Summer Vacation Eating Habits I A Guide for Working Parents

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Summer vacation is here, yay (says the kids anyhow)! If your kids are too old for daycare, chances are they will be at home supervising themselves while Mom and Dad are at work, ALL DAY LONG! When our kids hit the age of staying at home alone, we immediately set all the basic ground rules. As parents, we go over the rules list again and again and again, just to make sure they didn't miss anything. I don't know about you, but if my boys aren't looking me in the eyes, they won't hear a word I say! Rules like: No friends over, don't answer the door for strangers. Matter of fact, don't answer the door for anyone! No leaving the property, basically no having fun unless Mom or Dad is home. We cover the basics, but what about food? Do you set rules for what your kids should be eating while you're away at work and they have the run of the house? I know for me, there are still at least two in the bunch (two out of four) that are forbidden from using the stove! Strictly microwavable choices for my youngest two!

By all means, I understand that limiting their meal preparation abilities to the microwave limits their ability to prepare certain foods for themselves. But, I DO want to come home after work to a home, and not a heap of ash where my home once stood! If they aren't quite ready to use the stove unsupervised, it doesn't mean they are sentenced to a summer filled with Easy Mac and Chef-Boyardee! In reality, we can prepare easy, nutritious meals and snacks in under ten minutes for our pre-cooking aged offspring! Who, unfortunately, outgrew day care long ago.

Here are a few simple ideas for you:

Fruits: What kid doesn't love fruit! I know mine do! What they don't like, or lack is the preparation part. Getting easy to prepare fruits such as strawberries or blueberries is perfect! You could also prepare a fruit salad, and put portion sizes into small food storage containers (link here: for them to quickly grab a mini-fruit salad out of the refrigerator! They can have it as a snack, or add it as a side to their lunch. Either way, it's a healthy choice that I'm sure your kids will grab up if they know it's there, and it's already there for them to eat!


Veggies: Veggie's, on the other hand, may be a bit more of a challenge to entice your kids to eat versus fruit. I know my kids will munch on baby carrots, so long as they have dipping sauce! They tend to favor Ranch salad dressing as their choice dipping sauce. Follow the same suggestion as the fruits. Put portion sized servings into a small food storage container (link here: You can even put a few tablespoons of Ranch, or another favorite dipping sauce into separate, small storage container. They may not go to the cup of baby carrots first, but I'd be willing to bet they will eat them if they are readily available and easy to grab. For the in-between age groups that I'm talking about, anything quick and easy will be what they grab first!

Sandwiches, cheese, and crackers:

A simple ham or turkey with cheese, lettuce and favorite dressing is the simplest solution for a quick to prepare, and easy grab lunch option for your kids! For variety, you can even choose peanut butter and jelly, or fluff, tuna fish, egg salad, you name it the sandwich or sub-options are endless. The only part is preparing them. Again, we are talking about an age group that will eat what is easiest to grab. Although they could certainly prepare their own sandwich, having it ready and waiting for them in the fridge will make it more likely that will eat the sandwich or sub over the Easy Mac or Chef Boyardee! You can make it in the morning before you leave for work, or the night before when your cleaning up. Either way, it's a perfect option to add to the choices. Instead of having potato chips as a lunch side, give them Cheese crackers (such as Cheese Nips). What child doesn't like potato chips? We know that. You can also include snackable sized cheese to add healthy choice to their menu. By giving our kids healthier choices the majority of the time, they are less likely to spend their summer months eating junk food.

I can't count the number of times one of my boys took the entire box of Cheese-Nips, only to leave it wide open. The rest end up stale, and the entire box is wasted! Pre-packaging them into snack-sized portions will save the entire box from getting ruined, and give them a quick to grab snack choice. Again, you can simply put this in a sandwich bag, or use another small food storage container (link here: to portion sized the servings.

There are various choices of affordable food storage containers that come in varying sizes to accommodate the perfect portion size for your kids to grab and go while your not home to monitor what they're eating. They won't have to cut, portion or prepare. All they will need to do is grab, open and eat! Viola! This sure beats coming home to an array of junk food wrappers floating aimlessly around your house because that was the only “easy” option they had to choose from. Not to mention, they will probably be bouncing here and there because all they ate all day long was sugar! If we create easy, pre-portioned and healthy choices for our kids to pick from when we are away at work, most kids will eat them.

Of course, kids do need to have treats to pick from such as cookies, granola bars or other sweet treats. However, if we create the wholesome options they wouldn't otherwise have and limit the amount of sugar filled junk food choices, then we can be comforted to know that their sleeping habits may be the only unhealthy change they will go through during summer vacation!

Here's a link: for you to view a few choices for individually wrapped “treat” type of snacks for your kids. When they are individually wrapped, you can limit the amount per serving they get. Even with implementing the tips above, every child still needs a treat every now and again. As parents, we just prefer the “treats” be in moderation, right!