Kid-Friendly Summer Food Strategy
I heard a fellow mom lamenting that her least favorite thing about summer was attempting to keep her two growing, athletic boys fed all day, every day. For her, summer was endless trips to the grocery and hours in the kitchen—cook, clean, repeat. Another mom lamented that her less active children had the desire to eat all summer but didn’t need the calories.
When the kids are around the house all day in the summer months, the grocery bill can sky-rocket! The other problem is that many snack foods that our kids move toward when they have the munchies are nutritional losers. So what’s a mom to do? Make a plan!
1. Maintain Some Structure.
During a school day, your child doesn’t have the option to eat anytime she chooses. So make a dining schedule for your family and stick to it. It might look like: Breakfast at 7 am, Snack at 10 am, Lunch at noon, etc. In between these designated times the kitchen is closed. You might even make a sign to put out when the kitchen is closed as a reminder.
2. Win the Nutritional War at the Grocery Store.
It’s much easier to control the types of foods your kids snack on at the point of purchase, rather than bringing high-calorie, low-nutrient foods home and fighting to keep consumption regulated. Load your cart with whole grains, protein-rich nut butters, fresh fruits, yogurts, cheeses, etc. That way, you can give your kids options at meal and snack time with the assurance that all are healthy.
3. Recognize the Varying Caloric Needs of Kids.
It’s a fact: your mostly sedentary 8-year-old needs far less fuel than your athletic 14-year-old. Make sure each child has access to what he needs to meet the nutritional needs of his level of activity. Also realize that while we moms tend to shy away from carbohydrates because of our slower metabolism, active tweens and teens need plenty! Just make sure they’re good carbs like whole grains, fruits and veggies.
4. Prep the Good Stuff.
Take an extra 30 minutes when you return from the grocer to wash and prep all those fresh fruits and veggies. That way, when snack time rolls around, your kids only need to grab what they want and go. One mom always keeps a bowl of fresh fruit salad in the fridge on a shelf that even the little ones can reach. The more convenient healthy foods are, the more they’re consumed.
5. Take Advantage of the Season.
The summer is a great time for your family to eat more fresh, healthy, locally-produced fare. Load the kids up and take a trip down to the farmers’ market to let them help choose some new foods from the colorful bounty available.
6. Use a Meal Plan.
You’ll cook better and shop smarter year-round by using a meal planner. There are lots of great tools out there to help. Try out an online planning tool like Plan to Eat.
7. Bored Does Not Equal Hungry.
Too many kids (and adults) mistake their boredom for hunger. Help your kids to learn the difference by only offering healthy snacks, and if nothing seems to satisfy their craving, suggest they take a trip to the “I’m Bored Jar” to choose a boredom-busting activity instead.
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