I am a summer girl at heart. I like to get every second out of the warm weather and love the free spirit of summer life. I’ll admit that by the time September comes, I am ready for routine, but not until then. Since having kids, I have learned that they crave routine and a sense of “normal” as part of each day so I do my best to keep routine in the times that food and sleep are offered. Don’t get me wrong…we have days that we get off schedule, and that is okay…teaches resiliency. But we aim for normal routine at least 6 days out of 7 each week. I find that meal planning helps with this SO much! If I don’t know what I am serving for supper and how long it will take, I will inevitably stay at the park/splash pad/beach too long and never serve supper on time. This leads to meltdowns from both kiddos and mama! I have also learned to plan ahead for the days that I know we will be “behind on time”….meaning that I take nutritious food with me that I can offer during the kids normal supper time, then a smaller snack once we are home.
I thought I would share some of my fave meals to make this summer that are quick, easy, and good for hot weather.
1. Chicken Stir Fry
This is a great one for walking in the door and needing to eat in 10 minutes. The key is prepping ahead. The night before or morning of get your ingredients ready. Slice a few chicken breasts into thin pieces (I plan on 1/3 chicken breast per child and 1/2 per adult) ans place into a container and put it into the fridge. Then, chop/slice/dice your veggies of choice ans it them into a container in the fridge. I like to do peppers, broccoli, and red onion but anything is great. You may also want to use up leftovers of vegetables from previous meals that are already cut up and cooked. When you get home, pull out your largest fry pan or wok and add in the chicken with a little bit of water and cook on medium or medium high until the chicken is cooked through. Then add your veggies and 1Tbsp. Avocado oil. Stir every few minutes to ensure even cooking until veggies soften slightly but still have some crunch. Then you can add sliced water chestnuts or sliced almonds for added flavour and texture.
At this point, I like to remove the kids chicken and veggies because my kids prefer theirs without sauce, but rather dip in hummus or guacamole. I then add spices, rice vinegar, and/or a sauce depending on what flavour we are interested in that night. Sauces can be a dense source of sodium and sugar so adding only a small amount at the end rather than a large amount throughout cooking can really cut down on empty calories and overdoing your sodium intake. This can be eaten on its own or on top of a bed of spinach or kale, or with rice, quinoa, pita bread, or in a wrap . Children should always have a source of starch with it even, if it is as simple as whole grain pita.
2. Summer Salads
Making a salad into a meal is a constant in our home. I love that I don’t need to turn the oven, stove, or BBQ on. We always have spinach or mixed greens on hand, lots of veggies and fruit that are easy to chop up, and something that can be used for protein (leftover salmon or chicken, cold or sautéed shrimp, hard boiled egg, dried chickpeas, almonds, other nuts and seeds). For more salad combo ideas, see this post . If your kids are like mine, and turn their nose up to salad, you can make a “salad plate”….cut up veggies and the same protein that the adults are having.
3. Homemade Burgers
This is another one that works best if you do prep ahead of time. If you make up your burger mix ahead of time, then when you walk in the door, you can make up the patties and get them on the BBQ within minutes of walking in the door. With this, you can throw a salad together, or if your family prefers veggies and dip, set them out even before the burgers are cooked. Filling up on veggies is never a bad thing. Most dips are calorie dense and low on nutrition. Ratio of veggies to dip is important to monitor to ensure that tummies are more full of veggies than empty calories.
Hope this gives you a few simple and fun meal ideas to get through the next week. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple. As long as you are serving nutritious food, it doesn’t need to be extravagant!
Until next time…stay healthy!