Summer family meals and planning

With the humidity and kids out of school, parents often struggle to keep them from being bored as well as eating nutritious meals.

It would be a fair statement to say that kids are always hungry and parents are always busy. One way of maintaining family time in combination of helping kids feel self-empowered and healthy is by including them in meal preparation. In today’s society, parents often have to work long hours, overtime, weekends or more than one job leaving kids to their own devices for eating nutritious snacks and meals.

Michigan State University Extension suggests following suggestions for helping your family unit remain unified while helping kids eat well during summer months as well as after school in the fall.

  • Make a shopping list and include your kids input (this is a perfect time to help them learn about the basics of budgeting and meal planning).
  • Take food items from the cabinet with prices marked to show your kids how to stay within a budget. For example, get items from the pantry that adds up to approximately $10. Help them determine what kind of snack or meal can be prepared using those products (they also learn valuable math with this exercise).
  • Encourage them to try different food combinations by experimenting (carrots, raisins and yogurt for a quick snack; or freezing grapes for snacks on hot and humid days).
  • Add fruit to a refrigerated pitcher of water to enhance up the taste (lemon, limes, blueberries or strawberries).
  • Include kids in meal preparation. Let them be creative. Kids love to eat what they prepared themselves and they learn how to follow a recipe. Even preschoolers can do this.
  • Have kids learn to set a table even if it’s just spoons and forks (forks go on the left, spoons on the right).
  • Finally, make cleaning up fun. If you have a dishwasher, let the little ones load some of the safer items like spoons and plastic cups. Have the older ones gain points for best clean-ups. If allowance is not in the budget, give another incentive, like a day off from cleaning and clearing the table, or allowing them to use only paper and plastic ware on one of their clean-up days with their choice of an easy meal to prepare, needing no pots and pans to wash.

All the above suggestions will help you and your children become closer and less stressed. They will feel more empowered as they learn several life lessons in self-efficacy.

Listed is a quick and easy recipe, hoping you will try it with your family as a unit.

Foil Grilled Upside-Down Cakes

For each cake use:

1.5 tablespoons of “light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of nonstick spray on a sheet of foil

Top foil with a pineapple ring (from canned pineapple packed in its own juice)

A maraschino cherry

An upside-down shortcake shell


Fold each packet in foil.

Grill sugar-side down over medium heat for 12 minutes.

Caution: Be careful of heat and steam burns when opening each foil packet.

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