Surviving Food Shopping, Meal Planning & Prep with the kids home for Summer

3 school days left

While I am counting the days until we can sleep in and have some less structured days, I know it can be hard to get things done with the kids around.  As much as we like summer vacation, the job of primary cook and meal planner gets even harder.  Here are some ways to involve the kids with these tasks.  While it may take a little longer to get some things done, you will be teaching some great life skills while keeping their academic skills sharp.

Grocery List / Errand List - Excellent handwriting, spelling practice, reading practice.  Have your child help write the list for what you need to get at the store.  Not only is this great in teaching them how to organize a list, but they will be able to visualize how much you need and understand how long it may take when you are at the store.  Don't stop there though.  In the store have your child remind you of the items and cross them off as you pick them up.

Shopping - I have found that I am able to quickly pick up my needed items and breeze through a store if I know where things are.  So start teaching your kids early.  Assign each child a few items to pick up at the store.  Let them know when you are in the aisle or area they can be found and let them find it.  Skills such as knowing how to shop are lifelong and a valuable asset in being organized.  This is also great reading practice for the younger set.

Don't forget Farmer's Markets are a great place for kids to learn about new foods, talk to the farmers, and pick a new food to try.

Meal Planning -  I introduced my Recipe Must Make List Page in last Monday's Mixture.  In this blog I have mentioned that I love to pin recipes on Pinterest, book mark websites, and tear recipes out of magazine.  Over the years I have made lists of what I want to try and certain types of recipes I want to make.  Recently I came across a list I had in 2011.  Apparently I was into baking at the time.  I decided now that I have started blogging I needed to revisit my list, make some updates and add some of the recipes.

Little Miss Mixture like many children is not quite as discerning as myself when it comes to recipes she wants on my to try list.  She pretty much wants me to make any food that looks good in a picture.  Thus my "to try" list multiplied after she looked through a recent Cooking Light magazine.  This got me thinking what a great way to  have your children try new foods.  Give them a magazine, a food website, or a cookbook and have them write down or point out at least 5 recipes they want you to make or that they can help make with you.  The more you involve kids in the kitchen the more apt they are to be interested in healthy eating and expand their variety of foods consumed.  Be sure to let them pick at least one dessert as they all look good in pictures.  Remind them when you serve the food that this is something they picked.  They may not love everything you make, but explain to them that is okay at least we tried.

Cooking - Getting kids in the kitchen is another great way to expand their interest in food and work on new skills.  There are a lot of cookbooks that have kid recipes in them.  We have one that provides great step by step pictures for children.

There are websites and companies that have great tools for helping kids in the kitchen, such as kid stirWilliams Sonoma Kids, Whole Foods Cooking Classes for kids.  However you are their best resource.  They watch you and they want to be like you.  Allow your child to help by washing fruits and vegetables, cutting foods, making a salad, mixing, cracking eggs, rolling pizza dough.  Here is a great list of kitchen skills broken down by age.

A great summer classic is kabobs.  Recently I realized this is also a great fine motor skill activity for children.  You can make fruit kabobs, dessert kabobs, ham & cheese kabobs for their lunch, or help prep kabobs for the grill.

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