Summer holidays means things are different when it comes to family mealtimes. The next few months are inconsistent (at least, when it comes to food!). The kids have varying timetables; some are out at summer camp; some will only want to snack well after lunchtime has been and gone - so how can we make sure the family is still eating well, even if family schedules aren't on the same page? It can be tricky; you go from planning several dinners a week with a brood sitting around the dinner table to them reaching for snacks sporadically. To make sure they stay healthy (even while eating on the go), below are six tips and tricks you can take note of:
Plan the right recipes
It’s definitely harder to plan in the summer months, but it can be done. The trick is to choose simple recipes that reheat well or that can be put together easily. Think potato salads or quesadillas, these are perfect during the summer - all you’ll need is some chicken (possibly from dinner the night before), vegetables, cheese and some dips and you’re all set. This means when someone comes in tired and hungry late in the evening, you can put together a nutritious meal quickly. Things like pulled pork, for example, also make great sandwich-fillers the next day and you can prepare a batch in the slow cooker the night before.
Breakfast is your friend
If everyone is eating at different times during the day, making sure the family starts the day eating a healthy breakfast will at least get them feeling great first thing. Then, even if they eat later or skip lunch, their stomachs will be set up for the day. Take advantage of the in-season fresh fruits available at this time of year - get the berries on their cereal, or mix some in those overnight oats and get them eating as much of these as they can - even in-between meals.
Portion size is important
Portion out foods - putting some in the fridge and some in the freezer - instead of leaving them in one big container. This will be helpful as it will be easier for everyone to grab something tasty and heat it up (and it will save wasting food). Get some plastic containers and arrange portions to freeze for dinners during the week too or stock the fridge with tasty and handy frozen chicken Grills or fish fillets like Birds Eye Cod Fillets in Breadcrumbs. This way, you’ll just have to organise some salads or vegetables as an accompaniment, and your meal is all set - and in no time at all.
Keep healthy snacks in plain sight
They’ll always be on the go, so try and keep the healthy snacks to hand, where they can grab them. Try cutting up fruits and vegetables and leave them in glass containers at eye level. Also, swap out the sweet stuff and snacks in your kitchen presses for healthier stuff like carrot sticks, watermelon or breadsticks. When your kids want to raid the kitchen during the day, they’ll have better foods to choose from.
Try and keep at least one meal regular
With school breaks, it can be easy for your child’s routine to get off-track. It can’t be helped; everyone’s timetable can vary during the summer. But it’s worth trying to keep their eating patterns or even one meal consistent if they are prone to snacking during the day. Maintaining your regular eating schedule helps keep hunger at bay.
Let them indulge their sweet tooth
This sounds obvious, but many parents worry about excess sugar intake during the summer months, particularly as the kids will drink more in the warm weather. But rather than cutting it out altogether, there are other ways to keep some sugar in that they can enjoy. Yes, lemonade, juice, and sodas are all big sources of sugar and empty calories so while we can’t let them overdo it on this front, there are other ways to keep them happy. What about easy-to-make fruit ice-pops, smoothies, or even fruit salads? Healthier than fizzy drinks and more enjoyable to eat, too! Though, of course, fruit is acidic which naturally can be bad for their teeth so as with anything, in moderation is perfectly fine.