Summer’s coming, which means a return of the age-old question, “Mom, what’s for lunch?” It’s hard enough getting them fed in the mornings and again before bed. Now, you have to feed them mid-day, too!?! Let’s get ahead of this! Here are some tips for planning ahead for summer lunches.

Double Dinners

Think of ways to turn dinner leftovers into lunch. This doesn’t mean you are always eating the same thing again. You can transform one night’s meal into something totally different for the next day. If you are firing up the grill for dinner, throw on some extra things for lunch the next day. Boiling chicken for a casserole? Throw some extra chicken breasts in and use it to make chicken salad or chicken nachos. If your dinner needs 1 lb of browned ground beef, brown an extra pound and save to make sloppy joes. Give yourself a break later by doubling up!

Diced Veggies

Keep diced veggies on hand. These can be easy to make into a stir fry, throw in a salad, or just enjoy raw or steamed. Whenever you are dicing veggies for a recipe, chop up some extra and throw in a bowl or bag. Keep the veggie mix going by adding to it every time you have a different veggie on hand.

Dining Out

Plan days to have picnics outside. This can be as simple as a beach towel in the front yard but it makes lunch a fun event. It also gives you an excuse to pull out all of your school lunchbox favorites a few times a week. You’ll find PB&J is much more desirable if you eat it outside!

Bulk Them Up

Finding ways to make lunch filling can be challenging. Try keeping some quinoa on hand to throw into salads, soups, or casseroles for a little extra bulk. You can prepare it according to package instructions ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for use through the week. Beans can be filling and you can make a big pot from dried beans and then freeze into individual sized servings that can easily be thawed. Also, give them some protein like meat or eggs to give them energy through the afternoon.

Lunch and Learn

Preparing meals is a great time to incorporate a little summer learning (maybe without them even knowing). Having your kids help read recipes or measure ingredients is a great way to get in a little hands-on learning. When cooking with fruits and veggies, talk about if they grow in the ground, on a tree, on a vine, etc. After lunch, you can have your kids write about or draw pictures of what they ate in a food journal.

Your Turn!

What are some good tips that you have when it comes to summer lunches? Share your advice below so everyone can start planning ahead!