Do you stick to a tight schedule in the summer or do you keep it foot loose and fancy free? Me, I’m a little of both. When there’s a lot going on I keep it tight, carefully planning how we will manage the time away from home and still keep the house clean and food on the table. But if we aren’t traveling or keeping appointments I’m all “Get up whenever you want and feed yourself.” It’s those times I will lounge around like a movie star who has nothing to do but ask the servants for more ice.
Over on the Tommy Nelson blog I’ve shared my 5 Tips for Keeping a Summer Schedule. It’s how I manage things when we have a lot going on. Like right now, I am getting ready to be gone all next week to Utah (Young Living Convention here I come!) and I am using all of the tips from that post! Since two of my older kids are going with me and my husband will be home with the younger boys, there’s a lot of meal planning and organizing to do.
But the week after that I am planning on doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g. This means we will be lounging and not cleaning or cooking if I can help it. We do have to survive though, so I have a list of staples that we keep around for those weeks when Mom needs a break and the kids just want to swim, eat, swim, repeat. With these things in the pantry it’s super easy to put together meals with very little cleanup.
Here’s what I will have on hand:
corn chips (I buy big boxes of them at Costco or Sam’s Club…actually I buy a lot of this there)
elbow macaroni (including a gluten-free option)
shredded cheese (again, a huge bag)
rice or almond milk
bread (GF bread for those who need it)
bone broth (I make it and it’s ready to eat for any snack or meal)
popsicles (I’ve been making NingXia Red popsicles that are amazing!)
ground beef, cooked and seasoned
chicken, cooked and seasoned and cut up or shredded
I also keep the makings for my Taco Soup around so we can throw that together. I know it’s not really soup weather, but its so easy to make and very satisfying. We can just heat & eat it when we are hungry.
With this list of ingredients we can make: nachos, burritos, macaroni with chicken, macaroni with cheese, hot dogs, cereal, smoothies, simple salad, simple soup, chicken & rice, chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes, burgers, eggs and toast, and many other random experiments. Now, this is assuming there are already spices and oils in the pantry.
For instance, I can shred lettuce, chop carrots and almonds to sprinkle over the lettuce, drizzle with whatever dressing we have in the fridge and it’s an easy salad. Or mix the seasoned ground beef with a little cooked onion, tomato sauce and whatever spices we have and serve over rice (Do you have a rice steamer? Um, you need one!). Really, we just wing it. As long as there’s protein and produce at every meal we’re good.
It’s not a super healthy menu, but quick and easy for the kids. When I am not laying around ignoring my responsibilities we have a healthier menu. But everyone loves this style of casual eating….I just lay out some things on the list, cut up some veggies or fruit and they make their own concoctions.
Oh, and don’t forget the paper plates! That is KEY to an easy summer menu. I keep them in the cabinet right next to the real plates so they’re easy to grab.
As for drinks, we are water all the way. We very rarely have anything else so drinks are not on my shopping list. But once in a while I’ll buy soft drinks to have around for a family movie night or when we have friends over. I keep the soft drinks hidden away in the extra fridge so the kids don’t really notice them, otherwise they’d be gone before the end of the day I bought them..
Whether you have a crazy summer schedule or laid back lazy days, or like me, a little of both, getting organized will go a long way toward a smooth and enjoyable time.
Stay cool my friend!
If you have more summer menu tips, hop over to Facebook and share them with us! We’d all love to hear!