In the modern world, it seems like snack-time is advancing beyond the simplicity I experienced in my youth. Orange slices and a large Gatorade dispenser have been replaced by pre-packaged snacks and juice boxes. This new snack approach does keep the baseball and soccer fields cleaner after a game, but it can be a significant expense over a Summer. Snack-time at home is not a once per season commitment, but daily.
Our Busy Lives
Many homes are two income households these days. Thus, children either go to day cares in the Summer or are left to fend for themselves during the day. Older children may be entirely capable of doing what is needed on a typical day. However, a little help never hurts. This is where snacks come in. We can provide an easy way for the kids to eat without creating a huge mess or having to put in much work (or thought).
A Healthy Snack-time
The good news for the health conscious among us is that the best value snacks also tend to be healthy. Grapes and baby carrots are easy to grab, familiar, and they travel well. Melon and the aforementioned orange slices are great to toss in a bowl but can get a bit messy. They also do not travel very well. The juices tend to make these options a mess. Dried fruit and raisins are not only cheap and healthy, but they also do great in heat and travel well. That, of course, leads us to nuts which tend to be a bit more costly, but are easy to throw in a zip lock baggie. You may note that several of these options also work great on long road trips. Similarly, ideas for snack-time often translate to picnics and travel.
Lunch on The Go
Summer can have a lot of distractions. Thus, it is not uncommon for my kids to “forget” to eat. Thus, we have to provide some ready-made meal options for them to grab during the day. Lunchables and similar pre-packaged options can get expensive. However, keep an eye out for sales where you can stock up cheaply.
Sandwiches are an old stand-by for easy meals. We leave a loaf or two of bread within reach and then keep some fresh lunchmeats, peanut butter, and jelly on hand. A big bag of chips can be good. However, if you split them into bowls or small bags, it is less likely for a child to go through all your chips in one sitting. The low-cost freezer pops (or homemade from kool-aid) or a great “dessert” to add to any Summer lunch.
Hide the Valuables
The biggest challenge in a large family (or one with older, hungrier kids) is keeping enough food available. It is not always a matter of starving children, but instead, they grab the easiest or junkiest food first. This fact is why we tend to hide some food portions away or at least make them harder to reach. You can place reasonable portions in easy-to-reach places and hope they will choose a wider range of food options. These options may even get them eat healthier. If they eat the chips and still want a snack, then the apple slices or carrots may start looking good.
The ad-hoc meals and snack-time feedings typical during Summer vacation do not need to be more expensive or less healthy. They just need to be planned as well as any other meal.