Get Ready for Summer Holidays
As I write, we are in the last full week of school here in the UK, with six long weeks stretching out in front of us. I think every Mum (& Dad) in the country is filled with excitement - and terror. How lovely it will be to not do the school run for six weeks, constantly giving them time deadlines, 'hurry up we're going to be late, the bell has gone, come on...', and giving them some freedom to play and just be children. The flip side, of course, is less appealing: Sibling arguments, whinging when they don't get to do exactly what they want, and the constant need for food, snacks, picnics... and more snacks.
When you're occupied with them, there's very little time to keep on top of all of it. It can also be a very expensive six weeks without planning. (In our household we also have a renovation going on to add into the mix!)
So this week I'm here with a few ideas - some my own, some I've picked up - to try and ease some of the summer holiday burden so you are free to enjoy the time you have with them. After all, Summer holidays are very precious times and what memories are made of.
As with everything related to parenthood, organisation plays a major part in staying sane, keeping on top of things and feeding your children healthy, tasty food. The beauty of holidays is less structure - fresh fruit on the fly, an ice cream cone on a hot day - but having a basic meal plan with both snacks and main meals, at least as back up, is key to saving the pennies and avoiding sugar-crazed littlies bouncing off the walls.
Once you have a meal plan, the next step is making a shopping list, so you're armed and ready before even stepping foot in the shops. Choose your meals, then add the ingredients for each one to your list. Or, get online and avoid the shops altogether. Online food shopping has really helped me to stay on track with the food bills, It is really helpful to be able to see what your bill is going to be before you buy, you can add your favourites directly and, best of all, I don't have my three children fighting in the aisles whilst I shop. I have a list of basics which I buy every week (bread, milk, eggs, cheese, avocados, salad, yoghurt...) and then add other ingredients to build recipes. It also allows you to go back and edit your shop if you change your mind. If you haven't tried it then I recommend it for the summer holiday.
Finally, getting your store cupboard well stocked before the holidays is a good tactic (including the basics such a flour, spices, oats, dried fruits and nuts). It means any down time can be used to plan/cook ahead (see below) and you won't be held back by missing ingredients.
Getting ahead always helps. We usually do lots of day trips during the summer holidays, meeting up with friends and family, which means arriving home late, super tired and hungry (I think it's called "hangry"!?). Having some of our favourites tucked away in the freezer is such a help. I am hoping (although not quite sure when yet) to make some of our pesto and pop it in the freezer for a quick go-to sauce with pasta or roasted veggies, some hidden vegetable sauce by My Lovely Little Lunch Box which is perfect for pasta or as a pizza base sauce. Making up some Clean Little Fish Fingers or Clean Little Chicken Dippers and placing them in freezer bags means you will have dinner ready in 15 minutes without a packet in sight.
Having some little goodies in the freezer, such as savoury muffins, flapjacks and non-sweet sweet treats, makes for perfect grab-and-go lunch boxes. It can save time on making sandwiches too: Grab a savoury muffin from the freezer, some veggies and humous and you have a good little lunch for your Clean Little Tummies. Our banana, blueberry and cashew bar freezes perfectly, as do our breakfast muffins. During the summer I will be posting some picnic ideas for you.
I don't think it is just my children, but I find during the holidays if we're at home all they want to do is eat! Fifteen minutes after a big bowl of porridge and some toast and they're asking for a snack. (Pretty sure they don't ask for a snack the minute they walk through the door at school but at home they do?) This summer I'm going to prepare a bowl of fruit and vegetables for the day (yes, lets hope I can stick to this!) and that can be their snack ready and waiting. Then we'll see how hungry they actually are. I'm thinking carrots, peppers, cucumber, apple slices, banana rounds, foods they can just eat without too much mess or fuss but stops me preparing hundreds of snacks all day long. I also plan to have some fruit waters on the go to keep them hydrated and full.
Kids in the Kitchen
Finally, summer is a great opportunity to get your Clean Little Tummies in the kitchen! Get them making their overnight oats, chopping vegetables for snacks, making healthy snack bars or breakfast. Take them to the local market to choose their own fruits and vegetables. It has been said over and over that getting children involved in cooking and food leads to better eaters. Give it a go and don't forget to share how you get on. I'll keep you posted on our summer eats and activities.
Have a great summer with your families, stay safe and eat well.
Caroline & the Clean Little Tummies xxxx