Hassle-free Meals for Summer Playdates

“Mom, dad, can [insert name] come over?”

This is a question most parents hear on a weekly (if not daily) basis over the course of the summer. While our kids look forward to three months off, parents take turns hosting playdates and adding more to their already busy agendas.26247789622_63bd0f0a94_o

Having friends over is a great way to entertain the kids, but it usually means you’re responsible for feeding more mouths. Meal prep doesn’t have to be an inconvenience to your day, and it doesn’t have to mean ordering a pizza or running through a nearby drive-thru.

Save yourself time and worry this summer by planning ahead. Consider some of the tips and recipes below to keep your kids and their friends happy and healthy during summer.

  • Plan ahead

By dedicating just an hour to meal prep before the week’s start, meals becomes significantly easier to put together. Chop veggies, fruit, cheese and any other ingredients you anticipate needing for meals throughout the week. Not only do most ingredients make a great snack on their own, but preparing each item allows your children and their friends to throw together meals themselves without the worry of knife-handling!

  • Meal time or play time?

    chopped veggies
    Cutting up ingredients ahead of time can speed up meal prep during a busy week.

Depending on the children’s ages, meal time can be made fun in different ways. Whether it’s hosting your very own episode of Chopped and encouraging a healthy cooking competition or just allowing the kids to make art out of their food (see recipe below), you can make meal time entertaining and nutritious.

  • Avoid snacks lacking in nutrients

Chips and cookies are convenient to grab out of the pantry, but provide little nutritional value and often lead to hunger after a short period of time. When the kids are hungry in between meals, be sure to offer snacks that have protein, fiber and/or are rich with nutrients. Apples, nuts and yogurt make great alternatives to the quick and unhealthy options found around the kitchen.

  • Utilize meal recipes that are nutritional and easy

Some recipes to try:

Photo Credit top to bottom: Melissa via Flickr (feature), Wonder woman0731 via Flickr (inset), A Healthier Michigan (inset)

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  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • Two 1-inch cubes (or cookie-cutter shaped) Colby jack cheese
  • 1-2 pieces of Leaf Lettuce
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 slices of deli-cut turkey
  • Straws or kabob skewers depending on preference


Sammy Stick

1. Using a cookie cutter, cut bread and cheese into desired shape and set aside.
2. Slice tomato and lettuce into bite-sized pieces (approx. 1-square-inch).
3. Push bread through skewer or straw.
4. Stack remaining sandwich items as desired.
5. Top off skewer and sandwich items with bread.
6. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information Per Skewer:
1 Serving (1 skewer)
Amount Per Serving
• Calories101.8
• Total Fat4.5 g
• Saturated Fat2.4 g
• Polyunsaturated Fat0.1 g
• Monounsaturated Fat0.1 g
• Cholesterol22.1 mg
• Sodium388.2 mg
• Potassium97.6 mg
• Total Carbohydrate7.2 g
• Dietary Fiber1.1 g
• Sugars1.7 g
• Protein9.4 g
• Vitamin A2.8 %
• Vitamin B-129.6 %
• Vitamin B-65.1 %
• Vitamin C6.0 %
• Vitamin D0.0 %
• Vitamin E0.1 %
• Calcium10.8 %
• Copper0.8 %
• Folate2.3 %
• Iron3.5 %
• Magnesium1.5 %
• Manganese0.3 %
• Niacin2.1 %
• Pantothenic Acid1.6 %
• Phosphorus6.5 %
• Riboflavin6.4 %
• Selenium12.4 %
• Thiamin5.4 %
• Zinc2.2 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Recipe inspired by Super Healthy Kids.

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