School’s Out For Summer! (sang to the Alice Cooper tune)

This week marks the last week of school for most students. I can hear the kids shouting “Yay!” enthusiastically, and some parents moaning “yay” much less enthusiastically. If the reason for the parental moans has to do with summer meals and snacks, this blog might just be for you.

With summer vacation comes more kids at home, and more meals and snacks to make. Are your kids old enough to stay home themselves? Are you dreading hearing “I’m hungry” several times a day from the younger kiddos? Here are some tips to make summer snacking easier for the kids…and you:

1. Batch Cook
Take some time and cook some larger meals so there are leftovers. Freeze these leftovers in individual portions so kids at home alone can take them out of the freezer and reheat them.

This also works when you have younger kids at home who are getting tired of sandwiches or cheese and crackers for lunch. This may be an opportunity to show younger kids how to use the microwave.

2. Kitchen Safety
As soon as your child is old enough to help out in the kitchen, they should be taught kitchen safety rules. They should be aware of what kitchen utensils and appliances they are allowed to use and shown how to use them properly (especially when they are home alone). Keep utensils and appliances they are not allowed to use out of sight and reach, if they might not resist temptation to try.

3. Recipe Round-Up
Pick a day and look through some cookbooks or on the internet for some child-friendly recipes that are healthy, yummy and easy to make. For kids that will be home alone, make a couple of the recipes with them before they try themselves, if they aren’t courageous cooks yet. You can look up “no cook recipes” for those kids not allowed to use the oven or stovetop yet.

For younger kids, this may be an opportunity to get your kids to try some new foods and increase their experience in the kitchen. Again, make extras of those recipes your kids like so there are plenty of leftovers to choose from.

4. Stock Up
Stock your fridge, freezer and pantry with healthy snacks.

Fridge: cheese, eggs, fruit, healthy deli meats, vegetables, yogurt
Freezer: homemade muffins, frozen fruit, individual portions of leftovers, whole grain waffles
Pantry: canned fish, canned and dried fruit, canned soups, granola bars, nuts, peanut butter, pretzels, seeds, whole grain bagels, bread, pitas and tortillas, whole grain cereals and whole grain crackers.

For younger kids, make a space or place a basket in your fridge and pantry that have healthy, easy-to-grab snacks that younger kids are able to get and eat themselves. Wash and cut vegetables and fruit and put them in a container, so they are easier to grab and more likely to be eaten.

Whether you have older kids able to stay home by themselves, or have younger kids that will be home for the summer, hopefully these tips will help foster some independence for the kids…and some relaxation for the parents.

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!