• Sarah

Planning for the school holidays

The school holidays are very nearly upon us so here are some tips about planning meals and food in the school holidays. Suddenly our kids are at home all day, every day and we need to plan for that. Certainly the amount of snacks you will get through in the space of a week will go up hugely so I definitely recommend stocking up on snacks. If you get a chance to do some baking, maybe you could make some savoury or sweet muffins, or stock up on things like bread sticks, fruit, cheese sticks; the sorts of things that you can have easily in the cupboard at home and ready for when the kids inevitably want something to eat.

It is also a good idea to choose things that you can take out and about with you because hopefully you'll be able to get out and go to some interesting and different places this summer. So definitely think about having a few more bags of savoury snacks in the cupboard.

If you are lucky enough to be going away, have a think about your normal delivery for food. If you get your groceries delivered at the same time each week, make sure that you change or cancel that order ready for going on holiday, and have a look and see whether it is possible to get your groceries delivered to wherever you're going. If you are going camping, or on a self catering holiday see whether you can get your food delivered on the day you arrive. This saves you having to do all of that shopping in advance or finding a supermarket as soon as you get there.

It's also a good idea to plan meals that you can cook quickly. If you're likely to be out all day, visiting friends or going on trips, then you're going to be coming back to meals that you'll need to prepare quite quickly. So either plan to do quick meals like pasta dishes that you can cook in about 10-15 minutes, or something like jacket potatoes, which you can put in the oven on a timer so that they are ready when you get back.

The summer holidays are a good opportunity to try and get your children involved in the cooking if you would like to or they are interested. So you could set them an invention challenge one day: buy a selection of ingredients that you think would go quite well together, lay them out and let the kids decide what they're going to put in this meal, how they're going to cook it and how they're going to bring the ingredients together. This can be quite a fun challenge for them and it gets them involved in cooking.

Baking is also a nice activity to do over the holidays with the children. And as well as giving you extra snacks for the kids to eat, it also means you could put some things in the freezer for later on or to take away with you. Similarly, make use of freezer meals, if you can: if you're cooking, say at the weekend or in an evening, and you can double up your portions so that you've got two meals or even three meals out of that one cook, then that's definitely worth doing. Or you can cook once, eat twice if you plan to cook something on a Monday that you can then reheat or eat slightly differently on the Wednesday or the Thursday, for example.

Personally, I find that time seems to vanish over the school holidays and that I need to think about food which I can cook really quickly and simply because quite often we're out of routine, we're doing things a bit differently and food is quite low down on the list of priorities. But it's also quite nice to mix up the routine, for example have something a bit different for breakfast one day, have a picnic for lunch. All of those things can be great fun activities to do with the kids over the summer holidays. I hope you all have a lovely summer. And that the weather holds out for all of us!

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