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The stores are filled with a plethora of kid-friendly products. The only problem is that they're not necessarily budget friendly products. There are more frugal options to kid-friendly products for the creative mind.
If shaped foods interest your child, try purchasing a block of cheese and cut it into thick slices. Then, use a cookie-cutter to create fun shapes. Add the extra cheese morsels to pasta salad, pizza, or morning eggs to reduce waste.
Many kid foods are expensive and fun simply because of their color. With a bit of food dye, plain yogurt can have colorful swirls. Fruit juices can be bright blue or neon green. Imagine the possibilities for mashed potatoes!
We purchase many plainly packaged items, especially at bulk stores, and then add fun stickers to make them kid-friendly. Tissue boxes and toddler wipe boxes can be customized with stickers already on hand. When camping we've cut out shapes from craft foam to make interesting critters from flashlights that we already have rather than purchase the expensive child flashlights.
Personalizing a product almost guarantees that children will love it. With a Sharpie marker in a fun color, anything can be personalized. Type the name in an interesting font on a word processor and then print and trace it if you're not a budding artist. Pencil pouches that cost $2 can be transformed to creative designs in minutes.
With some carbon transfer paper and permanent markers t-shirts, binders, and folders become designer creations for very little. Trace favorite characters onto plain items with the carbon paper before completing the design with the markers. Look for interesting patterns or artwork on wrapping paper or magazine ads.
To customize composition books and folders, you can cut words, phrases, and pictures out of magazines and from newspaper inserts (such as coupons) -- I keep a folder with interesting pictures and phrases at all times, as they can also be used for scrapbooking.
All that you have to do is arrange the pictures and/or words and phrases in a way that you find interesting and appealing, and then glue them to the notebook or folder. My kids always had the most unique notebooks and folders in class, and they loved them!!!