggestion before you hit the road is to check gas prices at GasBuddy.com. http://www.gasbuddy.com  You can search by city, zip, and State.

Next, you may luck up and find a bed and breakfast or hotel such as Choice Hotels https://www.choicehotels.com/deals/gift-card that offer a free gas card just for booking with them.

Upon reaching your destination do not forget about good old fashioned local transportation (i.e. bus, train, bike) to get around on. If you are unsure of where to locate alternative transportation try Rome2Rio https://www.rome2rio.com. The site will actually will help you plan your transportation of choice simply by putting in your destination. It will provide you with cost and travel time no matter what city you live in.  And then there is also good old Uber and Lyft which will provide you with a lower cost, less formal alternative to a taxi. Refer a friend a get a free ride! https://www.uber.com/invite/robertb3261

Lastly, here is a list of the BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR GAS. Buy the gas and rack up the rewards!

 

FOOD TIPS

A bulk of your trip expenses will come from hungry bellies. Little and big ones alike will want to snack and drink in between breakfast lunch and dinnertime. When traveling by car or plane try these simple money saving options:

Avoid filling up on drinks and snacks at gas stations or airport kiosk’s by stocking up on chips, fruit, juice boxes and water bottles ahead of time. Our favorite places to stock up without going deep into your pockets are Costco, Dollar General and Trader Joe’s.

Cut your fast-food stops in half by prepping sandwiches in the car and storing them in a small cooler. If you are rushing to catch a flight, have the family eat in the car on the way to the airport. That way, they aren’t wanting expensive food stands once they reach the airport.

Here are a few sandwich ideas that have proven to please everyone in my family:

Mama Sophia’s Turkey Bacon Breakfast Biscuits (Makes 8 to 10 sandwiches)

1 to 2 cans of biscuits (large size)

1 pkg of turkey bacon

1 pkg of cheese (we use Colby Jack slices)

Prepare according to the instructions. Wrap in tinfoil. The biscuit’s and meat won’t spoil easily and when the kids awaken from the first break stop, just hand ‘em out the bag. Simple Simple. Add some fruit and a water bottle or orange juice that you packed and there you have it. Breakfast on the go!

Cost to prepare sandwiches: $12 versus Cost at McDonald’s Breakfast $4+ per person for a family of 5 $20

Savings $8+ for Breakfast!!

 

Mama Sophia’s Grilled Spinach Chicken Wraps

Prepared baked, grilled, or fried chicken

1 pkg of Spinach Tortilla Wraps (or Plain/Gluten Free)

1 pkg Spinach leaves or romaine lettuce

Cheese optional

Condiments of herb mayo, mustard or ranch

You can substitute meat with your favorite deli or veggie meat. Or, pack on some extras veggies! Add some chips, fruit and favorite drink.

Your smart planning just saved your family $21 on lunch! Based on $7+ per person for a family of 5

I hope you and your family save some bucks with my tips and spend the leftover savings on something new and adventurous!