The Ever-Starving Child and the Mardi Gras Snack Bag
If your children are anything like mine, they are shoveling food into their mouths almost constantly while simultaneously complaining they’re hungry. They eat ALL THE TIME. Parading for hours is a blast, but listening to them whine about food when you just left Popeyes is impossible. A few years ago, I discovered the snack bag solution. It’s a set of canvas totes that I fill up with enough water and snacks for each parade, made in advance the week before the first float rolls. There’s a method to my madness, don’t worry, and it’s not nearly as much work as it sounds! You can make this as healthy (or not!) as you like – there are no rules to this game.
Step 1: Grocery shop!
We have four children and two adults, and for our family we purchase food in waves. First, we purchase the food that will last in the bags for two weeks (9 parades) and then we purchase the fruit (which we buy as needed throughout the parade season). The first wave is as follows:
- Two flats of water bottles
- One box of Sugar Free Redbull (for the grownups!)
- One Family Size Box of Cheerios
- One Family Size Box of Kix
- One Family Size box of Wheat Thins
- One Family Size box of Triscuts
- Four packages of individually boxed raisins (my kids prefer these boxes to sticky raisins in Ziplocs)
- 40-50 Bars (Luna, Nature’s Bakery, RX or whatever you have laying around)
- Four boxes of Fruit Snacks, Fruit-by-the-Foot, or similar items
- One Family size box of treat food (like OREO dippers)
- Eight boxes of four servings squeezable veggie/fruit pouches
- Four Boxes of Teddy Grams or 36 individually wrapped snack items
- One or two large boxes of Ziploc Snack Bags
- Enough Fruit for one week of Parades
Step 2: Bag!
I get all of the kids involved in this part. I lay everything out on the dining room table and we assembly line. One child is on one end opening up the Ziploc snack bags and passing them down the line in groups of four (Pro Tip: this is a good project for the toddler). We start with one box, like the cereal and try to get 40-50 bags of each item. You want the bags about half-full since the child isn’t going to finish it anyway, because #whointheworldknows? The two oldest bag while Mommy supervises and helps avoid disaster while the baby and dog are under the table on clean-up duty (Bonus: may not need to feed baby or dog dinner tonight). Repeat until all boxed items are individually packaged. Open all other packages. All items go into a giant pile at the end of the table. This process takes us about an hour.
Step 3: Grab the bags!
Round up as many canvas tote bags as you can muster (Pro Tip: use the blue Touro bags the NOMB Swag comes in). You’ll need one for each day of parades you plan to attend. We have 9 bags for 9 days of parading (Little Rascals, Sparta, Druids/Nyx, Muses, Centruions/Excallibur, Enymion, Thoth, Orpheus and Zulu/Rex). Line up the open tote bags on floor.
Step 4: Pack the bags!
Have the oldest children divvy out water bottles (one for each family member and two or three Red Bull for each adult) into the bottom of the bag, since they are the heaviest. Then they’ll count out 6 bars and put into each bag. They’ll count 4 of each kid snack and place into each bag, too! Soon, the canvas Snack Bags fill up and the table empties. (Pro Tip: Use leftovers from each parade to fill in lunches between Mardi Gras and Spring Break.) The baby should just about be done eating rogue Cheerios by now, so it’s time to put up the bags before she discovers new bags to unpack.
Store the bags in a cool, dry place until needed for Mardi Gras parades. On your way out the door, throw in some fruit from your stash, grab your diaper bag, wagon, blanket and Bead Bags and head out! Look at how prepared you are now? The best part is when your kids squeal they are hungry, you don’t even have to look back – just point at the Snack Bag and let them serve themselves. Of course, they’ll supplement with parade candy, Zapps Chips and Moon Pies, but that’s life for the next two week down here!