So either you’re on the first week of Summer or just a couple weeks into Summer break and you’re now wondering…am I going to be able to afford groceries all Summer long?  We’ve all been there and honestly there is more of a frustration now considering the price of groceries,  and gas.  Do we even have a dollar menu anymore?

If you have read my last blog you know that I have homeschooled for two and half years . And because of that I have had to really buckle down on my children’s eating patterns. And when I say my children can eat, I mean eat. They aren’t really snackers, they love meals. Breakfast, Lunch, dinner …full courses, one meat, two veggies and a starch. So unless I’m cooking 24/7 we can pretty much get by we average snacks. Now on the other hand, my 22 and 18 year old are the snackers. Chips  and cookies don’t stand a chance with them . Another thing that goes fast in my house are drinks.  Water, juice boxes, soda , even San Pelligrino. They will drink everything in one day if I allow them. So I had to for sure put in place a plan that I wouldn’t over spend in groceries and that would allow us to keep the proper amount of food in my house without being frustrated or complaining all the time.

Kids thrive off schedules. If you are a parent you know that it starts as babies.  Those babies  want to eat every 2 hours and as they grow you adjust their hours. For Piper ( the baby) we are currently feeding a little over 3 hours and she has 3 complete meals during the day. Children need a schedule to eat as well. And before I go any further with this… I have an 11 year old girl who never gets full. She has recently stopped eating meat which puts the pressure on me to make her full . She will wake up out of her sleep at night for food, so this schedule is a day schedule . If you have a night eater like me I’ll tell you what I am having to do with her in a few paragraphs .

Schedule everything for your children. As long as they are bored they will eat. Breakfast should be after they are dressed .  And make breakfast mandatory. I am not a morning person so getting up to make my children breakfast is a task but now since they are older, they are able to make smoothies, waffles, or cereal. I would suggest if they are having cereal for breakfast that it is more than cereal, microwavable turkey bacon or sausage is a viable asset to this breakfast and alway add toast and a piece of fruit.  Make breakfast their largest meal of the day.  I prefer my children to drink water  for breakfast because they need to get their organs moving . And water, the proper amount will also make those bellies full.

After breakfast , have something scheduled for them to do . It could be chores, it could be reading a book,  it could be as small as walking around the house .  Because its early morning I love to see my children read. I don’t even put pressure on what they are reading . It could be a book , or it could be an online newspaper. After that allow screen time for an hour  or whatever else you have planned just make sure things are planned. You can even plan around the things you need to do , like paying a bill or going to grocery store. If you’re working and they are home alone , make a list for them to have completed at certain times . And if they have cellphones you can schedule for their phones to be off during those hours that they are supposed to be conducting business. I say that kids need to be busy bc again we are raising adults.  And we were all kids that waited to the last minute to finish our work but now we have access to things that we never had access to and so we are able to do things from work that we weren’t able to do before .

Lunch should be no later than 12 PM . Lunch is your easiest meal. You can actually prep lunch at night and have it waiting on them in the fridge. What’s for lunch: (Tuna Sandwich, chips, fruit and juice),( soup , grilled cheese , apple, water), (pbj sandwiches, blue chips , orange, water), (Pizza, celery, carrots and ranch dressings, cookie, water).  Whatever variety you put together and they know its going to happen will take the pressure off you . My middle daughter likes everything written out for the week . If you have time, write it out so that they are prepared for the day and excited that its going to happen, and especially write it down if you work away from the house.

They have a milk break at school so have one at home . Because you are home you will probably have two milk breaks but acknowledge them and have them prepared. This is the time where it should be a free for all but it should be a limited selection they have to choose from. I like to have a milk break before dinner and before bed. Now they need to be mindful of their snack choice. I had one kid who always wanted a fruit snack for his snack and he could barely wait till dinner was cooked and of course that was annoying to me . But if thats what they chose,  that’s it. I like to keep granola bars, apples, small bags of chips , oranges, celery, smoothies and yogurt. This is the time I allow them to have their juice boxes or any special juice that they have and want to drink .  Sometimes we go to starbucks for milk break , we may even go to walmart bc they have icees for .78 , there is happy hour at sonic , too . All sorts of different opportunities.

Dinner is served by 5. I like to do dinner a little differently. I like for them to eat and we leave the food out for a little while bc I don’t like leftovers so I really encourage them to eat it all . There is a reason for this . Sometimes , especially with growing kids they don’t get enough veggies or protein so this is a great time encourage this meal. Its always a good idea to take this time to eat with your family during the last meal of the day. Plan that time to be together , talk about things, laugh about tik toks and funny reels.  And take advantage of the season , eat outside , plan a cookout for at least one day in the week, have themed nights, make it fun. I love to eat at home because some of the places that we like to eat in  are loud and its not so intimate . So eating at home just works best for us.

The last milk break needs to be something that they can hold in their hands and and able to dispose of it . The kitchen should close after dinner so go ahead and pull that last snack out while cleaning the kitchen. My girls typically like celery cheese and apples for their last snack. Portland will ask for a cracker or chips, we found an alternative with cheese and apples and they have just now embraced sunflower seeds and pistachios . We send them all to bed with a large bottle of water because everyone needs water beside the bed.

I know you are wondering about clean up but I got you, remember when  I said keep them busy. That clean up after eating is a part of them filling up their calendar. And remember with conditions being warmer  you can get by with allowing them to lay a blanket outside under a tree to eat or even preparing sacks so that they are easily able to be cleaned.

Now back to the the 11 year old who’s never full. We made a pack , every time she doesn’t finish her dinner , including excluding meat from her diet , she has an hour off her phone. I’m sure she will eat dinner on time and all of it tonight…