Summer is a hard time for both managing healthy snacks and not breaking the bank. Whether you’re at the pool and the concession stands are calling or you’re touring the local zoo where the popcorn and candy cart is situated just as you walk from the tiger exhibit towards the giraffes, there are so many places you can get off track in your family’s mealtime routine.
Rather than giving in (though I’ll admit I enjoy giving in once in a while when appropriate), try to plan ahead and be prepared for those impulse buys when they pop up faster than kettle corn at the farmers market.
- Eat before you leave. While you don’t have to rule out snacks completely, eating a meal full of vegetables and lean proteins before you head to the game will help manage the cravings for salty, sweet goodness once you’re at the event or activity. Plus, you won’t have to drop the astronomical dollar amount a number of times over for each family member purchasing hot dogs or burgers at the stadium. Instead, you can enjoy one or two snacks the whole family can share or opt out because you’re simply not hungry.
- Avoid the candy. Stay away from cotton candy and boxed treats. Not only are they expensive, you’re only paying for food dyes, sugar and artificial flavorings. Just say no and look for other great finger foods like popcorn and nuts or seeds. These will provide fiber and protein, too, so they’re just a better choice all around.
- Pick peanuts. Popcorn, peanuts, sunflower seeds, or other snacks rich in protein and fiber are usually relatively frugal options, too. One or two bags can satisfy the whole family and take quite a while to eat. Opt out of the extra butter, and you’ll have a responsible snack that the kids and adults will enjoy and be excited about.
- Bring in your own food. Check the policies of the park or event you’re at, but oftentimes you can just bring your own snacks in. If you are going to need a snack and this is an option, it can help avoid a scene at the concession booths when the kids don’t even have the opportunity to visit them. Set ground rules before you go, and be sure everyone knows them.
What activities do you have planned for the summer?
|Shaina Olmanson is the home cook and photographer behind Food for My Family and the author of Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine. She is a contributor to Babble.com’s Family Kitchen Blog and the food channel on Lifetime Moms. Shaina can usually be found cooking, at the computer or behind the camera.|