It’s Summer vacation again.
Your kids are out of school; and suddenly, instead of eating lunch (and possibly breakfast) at school, they’re now home and expecting food 24/7. Since you apparently have to feed them every day, it’s time to start thinking about how to feed your kids on a budget in Summer. Is that even possible?
While you all might be eating more now that you’re home, you don’t need to raise your budget! Feeding your kids, especially healthy food, can be cheap and easy. Here are some tips to help you out this Summer:
Plan lots of healthy snacks
Why do kids suddenly get ravenously hungry during summertime? Seriously, Allison asks for food constantly. Expect to buy lots more snacks for the next couple months as you adjust to everyone being home all day. Here are some tips:
Buy seasonal produce: We all know that fruits and vegetables are best for kids’ snacks, but buying the wrong kind (out-of-season) can get expensive. Thankfully, Summer is AMAZING for its seasonal produce; so you can keep your kids both healthy and well-fed during their break.
Try to keep at least some of the following in your house at all times:
- Bell peppers
You can visit the USDA’s website to see the full list of seasonal produce, but the few above are some of my favorites. I wish Allison would eat more of those besides just strawberries, but you take what you can get, right?
Create a snack plate for grazing: If your kids constantly ask you for snacks, consider putting together a small plate or tray of snacks that they can munch on all day. Here are some ideas to fill your plate:
- Cut up fruit and vegetables (Maybe even with a dip)
- Cheese cubes
- Whole grain crackers or pretzels
If you only give them the option of healthier foods, they’re more likely to just accept it and eat what’s in front of them. Note: This doesn’t always work with Allison, but at least exposing your kids to a variety of fruits and vegetables could encourage them to try more in the future.
Keep your freezer full
Summer is a fantastic time to stick a bunch of meals in your freezer. With park outings, splash pads, and other outside activities, you may not have time every day to cook a full meal.
Now, don’t freak out. You don’t have to do a huge 3-hour freezer cooking session. Instead, try doing a little bit every day. Make a double batch of one of your dinner recipes every week, because that doesn’t take much more time or money. Or, do something small every day- Bake some muffins in the early morning to freeze, or throw some chicken in your slow cooker to shred and freeze for later.
My e-book, “4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer“, is full of 20 simple recipes designed to fill your freezer one day at a time. With a tiny amount of effort every day, you’ll have plenty of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to last you through part of Summer! Click here to learn more and get your copy today. Use the code SUMMER2 at checkout and save $2.00!
Keep easy ingredients for packed lunches
School being out means more outside activities. Allison and I love visiting parks- especially new ones that require more driving. Since we’ll be out most of the morning and part of the afternoon, I always pack lunches for us to enjoy as a picnic. You can usually pack a much cheaper and healthier lunch than stopping at fast food!
Here are some food ideas to always keep in your house:
- Deli meats (Ham, turkey, roast beef, salami)
- Cheeses (String, cubes, slices)
- Yogurt (Cups or tubes)
- Fresh cut-up fruits and veggies
- Nuts (Peanuts, almonds, trail mix)
- Small treats (Animal crackers, Nilla Wafers)
Typically, buying crackers and cookies in bulk boxes is best, rather than buying individually bagged ones. They’re cheaper, and it doesn’t take much time to put a serving in a Ziploc bag. However, I’ve been known to buy the individual bags at my local grocery outlet because they ARE cheaper!
Right now I’m so obsessed with Lunchable-type containers. Allison much prefers the snack-type lunches with little bits of this and that. I bought her a Fit and Fresh lunchbox from Sam’s Club when it was marked down, and there are three divided sections perfect for putting a sandwich and other smaller items. I’ll also use silicone baking cups to separate foods like strawberries and Goldfish crackers.
I also like the 4-sectioned EasyLunchBoxes snack containers! These are perfect for my snacks and small lunches; I’ll put some cut-up veggies in two of the sections, a dip in another, and the last one varies. Sometimes I’ll put in string cheese, and other times I’ll put in fruit or pretzels. The possibilities are endless!
Keep snacks in your car or purse at all times
Oh my gosh, this is a big one for us. Both and Allison and I need constant food (Like mother, like daughter) and I’d rather not have to stop somewhere and get a snack to cure the hangry.
Instead, I keep random snack bars in my purse every time we go out. It’s usually an RXBar, Larabar, or Clif Kids bar for Allison. They’re pretty healthy but are still packaged so they can keep longer.
Other ideas are:
- Trail mix
- Individual bags of Goldfish, crackers, or cookies
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
Always plan ahead to make sure you have enough snacks to last you the week!
Meal planning with kids for the Summer doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you tend to eat more; but with careful planning, you can keep food in the house at all times and still stick to your budget!
What are your favorite Summer meal planning tips? Share in the comments below!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.