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Eat Well, Spend Less: Summer Menu Planning Tips

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This month’s Eat Well, Spend Less topic is summer menu planning! I shared my tips for preparing your kitchen & pantry before vacation earlier this week, and each of the other participating bloggers is sharing their best summer tips as well.

This topic really hits home for me. We are on-the-go a lot this summer, and we end up eating out — mostly at fast food restaurants, if I’m honest — a lot. As we’re making changes at home in the way we eat, it’s harder and harder to stomach these meals (figuratively and literally!), and I’ve gotten a lot of really great ideas from these posts. I have a feeling I’ll be referring back to these often!

Balancing Meals and the Summer Schedule

From Shaina @ Food for My Family:

summer menu planning
source: Food for My Family

Summer is swinging. Today, in fact, marks the first official day of summer, which is timely considering we dropped the eldest off for overnight camp all week and both the 6-year-old and the 4-year-old started summer sports last night, broken arms and all.

Still, though, summer was already going strong last week with warm evening walks and trips to Target Field to cheer our Minnesota Twins to a win. The zoo is an obvious next stop, and there will be state parks aplenty in the coming weeks, not to mention parades, fireworks displays and trips to the waterpark.

With all these activities, it’s easy to see how the summer schedule goes from lazy warm afternoons to jumbled hectic living in no time, and with everyone out running around, finding time to sit down to a family meal can be near impossible.

Read Shaina’s tips (the ones I want to pin up in my kitchen because I need them!) at Food for My Family…

6 Ways to Eat Well, Spend Less While Camping

From Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship:

source: Kitchen Stewardship

Camping starts out pretty doggone frugal.

No maid service. No rules about towels on the floor vs. hanging them up. No concierge or valet parking.

And no tipping the server or choosing to drink water so you don’t have to buy a drink at a restaurant.

Camping is all about bringing your own food, and it can be a nutritional disaster or a palate-pleasing delight, depending on how you choose to pack.

I firmly believe that one can eat very well while out in the woods. You’re not confined to hot dogs on sticks just because you’re living in a tent!

Read Katie’s awesome tips and get a special discount on her recently updated Family Camping Handbook…

Wholesome, Homemade Food for Air Travel

From Aimee @ Simple Bites:

source: Simple Bites

We’ve just returned from a family vacation in the Caribbean where we unplugged, relaxed and enjoyed time with extended family. While the get-away gave us some much needed R&R, the traveling to and from our destination was an adventure!

Our boys, now 5 and 3, did amazingly well on the four flights, all things considered. Mateo napped during the long stretches and they both ran their little legs off between gates during our tight connections. Danny and I battled some nausea on the journey home, but Noah and Mateo sustained good health and had a cheery disposition from take off to touchdown.

While flight delays, lost luggage, and air turbulence cannot be helped (or avoided, it seems) one aspect of air travel that can be controlled is nourishing food. When you bring your own, that is.

On our recent trip to Atlanta for BlogHer Food, I felt particularly gouged by the expensive, yet tasteless, food options available in the airports and on flights. Knowing I would have the kids along on the next trip, I mentally noted to pack my own snacks and lunch.

Being able to eat well in an airport is rare. Being able to spend little is nearly impossible. For this month’s Eat Well, Spend Less post, I’ll tell you how I managed to do both.

Read Aimee’s tips for snacks and meals when flying over at Simple Bites…

Hot Weather Mealtime Solutions

From Tammy @ Tammy’s Recipes:

Today I’m writing about ways to work around summertime heat in the kitchen. Not eating out when it’s “too hot to cook!” is one of the ways we eat well and spend less!

Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, our summers are really quite mild compared to other areas. However, we don’t have air conditioning and it does still get hot on occasion.

“Weather” we like it or not…

The past two summers, we were living in a third-floor apartment which was great in the winter (warm!) but not so great when a week of 90+ degree weather came along! And I learned my lesson when I wasn’t watching the weather forecast and made homemade pizza on the first hot day. Using the oven heated up our whole apartment quickly!

So, my first advice? Watch the weather forecast! In the warmer months, I check the weather forecast every couple of days so I know what temperatures to plan for (okay, I’ll be honest — I also check so I know when to do laundry!). If it’s going to be hot, I’ll take some measures to keep the heat outside.

Read all of Tammy’s advice and see the dozens of recipes she’s linked to in her post for summer meals…

Taking Freezer Meals on The Road

From Jessica @ Life as Mom:

freezer meals
source: Life as Mom

The activity, hot weather, and entertainment factor of summertime can wreak havoc on one’s grocery budget. How can summer fun affect your food costs?

In summertime we venture out and about more often; we have more random schedules than the rest of the year; we tend to avoid hot kitchens and want someone else to do the cooking. And the justification factor of “it’s summertime,” can lead us to spend more than we might otherwise spend. Whether it’s the temptation of the drive-thru after a long day at the zoo or the high price of food at the  baseball field, we can find ourselves spending more money on food than we do during the more hum-drum days of the year.

Furthermore, summer travel can take a big bite out of our funds. Between transportation and lodging costs, vacation spending can escalate before we know it. And eating out at restaurants and fast food joints will jack that bill even higher.

One way to offset these costs is to take freezer meals on the road with you.

You may not know this, but, Jessica is the queen of freezer meals. Read all of her tips for traveling with freezer meals…

What To Stock Up On This Season

From Carrie @ Denver Bargains:

With kids out of school, most of us are out and about from our normal routine and are going on vacation, taking day trips, enjoy outdoor barbecues, exploring parks, and more.

And, many of us don’t really feel like cooking much during the summertime, which means we may be spending more than we’d like and not eating as well. Later this week, I’ll be linking up to everyone else’s idea for keeping the Eat Well, Spend Less idea going throughout the summer, but today, I’m taking a look at the seasonal items that you’ll want to stock up on during summer.

I’m a big believer in stocking up when the price is right so you don’t pay more later. While it might be a little more hectic to go grocery shopping during the summer, it’s a great time to stock up on all sorts of foods, so if you’re trying to spend less, you’ll want to make a plan for stocking up on items that are at their rock-bottom prices during the summer, and often only at rock-bottom prices during the summer.

Click here to see which things Carrier recommends stocking up on during the summer…

How does summertime affect your menu planning?